Saturday, April 14, 2007

TripleScreens - almost 1,000 images on-screen by FlickrCash


red flowers - made by FlickrCash


white flowers - made by FlickrCash


blue flowers - made by FlickrCash


orange flowers - made by FlickrCash


pink flowers - made by FlickrCash


Friday, April 13, 2007

Kites fly in jet stream to generate electricity

The Economist has an interesting article about different proposals to harvest wind energy from the jet stream (elevation: 10km). A San Diego, CA company called Sky WindPower wants to send giant kite-turbines into the jet stream to generate power.

200704131156Mr Shepard’s flying generator looks like a cross between a kite and a helicopter. It has four rotors at the points of an H-shaped frame that is tethered to the ground by a long cable. The rotors act like the surface of a kite, providing the lift needed to keep the platform in the air. As they do so, they also turn dynamos that generate electricity. This power is transmitted to the ground through aluminium cables. Should there be a lull in the wind, the dynamos can be used in reverse as electric motors, to keep the generator airborne.
Here's another interesting proposal: Meanwhile, Wubbo Ockels of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands has been developing another approach to airborne wind generation at lower altitude, with backing from Royal Dutch Shell and Nederlandse Gasunie, a natural-gas company. Dr Ockels’s idea is that a kite (without rotor blades) be launched from a ground station, turning a generator as it rises to an altitude of several hundred metres. When it reaches its full height, it alters its shape to catch less wind, and can thus be reeled back in using much less power than it produced when it was being paid out.

An arrangement of two or more of these kites could act together to produce a steady supply of power. When one kite was being released, part of the electricity produced would reel the other kite back in, and vice versa. The whole system would thus remain in surplus, and if well designed could deliver a constant current. This system has the advantage that it requires only simple parts—generators, kites and cables—and should thus be much cheaper to build than a conventional turbine.



Sotheby's/Mastercard debut yuppycard to mixed reviews

from Blogging Stocks by Zac Bissonnette Sotheby's (NYSE: BID) and GE Money have teamed up to launch a Sotheby's MasterCard (NYSE: MA). Predictably, the card is aimed at wealthier consumers, and even gives them a chance to earn donations to their favorite museums. From the Wall Street Journal: A cardholder who has charged $10,000, for example, can convert the 10,000 earned points into a $100 donation to one of 17 U.S. partner museums [...] Anyone accumulating 2.5 million points can book a Sotheby's specialist to conduct an auction for a charity event. The piece goes on to note that some museums have been slow to sign on, preferring to go with relationships they already have. I'm really happy to see the consumer credit industry focusing some energy on higher net worth individuals (you need an income of 100k+ to qualify for the card). As you will learn from reading the book Maxed Out, the industry seems to relentlessly target those customers who can least afford it. Perhaps Sotheby's and MasterCard will show that there is money to be made providing credit to customers who can afford it, while also supporting the arts.


Violinist in the subway

from Seth's Blog by Seth Godin I got more mail about this story in the Washington Post than any other non-blog topic ever. I saw it when it first came out, but didn't blog it because I thought the lesson was pretty obvious to my readers. [World-class violinist plays for hours in a subway station, almost no one stops to listen]. The experiment just proved what we already know about context, permission and worldview. If your worldview is that music in the subway isn't worth your time, you're not going to notice when the music is better than usual (or when a famous violinist is playing). It doesn't match the story you tell yourself, so you ignore it. Without permission to get through to you, the marketer/violinist is invisible. But why all the mail? (And the Post got plenty too). Answer: I think it's because people realized that if they had been there, they would have done the same thing. And it bothers us. It bothers us that we're so overwhelmed by the din of our lives that we've created a worldview that requires us to ignore the outside world, most of the time, even when we suffer because of it. It made me feel a little smaller, knowing that something so beautiful was ignored because the marketers among us have created so much noise and so little trust. I don't think the answer is to yell louder. Instead, I think we have an opportunity to create beauty and genius and insight and offer it in ways that train people to maybe, just maybe, loosen up those worldviews and begin the trust.


flowers on exhibit

View full View full View full Book: Glimpses of Heaven (by Augustine Fou)


"The Intruder". A Stunning Mobile Phone Concept

from by emily Spotted on, the most stunning concept phone designed by Dennis Hopkins, called The Intruder.


Perfect 10 v. CCBill: “direct financial benefit” means infringing material must draw users, says Ninth Circuit

(Source: Posted by Denise Howell @ 1:51 am April 13th, 2007 Late last month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals came out with an important decision, Perfect 10 v. CCBill (PDF), that required it to interpret and apply both the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — two of the most important U.S. provisions governing conduct on the Live Web. Jason Schultz, Professor Goldman, and Joe Gratz all have good summaries of the details. First, see Jason's rundown of the parties and facts of the case: Background: Perfect 10 publishes adult entertainment magazines and websites. Many third-party websites post Perfect 10 images without permission. CCBill et al provide hosting and credit card services to those sites. Perfect 10 sued CCBill et al. for assisting in the infringement of their copyrights and associated state claims, such as violating the rights of publicity of Perfect 10 models. CCBill raised, among other defenses, the DMCA Safe Harbors and Section 230 of the CDA. Next, there's a lot of meat to the opinion and I encourage you to check out all three of the discussions linked above. But the most interesting part of the decision to me, particularly in the context of the pending Viacom v. YouTube suit, is the court's take on what constitutes a "direct financial benefit" sufficient to preclude a defendant's successful invocation of the DMCA's safe harbor language. Once again from Jason: The Court held that a provider falls outside the protections of 512(c) if they receive "direct financial benefit" from infringing conduct, and that this term should be interpreted consistent with the "similarly-worded common law standard for vicarious copyright liability." The Court then went on to state that the relevant inquiry was "whether the infringing activity constitutes a draw for subscribers, not just an added benefit." Since CWIE (the hosting co-defendant) hosted sites for a fee unrelated to the amount of infringing material, the court found this did not qualify as a direct financial benefit. The "direct financial benefit" exemption is one of the most crucial legal points at issue in Viacom v. YouTube, and here we have the Ninth Circuit saying that if the presence of infringing material is merely an "added benefit" and not a primary draw, a defendant should be immune under the DMCA from liability for the infringing acts of others. As a practical matter, this requires parties and courts to classify and quantify the role of the infringing material, and thus imports a Sony v. Universal/substantial noninfringing use-esque anlaysis into interpreting and applying the DMCA. Advantage YouTube/Google — though the Second Circuit (where Viacom v. YouTube is pending) is well known for departing from the reasoning of the Ninth. There's much more to tease out of the decision. Professor Goldman wraps it up as follows: This Ninth Circuit panel clearly understood the dangers that copyright and publicity rights lawsuits pose to Internet intermediaries, and they took a number of useful steps to push back on a very aggressive plaintiff's novel but expansive theories. Kudos to them. But with two other Perfect 10 cases pending with the Ninth Circuit, I strongly suspect that the most interesting and powerful aspects of this ruling soon will be reshaped by the subsequent opinions.


