Saturday, December 26, 2009

26-Gigapixel Photo Breaks New Record









A new, 26-gigapixel panoramic image of Dresden, Germany, is now the world’s largest-resolution photograph. Taken from the rooftop of the “Haus der Presse” building, the giant panorama is made up of 1,665 individual shots captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera and a 400mm lens. This massive number of shots were taken with the help of a photo-robot, in the course of less than three hours, but the processing took 94 hours using a computer with 16 processors and a main memory cache of 48 Gigabytes. This is even bigger than the 18-gigapixel panoramic image of Prague that I've just talked about.

Click here to see it.

Friday, December 25, 2009

NERF N-STRIKE RECON CS-6

This is fun. What a present for Christmas. Had been using it to shoot my son's soft toys. Haha...

Merry Christmas to All. Ho Ho Ho!

Build your own blaster with five interchangeable parts that you can take apart and reassemble any way you want. Snap the parts in any configuration onto the TACTICAL RAIL, and gain the upper hand in any situation that calls for awesome dart-tag action. Other features include a flip-up sight for aiming precision and a dual-mode light beam with red-dot accuracy that's perfect for night missions! Use the shoulder stock to steady your shot and store an extra clip of ammo (sold separately). Get armed with the most exciting name in high-tech blasters: N-STRIKE power!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Control TV with a wave - Not googlewave...

WASHINGTON - TOUCHSCREENS are so yesterday. Remote controls? So last century. The future is controlling your devices with a simple wave of the hand.

A wiggle of the fingers will change television channels or turn the volume up or down. In videogames, your movements will control your onscreen digital avatar. It's called 3D gesture recognition and while it may not be in stores this Christmas a number of technology companies are promising that it will be by next year.

Softkinetic, a Brussels-based software company, is one of the leaders in the gesture-control field and has teamed up with US semiconductor giant Texas Instruments and others to make this touchless vision of the future a reality. Besides TI, Softkinetic has forged partnerships with France's Orange Vallee for interactive TV, another Belgian firm, Optrima, a maker of 3D cameras and sensors, and with Connecting Technology, a French home automation company.

'On the consumer side you have three markets - television, videogames and personal computers,' said Softkinetic chief executive Michel Tombroff. 'The objective is to be on the consumer market at the end of next year, by Christmas, so people can buy these things.

'In the same way that the Nintendo Wii completely changed the way that people play videogames this 3D camera technology will allow us to completely transform the way people interact with television.'

US software giant Microsoft demonstrated a gesture recognition program called 'Project Natal' for its Xbox 360 videogame console in June and has announced plans to launch it next year. -- AFP

ANDERS - Premium Shirts. Made to Measure.








A friend had recently ventured into making premium shirts, and it's available online too.

At ANDERS, they offer made-to-measure services for premium Men's shirts. You can browse and select from a huge selection of classic fabrics to the finest luxurious shirting fabrics and start creating your personalized shirt with them.

For local customers (Singapore), you can drop by their office (by appointments) to view the fabrics they have to offer, take your time and talk to them about your preferred styles and have your measurements taken. More details can be found on the Custom Shirts section.

International Customers, please refer here for instructions on how to order a shirt from us.


For more details, please click here to visit his online store and webpage.

Monday, December 21, 2009

M.I.T. students launch $150 space camera

(Credit: Justin Lee and Oliver Yeh)

You don't always need an expensive professional dSLR to capture awe-inspiring images. Sometimes, a basic Canon A470 point and shoot, a little ingenuity, and a beer cooler are all you need. That is what two M.I.T. students used to capture images of the Earth from space, well, actually the upper atmosphere; technically, it wasn't high enough to be space.

Justin Lee and Oliver Yeh, M.I.T. students, had a goal of flying a camera high enough to photograph the curvature of the earth, they named it Project Icarus. With out having a NASA size budget for a rocket, they opted for the more cost effective method of filling a weather balloon with helium and suspending a Styrofoam cooler underneath that held the camera. They also placed some instant hand warmers inside the cooler to try to keep the camera and its battery from freezing.

The balloon was launched from Sturbridge, Mass., on September 2, 2009. The University of Wisconsin maintains a balloon trajectory Web site that they used to try to determine where it might land. A GPS-enabled prepaid cell phone was placed in the cooler to let them track its return to Earth and to locate it after landing, a fairly low-tech but creative and effective navigation system.

The camera and balloon made it to 93,000 feet, high enough to see the curvature of the Earth. So high, that the cooler took 40 minutes to return to earth. It is around this altitude that a balloon will pop, allowing the rig to fall back to earth. The Canon A470 camera was hacked with the Canon Hackers Development Kit that modifies the firmware to add features such as an intervalomter. They set the intervalometer to shoot a photo every five seconds; an 8GB memory card gave them enough storage capacity to hold all of the images from the five hour flight.

Their project's total cost for everything was $148, cheap enough anyone could try it. The students say they will soon make available step-by-step instructions for their space camera project. Check out the project Web site for more information.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dungeons and Dragons played on the Microsoft Surface


Whether or not you're into Dungeons & Dragons, this story just keeps getting better. The team at the Entertainment Technology Center has come out with new video showing Microsoft Surface with their SurfaceScapes D&D project. This latest video brilliantly takes you through how the game mechanics work. Keep in mind that this isn’t a product from Wizards of the Coast, but a student project from a team at Carnegie Mellon University.

The reason this will appeal to a broader audience than D&D gamers is that it shows the strength of starting with a goal based on your user scenario, and then utilizing the right technology for the job as appropriate. They didn’t force the interaction through Surface. You can see in the video below how naturally it occurs with the game-play.

You’ll want to use Surface when you have groups of users who are using technology to work together and share an experience. Not only does Surface’s form factor make it easier for groups to come together, but it also doesn’t get in the way of face-to-face conversation. The added bonus is that the powerful vision system allows for objects to interact with the technology to augment the overall experience.

You can read more and see the video here

Prague from the TV Tower - 18 Gigapixel Panoramic Photo


















Jeffrey Martin from 360Cities has spent over a month stitching together what he believes is now the world’s largest 360-degree panorama shot.

The photo was taken from a TV tower in Czech’s capital, Prague, and gives you a great digital glimpse of what the beautiful city looks like.

For maximum effect, head on over here and hit the fullscreen button.

Pan around the (18-gigapixel) image, and then zoom in on any part of the picture to be amazed how deep you can dive in. Heck, you can read the license plates off cars situated miles and miles away from the TV tower. The startup set up a treasure hunt that will kick off next week: find 30 things in the shot based on clues given on Twitter and Facebook and you get a chance to win $1000.

When you’re watching panorama shot, make sure to also right-click and check out the different views (I like the Little Planet view, which you can see in the video below as well).

It took me almost 3 minutes to locate prague castle and charles bridge. This is awesome!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cooliris Changes the Face of Media Sharing With Visually Stunning Custom Galleries Non-Technical Users Can Build


Cooliris Express delivers a free and easy way to embed unique photo and video experiences in social media, business, and personal Web sites

Palo Alto, CA – December 8, 2009


Cooliris, innovator of the fastest and most stunning way to browse photos and videos from desktops or mobile devices, today announced Cooliris Express, a free tool that lets non-technical users create compelling digital experiences that showcase their photo and video content.

With Cooliris Express users can easily build and share fully customizable, cohesive, and immersive walls of photos and videos – not just a single photo or album – to websites, social networks, and blogs.

