Friday, May 25, 2007

Fear Of Identity Theft Discourages Consumers From Banking Online

Proactive security measures increase online banking confidence and use, study says By By Deena M. Amato-McCoy Bank Systems & Technology May 08, 2007 For fear of becomming the next victim of identity theft, 150 million U.S. consumers don't bank online, according to experts. But the banking industry could improve profitability by as much as $8.3 billion per year if banks build consumers' confidence in online security, according to the TriCipher Consumer Online Banking Study, conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research (Pleasanton, Calif.) for TriCipher, a Los Gatos, Calif.-based authentication solutions provider.

The study, which was based on online survey responses from 3,349 U.S. adult consumers, reports that 31 million customers would feel safe enough to begin banking online and another 39 million online users would increase their online banking activity if their banks offered free identity protection software. Further, while only 6 percent of survey respondents have been victims of identity theft or fraud, 41 percent -- which translates to more than 88 million U.S. online banking customers -- would change banks or reduce their online service usage if their individual institution was compromised by a data breach, the study says, making identity protection a significant competitive differentiator.

In addition to consumer demand, regulatory mandates and an increasingly hostile landscape are spurring banks' growing attention to online security, according to John DeSantis, CEO, president and executive chairman, TriCipher. As a result, "Institutions are enforcing stronger protection solutions," he says.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo ($482 billion in assets), for example, uses a multilayered, proactive Internet security strategy, according to Michele Scott, VP, Wells Fargo Online. "This approach relies on in-house expertise and the market's best-of-breed solutions," she explains. "We view education, comprehensive risk management and technology as the keys for fighting fraud," Scott continues, noting that the bank's Web site features a Fraud Information Center ( that teaches consumers how to recognize tactics used to steal personal information and necessary steps to help protect their accounts. The bank also offers account-activity e-mail alerts.

A Free Ride

Consumers are willing to take extra steps to protect their identities, but they do not want to pay extra for these services. "Many view this as a service they should get automatically," explains Stephen Knighten, statistical analyst, Javelin. "They are willing to take extra steps, but not at an expense."

According to the study, 62 percent of online banking users would download and use identity protection software if their banks provided it for free. Consumers are interested in second-factor solutions, including biometrics (33 percent), one-time password tokens (20 percent) and peripheral device recognition solutions (15 percent). "The key to these solutions' success," says Knighten, "is that they must be convenient."

Wells Fargo keeps "security measures as simple and convenient as possible for our customers," says the bank's Scott. "Much of the new security technology that we introduced last year is transparent to the customer. We take on the responsibility of protecting customer accounts rather than placing the burden on our consumers."

While banks must foot the bill for these security measures, they can recover their investments by cross-selling to the lucrative online banking segment, notes TriCipher's DeSantis. "Banks can target them with profitable lines of credit, mortgages and similar products," he says. "The key is to reinforce trust and loyalty of account holders. ... Unless you have their confidence, they will start to stray."


Peer to Patent in the News

March 05, 2007

The Washington Post has an article on the front page today (March 5, 2007) by technology reporter Alan Sipress, "Open Call from the Patent Office."  The article describes the project as follows: "The Patent and Trademark Office is starting a pilot project that will not only post patent applications on the Web and invite comments but also use a community rating system designed to push the most respected comments to the top of the file, for serious consideration by the agency's examiners. A first for the federal government, the system resembles the one used by Wikipedia, the popular user-created online encyclopedia." 

This has been followed by a posting and extended discussion on Slashdot.
Also check out the Wall Street Journal, Tech Meme, The Guardian, and American Public Media Marketplace (audio coming soon!).


AOpen intros Santa Rosa-based miniPC Duo

Given all the buzz surrounding Intel's new Santa Rosa platforms for laptops, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before some company would get the bright idea of re-purposing it for use in a pint-sized desktop PC. From the looks of it, AOpen is the first to go that route (though we somehow doubt it'll be the last), recently introducing its Santa Rosa-based miniPC Duo MP965-VDR. While complete specs are still a bit light, you can expect much of what we've been seeing in Santa Rosa laptops as of late, including Intel's 965GM chipset, support for the latest Core 2 Duo processors, 802.11n WiFi, and an Intel Turbo Memory cache card to speed things up a bit further. Still no word on pricing or availability, unfortunately, though we wouldn't expect AOpen to hold out too much longer on that. [Via 64-Bit Computers]


$350 Dell WinXP mac mini clone

Apple Mac Mini like Desktop Computer from Dell

Dell has unveiled a budget desktop computer that looks very sleek and is available for purchase without a monitor.

The design of this low-cost Dell EC280 resembles the Mac Mini or a set-top box while the technical specs are ideal for basic computer tasks like web surfing, email, sharing pictures, etc.

Dell Mini Prices starts at around $350 so if you have an spare monitor lying unused at home, this Intel based Windows XP machine could be a good option for you. Unfortunately, this is currently available only for the Chinese market.

While the design of EC280 is small and cute, this is not the cheapest option from Dell even when they are targeting the emerging markets.

For instance, the Dell Dimension C521 comes preloaded with Windows Vista Home, bigger hard drive, a faster processor and other accessories for roughly the same price and is available worldwide.

