Friday, September 14, 2007

Samsung's SGH-F700 gets (really) official on Vodafone

from Engadget by Darren Murph

Those paying attention should know full well by now that Samsung's SGH-F700 (you know, the Croix) is set to make everyone not a Vodafone customer uber-envious here soon, but just in case you missed it, Sammy is making sure you're up to speed. The handset will boast a three-megapixel camera, a 3.2-inch 432 x 240 resolution touchscreen, QWERTY keypad, Bluetooth 2.0, USB, a microSD expansion slot, HSDPA, and an integrated media player that handles H.263 / H.264, MP3, and AAC formats. We know what you're really after, so check out a bit more eye candy after the jump.


Desktop Factory's cheapo 3D printer is coming

Tinkerers, schemers, makers and DIY-buffs: grab your ball-peen hammer and heaviest piggy bank, because you're about to need a loan. A company called Desktop Factory is going to make your 3D-printing dreams a serious reality with the introduction of its 125ci 3D printer, a $4,995 hunk of concept-plastic magic which could possibly represent a paradigmatic shift for the state of three-dimensional printing for the masses. The DF crew calls the pricing "disruptively lower than the nearest competitive offering," and we're inclined to agree, as most 3D printers crest easily over the $10,000 mark. The printer takes up a paltry 25 x 20 x 20-inch space, and weighs about 90-pounds, while the maximum size of printed objects is 5 x 5 x 5-inches, and Desktop Factory says per-cubic-inch printing costs will hover somewhere around $1. One of these beautiful babies could be all yours, just put down your $495 reserve fee, and then go to work on that string of robberies you've been planning. [Via TG Daily]


Lindy intros Wireless VGA Projector Server

We know, it's never fun to think about spending even more time in the boardroom, but LINDY's looking to make things a bit easier around the office with the Wireless VGA Projector Server. Put simply, the device "enables users to easily network a projector or display monitor," which makes transfers much easier when switching between presenters. Up to 20 users can log in to the machine at one time, and an integrated browser interface "allows control to pass between the users." Notably, the box supports audio and MPEG1/2/4, 802.11g, Ethernet and Windows XP / Vista (sorry, Mac users), and can be thrown on the corporate card now for £299 ($608). [Via TechDigest]


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Miro needs your donations to build the future of Internet video

Miro needs your donations -- the project is trying to raise $50,000 to pay programmers and designers to make its player even better.

Miro (formerly known as Democracy Player) is the best and most promising video player I've ever used. It's free and open -- licensed under the GPL -- and it incorporates three different technologies that make watching videos easier and better than any of the proprietary players like Windows Media Player or iTunes. These technologies are VLC, a free and open video playback engine that plays all video formats, no matter where they come from; RSS, so that you can subscribe to "feeds" of your favorite videos (including subscribing to feeds of YouTube videos matching your keywords); and BitTorrent, so that you can download files without costing the people who host them -- so the more popular a file is, the cheaper it is to host.

Miro is a bet on a future for "Internet TV" that is as open as the Web, controlled by no one. Otherwise, the way things are headed, we could end up with one or two giant companies owning the future of video. No one -- not community activists, not video startups, no one -- benefits when just a few companies control the platform.

The Miro fundraiser will raise money to pay the talented hackers who have been producing regular updates to the Miro platform, ensuring that there's always an up-to-date version for the Mac, Windows and Linux. I believe in Miro enough to have volunteered for their Board of Directors since they started -- I hope you'll help us keep on producing the future of Internet video. Link

(Disclosure: I am a board member for the Participatory Culture Foundation, the 501(c)3 charitable nonprofit that oversees production of Miro)


Q&A with Austin Mayor Will Wynn

willwynn1.jpgWill Wynn, the mayor of Austin, Tex., says he publishes his electricity bill in the paper to show how a little energy management can produce results. (It’s frequently below $50 per month.) Sure, we have Al Gore, and every trend-seeking celebrity waving the climate-change flag and driving a Prius, but we really need more likable public officials that are actually creating change in meaningful ways.

Mayor Wynn is just that. He has helped Austin become one of the leading cities for incubating clean-tech startups; the city now counts at least 25 of them, such as HelioVolt, as part of its local industry. He’s also trying to make sure clean tech stays in Austin: The city is working with HelioVolt on an economic incentives package to try to make sure the company’s manufacturing facilities stay local, for example. “We are spending a lot of time, effort and money in a targeted way to try to grow the clean technology sector here in Austin,” Wynn told us. His efforts are clearly resonating with Austin residents; according to his web site, he got over 78 percent of the vote in the most recent election. Oh yeah — and he walks to work. Below are excerpts from a conversation with Mayor Wynn.