As media-rich content booms, users are constantly looking for better ways to share photos and videos either on their personal sites, directly with business colleagues, or via popular sites like Facebook and Twitter. To address this, Cooliris provides a simple-to-use solution that delivers a cutting-edge experience and a giant leap forward compared with today’s presentation of single photo or album uploads.

With Cooliris Express users of all skill sets can pull any number of videos and photos from Flickr, Picasa, YouTube, or any media RSS feed; easily build a customized Cooliris Wall gallery for a supported social media site, their personal web site, or a business website and share it within seconds.

Coming soon, Cooliris will release a version of Express that will give web developers and premium content publishers a new, innovative way of delivering their media and advertising.

Customized Media Walls in Seconds
Cooliris makes it easy for users to get started creating custom galleries by providing a simple to understand, intuitive, step-by-step wizard that walks them through the gallery building and posting process. First it prompts them to locate their personal media-rich content, then it provides options for where the content will be viewable, and finally with just one-click post they are able to share their custom galleries to the world, or just to their friends.

A typical use case to share rich media involves selecting content from Flickr, Picasa, YouTube, or any media RSS feed to create a theme of your choice. Once content is selected, Cooliris pulls it into a custom 3D wall of rich media and automatically adds it to your news feed with one click, like any other post or gallery. Whether you are sharing a trip to Paris with your Facebook friends or a political topic for your blog that you want punctuated with numerous YouTube videos, the end user experience is intuitive and elegant.

Another compelling feature is that the Cooliris Express galleries are dynamic. Once you create and post a gallery you can update it at the content source (ie: YouTube or Flickr) and the galleries you have posted to your blog or social media sites will be automatically updated with no additional steps required from the end-user.

Express works across the web
Incorporating Gigya social media technology, Express supports social media sites and blogs include: Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, TypePad, Netvibes, Yahoo, Hi5 and Orkut.

In addition to social media sites and blogs, Cooliris Express also allows users to integrate the Cooliris Wall into their personal websites. Instead of selecting a social media location, the user would select a personal site and the tool automatically generates the code they need to copy and paste into their page for the Cooliris Wall to appear.


Cooliris Express – http://www.cooliris.com/express/

Friday, December 11, 2009

Regen ReVerb Solar-Powered iPod Dock

Fancy something a little different to dock your iPod or iPhone with? The Reverb solar-powered iPod dock from Regen is one of those that is green and good to our environment, where it is capable of offering up to a dozen hours of continuous playback on a full charge. If you thought that Regen’s Renu is one impressive solar powered iPod dock, the Regen ReVerb is all the more.

Once placed in sunlight, the photovoltaic panel on the ReVerb will begin gathering light and storing power in its Lithium Iron Phosphate battery. When charged, the ReVerb can provide up to 12 hours of high quality audio reproduction of the media files stored on an iPhone, iPod or any media player with a headphone jack and can run for a longer period of time when used in solar/electric hybrid mode.

Designed to provide brilliant acoustic output that sounds flawless, the ReVerb has a friendly user interface that provides feedback on the amount of power remaining in its battery, how much energy has been gathered over time and how satisfied it is with the user’s power generation and consumption habits. It is three feet tall and does 60 watts worth of power.

The ReVerb will be available April next year for a USD$2,299.

More details can be found here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

RCA student radically improves the UK plug


The Royal College of Art's graduate show has opened, and this year, the show-stopper was a plug. Min-Kyu Choi impressed every passer by with his neat, apparently market-ready plug that folds down to the width of an Apple MacBook Air. "The MacBook Air is the world's thinnest laptop ever. However, here in the UK, we still use the world's biggest three-pin plug," says Choi.

Choi's plug is just 10mm wide when it is folded. To unfold it, the two live pins swivel 90 degrees, and the plastic surround folds back around the pins so the face of the plug looks the same as a standard UK plug. The idea produced a spin off, too. Choi created a multi-plug adaptor, a compact standard plug sized unit with space for three folded plugs to slot in, as well as one that charges USB devices.

It's so plausible and so obvious a product that it should produce a few red faces; how many more years were we going to attach our palm sized mobiles and wafer thin laptops to an object that's barely been touched since its first design in 1946? Choi picked an everyday product that most other designers find too mundane to dabble with and drastically improved it - exactly the kind of thinking that we should be celebrating right now.

To see more pictures and the original article, click here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Toyota's giant solar flowers popping up across US to bring good will, free WiFi, and charging stations


Now here's a smart marketing campaign. In an effort to raise awareness / interest in its 2010 Prius, Toyota planted five 18-foot tall "solar flowers" in Boston's Prudential Plaza and provided free Wi-Fi and electricity that was "partially powered" by the solar panels attached to the petals and stem. The so-called "Harmony Between Man, Nature and Machine" just disappeared from Boston but will next germinate in New York, followed by Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. We're not exactly in the market for a car right now, but we promise to think about it while we lovingly enjoy the free laptop charge and internet access.

Friday, November 20, 2009

NSA Helped Microsoft Improve Windows 7 Security


While some of us are likely to associate the National Security Agency with daydreams of espionage, the organization is also highly involved in improving security standards in software. They've even consulted with Microsoft during the development of Windows 7.

According to the NSA's Information Assurance Director, Richard Schaeffer, it's important for the agency to work with Microsoft and other software makers because otherwise the increasing reliance on "private-sector computing products" could put national security at risk. By creating and maintaining high security standards, the agency hopes to reduce the danger of the "rising threat of cyberattacks." Whew. That actually sounds quite reasonable and like a good thing, rather than cause to panic after seeing "NSA" and "Microsoft" in the same sentence.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sleek Vega Tablet with Android 2.0, Touchscreen, and 3G Arrives Next Year


I'm psyched to see Android moving into tablets. Some of the first will be from Innovative Converged Devices (ICD), who say their Tegra-powered 7-, 11-, and 15-inch tablets will arrive through "tier one" carriers in the first half of 2010.

I hadn't heard of ICD before, either: they're actually based in the UK and Seattle. They say the Vega tablets are intended to be low cost, so it looks like some carrier subsidies may be in store, too.

The largest model has a 15.6-inch resistive screen (grr) that supports a resolution of 1366 x 768. It'll have a Tegra processor, 512MB DDR DRAM, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi (no N), and Bluetooth 2.1. The built-in 512MB NAND Flash storage can be expanded via MicroSD cards. It's expected this mode will weigh about 45 ounces and have a battery life of around 4 hours.

The 15-inch Vega also looks pretty similar to the stylish reference Tegra tablet that we spotted Nvidia's chief with earlier in the week. The good news is we'll be able to get a closer look at it come CES time in January. [Innovative Converged Devices]


Send an email to Danny Allen, the original author of this post, at dallen@gizmodo.com.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

LinkedIn and Twitter Partnership: Do's and Don'ts for Users

Here is an interesting article from Ian Paul, PC World

Nov 10, 2009 11:04 pm

LinkedIn and Twitter announced a partnership on Monday allowing you to push your LinkedIn status updates out to your Twitter account or pull your tweets into your professional profile. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone called it "bringing the peanut butter and the chocolate together to make the perfect combination."

Twitter integration with LinkedIn makes sense, but don't forget these two services are very different from each other. Twitter is a very casual and fun network with its short burst messages, while LinkedIn is all about connecting with colleagues, other professionals and furthering your career. If you integrate your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, be prepared to make smart choices about what you share across these services, because what's perfectly acceptable on one network, may not work on the other.

