Saturday, December 08, 2007

TringMe Develops Its Own Flash Phone

Augustine: getting very very close to just needing 1 unlimited data plan to do voice calls (VOIP) and all data - $59/month unlimited everything including international long distance

from TechCrunch by

tringphone.pngHere come the Flash phones. Most Web-based phone services require a separate application like Skype or Gizmo. Or, like Jajah, they use the Web primarily to initiate a call on a regular phone. But Flash-based Web phones are bringing VOIP calls directly to the browser. Last month we covered Russia's Flashphone. Now another SIP-based Flash phone is coming out of India's TringMe, which launched in October with a click-to-call widget. (Update: See also Ribbit).

The TringPhone, as it is called, really is more of a technology demonstration than a full-fledged service. TringMe is hoping to license the technology to VOIP providers and help make Web-based telephony as simple as visiting a Web page. It already works with any existing account on a SIP-based phone service, and can be configured for pretty much any VOIP provider. I tried out a demo of the TringPhone, and it completed a call to my U.S. cell phone. Starting later today, the TringPhone should be available on TringMe's Website.

The startup is also working on a mobile VOIP service that will let you make SIP calls from your phone's browser over a 3G data network. That one probably won't be based on Flash.


Paypal Launches Storefront Widget

Augustine: extending their reach much much further than eBay; on their way towards intermediating all payments everywhere.

paypalwidget1.jpgPaypal has launched the Paypal Storefront Widget, a web based widget that allows anyone to embed a store widget on a web site.

The Storefront widget offers a seamless e-commerce platform for those wishing to sell anything on their site, such as t-shirts, CD's or other items

The widget (see pic right) includes:

  • An Index page that shows thumbnail images of all the items for sale through the widget
  • a product page that shows a larger view of the items/ products for sale
  • A shopping cart directly within the widget
  • About and policy pages mean that any conditions are also contained with the widget

Users can set the widget to "sold out" or "sorry we're closed" from the central control panel, and comes standard with a sharing option; visitors are able to grab the html for the widget from the widget and display it on their own site should they so desire.

I spoke with Paypal prior to the launch and they emphasized that the product was focused on blogs and social networking sites. Paypal has a deal with SixApart that sees the widget being embeddable into TypePad blogs without the need to copy and paste, for everyone else though its no more difficult than any widget is to embed, presuming you know where to get at, and where to paste the html.

paypalwidget2.jpgInitially there are some limitations with the service, for example you only get the choice of one size for the widget, and it currently only supports sales in US dollars. Paypal though will be seeking user feedback once the program takes off and they are open to expanding the options available in the future.

Paypal sees a lot of possibilities for the widget; for example it provides a seamless shopfront for bands on MySpace who may want to sell recordings. It may also be a substitute for donation buttons that are occasionally used by bloggers as well; Paypal admits that some of their previous embeddable shopping options haven't been as user friendly as they'd hoped, where as the Storefront widget is focused on being simple to use for everyone.

I've had time to play with the setup features for the widget and there's little doubt that Paypal got the easy part right. Drop down menu items for navigation compliment sample products to get users started.

paypalwidget3.jpgThere are some parallels to Tailgate, in that both are transaction on the page. The difference with the Paypal widget is that like any Paypal transaction payment is made on the Paypal website itself to guarantee a secure transaction; the widget is fully transactional only to the last purchase point. This is functionality usually delivered by often expensive merchant solutions where as Paypal is offering this service for free, except of course they get a standard cut from the sale itself.

I know when I first heard about Paypal's Storefront Widget that my thoughts were: here we go, yet another widget offering, but this is impressive and quite unique in the marketplace. I'd think that this product will be warmly received by those with something to sell, or those who haven't offered items for sale previously on their blogs or social networking pages due to the cost and technical knowledge required in doing so.


AdMob + iPhone + LandRover = Good Results

A iPhone focused LandRover campaign powered by San Mateo based mobile advertising startup AdMob has seen some interesting results (video demo above).

AdAge has some details on the campaign here, but I obtained some raw figures from AdMob. Of those users who clicked on the Land Rover advertisement, 23% responded to at least one call-to-action on the landing page. 88% of those users watched the video, 9% entered their zip code to find a nearby Land Rover dealership and 3% used the click-2-call action, all of who were highly qualified leads. Of the 3% who clicked to call through the advertisement, 50% of the calls lasted more than 30 seconds and 20% of the calls lasted for more than a minute. Sales figures from the campaign were not available, but consider that the campaign was only 400,000 impressions; if LandRover had managed to sell one or two cars it would make the campaign more than effective.