Dell EC280 Product Page | Press Release | Thanks Rob Beschizza


Pieces of trash sold in clear plastic bubbles

200705241049 Steve Lodefink sent in his hard-earned $3 for four plastic bubbles containing pieces of trash from Christopher Goodwin's Trashball! site (motto: "One man's trash is another man's trash"). Steve has photos of each piece of trash contained in the balls, along with his feelings about it.
The actual capsules that the trash treats are packaged in are not your ordinary gumball machine bubbles. These clear polycabonate spheres are not meant to be easily opened. The only place that I have ever seen a case like these is at the core of of one of those light-up superballs. I actually had to destroy one ball to get it open.


I'm just not that kind of person...

Craig writes in with a story about a Dyson vacuum:

I have a question for you about buying decisions.

A while back I upgraded my Dyson vacuum cleaner when I got a great deal on the latest model. I had been using my old one for about 5 years or so but it was still in perfect working order. I had even replaced a couple of attachments for it via the Dyson website. I gave my old Dyson to a friend. She had never used a Dyson before and she loved it. So much so that the very next day her own vacuum cleaner was put outside ready for the refuge collection!

But here’s the thing: a few months later the Dyson I gave her stopped working (not sure why, that thing was indestructible) so she decided to buy a new vacuum. Even though the vacuum I gave her was the best she had ever used, she didn’t buy a Dyson.

I was amazed how someone could love a product so much but replace it with an inferior product. I don’t think it was about cost because I told her where she could get an excellent deal on a new Dyson.

This just doesn’t make sense to me so I thought I’d ask if you had any thoughts as to why this happens?

My take: Craig’s friend didn’t see herself as the kind of person who would buy a Dyson. Sure, she might use one, especially if it was free. But buying a weird, fancy-looking vacuum is an act of self-expression as much as it’s a way to clean your floors. And the act of buying one didn’t match the way his friend saw herself.

So many of the products and services we use are now about our identity. Many small businesses, for example, won’t hire a coach or a consultant because, “that’s not the kind of organization we are.” Wineries understand that the pricing of a bottle of wine is more important than its label or the wine inside. The price is the first thing that most people consider when they order or shop for wine. Not because of perceived value, but because of identity.


Internet Explorer 7: Put IE7's menubar in its place


The rare times I do use Internet Explorer 7, I can't stop reaching for the missing "File|Edit|View" menu, which is hidden by default. It's easy enough to turn it on, but it appears below the Address Bar when you do. The How-To Geek explains how to reposition the menubar to the top of the window with a registry hack.

Registry edits shouldn't be done lightly, so for those of you who want an easier point and click method, check out the previously-mentioned IE7Pro. (Once IE7Pro is installed - restart required - from IE7's Tools menu, choose IE7pro Preferences, and in the Settings area, check off "Top IE menu." Restart IE7 to see the menu relocation.) —Gina Trapani

Place IE7 Menu Bar Back On Top [The How-To Geek]


Can CAPTCHAs solve book-digitizing?

Cory Doctorow: Here's an interesting proposal to replace the text in CAPTCHAs (those boxes where you type distorted words) with text that has stymied the optical character recognition software used to digitize old public domain books.

It's a clever hack, but there's one thing I don't understand. CAPTCHAs are supposed to contain a word known to the computer. You key it in and the computer confirms that you're a human being by comparing your entry to what the computer knows the CAPTCHA to be.

But if CAPTCHAs contain text unknown to the computer -- and any text that stymies OCR software is, by definition unknown to the computer -- then what's to stop you from entering anything in the CAPTCHA box and gaining entry?

Instead of requiring visitors to retype random numbers and letters, they would retype text that otherwise is difficult for the optical character recognition systems to decipher when being used to digitize books and other printed materials. The translated text would then go toward the digitization of the printed material on behalf of the Internet Archive project .

“I think it’s a brilliant idea — using the Internet to correct OCR mistakes,” said Brewster Kahle, director of the Internet Archive, in a statement. “This is an example of why having open collections in the public domain is important. People are working together to build a good, open system.”

Link (via /.)

Update: Alex sez, "the system works by having two words displayed. One that is computer generated (hence the computer knows what it is) and the other a scan from a book to be solved by the human (you do not know which is which). You enter in both words, if you get the computer generated one correct - the system knows your a human and lets you in. It can then also assume you entered the other non-generated word in correctly and can use it."

See also: Solving and creating captchas with free porn PWNTCHA: defeating CAPTCHAs with software Use kittens to distinguish bots from people


Wall-Mountable Wireless Printer Saves Space, Frames Up Your Print

vertPrinter.jpgWe're usually not too stoked about printers, but this slim wall-mounted wireless printer is different. This design concept is thin enough to hang on the wall like a picture frame, or you can prop it up on a tabletop. When you've printed your page, it displays it for you right there as if it were a work of art. Push the printed paper out the slot on the side, and you're good to go.

We are a little curious about how it gets its power; surely this is not a battery-operated printer, is it? Could it run on a mini fuel cell? For a perfect plug-in installation, perhaps you could fish a wire through the wall to feed it power from behind. Nevertheless, a design like this could be handy, reminding you that you've printed something by displaying it right there in your face. This is a design concept whose technology is here today. Somebody, please build one of these.