Virginia Tech Supercomputer Built from 1,100 Apple G5


More Research Shows How The Fashion Industry Is Helped By The Lack Of Intellectual Property Rights

from Techdirt by Mike Back in 2003, we mentioned an article that compared the entertainment industry to the fashion industry, noting that even though there was no intellectual property protections over clothing design and copying was rampant, the fashion industry was thriving. This shouldn't come as a surprise, really. After all, without the artificial protectionism, the fashion designers are forced to continually compete by continually innovating and always trying to come out with the latest and greatest design. Even though others copy, there's tremendous value in being the first, or being the "big name" in the industry. The article included this fantastic quote: "Ideas arise, evolve through collaboration, gain currency through exposure, mutate in new directions, and diffuse through imitation. The constant borrowing, repurposing, and transformation of prior work are as integral to creativity in music and film as they are to fashion." In 2005, the NY Times wrote a similar article, but warned that the fashion industry was moving in the wrong direction, as lazy designers who didn't want to compete and wanted to rest on their laurels had started pushing for new intellectual property over their designs. Late last year, the calls for such protectionism grew even stronger -- though, the reasoning doesn't make any sense. The entire point of intellectual property protections is to create incentives for a market. If that market is already thriving, why do you need to add new incentives? The real reason is that it's not to provide incentives. It's a way for successful players to keep making money without continuing to innovate -- which is simply bad for society. The NY Times is taking another look at this issue, this time in a piece written by well-known economist Hal Varian, who points to a recent study that doesn't just note that the fashion industry has thrived without intellectual property protection, but notes that a big part of the reason it has thrived is because of the lack of IP. In other words, if those pushing for those new IP rights get them, the end result will likely be harmful to the overall fashion industry. Again, this shouldn't be surprising, as removing protectionist policies tends to increase competition and the size of the addressable market, but it's certainly a good example to point to when people insist that things like the music industry wouldn't exist without copyright protection.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Buffalo joins Hitachi in the 1TB HDD club

from Engadget by Evan Blass Perpendicular magnetic recording has brought us storage densities beyond our wildest dreams (well, anything above 640KB is pretty amazing, actually), with Buffalo today joining Hitachi in the exclusive, highly-sought after 1TB 3.5-inch hard drive club. Besides the now-legendary 7K1000, consumers will soon have the chance to pick up a nearly-1,024GB platter known as the almost-impossible-to-remember HD-H1.0TFBS2/3G, which features the same 7200 RPM / 3.0Gbps speeds that we've become accustomed to. Japan will see this one first -- sometime around the end of the month -- for about ¥60,165, so expect an eventual street price of under $500 when these finally spin their way stateside. As for us, we're gonna hold off for the time being, because surely this flood of terabytes means that 1PB models are right around the corner.


Nanogenerator Provides Continuous Electrical Power

For more information contact: John Toon, Research News & Publications Office Contact John 404-894-6986

Nanogenerator Provides Continuous Electrical Power

Device harvests energy from the environment to provide direct current

Atlanta (April 5, 2007) — Researchers have demonstrated a prototype nanometer-scale generator that produces continuous direct-current electricity by harvesting mechanical energy from such environmental sources as ultrasonic waves, mechanical vibration or blood flow.

Zhong Lin Wang
Zhong Lin Wang, Regents Professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech, holds a prototype DC nanogenerator fabricated using an array of zinc oxide nanowires. (Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek) 300 dpi JPG = 859.05 KB

Based on arrays of vertically-aligned zinc oxide nanowires that move inside a novel “zig-zag” plate electrode, the nanogenerators could provide a new way to power nanoscale devices without batteries or other external power sources. “This is a major step toward a portable, adaptable and cost-effective technology for powering nanoscale devices,” said Zhong Lin Wang, Regents’ Professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “There has been a lot of interest in making nanodevices, but we have tended not to think about how to power them. Our nanogenerator allows us to harvest or recycle energy from many sources to power these devices.” Details of the nanogenerator are reported in the April 6 issue of the journal Science. The research was sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Emory-Georgia Tech Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence. The nanogenerators take advantage of the unique coupled piezoelectric and semiconducting properties of zinc oxide nanostructures, which produce small electrical charges when they are flexed. Fabrication begins with growing an array of vertically-aligned nanowires approximately a half-micron apart on gallium arsenide, sapphire or a flexible polymer substrate. A layer of zinc oxide is grown on top of substrate to collect the current. The researchers also fabricate silicon “zig-zag” electrodes, which contain thousands of nanometer-scale tips made conductive by a platinum coating.