The results would seem to indicate that the iPhone has become a more effective means of targeted mobile advertising campaigns than regular phones; the integration with Google Maps and the display of video provides a richer experience for both the viewer, and for the company seeking to expose their product.


iPhone Delivers: Bigger Browsing Share Than Windows Mobile

iphone.jpgWhen Steve Jobs first announced the iPhone, he promised that it would revolutionize the mobile browsing experience. Roughly 1.4 million sales later it barely registers than more than a blip on global mobile phone sales charts, but its users a making their mark.

According to figures from Net Applications, the iPhone now holds a 0.09% browser market share; a small figure perhaps but remarkable when compared to the market share of Windows CE on 0.06%; this despite at least 20 million Windows Mobile devices having been sold. Simply iPhone users are using their iPhone to surf the web far more often than users of Windows powered mobile phones. Symbian phone users (S60) rank at a lowly 0.01%, despite Nokia having sold hundreds of millions of phones worldwide.

In perspective the iPhone still only holds a small marketshare in the area that counts (sales) but those users are becoming a far more influential and reachable target audience than users of other phones, such as the LandRover iPhone campaign in our earlier post also shows. With a 3G version on the iPhone due in 2008 that will finally deliver broadband mobile browsing speeds to the handset, this is a product that will just continue to grow in importance.

(via Computerworld)


Visible Path Sees Its Way To An Acquisition

visiblepathlogo.pngCorporate social networking application Visible Path is set for an acquisition soon. The term sheet has been signed and the acquirer, says the company, is a “multi-billion dollar international company with established sales and technology operations.” No word on the terms of the deal, but a worthwhile exit price would be high considering the $22.7 million already invested in the firm.

Visible Path differs from other business social networks like LinkedIn or Xing, by creating your social network out of your email inbox. The service is based on an Outlook plug-in that impressed us earlier because your connections are based on the frequency of your real interactions and not random friending or pokes. These relationships are mapped online and make up a directory of people you can search through by skill or relationship. It’s a useful feature that I imagine a service like the “email utility” Xobni implementing.

Visible Path never saw as great a level of adoption as LinkedIn, which launched around the same time and has effectively cinched the U.S. corporate social networking scene. Maybe their new partner will give them some much needed exposure.


JibJab Now Puts You In a Pepsi Ad—Thanks Lloyd Braun

jibjab-snowball.pngWe’ve written before about JibJab’s Sendables electronic video greeting cards that cost $0.50 to $3 each. Now, they found a sponsor in Pepsi for two holiday greeting videos through former Yahoo exec Lloyd Braun’s new company BermanBraun, which works with Pepsi to create online video branding opportunities like this one. You can upload a photo of your head and that of your friends (or frenemies) to personalize the cards, just as you can with JibJab’s Starring You series. A “This Sendables is free thanks to Diet Pepsi Max” message flashes for a few seconds before the greeting starts, and if you don’t blink, you will see that you are actually part of the promo. In the Snowball Fight card below, which the folks at JibJab made for us, you can see Mike and me in elf costumes doing a cartwheel over the sponsorship message. So not only can the audience now star in JibJab videos, but it is also being roped into pitching products. Hey, where are our royalties?

And now a message from Jibjab’s sponsor [Update: The Pepsi ad only appears on, not in the embedded player below]:


Loic Le Meur’s Ten Rules For Startup Success

The Financial Times has a profile of French (now Silicon Valley) entrepreneur Loic Le Meur today.

Loic is an accomplished entrepreneur - he founded uBlog (merged with Six Apart), organizes the annual Le Web conference and has now created Seesmic (note that I’m an investor in Seesmic). So even though he’s French, his advice, when given, is worth listening to.

Included in the article are his ten rules for startup success. Reprinted below.

  1. Don’t wait for a revolutionary idea. It will never happen. Just focus on a simple, exciting, empty space and execute as fast as possible
  2. Share your idea. The more you share, the more you get advice and the more you learn. Meet and talk to your competitors.
  3. Build a community. Use blogging and social software to make sure people hear about you.
  4. Listen to your community. Answer questions and build your product with their feedback.
  5. Gather a great team. Select those with very different skills from you. Look for people who are better than you.
  6. Be the first to recognise a problem. Everyone makes mistakes. Address the issue in public, learn about and correct it.
  7. Don’t spend time on market research. Launch test versions as early as possible. Keep improving the product in the open.
  8. Don’t obsess over spreadsheet business plans. They are not going to turn out as you predict, in any case.
  9. Don’t plan a big marketing effort. It’s much more important and powerful that your community loves the product.
  10. Don’t focus on getting rich. Focus on your users. Money is a consequence of success, not a goal.