The Basics

You have three options for integrating LinkedIn with Twitter: you can rebroadcast your LinkedIn status updates to Twitter, turn your tweets into your LinkedIn status or both. To start integrating your tweets, you need to edit your LinkedIn settings by adding Twitter from your profile page or by clicking the Twitter icon next to your status on the homepage. Twitter integration will be rolled out to all LinkedIn users over the next few days, so you may not see the new feature right away.

DO's and Don'ts

DO broadcast your LinkedIn status to Twitter. Chances are your updates on LinkedIn contain things you want to talk about with as many people as possible like what you're working on, what you need help with or just a general question. Broadcasting these updates to your Twitter followers will only add to your knowledge and help get the word out about what you're doing. To push your LinkedIn status out to Twitter, click the check box next to the Twitter icon on your LinkedIn homepage, enter your update and click "Share."

DO link multiple Twitter accounts to your LinkedIn profile. If you have more than one Twitter identity, you probably have one account for personal tweets and others related to your business or job. It's almost impossible to hide your personal Twitter account from the rest of the world, so why not integrate all your Twitter accounts with LinkedIn? Besides, if you send out a lot of work-related or topical items from your personal account, you may want your professional network to see these tweets. LinkedIn did not specify how many Twitter accounts you could add, or what kind of broadcasting controls it offers for integrating multiple accounts.

DON'T send all your tweets to LinkedIn. Twitter's not just a professional broadcast tool it's also a fun way to connect with others. Don't forget that. LinkedIn gives you the option to only send tweets to your profile marked with the '#in' or '#li' hashtags or to send all your tweets to LinkedIn. Make sure you choose the hashtag option so only the tweets you decide to share will get through to your LinkedIn account. Sharing an update about your recent promotion on LinkedIn via Twitter is a great idea, but all those drunken tweets you send out on Saturdays won't look so hot on your professional profile.

DON'T display your Twitter account on LinkedIn. LinkedIn gives you the option of installing a Twitter widget on your LinkedIn profile that will show your most recent tweets. You don't want to do this for the reasons given above, not to mention the fact that you're already sending your tweets to your LinkedIn status. Why the double exposure? There is such a thing as Twitter overkill.

DON'T forget about LinkedIn. Chances are you'll be in front of your Twitter account more often than your LinkedIn page, so remember your colleagues. There are many tweets you'll want to share with them, but if you took my previous advice you'll need to type '#in' or '#li' every time you want to send a tweet to LinkedIn. Don't forget this.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Garmin Nuvi 780 Portable GPS Navigator


The latest and most popular range of navigational instruments is, of course the Nuvi range, of which the Garmin Nuvi 780 GPS Navigator is slowly and steadily making its presence felt as a pathfinder with which to reckon.

Outstanding features

Many people have found that the Garmin Nuvi 780 GPS system is just this little bit pricey, but you have to remember that it is a Garmin product and it is going to give you a bit more than you expected. This is naturally going to include your choice of keyboard, which can either be an ABC one or a Qwerty one. Direct services from MSN are inbuilt into this GPS system, so there is no question of your ever losing your destination, even if you find yourself in a pea souper, flurry or a fog with visibility levels nil. By the way, it works excellently in bright sunlight too! One of the best points which customers found to their liking is that it has a feature -- where am I, which means How Far Am I from the nearest hospital, gas station, police station, intersection or of course your destination.

Re: Car locator

And if you happen to be just like I, finding it rather difficult to remember where you parked your car, it has a very handy feature, which is known as the car locator. The moment you remove it from its mount in the windshield, it is going to note on the exact position and location of the car. And that is that, when you come back after your visit to the dentist, all you have to do is make like Batman and use this feature to reach your car. Of course, Garmin has not gone into making a navigational system which can automatically start up your car and bring it to you, but I would be very surprised if you do not find this technology hitting the market one of these days!

Other amazing features include a Bluetooth, transmitter using FM, as well as entertainment features, which means that you can listen to the music while this system does the navigation for you. All, you have to do is make sure that your destination is loaded up on your Garmin 780 GPS system and there you are! Hurrah, computerized voice directions are definitely a thing we need not see in a science-fiction flick any more, with Microsoft Sam telling us, "you have overshot your destination” in a nasal constipated voice. A Garmin voice activated system is definitely going to lead you on your way in a more sedate and proper manner! And it is also going to tell you that " you are going rather fast, buddy, take your foot off the accelerator" in a polite way.

NASA planning to build an elevator to space


Can scientists make a space elevator?

By Doug Gross, CNN
November 5, 2009 10:29 a.m. EST

"The question Artsutanov asked himself had the childlike brilliance of true genius. A merely clever man could never have thought of it -- or would have dismissed it instantly as absurd. If the laws of celestial mechanics make it possible for an object to stay fixed in the sky, might it not be possible to lower a cable down to the surface, and so to establish an elevator system linking earth to space?" -- Arthur C. Clarke, 1979, "The Fountains of Paradise"

(CNN) -- It sounds like science fiction. And it was.

Now, 30 years after "2001" author Arthur C. Clarke wrote about an elevator that rises into outer space, serious research is happening all over the world in an effort to make the far-fetched-sounding idea a reality.

The benefits of a fully realized elevator would make carrying people and goods into space cheaper, easier and safer than with rocket launches, proponents say, opening up a host of possibilities.

Restaurants and hotels for space tourists. Wind turbines that provide energy by spinning 24 hours a day. A cheaper, easier and more environmentally friendly way to launch rockets.

Scientists envision all of the above -- possibly within our lifetimes.

"Space elevator-related research is valid, but there are hurdles to overcome," said David Smitherman, a space architect at NASA's George C. Marshall Space Flight Center.

This week in the Mojave Desert, three teams of engineers are competing for $2 million offered up by NASA for anyone who can build a prototype of an elevator able to crawl up a kilometer-high tether while hauling a heavy payload.

"We haven't had any winners yet, but we truly do expect to have at least one winner, probably more [this year]," said Ted Semon, spokesman for The Spaceward Foundation, which has run the competition for the past several years.

Most models for an elevator into space involve attaching a cable from a satellite, space station or other counterweight to a base on Earth's surface.

Scientists say inertia would keep the cable tight enough to allow an elevator to climb it.

The inspiration for researchers to pursue a space elevator started, as many scientific advances have, in the fantastical world of science fiction.

In Clarke's 1979 novel "The Fountains of Paradise," he writes about a scientist battling technological, political and ethical difficulties involved in creating a space elevator.

In the years that followed, Clarke, who died last year, remained an outspoken advocate for researching and funding the elevator.

Others are now carrying the torch.

"Space elevator research is important because it is a way to build a bridge to space instead of ferrying everything by rocket," said Smitherman, who has conducted research and published findings on the effort.

"Look at the cost and efficiency of a bridge versus a ferry on Earth and then look at the cost and inefficiency of the rocket ferries we use today and you will see why so many people are looking for a 'bridge' solution like the space elevator."

Microsoft is among the sponsors an annual space elevator conference, and teams in Japan and Russia are among those working to turn the theory into reality -- even if they all admit they have a long way to go.

Even the most avid proponents of the research admit there are big hurdles that need to be overcome.

The first, scientists say, is that there's currently not a viable material strong enough to make the cables that will support heavy loads of passengers or cargo into orbit. According to NASA research, the space elevator cable would need to be about 22,000 miles long. That's how far away a satellite must be to maintain orbit above a fixed spot on the Earth's equator.

"Right now, if you use the strongest material in the world, the weight of the tether would be so much that it would actually snap," said Semon, a retired software engineer. He said the super-light material would probably need to be about 25 times stronger than what's now commercially available.

In a separate competition, his group offers a prize to any team that can build a tether that's at least twice as strong as what's currently on the market.

