Archive for June, 2012

COMPARING THE AUTO INDUSTRY to the computer industry is like comparing two different generations of technology. We’ve got super-fast smartphones and iPods streaming Rhapsody in our pockets, but satellite radio and clunky GPS devices attached to our dashboards.

Automakers are aware they’re a little behind the times, and by 2020, many are promising dashboard and safety systems as sophisticated as iPads — maybe even more so.

Obvious, but vital; most of the technologies on this list would be fairly useless if the car wasn’t a rolling hotspot. Several auto manufacturers are already working on developing wifi for cars. In fact, connected cars are the third fastest-growing technological device, following smartphones and tablets.

Ford has introduced this in some models with their Sync system, and Toyota is working with Intel on developing one of their own. Ideally, these systems will also have the ability to connect to your home network, allowing you to transfer information from your computer or laptop directly to your car.


At Google I/O Wednesday, Google took the wraps off of Google Q, a mysterious, spherical, Android-powered computer for home entertainment and software designed by Google from the ground up. It doesn’t stream media from another local device like Apple’s AirPlay. All its content comes from the Google Play cloud.

It plugs into the best speakers and TVs out there using optical outputs. It has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC for connectivity, as well as USB ports “to encourage general hackability.”

Nexus Q allows for social streaming of music. Friends can add their own music from Google Music to the device, so anyone in the room can DJ the party straight from their phones. The Nexus Q will be available for pre-order on Wednesday for $299, starting in the U.S.

Read More on ReadWriteWeb

Mars could have entire oceans’ worth of water locked in rocks deep underground, scientists say.

The finding suggests that ancient volcanic eruptions may have been major sources of water on early Mars—and could have created habitable environments.

According to a new study, Martian meteorites contain a surprising amount of hydrated minerals, which have water incorporated in their crystalline structures.

In fact, the study authors estimate that the Martian mantle currently contains between 70 and 300 parts per million of water—enough to cover the planet in liquid 660 to 3,300 feet (200 to 1,000 meters) deep.

“Basically the amount of water we’re talking about is equal to or more than the amount in the upper mantle of the Earth,” which contains 50 to 300 parts per million of water, said study leader Francis McCubbin, a planetary scientist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Read More on National Geographic

FORTUNE — Microsoft is snatching up business social networking tool Yammer – a.k.a Facebook  for the workplace – for $1.2 billion.  This acquisition hints at a major shift in the way the planet’s largest companies use and choose software.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the Yammer purchase shows “Microsoft may be trying to plug holes in its ubiquitous Office software.”  It goes much farther than that.  Enterprise software – the tools used by companies to do everything from process payroll to monitor customer leads and make spreadsheets – is right now in the midst of an unprecedented renaissance and “full-blown reawakening,” according to no less an authority than Peter Levine, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital gurus that have invested in Facebook (FB), Twitter and Zynga (ZNGA).

The proof?  In just the last month, enterprise giants including Oracle (ORCL), Salesforce (CRM) and now Microsoft (MSFT) have shelled out $2.25 billion for social business upstarts like Vitrue, Buddy Media and Yammer.  The spending spree reflects the fact that enterprise software is swiftly evolving and tech’s titans are fighting to keep up.

Last year, Darpa launched a program, Phoenix, to harvest satellite parts. Now, the agency’s convening with researchers and already looking for a prime sat candidate to pick apart. Illustration: Darpa

The Pentagon’s intergalactic black-magic plot is getting ready to raise the dead.

Dead satellites, that is. Last year, Darpa, the military’s blue-sky research agency, kicked off a program designed to harvest parts from unused communications satellites still orbiting the Earth, and then turn those bits and pieces — antennas in particular — into an array that operates as a low-cost “communications farm” for troops on the ground.

Now that program, called Phoenix, is entering a new phase. First, Darpa last week issued a bid to commercial satellite owners, asking for “a candidate satellite” that’ll act as a space-based guinea pig for initial evaluations of the technology requisite for the initiative. And today, the agency hosted a conference on “sustainable satellite servicing” — attended by academics, private companies and military experts — to discuss everything from the program’s regulatory challenges to more technical “operational considerations” necessary to revive dead satellites.


Protons, neutrons melt to produce ‘quark-gluon plasma’ at RHIC

The positive and sometimes unexpected impact of particle physics is well documented, from physicists inventing the World Wide Web to engineering the technology underlying life-saving magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices. But sometimes the raw power of huge experiments and scientific ambition draw the recognition of those seeking only the most extreme achievements on Earth.

Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) smashes particles together to recreate the incredible conditions that only existed at the dawn of time (video). The 2.4-mile underground atomic “racetrack” at RHIC produces fundamental insights about the laws underlying all visible matter. But along the way, its particles also smashed a world record.