Buy A Virtual Gift And Fight Malaria

Causes is one of the most popular Facebook Applications, with over 300,000 active users. The service, which leverages virality to spread the word about worthy causes, aggregates 40,000 causes that benefit 13,000 nonprofits worldwide. In many ways, it’s a pyramid scheme for good.

Now founders Sean Parker and Joe Green are leveraging another phenomenon to increase participation even further: virtual gifts. Facebook has been selling them since February this year. A number of unofficial virtual gift applications created by third parties have also launched on Facebook. Clearly, they are here to stay. Facebook says 24 million of them have been given away through the official application alone (although many of them were free).

But now you can give a gift that says a little more than “I spent a dollar on you.” With Gifts from Causes, you can give a $10 - $200 gift to a friend. Each virtual gift (see image below) benefits a different charity. 100% of the proceeds (minus only credit card fees) go directly to the charity.

$10 gives two blankets to people in a disaster area. Or one insecticide-treaded bed net to a child in Africa to fight Malaria. Or a soccer ball to a poor child. etc. So the next time you want to send your boyfriend a rose, think about spending $15 instead and sending him a teddy bear. In the real world, a sick child will receive a real teddy bear, thanks to your generosity.


Is Beacon Inflating Facebook’s Visitor Numbers?

popups or includes being counted as traffic/uniques

Is Beacon Inflating Facebook's Visitor Numbers?

While Facebook's Beacon program has been drawing the ire of many people because of the privacy issues surrounding it, advertisers might be equally concerned about whether Beacon is inflating Facebook's overall visitor and traffic numbers. Yesterday, Compete reported that Facebook's unique visitors went up 20 percent in the month of November, after a controversial dip in September and practically zero growth in October. Could the increase have had anything to do with the launch of Beacon in early November?

compete-faecbook.pngIn a word, yes. Every time someone visits a Facebook Beacon partner (there were 40 of them at the time of the announcement) and performs a pre-defined action like writing a review or rating a hotel, a little Beacon toast pops up alerting you that your action is being sent to Facebook. That pop-up is actually coming from Facebook, and in some cases may be counted as a Facebook page even though the person seeing it does not normally click through to Facebook. It is triggered by a tag on the partner's page known as an iFrame, which then tells your browser to load a page from Facebook within the site you happen to be visiting. This occurs even when a non-Facebook member visits that page and performs the same action. In that case, it creates a ghost iFrame, though, because the viewer does not see anything. But data is still sent to Facebook.

I called up Jay Meattle at Compete, who wrote the post, and he confirmed that of the 29.2 million unique visitors Compete counted for Facebook in November, those could also include visitors to Facebook iFrame "pages," which are really nothing more than a pop-up on a partner site. So, for instance, if you write a review on Yelp, a Beacon partner, a JavaScript is executed for all users writing a review ( and an iFrame is launched ( That review on Yelp can now count as a unique visitor on Facebook.

So how many Beacon iFrames "visits" did Compete mix up in its numbers? Meattle says that 2.3 million people triggered a Beacon iFrame in November. But he wasn't able to tell me what the overlap is because a portion of those 2.3 million people could have already been counted as Facebook visitors when they visited Facebook previously, and thus would not be counted again. The Beacon pop-up would be treated in that case like any other Facebook page. (That is, after the first one, it would count towards page views, but not towards unique visitors). But remember, these iFrames are triggered by non-Facebook members as well who never go to Facebook proper. That would explain why Facebook had such a huge jump in visitors in November. If all 2.3 million of those iFrame visitors were counted improperly as part of Facebook's total, that would account for nearly half of the 4.9 million jump in unique visitors measured by Compete.

Another strange thing about the Compete numbers is that they show unique visitors going up by 20 percent but page views only going up 2.58 percent. That could be due to lots of things, like Facebook users doing more stuff with apps on a single page, clicking off to Websites controlled by application providers, or Facebook just becoming more efficient in not making you click around as much to do the same things. But I wonder if that is partly Beacon-related as well.