Another issue, scientists say, is how to keep the cable, or the elevator itself, from getting clobbered by meteorites or space junk floating around in space. Some suggest a massive cleanup of Earth's near orbit would be required.

And then there's the cost. Estimates are as high as $20 billion for a working system that would stretch into orbit.

Many think it would be private enterprise, not a government, that would spring for the earliest versions of the elevator.

Professor Brendan Quine and his team at York University in Toronto, Canada, think they have the answers to at least some of those problems.

They've built a three-story high prototype of an elevator tower that would rise roughly 13 miles (20 kilometers) -- high enough to escape most of the earth's atmosphere.

"At 20 kilometers, you still have gravity; you're not in orbit," Quine said. "But for a tourist, you can see basically the same things an astronaut sees -- the blackness of space, the horizon of the Earth."

In the stratosphere, the tower also could potentially be used to launch rockets, he said. The most expensive and energy-sucking part of any space launch now is blasting from the ground out of the atmosphere.

Constructed from Kevlar, the free-standing structure would use pneumatically inflated sections pressurized with a lightweight gas, such as hydrogen or helium, to actively stabilize itself and allow for flexibility. A series of platforms or pods, supported by the elevator, would be used to launch payloads into Earth's orbit.

Quine acknowledged that the prototype is just a first step toward realizing the elevator and that several more prototypes are needed to fine-tune details.

He estimated that the cost of the basic tower would be about $2 billion -- the equivalent of a massive skyscraper in places like New York -- and that the technology to build it could be ready in less than 10 years.

He said a more advanced -- and expensive -- elevator tower could be built to go higher into the stratosphere.

But for the purposes of actually ferrying everyday people into space, 20 kilometers makes the most sense, Quine said.

"The tower might be economically viable if you're able to transport 1,000 people a day to the to of it for about $1,000 a ticket," he said. "At the top, you'd probably want amenities -- hotels, restaurants. It could be a very pleasant experience, in contrast to zero gravity, which makes many people sick."

For now, advocates of making the elevator a reality say they'll keep at it. They'll continue reminding themselves that they wouldn't be the first to turn what started as an outlandish idea into good science.

"Every revolutionary idea seems to evoke three stages of reaction," Clarke once said. "They may be summed up by the phrases: One, it's completely impossible. Two, it's possible, but it's not worth doing. Three, I said it was a good idea all along."

This is going to look like the anime Gundam. They should learn from the creator of Gundam 00. Watching season 2 now...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gadget Buyer Decision Flow Chart


This is really an interesting flowchart. Consult the flowchart for your next decision to purchase. Haha.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Singapore's first Zero Energy Building launched today

This is an article from AsiaOne, and Yes! Singapore's first environmental friendly and self sufficient building. After hearing it 2 years ago, until now, we're finally doing our part. =)


It is the first building in Southeast Asia to be retrofitted with green features and technologies. -AsiaOne

Mon, Oct 26, 2009
AsiaOne

Singapore's first retrofitted Zero Energy Building (ZEB) located at the BCA (Building and Construction Authority) Academy was officially opened today by Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development.

The ZEB, a flagship R&D project by the BCA, is also the first existing building in Southeast Asia to be fully retrofitted with green building design features and technologies.

It houses fully functioning classrooms, a library, multipurpose hall and offices, and is used as a test-bed for innovative building designs and energy efficient building solutions, especially for existing buildings.

The building underwent a very energy efficient re-design of the facade, the roof, the M&E system and other building components to reduce its energy needs, and was retrofitted at a cost of $11 million.

The Zero Energy Building is expected to be about 40-50% more efficient than an office building of similar layout. Although the building is connected to the grid, it is expected to generate as much electricity as it consumes over a typical year.

Solar panels installed on the roof and other prominent areas will tap the sun's energy to generate about 207,000 kWh of electricity a year - enough to supply power to 45 four-room HDB flats.

The building is also fitted with a a single coil twin fan ventilation system - an NUS invention - to reduce utility bills that often go into air-conditioning. This controls the flow of fresh and recycled air separately - according to demand - in the building. Fresh air is only channeled to rooms that are occupied as it consumes more energy to chill compared to recycled air.

The launch kickstarted the inaugural Singapore Green Building Week (SGBW) which celebrates the achievements of Singapore's efforts towards sustainable development through a series of local and international activities.

Dr. John Keung, BCA's CEO, said: 'The Singapore Green Building Week is not just about showing the fruits of our efforts but is also an opportunity for us to learn and share our experiences and knowledge in sustainable development.

We hope that the success of the Zero Energy Building will spur the industry on towards incorporating green building design and technologies into their developments. All of us have a part to play in protecting the environment for future generations.'

Sunday, October 25, 2009

10 Tips on how to drive more efficiently


1 Drive smoothly

If you drive aggressively, you can burn up to a third more fuel than if you drive smoothly. Avoid accelerating or braking too hard and try to keep your steering as even as possible.






2 Use higher gears

When you drive in higher gear, you’ll use less fuel, so change up a gear whenever you can.

3 Keep the windows closed

Wind blowing through an open window can slow you down. And, to compensate, you’re likely to speed up. Instead of opening windows why not use your car’s internal ventilation system, just so long as this doesn’t make you feel drowsy.


4 Use cruise control

Using cruise control on major roads can help you maintain a constant speed and helps you make all those drops count.

5 Avoid excess idling

Stuck in a jam? Idling gets you nowhere, but still use up fuel. Turn the engine off when you’re in a queue until you need it. As a rule, if you’ve stopped for over 10 seconds, switch off your engine.

6 Avoid over-revving

Change gear in good time when you pull away or when you’re accelerating. Never ‘redline’ the rev counter.

7 Avoid high speeds

The faster you go, the more wind resistance you’ll encounter and the more fuel your vehicle will consume just to maintain speed. Remember that according to the UK Department of Transport figures, at 70mph you could be using up to 30 per cent more fuel than at 50mph. So keep it slow.

8 Use air-conditioning sparingly

Sometimes it’s hard to avoid using your air-conditioning, but remember that it does put added strain on your engine on hot or cold days. And, it can increase your fuel consumption by up to 8%. On temperate days, you can always use your car’s internal ventilation system instead.

9 Avoid rush hour

If you can travel outside of peak times, you’ll spend less time stuck in traffic and use less fuel as a result.

10 Keep a constant speed

Instead of coasting when you reach a downward slope, maintain steady engine revs. This will help you to maintain a constant speed rather than picking up speed and is likely to have a positive effect on your fuel consumption.

10 Tips for you and your car



1 Service your engine

Did you know a poorly maintained engine can increase your fuel consumption by up to 50%? Just replacing dirty spark plugs can improve your fuel consumption by up to 5%.

2 Keep your tyres at the right pressure

If your tyres are under inflated by just 1psi, your fuel efficiency can be reduced by up to 3%. So pump up those tyres up once a week or whenever you fill up.

3 Avoid carrying excess weight

For every extra 100 lbs (45 kg) you carry, your fuel efficiency can drop by 1-2%. So clear your car of unnecessary items that just add weight to your vehicle when you can.

4 Take the roof rack off

If you’re not using your roof rack or your roof box, remove it. A roof rack can affect the aerodynamic efficiency of your vehicle, creating drag which can result in your car using up to 5% more fuel.

5 Check the air filters

Air filters keep impurities from damaging your engine. Remember to check and replace your air filter if clogged.

6 Use the correct oil

Using the manufacturer’s recommended lubricant can help improve fuel efficiency by 1-2%. Higher quality motor oils can also help your engine operate more efficiently.