Wall-Mountable Wireless Printer [They Should Do That]


Corona Lamps Are Like Sunflowers For Your Tortured Soul

coronalight.jpgThese lamps from designers Emi Fujita and Shane Kohatsu are shaped like sunflowers, sort of, and collect solar power so they can light up your garden at night. The best part about these outdoor lights is that they don't have to be outdoors. You can attach these to the wall, as shown above, and they'll still do a good job collecting solar energy in order to be used at night.

Check out the gallery for more shots of these pretty lamps.

Project Page [Corona Solar Light via Sci Fi]


Rumor: Google Testing Outbound Calling from Google Talk?

googletalk-dialpad.jpgIf this found image is to be believed, Google is in the midst of testing a SkypeOut-like service with their own Google Talk. If you're not familiar, Google Talk is their IM and PC to PC calling app that's tied into other Google apps like GMail.

Why's this interesting? Well, seeing as Google is Google, they'd no doubt integrate calling into some of their other popular products as well. How about (since they're #1 business is still advertising) making you listen to an ad before you make a free call? Or, if you have to pay, making you pay through Google Checkout in order to get a lower fee? Both interesting, and both possible if Google really is going forward with PC-to-phone calling.

Google Talk Dialpad PC to Phone VOIP to Challenge SkypeOut? [Search Engine Journal]


Touchless Cellphone Concept From A Parallel Universe


This is the latest scifi-slash-absurd design concept from branko Lukic. The Tarati is a phone with no keys, you pass your fingers through the keyholes to dial. Lukic describes it best:

Tarati enables the user to connect with others by passing fingers, in order, through key holes. This action of dialing alone is a more magical experience and, hence, more indicative of what's really happening beyond the visible realm. ... Tarati beckons the user to "touch" someone without physically touching a single key. Its design reflects human connectivity in a less material/mechanical, more sensual, way.
Reach out and touch someone, eh? Sounds like a good commercial jingle for a rotary phone company.


NVIDIA's CUDA turns GPUs into high-powered CPUs

Posted May 25th 2007 5:57AM by Nilay Patel

NVIDIA's been dancing around the general-purpose processor market for a while now -- we've heard reports that the company is developing an x86 chip, and it bought PortalPlayer last year for $357 million. Well, at this year's Microprocessor Forum the company took another small step by announcing that the final release of CUDA, its framework for utilizing high-end NVIDIA GPUs as CPUs, which will be available to developers in the second half of the year. While the idea of using a GPU as a secondary high-performance processor isn't a new one -- Folding@Home already runs on NVIDIA and ATI chips, and the Peakstream system already leverages GPUs -- CUDA should make it easier for developers to tap into high-performance graphics devices whenever they're available, without having to specifically tailor their apps to do so. CUDA, which stands for "compute unifed device architecture," currently only supports the GeForce 8800 and 8600 and Quadro FX 4600 and 5600, so it's of limited appeal right now, but here's hoping the next gen of NVIDIA chips supports CUDA from the get-go -- the Engadget Folding@Home team is looking for a few new recruits.


Art Inspired Speakers


We need not say Artcoustics have turned true to its brand name. All the products jubilantly share this Artcoustics vision for combining stunning audio performance with beautiful aesthetics, not sacrificing one for the other. The Art inspired speakers is one of their recent creations. The High-quality speakers are draped in excellent piece of art work thereby taking your home décor to celestial heights. The speaker covers are ink jet with stock art or your own custom images. You home theatres would love clinging next to these speakers.


EcoSmart fire from EcoGreen is Ventless


Fireplaces that offer elegance, low maintenance, eco-friendly and state of the art are hard to come by. If all of the above and more are there on your checklist then EcoSmart fire from EcoGreen Fire is what you are looking for. The modular design allows you to place the open flame nigh on any surface. The new Ventless fire is ideal for apartments that require a cozy fireplace. It offers a selection of grates and surrounds that complement your home environment. It requires no utility connection as it burns with Denatured Ethanol. Practically maintenance free, because the renewable fuel source burns till it is empty, thereafter it needs to be refilled.


Sony CineAlta 4K SRX-R220 projector for great cinema experience

sony.jpg Lucky rich dudes and successful cinema houses are soon going to have one thing in common, they are all going to upgrade to the Sony CineAlta 4K SRX-R220 projector. The profound size of this new projector can give a vertically challenged person a huge complex. This mammoth projector can display 8.850.000 pixels of super high definition recordings in movie theaters and elite homes alike. It is the latest edition to Sony's SXRD (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display) line. Similar to the SRX-R1xx series it still can't reach 10 megapixels, but it features LMT-100 media processor, LMS-100 screen management system, RAID storage and built-in nonstop power supply. The projector boasts of 4096 x 2160 pixels resolution with a 2000:1 contrast and 14 foot Lambert brightness (apparently 47,964 cd/m2, as per Sony's site). the SRX-R220 can comfortably cover a 20 meter screen (65.6 feet) with its 4.2W xenon lamp. The R110 goes up to 17 meters with a 3.0W and 14 meters with a 2.0W lamp. The LMT-100 Media Block displays the pixels onscreen, peps the lowers resolution originals, decrypts the contents, process the multi-channel audio and place subtitles using XML or PNG files. The BNC connector lets you connect your various video gears to it, but you can hook up the computer, PlayStation 3 or AppleTV using a DVI port.