Close-up of nanogenerator
Close-up image shows a prototype direct-current nanogenerator fabricated by Georgia Tech researchers using an array of zinc oxide nanowires. (Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek). 300 dpi JPG = 635.19 KB

The electrode is then lowered on top of the nanowire array, leaving just enough space so that a significant number of the nanowires are free to flex within the gaps created by the tips. Moved by mechanical energy such as waves or vibration, the nanowires periodically contact the tips, transferring their electrical charges. By capturing the tiny amounts of current produced by hundreds of nanowires kept in motion, the generators produce a direct current output in the nano-Ampere range. Wang and his group members Xudong Wang, Jinhui Song and Jin Liu expect that with optimization, their nanogenerator could produce as much as 4 watts per cubic centimeter – based on a calculation for a single nanowire. That would be enough to power a broad range of nanometer-scale defense, environmental and biomedical applications, including biosensors implanted in the body, environmental monitors – and even nanoscale robots. Nearly a year ago, in the April 14, 2006 issue of the journal Science, Wang’s research team announced the concept behind the nanogenerators. At that time, the nanogenerator could harvest power from just one nanowire at a time by dragging the tip of an atomic force microscope (AFM) over it. Made of platinum-coated silicon, the tip served as a Schottky barrier, helping accumulate and preserve the electrical charge as the nanowire flexed – and ensuring that the current flowed in one direction. With its multiple conducting tips similar to those of an AFM, the new zig-zag electrode serves as a Schottky barrier to hundreds or thousands of wires simultaneously, harvesting energy from the nanowire arrays. “Producing the top electrode as a single assembly sets the stage for scaling up this technology,” Wang said. “We can now see the steps involved in moving forward to a device that can power real nanometer-scale applications.”

Schematic of nanogenerator
Schematic shows the direct current nanogenerator built using aligned ZnO nanowire arrays with a zigzag top electrode. The nanogenerator is driven by an external ultrasonic wave or mechanical vibration and the output current is continuous. 300 dpi JPG = 147.23 KB
Before that happens, additional development will be needed to optimize current production. For instance, though nanowires in the arrays can be grown to approximately the same length – about one micron – there is some variation. Wires that are too short cannot touch the electrode to produce current, while wires that are too long cannot flex to produce electrical charge. “We need to be able to better control the growth, density and uniformity of the wires,” Wang said. “We believe we can make as many as millions or even billions of nanowires produce current simultaneously. That will allow us to optimize operation of the nanogenerator.” In their lab, the researchers aimed an ultrasound source at their nanogenerator to measure current output over slightly more than an hour. Though there is some fluctuation in output, the current flow was continuous as long as the ultrasonic generator was operating, Wang said. To rule out other sources of the current measured, the researchers substituted carbon nanotubes – which are not piezoelectric – for the zinc oxide nanowires, and used a top electrode that was flat. In both cases, the resulting devices did not produce current. Providing power for nanometer-scale devices has long been a challenge. Batteries and other traditional sources are too large, and tend to negate the size advantages of nanodevices. And since batteries contain toxic materials such as lithium and cadmium, they cannot be implanted into the body as part of biomedical applications. Because zinc oxide is non-toxic and compatible with the body, the new nanogenerators could be integrated into implantable biomedical devices to wirelessly measure blood flow and blood pressure within the body. And they could also find more ordinary applications. “If you had a device like this in your shoes when you walked, you would be able to generate your own small current to power small electronics,” Wang noted. “Anything that makes the nanowires move within the generator can be used for generating power. Very little force is required to move them.” Research News & Publications Office Georgia Institute of Technology 75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 100 Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail ( Technical Contact: Zhong Lin Wang (404-894-8008); E-mail: ( Writer: John Toon


NSSO ponders harvesting solar energy via satellites

Posted Apr 12th 2007 5:15AM by Darren Murph (from Engadget)

When you've already got colleagues dreaming up space sunshades, all of a sudden harvesting energy from outside of the Earth's atmosphere doesn't sound like such a stretch. Apparently, ambitious individuals at the Pentagon's National Security Space Office (NSSO) may "begin a study in the near future on the possibility of using satellites to collect solar energy for use on Earth." Notably, the plan actually seeks to not only provide an alternate source of fuel to the oil-dependent dwellers here on Mother Earth, but it would hopefully provide ample energy "to US troops in bases or on the battlefield." As impossible as it may sound, the present probably isn't a bad time to consider such an endeavor now that solar cells are becoming increasingly efficient, and since an actual deployment wouldn't even be in the cards until "around 20 years" from now, it's not like there's oodles of time to waste. [Via Wired]


Samsung's Mobile WiMax MITs devices go live in S.Korea

from Engadget by Thomas Ricker

As if you weren't already feeling cheated by your data plan, Samsung comes along and launches a few Mobile WiMax MITs (Mobile Intelligent Terminal) devices in S.Korea: their SPH-M8100 WinMo 6.0 cellphone and SPH-P9000 (pictured) all-out convergence thingamajig. That's right, 12Mbps or about 2-3 Mbps when traveling up 120-KPH (75-MPH). While the Mobile WiMax (or WiBro as it's hailed in its Korean home) service isn't country-wide yet, Korea Telecom's offering does cover the 10M+ people scooting about Seoul and its southern suburbs including 17 universities and 4 subway lines. How S.Korea pulled a 19 ranking on the technology superpower list still has us scratching our heads.


Sony Demos 9mm-thick High-Def OLED Displays

9mm%20Sony.jpg Look and yearn folks. This here is Sony's new OLED display. It's an obscene 9mm thick yet it packs a 1080p resolution along with a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. Just as a recap, OLED displays are thinner and brighter than their LCD counterparts and they suck up less power. Sony was showing this beaut off at this week's Display 2007 Expo down in Japan. And if you like that, you'll love their other display, which believe it or not is thinner measuring in at....


3mm thick. This one isn't HD, however, capping out at 1,024 x 600. No word on when we'll see either of them, but this is a very promising sign of what OLED is capable of.


FlickrCash lightbox grid - Augustine's Flowers

link to my hardcover, coffee-table book :-)


OnRequest Images Raises $9M (stock images)

from alarm:clock by BT Seattle's OnRequest Images has raised $9M from Menlo Ventures and current investors Maveron and Frazier Technology Ventures. OnRequest is an odd bird investment. The company sells a range of photo management services to corporations to help them manage their brands. It claims to employ a global network of more than 1,600 photographers, combines that with pre-and-post production services, and Web-based image management, licensing and rights management services, and brand imagery consulting, OnRequest Images empowers brands to develop the right visual approach based on culture, ethnicity, and demographics. OnRequest claims to give companies original photos that other companies can't use. It points to two advertisers that used the same stock photograph of a man in their ads -- Met Life and Viagra. Do viewers notice? Who knows.