7 Check the seal on your fuel cap

Fuel evaporates every time you open the fuel cap. Make sure your cap is properly screwed on every time after every fill up

8 Plan your trips

Cutting down on the time spent in the car is the easiest way to conserve fuel. To reduce driving time, combine all your short trips and errands into a single journey or call ahead to avoid wasted journeys.

9 Keep hydrated

Don’t forget to drink water. When you’re well hydrated, you concentrate better. Keep a bottle to hand as you drive and make sure you drink your recommended eight glasses a day.

10 Keep calm

That way you’ll be able to drive smoothly and anticipate what’s going on ahead of you. When you keep calm, you also drive with plenty of distance between your car and others.

Power to Change



This is an initiative from HP in doing their part in making our place a greener one. Do visit it, and experience the change. Help spread the word too!

http://www.hp.com/powertochange


Here is a link to their blog that started from the simple thought that small changes can make a big difference. Do visit it too!

http://blog.hppowertochange.com/

Nanxiang Steamed Buns Restaurant


Located at Bugis Junction, Level 2, Unit 53.

Nanxiang Xiaolongbao arrives in Singapore in all its authentic glory. It is a culinary icon and stalwart in Shanghai for more than a century, Nanxiang is an established brand that has gained international recognition, awards and undisputed popularity for their xiaolongbao, that it has become the benchmark Shanghai xiaolongbao.

In their bright and light space, Singapore's Nanxiang at Bugis Junction presents a welcoming face to customers. There is booth seating, which overlooks the busy North Bridge Road and regular tables, which take in the hustle and bustle of this Shanghai franchise.
For those who are no stranger to food travel TV programs, you would have seen well-known chef-author and now Discovery Travel + Living host Anthony Bourdain coming to grips with the xiaolongbao and sipping on the big soup bun through a straw at Shanghais Nanxiang in his show No Reservations.

I guessed their Crab Roe and Pork Filling Steamed Buns, & Fresh Pork Filling Steamed Buns are few of the better dishes. here In general, there are still differences in their standards with the Main restaurant in Shanghai. The noodles are quite nice too.

The staffs are jovial, and fun to talk to. I remembered that my visit yesterday was well greeted by many aunties. That's right, they employed quite a number of them, and they were quite chatty too.

It is worth to pay a visit, if you have yet to try out the authentic Fresh Pork Filling Steamed Buns in Shanghai. Whether it is worth it, only you can tell.

Opening Hours

Mon - Fri: 1130am - 10pm

Sat, Sun, and PH: 11am - 10pm

Friday, October 23, 2009

Asus Eee PC 1005 HA Seashell

It might seem at first that it is just another Eee PC from Asus but if you give it a closer look you’ll find very delicate improvements or rather, I should say, refinements of their popular lineup of products. This one is fine tuned for excellent battery life and also offering standard performance, nice keyboard and standard build quality which you should expect from a portable netbook. Though it feels to have a higher resolution screen and better graphics, the configuration that you get is worth its price tag.


Processor, RAM and HDD

It uses Intel Atom N280 Processor 1.66GHz (667MHz FSB) Processor with 1 GB DDR2 SDRAM (667 MHz). The N280 processor is slightly faster than the N270 CPU which is commonly being used in many other netbooks available. Though it is not exactly a speed demon, it would be enough for normal computing tasks such as web browsing, watching movies or working with some office softwares and so them simultaneously. There is also an option to over clock or underclock the CPU which you can use to run it faster or use less power. The 160 GB 5400 rpm SATA HDD is also fast enough for normal usage.

Graphics

As with many other netbooks, this system also comes with the same Intel GMA 950 graphics, so don’t expect to play games on this device. But you can enjoy web videos from Hulu or YouTube and even HD movies on it. Though it can play 720 p videos in number of formats, the bitter truth is it chokes on 1080p videos. Also it should be noted that this netbook is not made for watching full 1080p videos in its 1024X600 screen.

Ports

On the front and back, there are no ports. On the left side there is power jack, VGA Out, USB 2.0 port, security lock slot and a heat vent. On the right side there is a 4-in-1 card reader, a headphone jack, a microphone jack, two more USB 2.0 ports and a Ethernet. The total list of ports is very satisfying for a netbook.

Battery Life

Battery is the main feature of this netbook. Though it may sound crazy but it is true that the 1005 HA can deliver as much as eight hours of runtime under normal usage in power saver mode with its six cell battery. Under heavy usage expect it to run at least six hour with continous net surfing over WiFi in full bright screen. Unlike the Asus Eee PC 1008 HA, this battery is removable which means you can carry in an extra battery if you still need some extra life out of your system.

Pros

  • Build quality is good for budget netbook
  • Battery life is amazing
  • Port Layout is good for a netbook

Cons

  • Thick for a modern netbook
  • Weak integrated graphics
  • Bad touchpad buttons

It's selling at SGD688 locally in Singapore, and the price is 10% cheaper in Tebrau City, Johor.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Go Go Gadget Recycling!

How can my blog about gadgets not blog about recycling gadgets? Here is a post from washingtonpost.com.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's hard to imagine life without cellphones, computers and iPods. And as technology advances, so does the rate at which we buy gadgets just to keep up. While constantly upgrading your electronics is hard on the wallet, it's also harmful to the planet -- and possibly your health.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 1.5 million to 1.9 million tons of unwanted electronics (also called e-waste) was deposited in U.S. landfills in 2005. Not only is this a waste of resources, but these items contain hazardous chemicals and toxic metals such as flame retardants, arsenic, mercury and cadmium; an average of four pounds of lead is inside each cathode-ray tube TV and computer monitor. These chemicals can leach from landfills into drinking water reserves, or, if incinerated, they're released into the air.

Recycling is the obvious solution, but even it must be approached with caution. The Basel Action Network, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization that studies the global toxic waste trade, estimates that 50 to 80 percent of U.S. electronics set aside for recycling are smuggled to India and China, where environmental and health regulations for recycling are lax. A study by the Chinese Academy of Sciences published this year in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found that the air in Guiyu, a Chinese city that hosts many of the country's e-waste recycling facilities, has the highest documented levels of two toxic chemicals -- polychlorodibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorodibenzofurans (PCDFs) -- in the world.

Most municipalities have drop-off sites for household electronic waste, but these public services are often contracted out to private recyclers, which may or may not be reliable. If you choose this route -- or use a private recycling service directly -- do your homework and ask questions. "A reputable recycler can talk you through what happens to your electronics and provide references," says Elizabeth Wilmot, president of Turtle Wings, a Maryland-based e-waste recycling service. For a fee, Turtle Wings (1771 Olive St., Capitol Heights, 301-583-8399, http://www.turtlewings.com) will pick up from households; it also takes drop-offs at a lesser cost.

Some other e-waste recycling tips:

- If your goods are only a few years old and still work, see whether a school, charity or church could use them.

- Most electronic brands accept their own products for recycling, although you'll have to pack and ship the items yourself. "A company with a reputation is absolutely trustworthy," Wilmot says. "If you're a corporation, you're not going to be dumping monitors." The EPA's eCycling program lists Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy and Apple among its retail partners accepting household electronics. Most cellphone service providers accept used phones in their stores or via mail; check with your provider for details.

- The most effective long-term solution is for the gadgets themselves to get greener. Many electronics companies have pledged to reduce or eliminate toxic materials in their products, so as the eco-movement gains momentum, look for easily recyclable goods with longer life spans. In the meantime, be a green consumer: Don't replace your phone or TV just because a shinier, newer model is available. Stick with what you have for as long as it's useful.