Futuristic Luxury Hotels; some just a concept others, a reality

There are many categories of hotels present in the world today. From the Business hotels to the Budget ones, each of them try to offer their clients something that will want them to come back again. Featured here are hotels that are being made with only one main base- their unique location and design. Some of them are just concepts but others are shaping out to become truly futuristic. Water and space are two elements that have taken the fancy of the developers, as you will notice, most of the hotels are either situated below the sea or above the earth!

8 The Apeiron island hotel
This seven star hotel is still in its conceptual stage. It is $500million project that is being designed by Sybarite. This island hotel will have a total floor area of 200,000m². With over 350 luxury apartment suites, the hotel will be accessible by water (yacht) and air (helicopter) only. 'Apeiron' hotel gets its name from Anaximander's 6th century BC cosmological theory. He believed the beginning of time to be an endless, unlimited mass, subject to neither old age nor decay; perpetually yielding fresh materials from which everything we can perceive are derived. Private lagoon, beaches, restaurants, art gallery, retail shopping, cinemas, spas and conference facilities will be there for you to enjoy.


Spotlight Live New York - Feel famous for a night

I am spellbound…I don’t know how to go further with this article, but I’m not good with keeping news to myself either. If this is anything to go by then I’m floored by the very concept of this place. There aren’t likely to be many eating or drinking establishments that can offer the star power of Spotlight Live, located right at New York’s Times Square. This jumbo karaoke emporium on something much stronger than steroids is a 23,000 square-foot, four-story potential nightmare for anyone but those with a craving for the limelight. With fake paparazzi waiting at the door (your mug will show up everywhere), and your record contract waiting to be signed inside, you are in for a real expose. Once you’ve selected your song, you are whisked to the VIP green room (with white leather couches of course) where you and your performance are polished and perfected (if possible) with the help of choreographers and make-up artists. Off you go on to the massive stage where a professional band and back-up singers are ready to make you sound like a star (again, if possible) as your stellar performance is streamed live to the web and onto a 25-by-40-foot Jumbotron in Times Square. With the five recording booths, seemingly hundreds of flat screens and constant instant messaging between tables, you may forget that there is food, too.


Counterfeiters on the prowl… Audemars Piguet comes to the rescue

pirates.jpg You copy it you pay for it and I don’t mean monitory pay–back. That’s the new mantra in the watch world at least. Swiss watch making has been expanding enormously in the last few years. But there is always another side to the coin; this growth has unfortunately meant a parallel increase in the various scourges that affect well-known watch brands. These include counterfeiting and more recently the copying phenomenon. For over a year now, plastic imitations of successful models have appeared on various markets, in addition to mainstream counterfeits. Audemars Piguet has decided to combat these two problems, and has set up an anti- counterfeit observatory composed of lawyers and investigators. Since it began work, this observatory has intervened in a number of ways; During Baselworld 2006, a stand distributing Macteam Offshore products (Altanus SpA) was closed down and VIP (Eurotrade SrL) products were withdrawn; Fifteen legal and criminal proceedings have been taken before Swiss, Italian and French courts against wholesalers and retailers of copies sold under various brands (e.g. Ike), and have all had a positive outcome or are pending, 400 watched were seized from wholesalers and retailers in Italy; Three stands were closed during the Hong-Kong Fair in March 2007. They were distributing copies bearing the K&Bros and Ice Time label (Belton China Limited and Aaron Shum Jewelry Limited).


Shinebox Print Business Cards

Everybody's got a business card these days, even soccer mom's have them! It's just the easiest way for everybody, not just business types, to keep in touch and communicate sometimes. So why not design your own, and have something unique and stylish instead of the standard boring layout everybody has? Business cards from Shinebox Print are not only cute in their little box with perforated edges, but you can personalize them however you want by including your own pictures, graphics, layout and everything on the front and back. Of course you can get personalized cards from lots of places, but these are so much more artistic, and a little different. And if you like the idea but don't necessarily want business cards, Shinebox can make calling cards, coupons, or any number of other projects. Prices start at $150. Via LuxuryLaunches


XJet Private Club Set To Open

A couple of years ago I wrote about the plans for the XJet Club, a new private jet club opening at the Centennial Airport in Colorado. Now it seems that the club is finally set to open next month (it was originally set to open last year). The club has a a 100,000-square- foot facility and promises a luxury setting, and, more importantly fuel at cost. The club has a clubhouse, a restaurant and concierge services. The Denver Post reports that members pay $60,000 or more to join and have access to a fleet of private jets. The fleet may also someday include Aviation Technology Group's coveted Javelin jets. So far there are around 20 members and the business plans to also set up a smaller facility at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Mich. and they hope to have eight locations within five years across the country.


'Matte' the HAMANN Ferrari F430 Black Miracle

Matte finish paint seems to be all the rage these days in higher-end vehicles and concept cars (BMW M-series, anyone?), and HAMANN has no problem jumping on the bandwagon, down to the bright orange 20-inch rims. The company's new modified F430, dubbed the "Black Miracle," features orange and black matte finish, showing off ground effect details, brake calipers, wheels, side-view mirrors and bold racing stripes down the middle in bright orange, with the rest of the body beautified in black. The secret is in the foil treatment, which, if the owner would like to see glossy finish again, can be reversed.