Q. Why is the clean tech industry important for Austin?

A. It starts with the fact that Austin has a great tradition of a positive environmental perspective. It used to be focused on water quality and air quality, and now folks are becoming more aware that we need to talk about energy. We are truly a clean tech capital. We founded the Austin Clean Energy Incubator. Austin Energy is a beta lab for clean energy companies, and we have an aggressive solar panel system.

Q. There are a lot of debates about what clean energy options are viable. What are you excited about?

A. Well Texas blew past California in terms of wind. I’m also really interested in material sciences, smart appliances, computer chips. The tech sector will also play a huge role in this. There are fortunes to be made here. If we are smart, we are going to be right in the middle of the economic opportunity that combating global warming will offer. This will make a lot of people a lot of money.

Q. What do you think about carbon offsets; do you do these in your daily life?

A. We are actually in the process of creating a city-wide carbon footprint calculator that will focus on locally-based offsets for Austin, using local projects in the area. We’ve been waiting to roll that out, and it has been taking us awhile to create it. Hopefully we are weeks away from launching it.

Q. Austin leads in clean tech innovation, but when it comes to “a green city,” SustainLane said that Austin dropped in rankings “because the city remains heavily car-dependent, with ramifications for congestion and overall economic health.” What do you think about that criticism and are you doing anything to help the situation?

A. I agree completely. Transportation is far and away our biggest challenge. We will knock it out of the ball park for energy, but for transportation it is difficult and that is because of land use challenges. We are a sprawling metropolitan area. I use myself as an example: I moved downtown into a high-rise and dramatically reduced my car use, but ultimately it will take dramatically different land use patterns to have a viable mass transit options.

We are dramatically reassigning land use for every place we can. And there is opposition every time we try to do that. I am proposing an election for 2008, to have a significant passenger rail referendum.

Photo via Sprig.


Google's (GOOG) YouTube Gains Share, MySpace Loses

Skate YouTube continues its impressive growth in the online video market...while No. 2 MySpaceTV shrinks.

Nielsen//Netratings' August traffic report says YouTube's traffic grew 66% year-over-year from 34 million unique visitors last August to 56.5 million uniques this year. News. Corp's (NWS) MySpaceTV, meanwhile, fell 6% from 17.9 million uniques last August to 16.8 million last month. While Nielsen doesn't break down the numbers, it would be interesting to see how YouTube's distribution on Apple's iPhone and Apple TV products has juiced its traffic.

Of note, Yahoo! Video doubled year-over-year and Veoh's August uniques grew 346% from 663,000 to 3 million. We wonder: where will News Corp.'s next project -- its two-years-too-late Hulu venture with NBC -- show up on this list next year? Nielsen's chart after the jump.

See Also: CBS's Quincy Smith: Hulu Strategy a Waste of Time, Money, Economics of Online Video 3: $5 CPM = Keep Day Job

| Site             |     Aug-06 UA |    Aug-07 UA | % Change |
|                  |         (000) |        (000) |          |
| YouTube          |        34,039 |       56,453 |      66% |
| |        17,923 |       16,759 |      -6% |
| Google Video     |        13,483 |       14,450 |       7% |
| AOL Video^       |            NA |       13,632 |       NA |
| MSN Video        |        11,984 |       12,486 |       4% |
| Yahoo! Video     |         5,958 |       11,987 |     101% |
| Metacafe         |         2,822 |        4,151 |      47% |
|        |         2,926 |        3,954 |      35% |
| Veoh             |          663* |        2,958 |     346% |
| Atom Films       |         1,102 |        1,422 |      29% |
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings


Samsung's F700

F700_1.jpgWe went a bit moist and gooey earlier this year when we saw Samsung's F700 in Barcelona. Now the touch-screen smartphone with 3-megapixel camera and QWERTY keyboard has got a release date in Europe and a carrier: November; and Vodafone. I'd take a punt on it hitting our shores in early 2008, though. Full specs, another pic and the press release after the jump.

Samsung F700 Specifications
HSDPA 3.6 Mbps, EDGE
900/1800/1900 MHz + 2.1GHz
3 Megapixel camera with Auto-Focus
Display: 265,536 TFT (3.2", 240x432)
Full Touch Screen
MPEG4/H.263/H.264/ MP3/AAC(+)/eAAC+
MMS / E-mail / JAVA / WAP 2.0
Bluetooth® 2.0 / USB
Flash UI / Document Viewer
Full HTML Browsing
Offline Mode, BGM
112 x 56 x


Virgin America launches in-flight, air-to-ground broadband

Virgin inaugural flight

[ Boing Boing Gadgets ]: Virgin America shared more details today on its partnership with in-flight wireless broadband provider AirCell -- air-to-ground wireless internet will be available on all VA flights "sometime in 2008," and will be offered two ways: BYOD (bring your own device, laptops or pdas or whatever), and also through VA's inflight entertainment system called Red.