New Template for my Blog


I have decided to change the layout template for my blog, to go green. =P
After hearing from the news a few days ago, I have started to post some recycling tips, and so on.
I've got the tips from other websites, and hope that by putting it on my blog, more people get to read them.
We need to save our Earth, and what we can start doing now is to reuse, reduce, and recycle. Recycling is an excellent way of saving energy and conserving the environment. Did you know that:
  • 1 recycled tin can would save enough energy to power a television for 3 hours.
  • 1 recycled glass bottle would save enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes.
  • 1 recycled plastic bottle would save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 3 hours.
  • 70% less energy is required to recycle paper compared with making it from raw materials.
Let us do our part in saving our Earth for our next generation.

www.recycling-guide.org.uk


A large percentage of UK household's still do not recycle enough and throw everything that they consider 'rubbish' into their ordinary bin.

Much of this waste can be recycled and should be disposed of separately to general household waste. Look inside this rubbish bin to see how much of the contents should actually have been recycled.

Do visit here for more details.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Top Recyling Tips


1. First things first, a little R & R & R
The aphorism is so tired it almost might seem like “reduce, reuse, recycle” should go without saying. But in fact, most of us have only really heard the last third of the phrase, and they’re ranked in order of importance. Reducing the amount that we consume, and shifting our consumption to well-designed products and services, is the first step. Finding constructive uses for “waste” materials is next. And tossing it in the blue bin is last. (The garbage can is not on the list, for good reason.) Through a balance of these three principals you can easily see your landfill-destined waste dwindle fast. A good example of recycling is setting your empty water bottles in the bin on the curb. But by using a water filter and reusable container you can reduce or completely eliminate your need for disposable plastic bottles.

2. Know what you can and can't recycle
Read up on the recycling rules for your area and make sure you don't send anything in that can't be processed. Each city has its own specifics, so try to follow those guidelines as best you can.

3. Buy recycled
The essence of recycling is the cyclical movement of materials through the system, eliminating waste and the need to extract more virgin materials. Supporting recycling means feeding this loop by not only recycling, but also supporting recycled products. We can now find high recycled content in everything from printer paper to office chairs.

4. Encourage an artist
If you know someone interested in making art from recycled materials, offer to provide supplies. Many school children need items like paper towel tubes for art projects. Older artists use everything from rubber bands to oven doors. If you know someone who teaches art classes, suggest that an emphasis be put on making art from trash. While you're at it, remind them to use recycled paper and biodegradable, earth-friendly glues, paints, and pencils whenever possible. See below for inspiration and groups that connect artists and students with useful “trash.”

5. Recycle your water
If you're a homeowner, consider rearranging your plumbing so that rainwater or wastewater from your shower and tub is used to flush your toilet. If you have a garden, water it with leftover bathwater or dishwashing water (as long as you use a biodegradable soap). For more on water recycling see How to Go Green: Water.

6. Recycle your greenery
William McDonough and Michael Braungart, authors of the groundbreaking Cradle to Cradle, envision so-called “waste” divided into two categories: technical nutrients and biological nutrients. Biological nutrients are those that, at the end of their useful life, can safely and readily decompose and return to the soil. Composting is one of the simplest and most effective recycling methods. Both your garden cuttings and your green kitchen waste can go into an outdoor or indoor composter (with or without entertaining a population of worms). If you don't have a garden yourself, find neighbors or a community garden that can make use of your soil. Composting food scraps will mean your regular kitchen wastebasket fills up more slowly and also won’t smell. Hotter, more active compost heaps can also consume tougher stuff like newspaper and paper napkins. After Christmas, many cities also have programs for turning your tree into mulch.

7. Recycle your robots
Electronics recycling is becoming more common in many urban areas, battery recycling is ubiquitous (rechargeable batteries are ecologically sounder, but even they wear out after a while), and there are a number of non-profit organizations that will take computer parts and turn them into working computers for others. Companies like Ebay have also developed programs to help your electronics find new homes. Other groups will gladly recycle your cell phone or give it to a senior citizen, as even without a contract it can still make emergency calls. If you have a major appliance that doesn't work and you'd rather replace it than try to fix it, offer it to local repair shops, trade schools, or hobbyists to tinker with. Many cities now offer hazardous waste recycling days when they will take not only hazardous waste, but electronics.

8. Anticipate recycling
In addition to buying recycled goods, keep a keen eye out for recyclable goods. Whenever you purchase something packaged, think about how you can reuse the packaging, return it to a shipping store for reuse, or try to otherwise recycle it. If you get something likely to run down or wear out over time, such as an electronic component, give preference to the model that can be easily upgraded or cannibalized for parts so that you don't have to junk the whole thing if one part breaks. Products that are impossibly fused together are often called “monstrous hybrids” and are, while often cheaper up front, frequently unfixable and unrecyclable.

9. If you don’t love something, let it go
Lots of charities welcome your donations. Groups like Freecycle and Recycler's Exchange exist to help you get rid of useful objects that you just don't want to make use of. If you're in a Craigslist city, make use of the "free stuff" section. Give away clothes that don't fit, the boxes you used in your last house move, or scented soaps that don't appeal to your sensibilities. Make it a rule in your house that nothing useable goes in the trash until you've given the community a fair shot at it.

10. Become a waste-stream analyst
To better understand the kind of materials that enter and leave your home, office, or school, consider conducting a waste audit. Set a span of time like a week or a month, and separate your waste categories. Weigh the different kinds of material flows that go out the door (landfill waste, organic compost, aluminum, recyclable plastic, reusable material, etc.). Design a “material recovery” program that minimizes the amount going to the landfill. This is a great exercise to do with kids but can be very convincing to corporate higher-ups, too, especially since most companies pay to have their trash hauled away and can get money for recycled paper, containers, toner cartridges, corrugated cardboard, and such.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Green Shopping Tips

General Considerations

Being environmentally conscious when shopping, we should only buy items which are actually needed.

  • If you prepare a shopping list before buying, you can avoid purchasing redundant or unnecessary items, which will reduce waste.
  • Family-sized products require less packaging and generally cost less.
  • Overall, if you only purchase products with minimal packaging you will not only save resource, but also help to decrease the amount of energy used during the packaging process.
  • Bring an environmentally friendly shopping bag rather than taking plastic bags each time you purchase.

When Buying Food and Drinks

Food and drinks tend to be heavily packaged, but more environmentally friendly alternatives are available.

  • You can cut down on take-away food, which uses more disposable packaging, and choose to eat at home.
  • Buy drinks in returnable bottles where possible.
  • You should avoid laminated beverages, the containers cannot be recycled.
  • Try to use durable tablewares instead of disposable ones such as foam containers, paper cups, disposable plastic cutleries and wooden chopsticks.

There are also ways in which you can protect nature when purchasing food.

  • Try to buy fresh local food, which requires little packaging and reduces energy consumption and pollution because no long-distance transportation is required.
  • When organic food is available, choose it to lessen the harm caused by chemical pesticides and fertilisers to both the environment and your health.
  • Do not consume products containing endangered animal parts or plants because they help to maintain the biodiversity that keeps the environment in balance.

When Buying Daily Necessities

Our daily necessities are often the most polluting, but there are always more environmentally friendly alternatives that are easy to find or make.