HAMANN decks out the interior as well with the color scheme, and even adds lambo doors for show. Even with the paint job, however, no Ferrari modified this heavily visually could earn the street cred it's due without some performance modifications as well: the ECU and exhaust is modified for 50 extra horses, and special HAMANN suspension completes the low-slung feel.

[Check out Autoblog for a gallery of the vehicle and the HAMANN press release]


$100,000+ For An Audi?

Sure, if it feels like it should cost $200,000. The always-funny Ezra Dyer got to take a spin through Beverly Hills in the 2008 Audi R8 for the New York Times, where he bemoans the car's sideblades (or "sideburns," as Dyer calls them) but not much else.

Despite the price tag of $110,000 and up, the DNA shared between the street-bound R8 and Audi's lauded race car R8 -- midengine layout with most of the torque going to the rear wheels, dry-sump lubrication, etc. -- makes the 2008 Audi R8 one of the few cars allowed on municipal pavement that truly feels like a race car. In effect, the R8 is more like its Lamborghini cousins (also owned by VW) than like its other Audi siblings.

Unlike most Audis, which Dyer says are criticized for lacking any soul, the R8 offers up plenty of meat to get us grunting like cave men -- yes, even the women -- from an exhaust note that gets your blood rushing to optional LED lights that appropriately light up the engine under its transparent cover when the parking lights are on (should you be showing things off under the hood after dusk).

Click through for the full review, and watch this space in the coming months for more news about the R8, including rumors that it will soon be packing an optional V10 courtesy of Lamborghini.

[Source: The New York Times]


Versace Designs An A319 Jet

Versace and TAG to are teaming up to design a luxury interior for private Airbus 319 jet. If you've seen the many Versace designs for helicopters, jets and homes, the picture above is no surprise. The Versace look of black and white with high-end furnishings and the Greek key motif is so well-established you'd think anyone could just copy it. But then it wouldn't be a Versace. The A319 is being designed for a European client and will go into service in the fourth quarter of 2008. The plane will have four compartments with 16 luxury seats, a salon, galley, business office and a state room with an ensuite bathroom.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pandora's Chandelier

Crystal is beautiful by its very nature, so I don't know that anybody could argue that Pandora's Chandelier isn't gorgeous, but there's more here than first meets the eye. Designed by Fredrikson Stallard, the Pandora's Chandelier consists of thousands of Swarovski crystals individually threaded on motorized wires. What starts out as a very standard and traditional silhouette is soon morphed into something smeared and messy looking, before it quietly returns to repeat the cycle all over again. A little abstract art blended with shimmering hanging Swarovski.


Dining is an Adventure with 'Dinner In The Sky'

Now here's a concept that takes the idea of "a unique dining experience" to a whole new level, literally. Created from an idea by Belgian chef Quentin Jadoul, Dinner in the Sky is one of those things that is exactly what it sounds like: it's a large dining table that seats about 20 people and gets hoisted high up into the sky on a crane -- there's even room in the middle for the waiters to come along! And surprisingly, even though it's based in Belgium the table is mobile and travels around Europe for different events and occasions, and the menu can be adjusted to accommodate tastes for pretty much anything. For somewhere around $20,000 you can have your own "Dinner in the Sky" party, just pray for good weather and hold onto your napkin!


$1 Million Grand Enigma Speakers Top the List of Most Expensive

Now we're just getting ridiculous. Joining the "$1 million" club is these Grand Enigma speakers by Karma, and there's apparently only 1 pair in existence in a basement somewhere in Belgium. Seeing as how there's only the one set, it really doesn't matter what the features are (it's not like you could get your own), but I'm still really curious! Just what does a set of speakers have to do to be worth that much? They look huge, but other than that I'm skeptical (I don't see any diamond accents...) and it seems feature specifics are hard to come by. And be sure to check out the rest of's list of the world's most expensive speakers, with 2nd place going to Wisdom Audio's Infinite Grande at $600,000.


Philips' 42-, 47-, and 52-inch Ambilight LCDs go 1080p, 120Hz, LED backlighting

Has it really been 10 years since the first Ambilight television? Does anyone care? After all, the press release was issued back in January at CES and missed by nearly everyone, including us. Well, Philips certainly cares and aims to celebrate by dishing out a triplet of Ambilight LCDs ranging size from 42-, 47-, and 52-inches. As you'd expect, they've got all the sweetest buzzwords covered: 1080p, 120Hz, LED backlighting. They also feature Philips' Perfect Pixel HD processing engine, plenty of HDMI inputs (3x on the 52-incher) and of course, Philips' Ambilight glow for a more immersive experience with reduced eye strain -- or so says Philips. Priced at $2,999 for the Ambilight Full Surround (independent lighting on all four sides) 42-inch 42PFL9832D (pictured) or $2,799 for the 47-inch 47PFL9732D and $3,599 for the big 52-inch 52PFL7432D with Ambilight 2 for that left and right glow. All are expected to roll Stateside as early as June.