AirCell also has a deal in the works with American Airlines for air-to-ground wireless, but from what I can suss out in the press release, two things make the VA deal different...


Fair use industries returned $4.5 trillion to the US in 2006

The Computer and Communications Industry Association has just released a study it commission to calculate the value returned to the US economy by fair use and other exceptions to copyright. We often hear stories about how much money the US economy generates by giving certain sectors and companies exclusive access knowledge and information, but it's rare to see such a quantitative approach to the value created by not creating regulatory monopolies in certain cases. Even more interesting is the sum that the study comes up with -- according to the economists (who worked "in accordance with a World Intellectual Property Organization methodology"), "$4.5 trillion in revenue [was] generated by fair use dependent industries in 2006, a 31% increase since 2002, fair use industries are directly responsible for more than 18% of U.S. economic growth and nearly 11 million American jobs. In fact, nearly one out of every eight American jobs is in an industry that benefits from current limitations on copyright."
"As the United States economy becomes increasingly knowledge-based, the concept of fair use can no longer be discussed and legislated in the abstract. It is the very foundation of the digital age and a cornerstone of our economy," said Ed Black, President and CEO of CCIA. "Much of the unprecedented economic growth of the past ten years can actually be credited to the doctrine of fair use, as the Internet itself depends on the ability to use content in a limited and nonlicensed manner. To stay on the edge of innovation and productivity, we must keep fair use as one of the cornerstones for creativity, innovation and, as today's study indicates, an engine for growth for our country"
Link (Thanks, Trey!)


Texas: Giant web woven by a variety of spider families

Scientists report that the massive 200-yard spider web recently discovered in Texas's Lake Tawakoni State Park was woven by spiders from many different species working collaboratively. Thousands of spiders have rebuilt the web three times after it's been torn up by rain and wind. Texas A&M University entomologist Allen Dean has identified spiders from such families as funnel web weavers, sac spiders, orb weavers, mesh web weavers, wolf spiders, pirate spiders, and others working on the Web. From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (photo from Tx. Parks & Wildlife Dept.):
 Spdest Findadest Parks Lake Tawakoni Media Images Web 600X450 The motive may well be food, researchers say. The larger the web, the more flies and bugs get stuck, providing an abundant food supply for the spiders. "Spiders generally are cannibalistic and keep their webs distinct," Dean said. "We're not sure what started the initial webbing ... but there probably have been thousands of spiders working on the web. "With the amount of rain that has occurred this year and the huge food supply available, it just created the right condition for all of this."
Link to Star-Telegram, Link to Texas Entomology site about the web


Create Flowcharts and Other Diagrams Online with Draw Anywhere

If Google every wanted to add a Microsoft Visio like flowcharting application to their Google Office suite, they'll have plenty of good options to choose from.

Draw Anywhere is a new web based tool for creating flow charts, org charts and other drawings online. Like the Picnick image editing, DrawAnywhere is done in Flash and sports an extremely responsive interface.

You can either save your Flowcharts online or export them as images and PDF files.

online google visio

visio online


Samsung's SGH-P520 is the Armani Phone

Filed under:

It's been awhile since we've heard from Samsung's SGH-P520. Now we know why. The pretty little touchscreen was undergoing a couture refitting in preparation for launch as the Armani Phone -- take that LG Prada. Priced at €400 (about $557), this FCC-approved tri-band GSM / EDGE candybar is listed with a 2.6-inch 240 x 320 pixel display, stereo Bluetooth, and microSD expansion to augment the 50MB on-board. Funny, we heard it also has WiFi though there's no mention of it by the folks at GSMHelpDesk who tracked this pup down. Expected before the end of the year in Europe. [Via Unwired View]


Archos's Generation 5 players are now available worldwide

Filed under: ,

Yeah, we already knew the 605 and 405 had been loosed Stateside, but Archos is finally ready to unleash the whole family on the world -- pictured above, with convenient comparisons to other players you-may-have-seen-around courtesy of Archos. Unfortunately, the Archos 705 WiFi and Archos TV+ won't actually be available until early next month, but the Archos 105, 405 and 605 WiFi are all out today. The players aren't terribly expensive either, with the 2GB 105 at $89; 2GB 405 at $149; the 4GB, 30GB, 80GB and 160GB 605 WiFi at $199, $299 and $349, $399, respectively; 80GB 705 WiFi at $399, 160GB at $499; 80GB Archos TV+ at $249, and finally the 250GB TV+ at $349. As for those curious about content partnerships, the WiFi models connect wirelessly to the "Archos Content Portal" for PC-free purchasing of premium content, and there are currently over 15 partners worldwide -- with CinemaNow doing the honors in the US.