  • Buy ant or cockroach traps instead of fluorocarbon sprays; they are less polluting and can reduce insect populations effectively.
  • Minimise your purchases of products such as aerosol sprays that contain ozone depleting substances.
  • Replace non-rechargeable batteries with rechargeable batteries, old rechargeable batteries can be recycled.
  • A simple solution of vinegar and baking soda is an effective multi-purpose cleaner, which is more environmentally friendly and much cheaper than cleaners containing chemicals.
  • Handkerchiefs are more environmentally friendly than tissues.

When Buying Clothes

The process of manufacturing of materials for clothes might cause harm to the environment.

  • Choose clothes that are made of non-bleached materials because waste water generated from the bleaching process affects the marine ecology.
  • Choose clothes made of materials which do not crease easily, thus less energy is consumed for ironing.

When Buying Electrical Appliances

Think green when buying electrical appliances. Always choose refrigerators, air-conditioners, washing machines, tumble dryers and other electrical appliances with Grade 1 Energy Efficiency Labels; these products consume less energy than those with higher grade energy labels.


10 Things You Can Do to Help Save the Earth

1.­ Pay attention to how you use water. The little things can make a big difference. Every time you turn off the water while you're brushing your teeth, you're doing something good. Got a leaky toilet? You might be wasting 200 gallons of water a day [Source: EPA]. Try drinking tap water instead of bottled water, so you aren't wasting all that packaging as well. Wash your clothes in cold water when you can.

2. Leave your car at home. If you can stay off the road just two days a week, you'll reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,590 pounds per year [Source: EPA]. Combine your errands -- hit the post office, grocery store and shoe repair place in one trip. It will save you gas and time.

3. Walk or ride your bike to work, school and anywhere you can. You can reduce greenhouse gases while burning some calories and improving your health. If you can't walk or bike, use mass transit or carpool. Every car not on the road makes a difference.

4. Recycle.You can help reduce pollution just by putting that soda can in a different bin. If you're trying to choose between two products, pick the one with the least packaging. If an office building of 7,000 workers recycled all of its office paper waste for a year, it would be the equivalent of taking almost 400 cars off the road [Source: EPA].

5. Compost. Think about how much trash you make in a year. Reducing the amount of solid waste you produce in a year means taking up less space in landfills, so your tax dollars can work somewhere else. Plus, compost makes a great natural fertilizer. Composting is easier than you think.

6. Change your light bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) last 10 times longer than a standard bulb and use at least two-thirds less energy. If you're shopping for new appliances or even home electronics, look for ENERGY STAR products, which have met EPA and U.S. Department of Energy guidelines for energy efficiency. In 2006, the ENERGY STAR program saved energy equivalent to taking 25 million cars off the road and saved Americans $14 billion in utility costs [Source: ENERGY STAR]. (Learn more about proper disposal of CFLs.)

7. Make your home more energy efficient (and save money). Clean your air filters so your system doesn't have to work overtime. Get a programmable thermostat so you aren't wasting energy when you aren't home. When you go to bed, reduce the thermostat setting -- you won't miss those extra degrees of heat or air conditioning while you're asleep.

8. Maintain your car. Underinflated tires decrease fuel economy by up to three percent and lead to increased pollution and higher greenhouse gas emissions [Source: EPA]. Underinflation also increases tire wear, so it will save you money in the long run if you're good about checking your tire pressure.

9. Drive smarter. Slow down -- driving 60 miles per hour instead of 70 mph on the highway will save you up 4 miles per gallon. [Source: Consumer Guide Automotive]. Accelerating and braking too hard can actually reduce your fuel economy, so take it easy on the brakes and gas pedal.

10.Turn off lights when you're not in the room and unplug appliances when you're not using them. It only takes a second to be environmentally conscious.

Friday, October 9, 2009

iBike Rider Case

When I saw the iBike Rider case, I didn’t think of a cool iPhone accessory for bikers – even though that’s what it is – I thought what a cool space suit wearable computer accessory. And when you consider that the iPhone is just that, a computer that happens to make phone calls, it makes one wonder doesn’t it? I can see the commercials now. Walking on the moon? There’s an app for that. Searching for water on Mars? There’s an app for that…

Okay, fantasy over. Let’s look at the cool reality of this accessory. The iBike Rider Case is a wrist mounted, waterproof case which is pictured with optional headset microphone for your helmet so that bikers can go easy riding and still connect via their iPhone. It’s really pretty cool and I can even see using this in the car. With it’s clear plastic face, users can navigate apps, make phone calls, the works. And using a GPS app like AT&T Navigator, the iBike makes it easy to follow without taking your eyes off the road much.

With the optional helmet mounted headset, handsfree communication is safe and secure.

With the optional helmet mounted headset, handsfree communication is safe and secure.

It’s completely functional. And keeping it attached to your wrist makes keeps the phone safe and secure (unless you lay down the bike, that is).

Price for the iBike Rider is $42 for the case, with the optional helmet mounted headset running $85

Dow Solar Cells

The cool thing about solar panels is that they save you money on electricity and are incredibly “green.” The not so cool thing is that they’re unsightly and incredibly inefficient in converting solar rays into electricity. But they’re getting better. And thanks to Dow Solar Solutions, form is improving right along with function.

Dow has worked out how to not only make solar panels into rooftop shingles but also that they blend in with a house’s existing roof, and cost about forty percent cheaper than the roof top solar tiles we reported on last year. And the best part is, because they are built into the conventional shingle design, there’s no real specialized knowledge required to install. That means that weekend warriors and your average roofer can put these up with the same wack of a hammer and tack nails as they do right now.

And since these cells blend in with the existing roof shingles, those heads of home owners associations (you know, the guys with Napoleonic complexes who get off telling you how to take care of your own property) probably won’t even notice them.

The downside? They’re still only 10% effective, meaning that most of the sunlight won’t power your home. But hey, it’s a start.

LaCie Starck HDD


Ever seen products designed by the famous Philippe Starck? If you’re a huge fan of this work, then you might want to consider his latest collaboration with hard drive manufacturer LaCie, where their teamwork has resulted in the LaCie Starck Desktop Hard Drive and the LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive. Both of these new models will offer much more than Starck’s iconic touch – they’re intelligent designs through and through, and here’s Starck’s artsy-fartsy explanaiton of his work, ““Technological genius explodes exponentially, each time with incredible power whose limits are yet to be known. The power remains, never abating, symbolically characterized by the sculptural magma that one attempts to cleave, to master within this geometrically perfect strongbox. A symbol of strength mastered, of freedom guided, of incandescent magma heeding to the form of its cast. The interpretation is free. But the mystery remains.”

The LaCie Starck Desktop Hard Drive and LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive will both come encased in aluminum that is tough enough to handle the everyday rigors of work, boasting a durable exterior that protects the hard drives within from shock and overheating – perfect for you to access your data whenever you need it, wherever you are. The LaCie Starck Desktop Hard Drive comes with a status LED that will resemble Starck’s signature symbol, glowing in the all-too-familiar orange or green color to point out the current activity taken by the hard drive. As for the LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive, you get a built-in USB cable that is uniquely placed for convenient storing and data accessibility.

Both models will connect to computers using the USB 2.0 interface – sorry folks, you’ll just have to wait for some time more if Starck decides to dream up of another design that will cater to USB 3.0 fans. This makes it PC and Mac friendly, and will ship with LaCie Backup Assistant and LaCie Desktop Manager software to help you format, back up and customize your hard drive any way you like. The LaCie Starck Desktop Hard Drive will come in in 1TB and 2TB capacities, retailing from USD$129.99 onwards. As for the LaCie Starck Mobile Drive, you can choose from 320GB and 500GB capacities, with prices starting from USD$99.99 a pop.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


There are about a bazillon network music streaming devices available, but in terms of both style and operation, Sonos products are usually several cuts above the competition. The three elements that make up the new BU150 bundle look like they were designed up by a very close relative of Apple's Jonathan Ive; all retro-spaceage white plastic and gently brushed aluminium.