Sony's world's first 16.7 million color flexible OLED

Oh boy, another bendy display we won't likely see on the market any time soon. This time it's Sony's turn to tout with this, their 2.5-inch, 160 x 120 pixel OLED display on a flexible plastic film. Better yet, this organic TFT delivers a relatively stellar 16.7 million colors compared to the 262k and 16k colors Samsung and LG.Philips, respectively, were showing off last week. That's a world's first 24-bit color depth for these types of displays. Take that Samsung. The display also measures a mere 0.3-mm thin which easily bests the hapless Korean (and Dutch) giants. The only downside (if you call it that) is the display's "greater than" 1000:1 contrast ratio compared to Samsung's 10,000:1 rating. But by now you've learned to take contrast measurements with a grain of salt, right?


Researchers develop ultrathin compound-eye camera

A team of researchers led by Jun Tanida at the University of Osaka look to be making some steady progress in an area where many others have tread before, developing a camera that can capture a scene and produce a 3D image of it. Dubbed TOMBO (Thin Observation Module by Bound Optics), the camera consists of nine tiny lenses that each capture a scene from slightly different angles. Some software, apparently designed to mimic the the process that insects use, then picks out the position, shape, and color of objects to reconstruct the images into a single 3D scene. The big advantage to this particular system is its size, which the researchers say could eventually be used in cellphones or placed on the wings of airplanes for surveillance without causing any drag. There are a few downsides, however, namely its 1.1 megapixel resolution, although the researchers seem confident they'll be able to improve that in short order.


Intel's Metro laptop prototype is "world's thinnest"

Watch out Sony, it looks like your Vaio X505's title for thinnest / lightest laptop ever is about to be challenged by some new Intel-sponsored Zima designs intended to push the envelope of portability. The 0.7-inch thick 2.2-pound Metro features an external e-ink display, and might actually stand a chance at redefining slim computing -- if it's ever built, anyway. Enjoy the eye candy, it's going to be a while before you get any closer to a laptop of this caliber than some pictures on the internets.

intel_front.jpgLord have mercy, Intel has just created a laptop that's as pretty as a supermodel, and thinner, too. Codenamed the Intel Mobile Metro Notebook, this prototype was designed by Intel along with Ziba Design, and it's a mere .7 inches thick and weighs just 2.25 pounds. It's no dumb blonde, either, packed with Intel's speediest and most efficient components, which will probably be plenty fast by the time this machine is manufactured, maybe even as soon as the end of this year.

This one has it all. The slim, champagne-colored magnesium notebook—which is only a quarter of an inch thicker than a Motorola RAZR cellphone—will include a magnetically attached folder that will be available in different fashion colors. That folder will also be able to charge up the laptop wirelessly, and ladies (at whom this design is clearly aimed) can attach a strap to it and make it look just like a purse. Jeez, what else did they include in this beauty?

It'll have always-on connectivity, using all Intel chips, of course, to connect via Wi-Fi, EV-DO and WiMax. It'll also have a flash memory hard drive, with an expected battery life of 14 hours. Check out the glow-in-the-dark, the screen on the outside of that folder, the beautiful gold accents, and the overall thinness of this thing. It's just astonishing.

If Intel is able to deliver this notebook anytime soon, it's going to give Apple a run for its money. The big question now? How much will this cost? According to Business Week, the main reason so many other laptops look so lame is because of cost considerations, and the designers of this notebook admit that price was no object. Even if it's expensive, this design is so thin and beautiful, it's sure to bring some fat changes to the laptop world.

The World's Thinnest Notebook [Business Week]


Audi TT Clubsport Quattro Study


Luxist reportsvon the launch of the TT Clubsport Quattro Study which was first shown ar an enthusiast event called Wörthersee 2007. The press release says:

The Audi TT clubsport quattro study reduces the TT Roadster to a pure driving machine. A powerful engine, state-of-the-art technology and numerous traits borrowed from the world of motorsport are the dominant features of the TT clubsport quattro
The goal that the development engineers set themselves for this vehicle study was to achieve purism at a premium level. No hood, no A-post – instead, a wraparound windscreen kept extremely low which deliberately evokes images of a speedster. The flat, slightly tinted window strip surrounds the cockpit. The panoramic windscreen and the two humps located behind the interior in place of the hood compartment are reminiscent of a racing car.
The racing character of the Audi TT clubsport quattro is underscored by its technology. The Audi engineers have packed the 2.0 TFSI engine with even more power than the 260 bhp familiar from the Audi S3. The turbocharged four-cylinder unit with petrol direct injection breaks the magic 300 bhp barrier. Thanks to a modified intake manifold, it has been possible to get even more power out of this highly efficient engine (which was "Engine of the Year" in its class in 2005 and 2006).

Audi TT


HOWTO make OpenCola

Wiki-How has a page up today on making OpenCola, a freely licensed soft-drink. I helped found the company that developed and released the OpenCola drink, and it was developed by Amanda Foubister in our kitchen. It tastes excellent, but it also highlighted for me just how much sugar there is in this stuff -- a lot. When you make cola, you basically end up filling a glass with sugar and then adding just enough water and ancillary ingredients to get it to dissolve.