Leaked Samsung G800 Reveal 5 Megapixel camera with 3x Zoom

1201.jpgFollowing its appearance at a Samsung dealer event in the Netherlands, the ultra-slim G800 slider is getting a bit of attention &mdash mainly because of its 5 megapixel camera with 3 x zoom and Xenon flash. And then there's the small matter of the HSDPA and the micro SDHC card slot, making me think that the G800 will be Samsung's mobile TV phone. More pics and specs below.

1204-1.jpg See what it says there? Now, onto storage. We already know that 8GB memory cards are in the offing, but microSDHC can support cards with up to 32GB of storage &mdash so I'm going to pull my Earl Hickey Thinking face and nod my head sagely. Meanwhile, more info. Tri-band GSM/EDGE 3.6Mbps HSDPA 5 megapixel camera 103 x 51 x 16.8 mm 2.4-inch QVGA display Bluetooth 2.0/USB 2.0 connectivity MicroSD and microSDHC flash memory support I know everyone's all "Touchscreen, touchscreen, I must have a touchscreen" at the moment, but that's not a bad alternative if you want something a little more discreet. g800.jpg

[GSM Helpdesk and Let's Go Mobile via Unwired View]


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Survival: Life Saver Portable Water Filter Cleans the Crap Out of Your Water...Literally

lifesaverbottle.jpgThe Life Saver water bottle is a military grade water sanitizer that can make the dirtiest of water drinkable in seconds. The bottle not only filters out bacteria, but also takes care viruses and water that has been contaminated by fecal matter. The creator, Michael Pritchard, initially came up with the idea after watching victims of Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Tsunami in Asia go for days without receiving clean water. There are others, however, that are interested in Pritchard's invention.

After showing the bottle off at a defense conference in the UK, Pritchard sold all 1000 of his $385 bottles in under four hours. Defense experts were impressed with the fact that it could filter 4,000-6,000 liters before the filter had to be replaced. An innovation such as this could have a significant impact if it ever reached the consumer market, not only being used as emergency gear, but for camping and travel as well. [The Register]


NYT: The Picture Worth a Thousand Words

Performance of New York Times Company (NYT) stock during the 5-year bull market:



Cellphones: Samsung WEP500 Quarter-Sized Bluetooth Headset Available Now

samsungwep500.jpgSamsung's just announced the availability of their tiny quarter-sized WEP500 Bluetooth headset for the US. It's definitely small—weighs less than 9 grams and is the size of about a quarter—but suffers in low battery life because of it. 3.5 hours talk time and 80 hours standby time isn't fantastic, but it does have 2 microphones and noise reduction, which still isn't standard in Bluetooth headsets for some reason. All this can be yours for $119, and an extra $119 when you lose the first one because it's so miniscule. [Samsung]


Water: IBM to Monitor the Hudson River with Solar-Powered Underwater Vehicles

underthesea.pngIBM is gathering some goodwill points by partnering up with a nonprofit to help monitor a 315-mile stretch of the Hudson River. They're going to be using a combination of sensor-laden buoys and solar-powered robotic underwater vehicles numbering in the hundreds. The vehicle, which sort of looks like a yellow sting ray covered in solar panels, will monitor things like the rivers temperature, pressure and pH levels. With this info they hope to be able to analyze the amount of pollutants in the river and better asses the risk to marine life. First things first, change the solar vehicles' color from yellow to murky brown. That way it will blend in with the Hudson a little better. [TreeHugger]


AT&T Brings Back Cingular Orange to "Mobilize" Brand

Augustine:  TRULY, TRULY unbelievable waste of money. Do they (or their agency) really think orange will help drive sales, get new customers, increase customer satisfaction? Why not simply bring call centers back from India, better train support staff, end anti-customer policies like "you lose all your roll-over minutes when you make any change to your plan, including adding a line" and let your customers tell others how super-great you are.