Will wel see the same inflation in comScore's November numbers when they come out next week, or in other measuring services such as Quantcast, HitWise, or Alexa. The folks at comScore assure me that they filter out any traffic or pages not requested by users such as pop-ups, so it might not be an issue for them. I don't know how the other measuring services treat iFrames. But in an age when Websites are interchanging so much data and so many actual applications, where one begins and the other one ends is becoming blurred. Do page views even matter anymore? Do uniques? Maybe it is time for some new metrics.

Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it's time for you to find a new Job2.0


Pass The Bong, It’s Another Whacky Zune Commercial

We first covered the rather different advertising campaign for Microsoft’s iPod wannabe MP3 player the Zune in November. Enamored perhaps by the surrealism presented in the original campaign, Microsoft has sponsored a project called Zune-Arts, which created the above ad for the Zune.

According to Wired earlier this week, the site is dedicated to creating “pieces of art, content with viral potential, instead of just a [regular] 30-second commercial.” Microsoft’s Robert Schaltenbrand said that the campaign is part of Microsoft’s push to target “the cultural core, the key influencers in society that pay attention to this kind of art,” presumably so they’ll buy Zunes. Each clip created for the project revolves around the concept of sharing, which apparently is the Zune’s main selling point.

Regular TechCrunch commenter Fake Steve Ballmer claims that Microsoft has “finally cracked the cool thing” but I can’t help that think that this would be way cooler under the influence of one of a variety of drugs*, as opposed to it being appealing to a broader spectrum of key influencers. Does this make you want to go out and buy a Zune?


Friday, December 07, 2007

Commercials As Content - 7 Places to Watch Ads On Purpose

Written by Josh Catone / December 6, 2007

Ah ads, nobody likes ads. Especially ads that postpone your enjoyment of some media -- that's why 70% of people using TiVo to timeshift television are also skipping the commercials . But there is one time each year when commercials take center stage. That's right, the Super Bowl. Every time the world's most watched yearly one day sporting event rolls around, people seem to forget their hatred of television advertising -- sometimes the high priced TV spots are more talked about than even the game itself.

And there are plenty of places to watch Super Bowl ads. There's the aptly named . There are the specialized channels on iFilm , AOL Sports , YouTube , and CBS Sportsline . But what about all the ads that get made the rest of the year? They're funny too, right?

Never fear, there is a growing breed of sites dedicated solely to TV ads as content. Below are 7 places you can go to get your commercial watching fix.

Firebrand , which launched a couple of weeks ago, is one of the newest entries to the advertising as content space. It is a curated collection of what its editors consider to be the creme-de-la-creme of television advertising. Firebrand sports one of the slickest interfaces of the bunch, and users can rate, download or embed commercials. The site was a little glitchy at times for me, in Firefox, though.

American television network TBS created Very Funny Ads to promote its yearly round up of the world's funniest television advertisements. They realized that the annual special's popularity could translate into a continuous source of revenue in the form of a web site. So far, it seems to be working. Many of the site's top ads have hundreds of thousands of views, with the most popular clocking half a million. Those aren't YouTube numbers, but for a niche video site, that's impressive -- especially considering videos from the site can't be embedded elsewhere.

AdForum has a huge selection of over 75,000 ads from over 20,000 different agencies. It is not the slickest site, but their library is certainly impressive. Unfortunately, not all of their content is available for free (some is behind a rather pricey subscription wall), and there is much to be desired from their player (which pops up in a Javascript lightbox, is Windows Media based, and doesn't allow rating or embedding -- at least not for free clips). To be fair, the site targets ad professionals and students (i.e., those studying advertising), and not the general public.

Visit4Info is a huge television advertisement repository focused on British commercials. Their library has over 47,000 TV ads from the UK. Ads can be rated, downloaded, or embedded, and the site also operates a paid, members-only site that includes more information for ad professionals. Careful, not all of the ads here are safe for work -- but then, is watching TV ads at work really ever safe? (Excepting for those who work at an advertising firm...)

YouTube certainly isn't focused on TV ads, but there are a ton of them on the site. The catch is that you have to search for them specifically (hint: try searching by brand or product). YouTubers have often expressed frustration whenever Google has tried to push ads on the site, but just check out this search for Sony Bravia to see just how popular ads on YouTube can be -- many of these ads have a few hundred thousand views.

AdCritic Creativity is an online magazine about the ad industry that takes the place of the old AdCritic site, which is where I remember watching TV ads online in the late 90s. Their AdCritic section still houses an impressive repository of TV, print, and interactive advertising. Their ads are posted at a higher quality than many of the other sites in this roundup (example ), and members can rate and review them.