* 3.50 ml orange oil * 1.00 ml lemon oil * 1.00 ml nutmeg oil * 1.25 ml cassia oil * 0.25 ml coriander oil * 0.25 ml neroli oil * 2.75 ml lime oil * 0.25 ml lavender oil * 10.0 g gum arabic * 3.00 ml water

Link (Thanks, Joe!)


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Introducing Google's online security efforts

Monday, May 21, 2007 9:43 AM Online security is an important topic for Google, our users, and anyone who uses the Internet. The related issues are complex and dynamic and we've been looking for a way to foster discussion on the topic and keep users informed. Thus, we've started this blog where we hope to periodically provide updates on recent trends, interesting findings, and efforts related to online security. Among the issues we'll tackle is malware, which is the subject of our inaugural post. Malware -- surreptitious software capable of stealing sensitive information from your computer -- is increasingly spreading over the web. Visiting a compromised web server with a vulnerable browser or plugins can result in your system being infected with a whole variety of malware without any interaction on your part. Software installations that leverage exploits are termed "drive-by downloads". To protect Google's users from this threat, we started an anti-malware effort about a year ago. As a result, we can warn you in our search results if we know of a site to be harmful and even prevent exploits from loading with Google Desktop Search. Unfortunately, the scope of the problem has recently been somewhat misreported to suggest that one in 10 websites are potentially malicious. To clarify, a sample-based analysis puts the fraction of malicious pages at roughly 0.1%. The analysis described in our paper covers billions of URLs. Using targeted feature extraction and classification, we select a subset of URLs believed to be suspicious for in-depth investigation. So far, we have investigated about 12 million suspicious URLs and found about 1 million that engage in drive-by downloads. In most cases, the web sites that infect your system with malware are not intentionally doing so and are often unaware that their web servers have been compromised. To get a better understanding about the geographic distribution of sites engaging in drive-by downloads, we analyzed the location of compromised web sites and the location of malware distribution hosts. At the moment, the majority of malware activity seems to happen in China, the U.S., Germany and Russia (see below): Location of compromised web sites. These are often sites that are benign in nature but have been compromised and have become dangerous for users to visit. Location of malware distribution servers. These are servers that are used by malware authors to distribute their payload. Very often the compromised sites are modified to include content from these servers. The color coding works as follows: Green means that we did not find anything unsual in that country, yellow means low activity, orange medium activity and red high activity. Guidelines on safe browsing First and foremost, enable automatic updates for your operating system as well your browsers, browser plugins and other applications you are using. Automatic updates ensure that your computer receives the latest security patches as they are published. We also recommend that you run an anti-virus engine that checks network traffic and files on your computer for known malware and abnormal behavior. If you want to be really sure that your system does not become permanently compromised, you might even want to run your browser in a virtual machine, which you can revert to a clean snapshot after every browsing session. Webmasters can learn more about cleaning, and most importantly, keeping their sites secure at's Tips for Cleaning and Securing a Website.


Postage Hacks: Save the new forever postage stamp


Reader Paul picked up a few Forever Stamps at the post office today and writes in with a money-saving tip:

Buy the new "forever" stamps now but DON'T use them yet! The real value in the new "forever" stamp will be realized at the next and future rate changes. As soon as I bought some of the "forever" stamps this morning the nice lady behind post office counter said "put them away for later" and explained the strategy.

See, the Forever Stamp will cost 41 cents now, but will send a first-class letter any time, regardless of when the Postal Service ups the rate again. (The 41 cents first class rate increase will be official this Monday, May 14th.) Paul also writes:

Some other lesser known changes also go into effect this Monday: the "second ounce" rate goes DOWN to $0.17 from $0.24, making the new postage for a 2 ounce letter $0.58 versus the current $0.63. "Flats" now have a new higher minimum postage rate and beginning Monday all international mail goes at airmail rates.

Now the question is: why would anyone buy any other type of stamp besides the Forever Stamp? Hit the link to download the USPS ratefold. Thanks, Paul! —Gina Trapani


Image Editing: Fix your photos online with Phixr


Phixr is an online photo editor that offers a wealth of image-tweaking tools and loads of options for distributing the finished product.

Like Fauxto, Picnik, PXN8, Wiredness and all the rest, Phixr lets you upload, modify, share and save photos. However, you're not limited to uploading from your PC: Phixr can also pull photos from your Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa and other accounts. It can save finished photos to those services as well, along with Costco, DropShots, LiveJournal and others. You can also download photos back to your hard drive.

As for its image-editing tools, Phixr covers all the basics--cropping, brightness, sharpen, etc.--while offering plenty of nifty advanced effects. Everything's clearly identified (via pop-up descriptors) and easy to use. My only complaint is that most changes you make take at least a few seconds to appear; this isn't exactly real-time editing. Still, Phixr is a fun and effective tool, and definitely worth checking out. —Rick Broida

Phixr [via Webware]