After spending an ungodly amount of money to kill Jack and mutate the Cingular brand into the "new AT&T," they've decided that Cingular's orange palette offered a "younger, edgier and more contemporary style—all attributes closely associated with wireless." But clearly not AT&T. So, they're rebranding. Again. Look for Death Stars set against the new "primary corporate color," orange, and a series of commercials directed by Wes Anderson coming your way as of—yesterday. Wow, I feel AT&T tickling my cutting edge sensibilities already. [AT&T via Broadband Reports]


NYT: August Ads Drop -3.2%

Nytlogo379x64 The New York Times (NYT) ad business is still dwindling away, but the rate of decline actually moderated slightly in August. And thanks to a circulation price hike, overall revenue increased 0.6%.

Overall, the story remains the same. The Times' impressive web business is partially offsetting continued declines in the print business, but only partially (because it's only about 10% of the company). Revenue per web user is still far below revenue per print reader--so, over the long term, unless revenue per web reader increases significantly, the company is screwed. On the positive side, the New York Times itself is hanging in there, and the web business showed a nice acceleration. Our detailed monthly trending spreadsheet here. Release here. Details after jump.

NYT: August Key Points

  • Revenue at the online newspaper properties rose 28%, a nice acceleration from July's 19%
  • Offline ad revenue decline accelerated to -10% from -8% in July
  • rev increased slowed to 27%, but newspaper online revs accelerated significantly.
  • National advertising rose again, up a strong 9%!
  • So did circulation revenue! Up 4%!
  • New England (read: Boston Globe) ad revenue dropped 9%, vs. 5% in July
  • Regional ads dropped 12% (vs. 11% in July)
  • Classified ads dropped a dismal 20%, a major deterioration
  • TimesSelect paying subs who don't get the print paper crawled up to 226,800 from 225,000.
  • Web uniques to all the company's properties hit a nice 44.2 million, up 11% from 39 million last year (a slower y/y gain).
  • Revenue per web user appears to have increased modestly to about $0.60 a month ($8 a year).

Don't Miss: Running the Numbers: Why Newspapers are Screwed NYT Debt Outlook Cut to "Negative" By Moody's Death By Month: Tracking the Newspaper Industry's Decline Great Ad Share Shift: Google Sucks Life out of Old Media


If You’re Not A Model, Don’t Bother Reading This

from TechCrunch by Michael Arrington

Heard of ModelsHotel? Its a hot new social network that you have absolutely no chance of joining. That's because the site, founded by Jesper Lannung, is for the models only - enabling "models to stay in touch through a gated community."

To get in you have to be a professional model and invited by the site or by other members. Once you're in, you can do standard social networking stuff - post pictures, videos and profile information, and find romantic matches so you can have beautiful little photogenic spawn together.

They're a year old but have been off our radar until this evening when the Wall Street Journal did a profile on them. A choice quote:

Models spend a lot of time in isolation, traveling from casting to casting, often in cities where they don't know anyone else. But like Shannon Rusbuldt, a 22-year-old model with Elite Models, many fear exposing themselves to unwelcome solicitations from wannabe photographers, agents and suitors. Mr. Lannung, who is represented by Ms. Rusbuldt's former agency, persuaded her to join by assuring her that his site is similar to other social networks, "but without the creepy people."

Poor models. It's good that they have a place to hide from the creepy people (i.e., the rest of the population).

The site may actually be a bit too selective though. 2,000 people have tried to join over the last year, says Lannung, but he's rejected half of them. That makes for a pretty thinly populated social network. MySpace, by comparison, adds well over 100,000 members daily. Still, high end advertisers are said to be targeting the site to get access to those 1,000 trendsetters. The company is now trying to raise $1.5 million in venture capital, which I honestly hope they raise so that I can continue to make fun of them (and their VCs) before eventually depositing them in the Deadpool.

If you're hot but not quite model material, check out Darwin Dating, another obnoxious site that is focused on matching up beautiful people on dates. Their tagline? Online Dating Minus Ugly People.


Microsoft Patents "Stealthy Audio Watermarking"

Microsoft has been granted a patent for "stealthy audio watermarking," which is just a slick way of saying inaudible digital watermarks directly embedded in the audio of a file, allowing the owner to be traced. Apparently, in their version of the tech, the watermark's scattered throughout the file so it's more difficult to pull out or tweak and it's able to be compressed while remaining intact. You'd think they'd worry about actually selling music before trying to tie it down, though.