Have a hankering from some old school advertising? Retrojunk has your back with an archive of classic TV commercials from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Who could forget the infamous Where's the Beef? ad, for example? Retrojunk isn't the easiest site to get around, but users are encouraged to rate ads by whether they remember them or not, so the most memorable are easier to locate.

Bonus Site

The most frustrating part of ads is not always just having to sit through them, sometimes it's hearing a great song, getting it stuck in your head, and then not being able to figure out what it is. Enter AdTunes , a massive forum community where people discuss the music used in television advertisements. This site has lead me to such gems as "Noah's Arkestra" by Mountains in the Sky a song used in NBA Finals commercials a few years ago (actually, you can watch it yourself ).


Additional Automotive X-Prize details revealed

Filed under:

For a competition that still hasn't officially launched, the Automotive X-Prize has certainly been doing a pretty good job of making itself known, and we've now got yet more details on it courtesy of the folks at CNET. First up, it seems that the X-Prize Foundation will finally get official with the competition "sometime next year," although likely not before the New York Auto Show in the spring. Before that, however, the Foundation will be showing off some or all of the 43 contenders currently signed up at the Detroit Auto Show in January including, among others, Aptera's 300 mile-per-gallon car pictured above. What's more, given that the competition only seeks to find a car that gets 100 miles to the gallon, it would seem that Aptera would have a considerable advantage -- assuming it can actually back up its claims, that is. Hit up the read link below for a peek at some of the other competitors.




Macbook ultraportable and Penryn Mac Pro due for Macworld, 3G iPhone in June?

We've taken a "don't stop believing" approach to Apple ultraportable rumors up to this point, and there's no reason to think these "fresh" predictions from CNBC's Jim Goldman are anything different, but they at least serve as a nice refresher in the lead up to Macworld in January. Goldman predicts the new Pro laptop will be half the thickness of the MacBook Pro, the hard disk will be replaced with NAND storage, and Apple will be selling the thing for $1,500 -- the same price the black MacBook currently goes for. He's purportedly citing sources that claim to have seen the product, and says that the laptop is supposedly due to show up at Macworld. Jim's sources also say that the 3G iPhone is supposed to hit shelves by late May or early June of next year, which beats out some industry predictions of a late '08 release.

Of course, since it's just a month before Macworld, it's about time the rumor mill heated up a little beyond incessant Macbook and iPhone rumorings, and MacBidouille is stepping up to stoke the flames. The French rag is claiming that the Mac Pro will get bumped to an 3.2GHz eight-core Penryn setup ( totally believable) featuring NVIDIA QuadroFX graphics (sure) with a BTO Blu-ray burner available (maybe), and that DVD Studio Pro will be renamed Disk Studio Pro and refocused on BD authoring (another definite maybe). On top of that, MacBidouille also claims that OS X 10.5.2 will be released, and that it will be "the largest and most important intermediate system update ever released by Apple." We're a little less sure we buy that, but as always, only time and Steve will tell.

[Thanks, L2 and Mark]

Read - Jim Goldman predictions
Read - MacBidouille predictions


Sarcos humanoid robot learns how to take a shove

We've already seen some of Sarcos' robotics gear put to some slightly frightening use in the form of a military exoskeleton, and it now looks like one of the company's full-fledged robots is getting a chance to strut its stuff as well, with a little help from the folks at Japan's Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute. As New Scientist reports, they've developed some software that allows the robot to stay on its feet when its bumped, shoved or even kicked (which makes mere dynamic balancing robots look positively inadequate). The key to that, it seems, is that the robot's joints are never kept rigid, which allows them to give slightly when any of the array of sensors detect the slightest jolt, giving the software a chance to then adjusting the robot's feet as necessary to keep its balance. Not surprisingly, they don't seem to have given the robot the ability to shove back just yet, but you can check out its current capabilities in the video available at the site linked below.




IBM tries to stop Asus imports over patent violations

In what's becoming a common strategy by patent plaintiffs to try and speed up the settlement process, IBM has asked the United States International Trade Commission to ban imports of Asus computers due to claimed patent violations. The two companies had a patent license that expired in December of 2004, and IBM says Asus has continued to use the disputed tech since that time, in both Asus-branded machines and machines it's OEM'd for others, like Apple and Dell. IBM isn't getting specific about which patents are being infringed, except to say that it's three patents that cover "important aspects of computer systems, including power supplies, computer cooling and computer clustering capabilities." As always with ITC hearings, there's a 45-day window for the Commission to make a determination, so you may want to snap up that Eee PC sooner rather than later.