Lumileds - Philip's Luxeon Rebel

from PSFK Trend: PSFK by Piers Fawkes A new micro-LCD light system that Philips have developed. At just 3mm by 4.5mm, the Luxeon Rebel delivers 80 lumens per watt which makes it just about the most efficient light source around. The small size reduces the manufacturing costs and the size of the circuit board helps it fit in fixtures that are 50% slimmer. It is also colour balanced in warm, neutral or cool white so it will look good in the home. “LUXEON Rebel will cause a rapid change in solid-state lighting design,” said David Eastley, Product Manager. “LUXEON Rebel takes advantage of our latest chip, phosphor and packaging technologies to accelerate the use of LEDs in a wide range of lighting applications, particularly residential and other ‘white lighting’ applications for which LED options have been limited.”


'You Who?' - Trust in Web 2.0

Posted by centernetworks 04/12/2007

At the end of 2006, Time magazine decided that its person of the year was 'You'. Yes, You. All the You's that create and rate content on heavy hitting sites such as MySpace, Wikipedia and YouTube. The reason behind this is that a shift has happened where content isn't generated or rated by experts anymore. Instead it's by everyday folk like you. This is further back up by a recent Revolution survey showed that within the 16-44 age group: 48% have been to a blog site 26% have created their own blog 74% have rated or reviewed products, content or services You and user generated content User generated content is one of the key foundations of Web 2.0. (For those of you that haven't heard the hype, Web 2.0 is a term created to define the second phase of the Internet following the dot com crash.) One of the key foundations of Web 2.0 is new functionality that changes content within a page based on what a user does. But let's get back to You - after all, this article is all about You! First of all who are You and more importantly how can I trust You? In fact the same question applies to me from your perspective. Who am I and more importantly how do you know that anything I write is worth the HTML it's coded in? Currently there's an avalanche of new content being written on the web. The problem is that it becomes very hard to work out whether the source is accurate and whether the people looking at it know anything at all. So is there anything from web 1.0 that can help us? Trust in Web 1.0 In the old days (read the 1990's) trust was mostly to do with ecommerce. How could you trust a website enough to either give your personal details or credit card numbers to buy something? A whole set of standards was subsequently developed to ensure users trusted your website. Some of the key points were to: Prove there's a real organisation behind your site (e.g. contact details, about us section) Explain what you're going to do with sensitive information Provide third party evidence of your credibility (e.g. testimonials) Have a professional design Regularly update the site so it looks alive and fresh Avoid all errors of any kind But are these guidelines still relevant? Do we need any other guidelines? The problem with user generated content In Web 2.0 the issue of trust has moved away from the people that run the site and is now starting to focus more on the people that populate it. People are engaging with each other at a one to one level in so many ways, such as: Business (e.g. eBay) Pleasure (e.g. MySpace, YouTube, Secondlife) Information (e.g. Wikipedia, Digg) Classifieds (e.g. Craigslist, Gumtree) The issue of 'Can I trust this site?' still exists, but the new issue, 'Can I trust the people on it?' is now equally important. The main difference now is that content is being generated by anyone and then being rated by anyone. How can you be sure that what other users write is true? For example, there's been some controversy about the reliability of articles on Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia. Even more controversy occurred when a guy solicited dates from other men pretending to be a woman on the personals section of Craigslist. He then published all their personal details on the web! Yet another example is online restaurant guides. How can you trust someone's review when you don't know their tastes? Is the reviewer someone who goes out solely for tasty food or someone who goes out for the atmosphere/occasion? So, how do we resolve these issues? Trust 2.0: Ensuring trust in Web 2.0 To ensure site visitors continue to trust your site, you need to ensure users are who they say they are. Ways you can achieve this when users are registering include: E-mail an activation link Send a text message with an activation code Send the activation code to a home or business address You can also: Only allow site visitors access to content/functionality if recommended by a registered user (LinkedIn, the online career network, does this) Show people you know their IP address when they're logged in Collect users' credit card details If site visitors know you've validated the credibility of users creating content, they're far more likely to trust that content. Other ways of increasing trust of user generated content, and enhance the credibility of users, include: Make users' profiles publicly available to everyone in the community (the profile can include tastes, expertise or experience, for example) Allow users to rate a person for their content, services or products (eBay does this) Set up a reference system to highlight respected contributors (Amazon now gives out 'badges' to reviewers, where they get tagged with 'real name' (if the site can verify that it's their real name) or 'top 500 reviewer' (if the site feels the person has given good reviews)) Have real time face-to-face interaction (e.g. Skype on eBay, Winebit) You won't of course need (or want) to implement all of these techniques - think about what your site is trying to achieve and the needs of your audience. You should then be able to come up with an appropriate trust strategy. Conclusion Guidelines for ensuring trust borne out of Web 1.0 still remain very valid in today's Internet. After all, web users need to be able to trust your website and the content that you've put on there. They also need to trust content generated by other users - follow some of the advice in this article to ensure this! This article was written by Mark Halabi. He's crazy about web usability and accessibility - so crazy that he's head of client services at usability and accessibility consultancy, Webcredible. He's extremely good at running focus groups and carrying out card sorting sessions.


popularity contest


A tale of two animated cursor attacks

April 9th, 2007 Posted by Ryan Naraine (ZDNet) At the height of the animated cursor(.ani) attacks last week, there were two different groups using different motives to hit a different set of targets. According to Websense Security Labs, the first set of attacks started in the China region and appear to be the work of groups within the Asia Pacific Region. The attackers have compromised hundreds of machines and placed IFRAME’s back to the main servers that host the exploit code. In most cases the payload and motivation of these attacks is to gather credentials for online games. A few days later, a second set of attacks started up from a group in Eastern Europe known for using malware lures to launch identity theft attacks. This group has been placing exploit code on sites for many years now and has a very resilient infrastructure. They have used WMF, VML, and several other exploits in there routines previously. As of now they have also added the ANI attacks to their arsenal. The payload and motivation is somewhat different however as they are more known to install rootkit’s and crimeware which is designed to install form grabbing software and keyloggers in order to compromise end-user banking details. Also in the past they have installed fake anti-spyware software as a distraction and as a means to falsify someone into acquiring some anti-spyware software. More than two weeks after the attacks were first spotted, there are still more than 2,000 unique sites that are hosting exploit code and/or are compromised and are pointing to machines that host exploit code, Websense said. According to Andreas Marx of AV Test, there are more than 46,000 different URLs that together serve up almost 3,000 different corrupted animated cursor files.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

'Flexible' plastic for electronic circuits?