Explay intros oio nanoprojector, plans to launch in 2008

Explay is apparently trying to ensure that its micro-projector doesn't become just one of the crowd, as it's trying to outdo the competition by showing off its oio at SID 2007. While we'd seen offerings from Explay before and even heard whispers of a 2007 launch, it looks like it'll be next year before the oio hits the hands of the general public. Nevertheless, the firm was off parading its accomplishment in Long Beach, California, dubbing its minuscule PJ the "first truly mobile and fully operational nano-projector." Of course, we're sure more than a few outfits would love to disagree on that very point, but Explay went on to praise the oio's ability to function in a variety of locales from a "dimly lit bar to a bright office." Notably, it sounds like the company will be aiming for more dollars than those held by mere gadget freaks, as the oio marketing team will be targeting "medical, security, and even artistic" fields whenever Explay can get these things out of the door. Click on through for a closeup of the oio itself. [Photo courtesy of Explay]

Continue reading Explay intros oio nanoprojector, plans to launch in 2008


UK to get even more Big Brother with hovering drones

With literally hundreds of thousands of cameras -- some sporting speakers and microphones -- trained on its poor citizens from the moment they step out of the house in the morning until their hasty retreat inside at night, we're not sure why the UK needs yet another set of eyes scoping out so-called 'anti-social behaviour' among the populace, but that isn't stopping the vanguard of Big Brother technology from deploying its first unmanned police drone next month. In what is being perhaps optimistically billed as just a three-month trial, Merseyside police will unleash a one-meter wide, night-vision camera-equipped mini-helicopter into the skies (up to 500-meters high) above their jurisdiction, and task it with gathering evidence for court cases as well as the less glamorous job of monitoring traffic congestion. Originally built for the military by a Germany company and called the 'hicam microdrone,' these repurposed mechanical bobbies can either be controlled by an operator via remote or set to patrol autonomously using their built-in GPS nav systems. You'll recall that a similar system being considered by the L.A. County Sheriff's Department was shot down by the FAA around this time last year, proving once again that up-and-coming British criminals could probably minimize their risks of incarceration by making the move Stateside.

[Via The Register, pic courtesy of microdrones GmbH, thanks Paul J. and rastrus]


Ani Phyo: Ani's Raw Food Kitchen book and videos

 148 406505783 6019Afb628 M My friend Ani Phyo is a Renaissance 2.0 woman. When I first met her in 1993, she was an economics grad creating mind-bending cyberdelic video art for raves. Then, she became immersed in information architecture and wrote an accessible and popular "howto" book on the subject, Return On Design. In recent years though, Ani has become a student (and teacher) of healthy living, eating and cooking. She co-founded Smart Monkey Foods, makers of yummy raw food snack bars and packaged foods available mainly on the West Coast. This month, Ani's first (un)cookbook was published. If you're not hip to the raw food scene, Ani's Raw Food Kitchen will surprise you with recipes that somehow seem very familiar even if you've never eaten them before. I especially like that Ani isn't a raw food fanatic. In fact, the last meal Ani cooked for me was a fantastic leek soup, grilled spicy tofu, and a superclean salad. Don't get me wrong. Ani's a health nut, but she also has her feet firmly planted on terra firma. She's ultra-busy just like the rest of us, so most of her advice is easy to implement and her recipes are often quick to prepare. For, er, a taste of Ani's style, check out her DIY series of cooking shows she's posted for free on YouTube. (A DVD compilation is also available from her Web site where you can also check out sample recipes and other news.) Congratulations, Ani! Link to buy Ani's Raw Food Kitchen, Link to Ani's site, Link to Ani on YouTube

Read More... – Free group calls

Have you ever been frustrated by having to call a group of people to tell them all the same thing? Well, now there is a way you can have them all join in on the same call, free. With Foonz you can create call lists on the site, and form the list into a group. You can make as many groups as you want, and the phone charge is the same as your normal phone service. When you register with Foonz, you are given a number to call; when you call the number you can choose which group to call. All members of the group then receive a text message with a number to dial, which will then connect them all together. If you don't want to talk to them all, you can choose to just leave a message for all members of the group. In their own words: "We are a group of friends who wanted to get in touch with a bunch of people on the phone, at once, right away, to plan the night's adventure. But calling everyone separately or doing 15 IM chats was not the answer. So, we invented Foonz – the world's first easy way to call a group of people, from any phone, absolutely free! The best part is, now that we're started, we can't stop thinking of ways to use Foonz and new features to add." Why it might be a killer: Many group calls and conference calls can be expensive. This is pretty much the same thing as a basic conference call, expect it is free, and it dials all the members of the group for you. It could be a great tool for teams, businesses, and families who all want to talk to together at the same time. Some questions: Will people receiving the texts all respond? Will it always remain free?


Samsung and PureDepth show off 46-inch Multi-Layer Display LCD

It's been a tick since we'd heard anything out of PureDepth, but apparently, the company and its Multi-Layer Display technology are still livin' it up. Making a comeback with Samsung, the two firms are jointly debuting the "world's largest" MLD LCD TV, which rings up at 46-inches diagonally. The actual monitor is being showcased at the Society for Information Display conference in Long Beach, California, and blew past the previous champion which was holding strong at 30-inches. PureDepth is describing its technology as a "a layered, multi-dimensional (using real depth between two or more LCD panels) viewing innovation that enables users to simultaneously view two separate fields of data on one monitor," which is simply a fancy way of suggesting that users can experience "3D-like images" sans unsightly goggles. Unfortunately, there's no word on whether this unit is actually slated for commercialization, but considering the somewhat sour reputation that other 3D devices already have, it's got a rough road to hoe.