FujiXerox shows off color e-ink display with writing capabilities

Filed under:

We've only seen a couple prototype color e-ink displays here and there, but this latest version from FujiXerox seems like its the furthest along in terms of refresh rate and usability. The A6 sized panel is made of three polymer-dispersed liquid-crystal layers, but it's still flexible, at just .4mm thick. No hard specs, really, but Tech-On says refresh time is less than one second -- just quick enough to make this viable for the next-gen Kindle, eh?

[Via Tech-On!]


Postal Service to Netflix: redesign your mailers or face fees

You know those handy mailers that you've been sending back to Netflix for ages as you eagerly await the next few flicks in your queue? Apparently, those buggers have cost the US Postal Service a staggering $41.9 million in additional labor costs over the past two years due to their "nonmachinable nature," and if things aren't changed, it could cost 'em another $61.5 million over the next couple years. In a letter from the Inspector General's office, Netflix is being, um, asked to rework its mailers or face a $0.17 surcharge per envelope, and if such a fee was tacked on, it would reportedly decrease the outfit's monthly operating income per paying subscriber by a whopping 67-percent. Not surprisingly, it sounds as if Netflix will bite the bullet and redesign the problematic mailer if the USPS is serious about the charges, so feel free to keep an eye out for a design change in the not-too-distant future.

[Via TechDirt, image courtesy of ABC]


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Apple Remote: It's Not What You Think

apple_shaped_remote.jpg At first glance an apple shaped remote may seem sort of ridiculous (and maybe it is) but there are certainly some interesting features to this concept device by Jason Roebuck. First off, the apple theme is more aesthetically pleasing than a standard remote —especially when arranged on its "bowl" recharging station. In fact, they actually add something to the decor.

The idea is that each member of the household would have their own personal remote, programmed to their tastes. The device could also respond to motion gestures like rotating it left to lower the volume, and rotating it right to raise it. When not in use, the apples can be returned to the bowl for recharging. I don't know if Sony would actually be into something like this, but I can see how future products could incorporate some of these ideas. [Yanko Design]


Porsche's Futuristic Champagne Tower for Veuve Cliquot Is a Fridge by Any Other Name

vlclosed.jpgIf it weren't for my obnobvious headline, you'd all be wondering what the hell this is. Just 15 of these Champagne tower chillers, with room for a dozen magnums in individual, lit drawers, have been designed for Veuve Cliquot by Porsche Design. Want to see what it looks like open?

vlopen.jpg Almost six-and-a-half feet in height, expect to see these stainless steel monstrosities in the kitchens of F1 drivers in time for their Christmas parties. [Sybarites]


Zetix Blast-Proof Fabric Resists Multiple Car Bombs, Makes Our Heads Explode

carbombtest.jpgZetix is a fabric so strong it will resist multiple car bomb blasts without breaking. It absorbs and disperses the energy from explosions thanks to an inner structure so adamantiumtastic it can be used in body armor, window covering, military tents and hurricane defenses—it might even be able to fend off my ex-wife. When not shielding from explosions, it can be used as medical sutures that won't damage body tissue. All of this is thanks to a property that apparently defies the laws of physics:

Zetix is built around the principle of auxetics: objects that actually get fatter the more you stretch them. Though it hurts to think about, as you will discover, it actually makes sense.

To demonstrate how Zetix works, the best thing is to look how a thread behaves. When you jump from a bridge using a bungee cord, the force of gravity acting over your body weight will stretch it as you go down in free fall. While this happens, the cord threads will stretch getting closer together and making the cord get thinner as it expands through a larger distance.zetix2.jpgHowever, if you coil a line around the bungee cord, something that defies logic will happen: the whole structure will get wider as it stretches. As you can see in the image, the line around the bungee cord becomes taut, making the bungee itself flex outward. This principle is called helical-auxetics. When you put two of these threads together, you have what Reed Richards would call an auxetic structure.zetix6.jpgzetix4.jpg When you take this to the micro level, you can create a fabric formed from thousands of these helically wound threads. The resulting global structure is so strong that it can dissipate the energies of multiple blasts without breaking, unlike other materials of this class. In fact, the expanding properties of Zetix give it almost miraculous properties.zetix5.jpgAccording to Dr. Patrick Hook—the creator of the fabric and managing director of Auxetix Ltd.—this fabric is "a design that can save lives" and, more importantly, it can do so repeatedly. "Most blast defenses are only capable of coping with a single explosion event and, once deployed and used, all significant protection is lost," he told Gizmodo. You can see the difference in the first photo, comparing an helical-auxetic fabric with your usual high-strenght blast protective fabric.