April 11th, 2007 ‘Flexible’ plastic for electronic circuits?Posted by Roland Piquepaille @ 9:39 am Categories: By adding a polymer acid to a common plastic, chemists at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a plastic with changeable conductivity which could be used to build future electronic devices. This 'doped' plastic can be manufactured at room temperature and can have a conductivity ten times higher than the 'non-doped' one. The flexible sheets of plastics obtained in the lab can be printed with wires and interconnects which could be used to design military camouflage that changes colors, foldable electronic displays and medical sensors. This project has been led by Yueh-Lin (Lynn) Loo, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, and the members of her research group. Below is a picture of Loo holding a pliable sheet with printed polyaniline wires and interconnects (Credit: Caroling Lee, University of Texas at Austin). Here are two links to a larger version of this photo and to a page containing several other pictures. Here are some more details about this 'doped' plastic. By combining polyaniline [also known as PANI,] with a chemical that gives it conductivity, Loo discovered she could increase the plastic's conductivity one- to six-fold based on the version of the chemical added. Chemically altered polyaniline has several advantages over the more commonly used metals, like gold and copper, in devices other than computers. For example, Loo’s previous research has demonstrated that “doped” polyaniline can be manufactured in solution at room temperatures and without vacuum chambers. Producing metal-based wires requires special manufacturing conditions in addition to the high cost of the metals. I'm sure you all want to know what was the special ingredient added to polyaniline (PANI) to increase its conductivity. It's a polymer acid named poly(2-acrylamido-2-methyl-1-propanesulfonic acid), or PAAMPSA. But if I've named this post "PAAMPSA meets PANI," would you have read it? For more information, this research work has been published by the Journal of Materials Chemistry under the name "Improving the Electrical Conductivity of Polymer-Acid-Doped Polyaniline by Controlling the Template Molecular Weight" (Volume 17, Issue 13, Pages 1268-1275, 2007). Here are two links to the abstract and to the full paper (PDF format, 8 pages, 392 KB). You also may want to read a previous news release about Loo's work, "Putting a charge in plastics" (January 16, 2006), describing how she researches ways to make cheap, flexible electronic devices. Sources: University of Texas at Austin news release, April 9, 2007; and various websites


5 lessons of Photobucket Fiasco

from GigaOM by Om Malik Photobucket, which started out as a plain-vanilla hosting service, cried wolf last night when it claimed that MySpace was blocking its videos. The truth came out this morning: because Photobucket is selling ads on videos that get shown on MySpace via widgets, MySpace is blocking them just like it would anyone else. It is clearly an emotional issue, as you can tell from the big debate that rages on the blogs. The fact is, Photobucket and MySpace are both for-profit entities, and this is less about emotion than it is about capitalism. Nevertheless, there are some lessons here for start-ups hoping to thrive in the new disaggregated web world. Don’t depend too much on one partner, especially one you don’t have a formal relationship with. Or as one smart commentator writes, “One line of code from that 3rd party literally puts these guys out of business.” If you are going to depend on one partner, don’t make waves. Stay under the radar. I am sure bragging in Fortune didn’t help Photobucket’s case. Don’t lose sight of your own mantra. Photobucket said all along it was just a service provider, and didn’t care about page views on its own site. How it was going to scale and build its revenues, based on that model, is a tough question Photobucket didn’t ask itself in the early days. Pay to play and ensure longevity. Remember, even Google had to pay MySpace, and you the start-up are not that special. Free is a tactic, not a business model, and has strings attached to it. Liz pointed out during a chat this morning that these are all truisms of the old media world that some optimists had thought wouldn’t apply to to the new new media world. Now, it seems the new theories of disaggregation are getting throughly trampled. I haven’t had a chance to ponder over that, but would like to throw this open to debate and get your thoughts on this. Are there other lessons to be learned from this fiasco? What does Photobucket do? Become a destination? Are destinations a better option for a start-up? Let the conversation begin!


24-inch LED Backlit LCD Coming from Samsung

byJohn Martellaro, 4:40 PM EDT, April 11th, 2007 Samsung has announced a 24-inch (60 cm) LED backlit LCD display with 180 degree viewing and near perfect light uniformity, according to DailyTech. "As notebooks become thinner, the need for LED-backlit screens become more important as they take up far less space and requires less power," the author reported. "The same is true for desktop displays, but LED-backlit LCD panels are used primarily for a different reason here: uniformity and color gamut." The new displays boast a high contrast ratio and excellent color saturation. Samsung said that these displays will reach 111 percent of the NTSC standard while traditional LCDs commonly manage about 72 percent. The resolution will be 1920 x 1200 and the panel will have a true 180 degree viewing angle. In terms of availability, Samsung hasn't yet committed. However, the author noted that," the lag between Samsung panel announcements and monitor production can sometimes exceed six months." With the new 24-inch LCD monitor display, technology-demanding consumers, professional graphics designers and digital photographers will enjoy the same true-to-life colors that premium LCD TVs can provide, thanks to Samsung's proprietary LED backlight. The LED-backlit monitor panel has an industry-high color saturation level of 111% (of NTSC standard) compared to a saturation level of only 72% of NTSC for conventional monitors.The panel's 24-inch screen size is optimal for systems equipped with the Windows Vista operating system. While conventional thinking has been that Windows Vista works best with a 22-inch screen (the size of two A4 pieces of paper), 22 inches is not wide enough to support full-HD. In addition, industry experts now say that 24 inches provides a better Windows Vista fit to also include the Vista right side bar and margins.The advent of Windows Vista and the spread of HD technology have accelerated the demand for wide-screen monitors delivering true-color imagery. Meanwhile, a steadily increasing number of consumers are using their monitors to watch high quality video images. Samsung's new 24-inch LCD display with its vivid colors represents one of the most advanced monitor screens available today to meet market needs.The new monitor display also features Samsung's highly successful S-PVA (Super Patterned-ITO Vertical Alignment) technology that provides the widest viewing angle possible—180 degrees—at the highest contrast ratio for LCD monitors today (>1,000:1). It also supports WUXGA resolution (1,920x1,200 pixels), which is the computer equivalent to Full HD resolution.The new display's backlight does not use mercury and is therefore is environmentally-friendly.