[PC World, Flickr]


Magicians innovate without IP law

Jacob Loshin, a law student at Yale, drafter a paper exploring how stage magicians protect the secrets behind their tricks, and continue to come up with great new ideas, without getting caught up in the insanity of intellectual property law. Basically, magicians police themselves based on a set of norms for treating secrets, presentation styles, and techniques of making magic. Violate the norms by, say, stealing a trick or not giving credit where it's due and you'll be shamed and shunned by your fellow magicians. From the abstract:
Intellectual property scholars have begun to explore the curious dynamics of IP's negative spaces, areas in which IP law offers scant protection for innovators, but where innovation nevertheless seems to thrive. Such negative spaces pose a puzzle for the traditional theory of IP, which holds that IP law is necessary to create incentives for innovation. This paper presents a study of one such negative space which has so far garnered some curiosity but little sustained attention - the world of performing magicians. This paper argues that idiosyncratic dynamics among magicians make traditional copyright, patent, and trade secret law ill-suited to protecting magicians' most valuable intellectual property. Yet, the paper further argues that the magic community has developed its own set of unique IP norms which effectively operate in law's absence. The paper details the structure of these informal norms that protect the creation, dissemination, and performance of magic tricks. The paper also discusses broader implications for IP theory, suggesting that a norm-based approach may offer a promising explanation for the puzzling persistence of some of IP's negative spaces.
Link (via TechDirt, thanks Sean Ness!)


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lego Towers: Architect makes Scale Model of Housing Proposal in Lego

This is a 1:50 scale model of Lego Towers, a proposed housing development for Copenhagen &mdash made of Lego. Designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group, this time-lapse video was shot over five weeks. Photos, plus how many bricks were needed to make the model, are after the jump.

big_lego_model_building_2.jpg 15.jpg Two hundred and fifty thousand. [Bjarke Ingels Group via Dezeen]


Digital Cameras: Unlock RAW Mode on Point and Shoot Canons

canonraw.pngSome low-end Canon cameras actually share more than just the name and some internals with their high-end Canon DSLR brothers. They share DIGIC II image processing chips, which can support RAW format and some various other advanced features, and can be unlocked by getting a CHDK firmware onto the camera. The suite shouldn't destroy you phone like replacing a phone's firmware, but it's not going to enhance your pictures to DSLR levels either—most of that comes from the lens. [Linux via Wired via BBG]


Toshiba: Toshiba's TDP-EX20U projector, which only

toshtdp-ex20u1.jpgToshiba's TDP-EX20U projector, which only needs to be three feet away from a wall or screen to project a 60-inch image. just got WiFi. [Gadgetress]


Lamp: Troja Arc Lamp

how do you market LED lighting? not be sticking them inside the bodies of incandescent light bulbs -- per Seth's "purple cow."


The Troja Arc Lamp is so gorgeous it's practically edible. The huge, arcing lamp is designed by Germany's hansandfranz studio and uses hundreds of individual LEDs in an adjustable aluminum frame to create a soft, unobtrusive glow. There is no information yet as to whether the Troja Arc will be available any time soon (or at all), the only thing that's known is that it's a must-have if you're a brooding, warehouse-living artist with obscene amounts of space and a flare for the dramatic. [HansandFranz via TechnaBob]


NTP shows fall 2007 lawsuit fashions, sues AT&T, Sprint, Verizon

Remember those crazy sons of guns at patent holding firm NTP that ended up working RIM for a shade over $612 million? They're back at it, throwing lawsuits at AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon -- that's three of the States' four national carriers, in case you're keeping count -- for alleged infringements of eight patents involving mobile email. The firm seems to be something of a one-trick pony seeing how mobile email was the issue at hand with RIM and later with Palm; for a company that does nothing but sue other companies, two-thirds of a billion dollars seems like a plenty healthy bank account, but heck, what do we know? At this point, we're assuming that once they're done suing every company that's ever offered, used, or mentioned "mobile" and "email" in the same sentence, we'll finally be able to put this issue to rest -- but until that day comes, watch your back, folks, because NTP's back on the prowl. Update: Silly us for thinking NTP wouldn't just go ahead and make it a nice, round four! T-Mobile's been caught up in the suit, too, with its Sidekick services specifically called out (among others) for infringement of NTP's email patents. [Via Phone Scoop]


it was impossible to NOT share this one

When it comes to medication, what you don't know could kill you. Or cause eyelid droop, amnesia and decreased sweating. Match the drug to the safety information taken from its warning label. These 10 warnings on labels can be matched to the 10 prescription drugs pictured below

"Do not use if you are a woman."

"Sleepwalking, and eating or driving while not fully awake, with amnesia for the event, have been reported."

"[In a small number of people] your skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow."

"This product is harmful to humans if swallowed. Avoid contact with skin."

"Some patients tried to end their own lives. And some people have ended their own lives." (Hint: While Paxil also has been linked to an increase in suicidal thoughts in some children/teens, that's not what we're looking for here.)

"The most common side effects following injection include temporary eyelid droop and nausea."

"Serious risks include decreased sweating."