In fact, the BU150 isn't vastly different to previous Sonos bundles; wider wireless range is probably the most significant improvement. In the box you get an amplified ZonePlayer 120, a smaller un-amplified ZonePlayer 90 and the same iPodesque colour screen/scrollwheel remote control we've seen before. The ZonePlayer 120 can be plugged straight into a pair of un-powered speakers (and a separate subwoofer if you like your bass as meaty as a branch of Dewhurst's), while the ZonePlayer 90 can be hooked up to your existing living room hi-fi via analogue or digital inputs. Further ZonePlayers (up to 32) can be added to the setup.

Setup is so simple it could be performed by a cluster of blind badgers with their front paws tied behind their backs. The system uses its own proprietary wireless network, so you don't need to bugger about with anything like encryption keys. The only hitch is that at least one of the ZonePlayers needs to be hard-wired to your router, which isn't always convenient, depending on where in your home your router actually lives. Adding a Sonos ZoneBridge (£70) or some Homeplug power-line networking adaptors (around £40 for a pair) would solve the problem, but the BU150 is already nudging the upper regions of the price ceiling. The other minor drawback is the system's inability to play protected tracks bought at the iTunes store. Piffling quibbles aside, there really isn't a better piece of music streaming kit out there.

RAmos Android W7 internet tablet unveiled



We’re standing on the verge of an absolute gadget avalanche. The proverbial snow in question is Android-based mobile internet devices and tablets. Some years ago MIDs began cropping up as the future of mobile connectivity, until mobile phones swiftly developed internet connections themselves and rendered the whole idea redundant.

Now - with the user-friendly and customisable nature of Android - tablets seem to be on their way back. Whilst we wait for such devices from Apple and Archos, this little beauty from RAmos has surfaced.

Details (especially on price and launch date) are few and far between, but what we do know is that the W7 has a 4.8-inch touchscreen, Wifi (3G might be available at a later date) and, pleasingly, HD video support. Stay tuned for more when we get it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Panasonic GF1


For the manufacturers who've plunged into the interchangeable-lens camera business; at this point, that's Olympus and Panasonic with their Micro Four Thirds standard--the potential market comprises two groups of consumers: those who want something better and faster than their current point-and-shoot, but don't want the bulk of a dSLR, and those who don't necessarily mind the bulk of a dSLR, but wouldn't mind something a bit smaller with the same flexibility.

Panasonic's first two models, the DMC-G1 and DMC-GH1, address the latter group pretty well, but don't really appeal to the compact-minded folks. Plus, the GH1 is fairly expensive, thanks to the pricey bundled lens designed for optimal video capture performance. On the flip side, Olympus nailed the compact market with the E-P1's design; however, without a built-in flash or viewfinder, a low-resolution LCD screen, and performance that doesn't necessarily best the typical point-and-shoot, it doesn't provide mass appeal for the snapshot upgraders. But with the DMC-GF1, it looks as if Panasonic might have produced the first model that hits all the right notes.

The GF1 essentially crams most of the capabilities of the GH1 into a smaller, more affordable camera--and price was one of my main complaints with the GH1.

Unlike the typical optical add-on viewfinders we occasionally see in these types of compacts, the Panasonic offers an electronic viewfinder that plugs in to a connector above the LCD and intercepts the live feed from the sensor. While I'm not a big fan of EVFs, this scheme does have a couple of advantages. First, it delivers a relatively accurate display of the scene framing. And second, Panasonic's EVF can tilt for off-angle shooting.

Additionally, the GF1 introduces a new scene mode called Peripheral Defocus that automatically opens the aperture as wide as possible given the exposure constraints, plus a mode that lets you adjust depth of field while shooting video. Panasonic also takes a leaf out of Olympus' Art Filters book with a My Color mode that provides effects presets such as Expressive, Retro, and Silhouette; unlike Olympus' implementation, however, Panasonic lets you control color, brightness and saturation.

The GF1 is a lot more expensive than these types of competitors, and even with one of the pancake fixed-focal length lenses it will still be pretty large in comparison. It does pack that HD video recording, though, and many people would consider the flexiblity of interchangeable lenses worth the extra money.

As for the GF1's third competitive option, dSLRs, the smaller size may be quite attractive to many people, a lot of whom might be willing to sacrifice the burst shooting speed (and continuous shooting is always easier with an optical viewfinder, regardless of frame rate) and high ISO sensitivity performance; I expect the GF1's noise profile to look very much like the GH1's, which was inferior to that of the $900 dSLRs the GF1 faces.

Ultimately, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 makes some promises I can't wait to see if it can fulfill. It's slated to ship in early October, though we expect to have an evaluation unit before then.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thought Out debuts iPhone tripod mount


Thought Out has introduced its new PED3-TriPhone and PED3-TriPhone FORM rotating iphone tripod mounts and holders for the iPhone, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS. Based on the company’s previous PED3 iPhone mounts, the TriPhone is made to attach to any standard quarter-inch tripod mount for steadier video and pictures, and allows for the rotation of the device from vertical to horizontal orientation. In addition, the TriPhone FORM will work with most iPhones while they remain in their cases or skins. Thought Out’s PED3-TriPhone and PED3-TriPhone FORM mounts and holders will be available for pre-order soon and should begin shipping by the end of the month for $28 and $32, respectively; current owners of PED3 stands can purchase the TriPhone mount separately for $12.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Leyio sharing device now interacts with the iPod


Since its launch back in January, it's probably safe to say that the Leyio personal sharing device hasn't exactly set the world alight. But a new piece of iPod-friendly functionality might just bring it onto the radar of the wider public.

You might recall that Leyio is a simple and wire-free way to transfer files, a quick shake shifting your chosen music, photos or documents from one Leyio to another via UWB (ultra-wideband) radio connectivity. Indeed, a 3MB photo can be carried over in just 0.3 seconds or a personal movie in around 20 seconds. All in a very secure way obviously, right down to using a fingerprint scanner to stop others having a quick shake when you're not looking.

But it also has USB connectivity - and that's where you're iPod comes in. Thanks to a firmware update, you can transfer any music from an iPod to your Leyio device via USB. Which presumably frees you up to dump those (i)Tunes on another device, a hard drive, a phone, another iPod - in fact anywhere that will play them back. By all accounts, that's just the first step too, with the same functionality coming to smartphones and indeed, the iPhone, in the near future. That's unless the device's higher profile brings it onto Apple's radar and a firmware update scuppers the whole thing.

Only time will tell on that front. In the meantime, you can pick up a Leyio right now from £129.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Accidentally Take Your Gadget Swimming?

Who hasn’t accidentally left a phone, camera or MP3 player in a swimsuit pocket and gone swimming? It’s a harrowing experience, but there’s hope: Dunking the gadget in rice is a somewhat surprising yet very effective drying method.

We’ve all soaked a not-so-waterproof gadget or two, and we know that lots of them can come back to life after a few days of drying, albeit sometimes with some unfortunate damage. But dunking a wet gadget in a container of rice (provided the surrounding environment is humidity-free) can absorb excess moisture and reduce the possibility of damage, which can come in handy in these glorious summer months that are so fraught with danger for our beloved gadgetry. Not that we’re suggesting you take your iPhone along with you for a surf, but if you do, this might save your gadget’s life