Guinness World Records, no longer encumbered by “book of,” recognized Brookhaven Lab for achieving the “Highest Man-Made Temperature.” When RHIC collides gold ions at nearly the speed of light, the impact energy becomes so intense that the neutrons and protons inside the gold nuclei “melt,” releasing fundamental quarks and gluons that then form a nearly friction-free primordial plasma that only existed in Nature about a millionth of one second after the Big Bang. RHIC discovered this primordial, liquid-like quark-gluon plasma and measured its temperature at around 4 trillion degrees Celsius – that’s 250,000 times hotter than the center of the sun.


Amazing Parkour Exhibition

Parkour (French pronunciation: [paʁˈkuʁ]) (abbreviated PK) is a physical discipline and non-competitive sport which focuses on efficient movement around obstacles. Developed in France by David Belle, the main purpose of the discipline is to teach participants how to move through their environment by vaulting, rolling, running, climbing, and jumping. Parkour practitioners are known as “traceurs”.

Parkour’s modern history began in the 1920s, though similar movements can be found in the Eastern martial arts ninjutsu and qing gong. Georges Hébert began teaching the fundamental movements related to parkour during this time period, and eventually the training became the standard for the French military. David and Raymond Belle would expand on Hébert’s work, and David would eventually found the Yamakasi group, the first group dedicated to parkour.

Apple’s New Deal – 1997

This as an interesting flashback to the 90s when Apple was still getting back on it’s feet. How ironic that Microsoft actually helped Apple get back into the technology game with $150 million dollar investment.

Also, interesting Microsoft had a vested interested in Facebook succeeding but we’ll leave that story for another time.

Why Metro?

In case anyone is wondering why the new look and feel for Windows 8, I have a few bits of interesting information you might want to consider while pondering this question. Aside from the obvious which is just to provide something new to the masses to make their operating system look like it’s evolving here are some very real factors that might have played a part in their design decision.

ARM is becoming a significant if not dominant computing platform in the world today as many manufacturers have signed up to create ARM based platforms. So in case you’re not up on the technology yet here are a few key points.

First of all ARM is not a single chip or chipset. It’s actually a hardware architecture which puts RISC at the center of the technology. RISC and CISC have long been competing hardware processing unit design philosophies. The principle behind RISC is to create processing units that have very simple instruction sets so that software can be designed as efficiently as possible by optimizing and balancing mathematical operations with memory access operations. At the very core of software development mathematical and memory fetch operations are really the only things that a processing unit is concerned about.

What is the current adoption rate of RISC in the hardware manufacturing market and who are the drivers of this technology? Well interestingly enough, although RISC and the Adavnced RISC Machine (ARM) architecture have been around since the 1980s, a very significant driving force behind RISC today is IBM. You’ll see these three initials pop up in one RISC based project after another since they first conceived of the PowerPC architecture.

I know everyone equates PowerPC with Apple who was actually one of the principal partners in driving this technology with the Apple PowerPC line of computers.  Also, at the time Apple was always associated with Motorola who was the CPU manufacturer favored by Apple at the time.  However it was IBM that assisted Apple and Motorola to create a new platform to rival the existing dominant Microsoft and Intel alliance.  Those of you who remember the original feud between Microsoft, Intel and IBM will recall the PS/2 architecture which failed just years before the first PowerPCs hit the market.  The PowerPC was actually the result of an alliance between Apple, IBM and Motorola known as AIM.

The reason I mention RISC technology is that I’ve just discovered that the power behind the XBox 360 is a triple core power house using three 3.2Ghz PowerPC cores. So if anyone is wondering what happened to the PowerPC well it’s still alive and well! Also, as a side note you might be interested in knowing that the Playstation 3 also uses RISC technology with a slightly different configuration. The PS3 uses a RISC based technology they’ve called, “Cell” which was the result of another IBM alliance between Sony, Toshiba and IBM known as “STI”.

So, keeping all of this in mind, it seems like little more than a coincidence that the same user interface look and feel that Microsoft has baked into the XBox 360 and Windows Mobile 7 is now finding it’s way back into the main desktop user interface in the form of the Metro UI in the Microsoft Windows 8. It seems like a statement to me that Microsoft recognizes the dominance of the once underdog technology RISC and are preparing themselves for mobile finally!

XBox 360 Goes Mobile!

This is a very cool look at a soon to be released Windows 8 tablet hardware reference platform using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 ARM implementation.

According to the demonstrator, Microsoft has ported the XBox 360 game engine to the ARM platform to deliver gaming console quality entertainment to mobile platforms unlike anything else on the market today!