This material has other uses beyond terrorist attacks or battle scenarios, said Dr. Hook. The fabrics can "provide sustained protection and gives emergency services extra time to rescue trapped or injured people," and can offer effective protection against natural forces like hurricanes, as well as be deployed in containment systems, military tents, ballistic mosquito nets and body armor, a $2 billionpret-a-porter market.zetix3.jpgAnother advantage of Zetix is its low cost: other blast-protective textiles are made entirely of very expensive high-performance materials; Zetix uses them too, but in much smaller proportions. Zetix combines the good stuff with "cheaper bulk components" in a 1-to-100 ratio while maintaining it's blast-resistant properties. The cost difference only gets crazier when you remember that this can be used multiple times.

Though the company is in talks with multiple manufacturers to go into mass production, we don't yet know when you'll be able to buy this stuff at Home Depot to protect against the next hurricane or tornado, let alone when Chen will be able to buy underwear made completely from it for his next pantsing session. [Auxetix]


Samsung announces world's fastest memory: GDDR5

Gadzooks gamers, Samsung just announced what they are calling the world's fastest memory: GDDR5. The new series five, double-data rate memory chip transfers data at a lickity quick 6Gbps -- about 4x faster while using 20% less power than the GDDR3 memory found in modern GPUs and the PS3. Compare that to their 4Gbps GDDR4 chips and you'll understand the fuss. The chips have already been delivered in samples to the likes of NVIDIA and ATI. Samsung expects the series five chips to capture more than 50 percent of the high-end PC graphics market by 2010. [via DigiTimes]


Toshiba and Samsung to cross-license NAND rights: more flash for all!

While Toshiba (and SanDisk) and Samsung might be battling it out in the press for the world's fastest and highest-density NAND, they're actually good buddies behind closed doors. In fact, they've been partners in the Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology Corporation for years. Today they announced a deal to cross-license the rights to respectively produce, market, and sell Samsung's OneNAND and Toshiba's LBA-NAND memory chips. Each plans to release products next year based on the newly licensed technology of the other. The move should broaden the choice of suppliers to OEMs in a day where multi-sourcing reigns supreme. Yes, that's a good thing for us consumers.

[Via DigiTimes]


Wal-Mart, Amazon ratchet up anti-DRM pressure

Both Wal-Mart and Amazon have already made their positions on DRM pretty well known, but it looks like each are now taking some further steps to ratchet up the pressure on the remaining hold-out record labels. For its part, Wal-Mart has reportedly told the record labels point blank that they must offer DRM-free MP3 versions of all their music, a matter that Sony BMG is apparently still the biggest hold out on. Amazon, on the other hand, is looking to give its download service (and, in turn, DRM-free downloads) a boost by giving away up to a billion free downloads in a promotion with Pepsi that's its set to launch during the Super Bowl in February. You'll need to guzzle quite a bit a Pepsi if you want to get your quota of those MP3s, however, as you'll apparently need to collect five bottle caps for each download. According to Billboard, Amazon has approached all the major record labels about participating in the promotion, but some are apparently balking at the 40 cents per track Amazon is willing to give 'em, which is a sizable cut from the 65 to 70 cents they currently receive.

[Via Gadget Lab]


JetBlue introduces free in-flight email and IM

In a welcome first for domestic airlines, JetBlue will be rolling out free in-flight Yahoo IM and email services to passengers packing WiFi-equipped devices, starting aboard its new "BetaBlue" Airbus A320. Once this test-bed passenger jet reaches 10,000 feet, an in-plane network with three in-ceiling access points is activated, allowing most any wireless gadget with a Flash-enabled browser to view specialized versions of either Yahoo Messenger or Mail through a universal landing page. What's more, owners of certain BlackBerry handsets like the 8820 or Curve 8320 can keep feeding their addictions non-stop thanks to an agreement between JetBlue and RIM.