KFC ad agency strikes again with "Mosquito tone" commercial

from Engadget by Evan Blass Filed under:

Even though its food tastes like crap, you have to give poultry kingpin KFC credit for thinking outside the box when it comes to TV spots, using innovative commercials to lure unsuspecting folks into purchasing its disgusting slop. You probably remember the company's last high-profile ad which forced viewers to watch in slo-mo in order to get the password for a free sandwich, and now it's utilizing that supposedly "kids-only," high-pitched ringtone in an attempt to drum up interest in the new Boneless Variety Bucket. At some point during the ad for this family-friendly meal, the so-called "Mosquito" tone is played in the background, and the first 1,000 kids who correctly guess where the sound was placed get $10 in KFC gift certificates (just enough to cover the $9.99 Variety Bucket, but tax is coming out of their allowances). With such a small number of prizes in play, it would seem that the home of finger-lickin' good chicken learned its lesson from the DVR ad, meaning that all of the coupons will probably be gone by the time the contest answer is leaked onto the internet. Still, no matter how many people win or lose, KFC is getting a whole lot of free advertising out of this promotion, so watch the commercial or not, the Colonel always comes out on top.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

NYTimes: Corbis - A Photo Trove, a Mounting Challenge

Lisa Kyle for The New York Times

Corbis, started by Bill Gates in 1989, owns millions of images, some of them kept underground in a former limestone mine in rural Pennsylvania.

Published: April 10, 2007

In some sense, the iconic photograph of Rosa Parks recreating her quiet act of rebellion on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., belongs to every American. But as a practical matter, it belongs to Bill Gates.

Shoring Up an Archive
Arthur Sasse/Corbis

Marilyn Monroe during the filming of “The Seven Year Itch.”

Anyone wanting to use that image in a book or on a Web site must first license it from Corbis, a corporation founded and owned by Mr. Gates, who is better known for starting Microsoft. The photo is among the 11 million prints and negatives in the legendary Bettmann archive, which Corbis bought in 1995.

Since that first purchase, Corbis has spent tens of millions of dollars acquiring image collections and other companies, hired more than 1,000 people and set up two dozen offices worldwide. Although Corbis says it brings in some $250 million a year in sales, it has yet to turn a profit.

Now the company is shuffling its top executives as it takes on new challenges, building up a business in rights management and plotting its response to the rise of low-cost online photo services that threaten to undermine its lucrative stock photo sales.

The company plans to announce Tuesday that Gary Shenk, the president, is being made chief executive as well. Mr. Shenk, 36, is an expert in rights licensing who has risen rapidly through the Corbis ranks since he was hired in 2003 from Universal Studios, where he started a small licensing unit.

Steve Davis, 49, the departing chief executive, will continue as a senior adviser after 10 years of running the company.

The move into rights clearance, which involves sorting out the questions of who owns what material and how much they should be paid for its use, is a departure from the original vision for the company.

Mr. Gates started Corbis in 1989 with the idea that people would someday decorate their homes with a revolving display of digital artwork — interspersing, say, Cecil Stoughton’s shot of John F. Kennedy Jr. playing under the desk in the Oval Office with photos of their own families at play.

That is not how things have worked out. But meanwhile Corbis has built up a formidable stash of historical photos, including those in the Bettmann Archive. In 1999, Corbis acquired the licensing rights to the Sygma collection in France, and two years ago it did the same with a German stock image company called Zefa. It licenses those images for an average of about $250 apiece.

Corbis also owns digital reproduction rights for art from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the National Gallery in London.

In all, Corbis represents or owns the rights to more than 100 million images, including some of the most famous photographs ever — Arthur Sasse’s photo of Einstein sticking his tongue out and Marilyn Monroe on the subway grate. And Corbis handles the licensing of millions of other images on behalf of thousands of photographers.

The archival photos bring in about half of Corbis’s sales, but the company also has a stable of professional photographers who generate stock photos for advertising and media clients — images of children on playgrounds, people sitting in business meetings and men in khakis swinging golf clubs.

Over the past few years, Corbis has moved beyond newspaper and magazine clients to pursue advertising and graphic design agencies, as well as corporate marketing departments, which are turning increasingly to high-quality stock photography rather than doing their own expensive photo shoots.

Those customers are also buying from Corbis’s growing library of 30,000 short video clips — mostly generic scenes of, say, people shopping or running down the beach.

What Corbis did not foresee was the rise of so-called microstock agencies like Fotolia and iStockPhoto. These sites take advantage of the phenomenon known as crowdsourcing, or turning to the online masses for free or low-cost submissions. Thousands of amateur and semiprofessional photographers armed with high-quality digital cameras and a copy of Photoshop contribute photographs to microstock sites, which often charge $1 to $5 an image.

Although the microstock business still represents a small fraction of the $2 billion market for stock photos, analysts say it is possible that low micropayment prices could take business away from the higher-priced images Corbis relies on for the bulk of its revenues.

“Think about how visual the world is,” said Barbara Coffey, a senior research analyst at Kaufman Brothers in New York who follows the stock photography market. “We have pictures on our cellphones. If I can get a reasonably clear picture and the rights are cleared and I pay $2 for it, then why would I pay Corbis $200?”