"Babies born to mothers who have taken [this drug] in the latter half of pregnancy have reported complications, including difficulties with breathing, turning blue, floppiness, stiffness, irritability or constant crying."

"Vision changes, such as seeing a blue tinge to objects or having difficulty telling the difference between the colors blue and green." Also, "An erection that won't go away."

"Gas with oily spotting, loose stools, and more frequent stools that may be hard to control."












Master Chao: Chinese virtuouso flat-pattern designer

Andrew "bunnie" Huang -- the guy who broke the Xbox and founded Chumby -- has a great blog post today about Master Chao, a middle-aged Chinese man who has helped design thousands of everyday products that fill your gadget bag and home. Master Chao's gift is in creating flat patterns for sewing into three dimensional shapes, something that is insanely hard to model well on computers. I heard bunnie give a talk on Chinese manufacturing process last June, and his lyrical description of Master Chao's virtuoso performance has stayed with me.
It turns out there are still things where Craft, and I use it with a capital "C" here, matters-it's where CAD tools haven't brought about the ability to simulate out our mistakes before we build them. The creation of a flat pattern for textile goods is a good example of a process that requires a Craftsman. A flat pattern is the set of 2-D shapes used to guide the cutting of fabrics. These 2-D shapes are cut, folded and sewn into a complex 3-D shape. Mapping the projection of an arbitrary 3-D shape onto a 2-D surface with minimal waste area between the pieces is hard enough; the fact that the material stretches and distorts, sometimes in an anisotropic fashion, and the fact that sewing requires ample tolerances for good yields makes it a difficult problem to automate. On the chumby, we add another level of complexity, because we sew a piece of leather onto a soft plastic frame. As you sew the leather on, the frame will distort slightly and stretch the leather out, creating a sewing bias dependent upon the direction and rate of sewing. This force is captured in the seams and contributes to the final shape of the device. I challenge someone to make a computer simulation tool that can accurately capture those forces and predict how a device will look at the end of the day.

Yet, somehow, Master Chao's proficiency in the art of pattern making enables him to very quickly, and in very few iterations, create and tweak a pattern that compensates for all of this. It's astounding how clever and how insightful the results can be. And really, the point of this particular post is to introduce you to a person whose old-world skills -- absent computers, all done with cardboard, scissors and pencils -- has likely played a role in the production of something that you have used or benefited from in the course of your life.



Beautiful colored kaytdids

200709111411 Asahi Shimbun reports that a woman in Osaka discovered these pretty katydids in a field.
Osaka Museum of Natural History entomologist Itaru Kanazawa identifies them as the larvae of Euconocephalus thunbergi (”kubikirigisu” in Japanese), a close relative of the katydid. While he says it is normal for these insects to change between green and brown to match their surroundings, pink and white are considered abnormal.


TNS: Ad Spending Slips Two Quarters in a Row


Gains for Cable TV, Consumer Mags, Outdoor and Web

NEW YORK ( -- U.S. ad spending in the first half of this year slipped to $72.59 billion, a 0.3% decline from the first half of 2006, as the second quarter repeated the falloff of the first.
The top 10 advertisers' collective outlay fell 2.2% in the first half as five of them made significant cuts.
The top 10 advertisers' collective outlay fell 2.2% in the first half as five of them made significant cuts.

If the drop seems slight, remember that media sellers' costs are rising fast. Even more unsettling, this is the first time since 2001 that media ad spending has fallen for two quarters in a row, according to TNS Media Intelligence, which produced today's numbers. More challenges ahead "While the protracted downturn in automotive spending has been a prime contributor, the overall results reflect weakness across a wide range of industries and advertisers," said Steven Fredericks, president-CEO of TNS. "Given the uncertainties about near-term economic growth and consumer spending, we expect core ad spending will continue to face challenges during the second half of the year." It's true that the first quarter of 2006 was blessed by the Winter Olympics ad bonanza, but it would have been soft even without the Olympic effect. And the second quarter declined without any particularly tough comparison from 2006. The only media to gain were cable TV, which was up 2.8%; consumer magazines, up 6.9%; Sunday magazines, up 4.3%; Spanish language magazines, up 13.1%; outdoor, up 3.6%; and, of course, the internet, up 17.7%. That internet figure doesn't include keyword search or video advertising -- TNS doesn't track those. TV feels pain The brunt of the budget cuts hit network TV, which was down 3.6%; spot TV, down 5.4%; business-to-business magazines, down 7.2%; local magazines, down 4.2%; local newspapers, down 5.7%; national papers, down 6.4%; Spanish language papers, down 4.4%; local radio, down 1.5%; national spot radio, down 5.3%; and network radio, down 4.4%. The top 10 advertisers' collective outlay fell 2.2% in the first half as five of them made significant cuts. Spending fell 12.5% at AT&T; 25.1% at General Motors; 7.9% at Time Warner; 9.1% at Johnson & Johnson; and 2.6% at Walt Disney. Fortunately for the media business, the other half increased their budgets. The biggest advertiser, Procter & Gamble, raised ad spending 1.8% to reach $1.61 billion. Spending also rose at Verizon Communications, which was up 8.8%; Ford Motor, up 2.7%; Sprint Nextel, up 13.5%; and National Amusements, up an impressive 56.5%. By category, declines registered in telecom, which was down 6.3%; nondomestic auto, down 6.1%; domestic auto, down 10.8%; and travel and tourism, down 1.2%. The biggest category of the half, financial services, expanded spending 3.5%. Local services and amusements spending increased 2.1%. Miscellaneous retail (excluding department stores, food stores and home furnishing and appliance stores) grew 0.2%. Direct-response advertising rose at the greatest rate, 11.3%. Personal-care products grew 6.7%. And restaurants expanded 0.8%.