Bandwidth for these services is provided by LiveTV, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the carrier that provides the entire fleet with select DirecTV and XM radio channels, and which also happens to possess a valuable 1MHz slice of ground-to-air spectrum that it's deploying for this very purpose (with the help of some 100 existing cell towers around the country). If all goes well in what is admittedly a beta test, more aircraft will receive the WiFi makeover, and more features -- such as access to terabytes of locally-stored multimedia content -- will be rolled out, along with additional service providers besides Yahoo. Just don't expect an open pipe any time soon: that sweet little slice of spectrum is not nearly robust enough to handle the heavy Slinging, VoIPing, and Torrenting you all would obviously be doing.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Here Comes Another Bubble - The Richter Scales


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Carnegie Mellon's "Crusher" military bot getting $14 million upgrade

Carnegie Mellon's so-called "Crusher" unmanned military vehicle already had quite a bit going for it in its previous incarnation, but it now looks to set to expand its robotized arsenal even further, courtesy of a $14.4 million grant from the Army. According to the university's National Robotics Engineering Center, the updated bot will make use of the "latest suspension, vehicle frame, and hybrid-electric drive technologies to improve upon its predecessor's performance" while also promising to, somewhat ominously, "push the envelope for autonomous and semi-autonomous operation." That the NREC says, should allow the bot to begin working alongside troops in five or ten years, with it initially confined to convoy roles before it puts its autonomous skills to use in "tactical" missions.

[Via CNET Military Tech]


The 20GB+ Eee PC mod

Filed under:

8GB of flash storage is currently the best you can hope for in a standard (though imported) Eee PC. However, if you're industrious and determined enough, you can marry your 4GB Eee with a $150 (or so) 16GB Corsair Flash Voyager drive for a full 20GB of storage. That's exactly what Johnx did over at He even integrated Bluetooth like we've seen before. Best of all though, the new NAND and Bluetooth radio are not soldered to the system. Rather, they are fitted to a pair of newly installed, internal USB ports slung off the miniPCIe connector. Thus, the system can be upgraded at any time. All hail Johnx... king of the Eees!

[Thanks, chainofcommand02]


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Hama PhotoPlayer 1080i digital picture viewer

Hey there Ansel Adams -- we know you're shooting all your news pictures in an ultra-detailed, millions-of-megapixels format. Unfortunately for you, it's hard to show off your breathtaking work to friends and family. Well, a company called Hama hopes to change all that with its PhotoPlayer 1080i, a curious device that serves one basic function: it allows you to view your photos on an HD television. Basically, the little contraption is a 35-in-1 card reader which also outputs images (via component hookups) to your favorite 1080i-equipped display. The PhotoPlayer comes with a tiny remote for flipping through your majestic vision, and also includes a USB jack (for hard drives and the like), so you can go for a really, really long haul during your presentations. We can hear the "oohs" and "ahhs" already. Available now, no word on price.

[Via PhotographyBLOG]


Monday, December 03, 2007

Comcast CEO sees 160Mbps internet in 2008

Remember that blisteringly fast channel bonding modem Comcast showed off earlier this year? Turns out that the firm's CEO is apparently aiming to roll out internet services that can reach up to 160Mbps down / 120Mbps up sometime in 2008. As in, next year. In a recent interview with Fortune, Brian Roberts stated that service based on DOCSIS 3.0 technology would start "rolling out" sometime in 2008, and casually noted that it should provide "more than enough bandwidth to do multiplayer online gaming." Additionally, Cable Digital News explains that the firm has plans to cover some 20-percent of its footprint with the uber-quick service before 2009, and while we're left to guess what areas will be covered, we'd bet locales fetching FiOS could entertain some competition. Granted, we've still got aways to go before we can go toe-to-toe with a certain Swede, but we'll take any progress we can get.

[Via ArsTechnica, image courtesy of AFP / BBC]
Read - Fortune interviews Comcast CEO Brian Roberts
Read - Comcast closes in on 100Mbit/s


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Blackberry 9000 Specs Leaked, Faster Than iPhone in More Ways than One [Rumor]

bb9xxx-1.jpgBoy Genius Report may have gotten their hands on early specs of the upcoming touch-interface BlackBerry 9000. And according to their sources, the (iPhonesque?) 9000 has two hardware advantages over the iPhone. First, it features a 624MHz Intel XScale PXA270 processor that just edges out the iPhone's 620MHz ARM 1173 processor (on paper). Second, the 9000 will introduce speedy HSDPA to the line (a welcomed 3G first for the BlackBerrys). Here are the rest of the specs:

- 480 x 320 resolution screen - 1GB onboard memory - GPS, WiFi, HSDPA - Maybe a 3.2MP camera - Maybe dropping in Q1 or Q2 of 2008
Looking good, but can anyone get over a loss of button-driven QWERTY? [ bgr]