The rise of the microstock companies has been of particular concern to Corbis. For all its new lines of business, the company still gets some 88 percent of its revenues from image licenses, yet commands only about 11 percent of that market. Getty Images dominates the market with a 40 percent share.

Getty, which has grown quickly since its start in 1995 with the backing of its wealthy co-founder, Mark Getty, has a foothold in microstock thanks to iStockPhoto, which it bought last year for $50 million.

Mr. Shenk said Corbis would announce its plans for the microstock business sometime this quarter. As for the question of how a high-end company enters that business without cannibalizing its more expensive products, Mr. Shenk said the idea was to find a new kind of customer, people who would never envision buying pictures from a Corbis or Getty.

In that vein, Mr. Shenk said Corbis would make its service as easy to use as the iTunes store of Apple and hinted that Corbis would also be following the crowdsourcing model.

“More interesting and innovative things are happening on the pages of Flickr these days than on Corbis and Getty,” said Mr. Shenk, referring to the photo-sharing site owned by Yahoo. “If we can use this type of opportunity to find the next great group of Corbis photographers, that also makes it a great opportunity for us.”

Corbis is also betting heavily on its Creative Resources division, which includes rights services and recorded 44 percent growth in revenue last year, to $30.1 million.

Mr. Shenk, who will take over from Mr. Davis at the end of June, is most likely the biggest reason for that growth. When Mr. Shenk left Universal for Corbis in 2003, he took five people and an impressive Rolodex with him. Now nearly 30 Corbis employees work in rights clearance, in offices in Los Angeles, New York, Europe and Asia.

Mr. Shenk, a Hollywood veteran who is an expert in what he calls “new ways to sell media,” said he believed Corbis was offering something unique in building a worldwide network of rights experts. The business of rights clearance, he said, is often a matter of knowing whom to call, and the idea is to make Corbis the first place that comes to mind when, say, an advertising agency is trying to clear the rights to use an image, video clip, or song.

Such was the case when the band U2 made its most recent video, for “Window in the Skies,” which braided together some 100 clips of old stars like Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, synched to the new song’s music and lyrics. Corbis helped the band’s production company negotiate a thicket of publicity rights.

Roughly one-third of Corbis’s 1,100 employees are in downtown Seattle, in an old bank building well suited to the company’s hip self-image. The vast, open, two-story space has retained several enormous vaults that once held gold bars and now serve as photocopy and office supply rooms. Conference rooms are named after famous photographers, and copies of their work cover many of the walls.

The Corbis photographs themselves are not stored in Seattle, except digitally on the computers there. And those digital images constitute only a small fraction of Corbis’s holdings. Of the 50 million items in the Sygma collection, just 800,000 have been digitized.

The prints and negatives from Otto L. Bettmann’s archive, as well as those from a few smaller collections, are kept 220 feet underground in a former limestone mine in rural Pennsylvania. In February, Corbis announced that it would be storing the Sygma collection in a preservation facility near Paris.

As ventures go, Corbis represents a small investment for Mr. Gates. He pays for large expenditures, and the company uses its revenues to cover smaller projects within the firm.

Mr. Gates’s involvement in the company is minimal. He spends only two to three hours each month meeting with Corbis management. Yet it is clear that he makes the big decisions. He has no interest, for example, in treating the undigitized portions of the image collections like one of his charities by, say, donating them to a public entity.

Despite the hands-off approach, Mr. Gates is apparently never far from the minds of Corbis employees. Mr. Shenk is in the process of relocating to Seattle from Los Angeles, and his sparsely decorated office in Seattle is evidence of the commuter life he has been leading. The only work of art in evidence one recent afternoon was on Mr. Shenk’s whiteboard, where a colleague had drawn the unmistakable likeness of Mr. Gates, peering out from behind his glasses.

“Keep up the good work, Shenk,” Mr. Gates says. “Or I’ll kill you.”


Monday, April 09, 2007

FlickrCash - 200,000+ results on Google


ETech: Big Company Hacks at Yahoo

Written by Alex Iskold (from Read/WriteWeb) / March 29, 2007

Earlier today Yahoo launched a Yahoo Mail API. Recently we analyzed the current API and Mashup trends on the Web and noted that Yahoo is one of the big companies most active in this area. Also not long ago we profiled Yahoo! Pipes - a new tool that, we argued, treats the web as the database. We later expanded these ideas in our post entitled When Sites become Web Services. The major theme running through all these posts is that the Web is turning into a database exposed via APIs. Web giants like Google, Amazon and Yahoo! have been tapping into the large web development community, by exposing their services via APIs.

Here at ETech, Chad Dickerson, Sr. Director of the Yahoo! Developer Network, gave a session about Yahoo's experience in engaging its own engineers to utilize Yahoo! APIs in creative ways.

According to Programmable Web, Yahoo! currently has over twenty APIs. These APIs, along with additional development resources, are available on the Yahoo! Developer Network. There is plenty to dive into - from the better known Flickr, Chat and Map APIs to online Ad Management and Web Site Analytic services. The latest edition is of course the Mail API. These APIs provide a big opportunity to get creative. So to facilitate the exploration and to encourage the discovery of new mashups - and possibly products - Yahoo! management decided to call on their own engineers to play around. Or in Yahoo's lingo, to hack. The official Yahoo! Hacks program calls for self-directed projects by Y! engineers, which do not need to be approved by anyone in advance.

Yahoo's method to the madness

The self-organization is exciting and powerful, but to get results there needs to be control. Yahoo's answer is "Hack days", where developers can showcase their creations to their colleagues. Here are the rules:

  • Build something in 24 hours;
  • No Power Points;
  • Present in 90 seconds;
  • No prior review, anything goes.

These rules encourage small teams to do what they love, letting people create what they want and, occasionally, letting the bizarre out.

In addition to internal hacking, Yahoo! opened up the program to a group of external hackers and invited them in September to the Yahoo! campus for a full day of hacking. According to Yahoo! the day turned out to be a "mega success".

Examples of Hacks

What goes on during the internal hack days is kind of a secret. Chad shared an example of a rather controversial hack. It was a web site built in 'Hot or Not' style, showing pictures of Yahoo! employees and letting people choose who they think is the boss of who. The application kept track of all "mistakes" and then displayed a chart for who should be promoted or demoted. Apparently calls from the Human Resources department followed.