Adobe: Photoshop Goes Online and Free

psx_screenshot.jpgWhile it's still a teaser at the moment, John Nack (senior product manager for Photoshop) has confirmed the development of Photoshop Express. It's a free online photo editor that's not meant to replace Adobe's current offerings, but "make Adobe imaging technology immediately accessible to large numbers of people." And from the screenshot here you can tell it's not even a dumbed- down Photoshop, but an entirely new product (that reminds us of something from the new iLIfe).

The announcement follows Adobe's implementation of Premiere Express, their online video editor, and it signifies a fairly progressive market plan by Adobe. In a content creation culture where every teen is a video editor, the democratization of powerful multimedia tools online allows Adobe to reach out to this new generation without abandoning their industry professional bread and butter. And it makes us want to remind kids that we once edited a movie on a VCR (after walking 30 miles barefoot in the snow, aiming our kite for lightning to capture the electricity to do our work). [adobe]


Canon firmware hack unlocks features on DIGIC II-based cameras

This hack has been floating around the internets for a little while now, but it looks like Canon users have just recently begun to catch on to its charms, and its fairly significant benefits. For those not up to speed, the so-called CHDK firmware hack promises to unlock several advanced features of Canon's DIGIC II processor, not the least of which is support for RAW shooting, something normally reserved for higher-end cameras. Other hidden features including a live histogram, a "Zebra mode," a DOF calculator, and even a calendar, text reader, and games, among other things. While the hack should work with any DIGIC II-based camera "in theory," there's apparently only eight cameras that are officially supported, including the A610, A620, A630, A640, A700, A710, S2 IS, and the S3 IS. Of course, as with any firmware hack, you should proceed at your own risk, but those daring enough can find all the information they need by hitting up the read link below. [Via Gadget Lab]


A Cleaner Burn: Eco Fire Fighting

fire1.jpgAccording to the National Interagency Fire Center, the federal government spent $1.5 billion fighting fires last year, and with a near-record wildfire season underway, that number is sure to continue to rise. Unfortunately, much of that money was spent using equipment that spews toxic chemicals and emissions to douse the flames–sort of like saving the forest while damaging the trees (not to mention the wildlife).

Innovation in eco-fire fighting hopes to change that. Arkansas-based Working Chemical Solutions bills its Fire Blockade product as “the fastest, greenest, simplest and cleanest fire suppression system available.” (FYI, the product is the brainchild of Robert C. Smith, a former LSU Tigers defensive end turned biochemist who watched his laboratory burn to the ground — whoa.) Unlike dry chemicals and foams, water-based, biodegradable Fire Blockade doesn’t attack the oxygen in the fire; instead it alters the chemistry of the fuel surface and lowers the temperature of the fire dramatically so it can be more easily extinguished.

Summit Environmental Corp of San Diego has taken eco-fire fighting a step further–the nine-year-old company that previously developed products as diverse as organic skin care and toxic spill clean-up has recently refocused and declared itself on a “Green Firefighting” mission. The company is now 100% focused on its USDA-approved non-toxic Flameout fire suppressant and the development of technology for water and energy-saving fire vehicles.

While we couldn’t find any hybrid fire engines out there yet, if you’re ever unlucky enough to find yourself in a burning building in Sacramento, you might be cheered up by the fact that DaimlerChrysler’s one and only Mercedes Benz F-cell, the first fuel-cell powered fire response vehicle, is in service in the city as a supervisor’s vehicle. No, it doesn’t have a ladder and a hose, but hey, it’s a start.


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