Another hack was a purse that would take a photo after you walk every 100 steps and then use the Flickr API to upload it online. Yet another interesting hack was created by a group of developers, who turned an old TV into a widget display. One of the widgets connected to the internet and showed (you guessed it) the current weather.


At first, this 'hack' culture might seem to be somewhat chaotic and wasteful. It is in a way, but there is also a big potential gain. By using self-organization, Yahoo! bets that while a lot of these hacks will be mildly interesting - there may be a handful that are profound and game changing for the company. Since there are so many APIs, possibilities are almost endless.

Yahoo! hacks is a great program that could lead to breakthrough ideas and products. The key question is how to add a process on top of this dynamic and fluid process, that drives productization and monetization of the best prototypes. Presumably, the really interesting solutions get noticed and get on the management radar screen. It is not clear if Yahoo! is doing this already, but it would seem that an nternal, Digg-like system where all Yahoo! employees would be able to rate creations, could be also helpful. We will see over the next year or so how Yahoo! executes this project, but the potential is definitely there.


Amazon enters PPA contextual market

AmazonAmazon announced today to its affiliates that their new PPA model has moved into Beta. Named "Context Links" the program most resembles those by Kontera and Vibrant Media. I have used Vibrant Media's Intellitxt offering on HTMLCenter and it has provided some additional revenue for the site without being overwhelming.

With Amazon's program, you just add code to your page and Amazon takes care of the rest. You are not technically "supporting" a specific product; Amazon figures out what to show. And the links are based on the words already within your content. So you might be wondering how this differs from the announcement from Google last week about their PPA offering. Pretty simple actually. With Google's PPA program, you add content to your page pushing the links. I believe Google's setup is more along the lines of the Payperpost model.

I have placed the code within some of the tutorials on HTMLCenter but it is not showing links yet (links are now showing). The Context Links setup is very easy and flexible... here is a screenshot:


Will these contextual (PPA) ads work long-term? I know they have worked for me for a couple of years and so far I have not had lots of pushback on HTMLCenter. You might be wondering if I will add them to CN... not yet, still working on the optimal setup for ads for CN.

It is interesting to think about how ads have evolved. We started outside the content, then moved inside with the 300 boxes and so forth and now we are linking the internal story content. Not sure we can go any much deeper than that!


No RIAA For The Comic Book Industry

Contributed by Mike Friday, April 6th, 2007 @ 4:43AM from the and-that's-a-good-thing dept Lee writes "The digitization and subsequent illegal distribution of copyrighted media isn't just affecting movies and music. The creators of comic books seem to be going through the same business model shift as the recording and motion picture industries. As with all such changes, some people are more willing to accept it than others. Steven Grant at has an interesting article about how the comic book world is dealing with life in the 21st century. He makes some good points and clearly understands that things are not going to change unless there's some innovation in the comic book business model." He basically points out that file sharing isn't going away, and the industry needs to learn to accept it, use it for promotions, but ask people to keep buying the comic books they want. Considering that, for many, comic books are for collecting, this doesn't seem too far fetched. Though, at the same time, the industry may want to look at other changes to their business model as well, such as bundling other things into the mix as well (e.g., if you buy the actual comic you get entered into a sweepstakes to have your name used as a character in a future comic). There are plenty of ways to make buying the actual comic books more valuable than just downloading them -- and then if you use the downloads just as promotions, you can encourage more people to buy by exposing more people to the comic itself.


Apple sells 100 millionth iPod, deems experiment a success

from Engadget by Evan Blass Filed under: Has it really only been five and a half years since the first iPod rolled off the assembly line and into the initially-skeptical arms of music-loving consumers worldwide? Well since that time we've seen an entire ecosystem of third-party and DIY accessories sprout up around Apple's ubiquitous little jukebox -- from the pretty handy to the just plain weird -- along with endless humorous anecdotes, an infinite number of knockoffs, serious political, legal, and environmental movements, and of course, an almost daily barrage of wild rumors the likes of which the world has never known. So it's with mixed emotion that we welcome the 100 millionth iPod into the world (enough for almost every man, woman, and child in Mexico): on the one hand, it gives us warm fuzzies to see perennial underdog Apple come out on top for a change, but we also hope that the company employs its leadership position responsibly, such as being a little less quick to sic the lawyers on anyone who dares use the "Pod" name in vain. And as for the next 100 million iPods? Is PC-less downloading just over the horizon? When will we finally see the move to an all flash lineup? Will Apple finally take the leap and merge its prize pig with -- gasp! -- a cellular telephone? As always, only time -- and Uncle Steve -- will tell.


Why Google Isn't Stealing Newspaper Content

Contributed by Mike (TechDirt) Monday, April 9th, 2007 @ 6:45AM

from the make-it-stop dept

This is just getting ridiculous. Google may have signaled its willingness to pay up with its deal with AFP, and now it seems that newspaper publishers are interested in taking them up on the offer. OJR reports that Sam Zell, who is in the process of buying the Tribune Company, has lashed out at publishers for letting Google "steal" their content: "If all the newspapers in America did not allow Google to steal their content for nothing, what would Google do, and how profitable would Google be?" This sounds quite similar to columnist David Lazarus' "plan" to save the newspaper industry. Unfortunately, they've got the situation completely backwards. Google is not "stealing" content. They're also not making their money off of other's content. What they're doing is making that content a lot more valuable by making it much easier to find. Google isn't making money on the content -- but on driving more people to that content (and on the news side, they don't make any money directly, since they don't run ads on Google News). It's bizarre that this is so difficult for those in the publishing industry to understand. You don't yell at the phone book for "making money" off of your contact information. You don't yell at tour books for "making money" off of other people's locations. You recognize that they make money by being a guide or a directory -- just like Google. Either way, it doesn't bode well that the guy who's taking over the Tribune Company doesn't seem to have the slightest clue how Google works or how it's helping, not hurting, the business he's in the process of buying.