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Archive for February, 2011

The Gorgeous Tamamushi!

February 23, 2011 Leave a comment

 

“The Japanese jewel beetle has been a prized ornament since ancient times, and now researchers have revealed the secret to its scintillating good looks.

Brilliant metallic purples and greens run the length of each beetle’s body. Each color band corresponds to varying numbers of stacked chitin layers in its wing covers.

These nano-scale layers scramble light and reflect an iridescent sheen, reported a team from the Netherlands and Japan in the Mar. 12 issue of The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

“This surprises me. I’ve always assumed they had the same number of layers throughout the body,” said Dave Kavanaugh, curator of the insect collection at the California Academy of Sciences, who was not involved with the study. “It makes the color change much less accidental.”.”

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Root Your Nook Color. Get Android Tablet.

February 23, 2011 Leave a comment

 

“Barnes and Noble launched the Nook Color last year with the aim of enabling a more interactive user experience and tighter Web integration than conventional e-book readers. The device’s color touchscreen and assortment of Internet-enabled applications help differentiate it from Amazon’s increasingly ubiquitous Kindle.

The Nook Color is an intriguing product, but its most compelling feature isn’t listed on the box. Beneath the e-book reader facade, the Nook Color runs Google’s powerful Android mobile operating system. Barnes and Noble intends to eventually expose more of the Nook’s Android functionality to end users in future updates, but Android enthusiasts have already gotten a head start.

In this article, we will explain how to “root” the Nook Color so that its software environment can be customized. We will also evaluate the Nook Color’s suitability as a low-cost tablet computer and discuss third-party applications that are particularly useful on the device.”

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Build Your Own Robot with Cubelets

February 23, 2011 Leave a comment

“Robotics can be a tricky subject to teach children, and it’s hard to know where to start. Cubelets is a system of modular cubes that each have one use, interaction, or behavior, and by linking them together you can create easy to understand robots with impressive behavior.

It’s a great concept: you start with very basic ideas, and then by linking them together you can create something that can work in a variety of ways.

“Cubelets was originally called roBlocks and was a project I worked on while in grad school for architecture at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh,” Eric Schweikhardt, the creator of Cubelets, told Ars.

He wanted a way to let people interact with digital models, and thought blocks was a good beginning. “I started to add more functionality into the different cubes and Cubelets evolved out of that.

I never intended to make and sell a product, but after the 20th lab visitor asked when they could buy them, I started to warm to the idea.” Smart move: the first batch of 100 beta kits has already sold out.”

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Store 25 GB in SkyDrive from Your Android Device

February 23, 2011 Leave a comment

“Android only: Naming weirdness aside, Microsoft’s SkyDrive service is a nice chunk of cloud storage—25 GB, to be exact. Now you can view, download, and send your files in SkyDrive from your Android phone with Sorami.

Sorami is not a complex app, but it does the job of connecting to your Windows Live SkyDrive space, showing the files in each directory, and giving you options to view, download, and share individual items or entire folders. Uploading, too, is easy enough, if you don’t mind finding a file on your SD card directory and sending it Microsoft’s way.”

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QuaDror: A New Way to Build

February 23, 2011 Leave a comment

“It’s hard to get your head around what, exactly, to call Dror Benshetrit’s latest brainstorm, the QuaDror. “Structural element” sounds too stodgy, something from the back shelves of the Architect’s Warehouse Supply store. “Ingenious Building Gizmo” is closer, but lacks the gravitas to capture the many possible functions – some philanthropic, some serious load-bearing, some fancy pants artistic — for which this invention is suitable.

Engineers would call the QuaDror a “space truss geometry,” a wonky term for a sort of geometrical jujitsu: a structural joint that looks a little like a sawhorse, but can fold flat, making it both stunningly sturdy, remarkably flexible, and aesthetically pleasing. Today, the world is getting its first look at this marvel in person, when the Israeli designer introduces his brainchild at Africa’s pre-eminent design conference, Design Indaba, in Cape Town.”

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Do We Really Need 24-bit Audio?

February 23, 2011 1 comment

“Apple and other digital retailers are planning to offer 24-bit audio to consumers.

It should be an easy sell; recording studios use 24-bit, it’s how the music was mixed, and it’s how the consumers should hear it. Right? Wrong.

24-bit audio might be the staple of recording studios, but there’s a reason it should stay there. 24-bit has a really low “noise floor” — that hum you hear if you turn a silent amplifier up really high.

With 16-bit, the noise floor is slightly higher. While that might be a problem in a studio where you’re boosting sounds to be clear and loud, it’s irrelevant to the end listener who is given the fully mastered and noise-free version already.

Even CDs are 16-bit, and the sonic quality of a CD is an accepted definition of consumer-worthy HD quality.”

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1G, 2G, 3G, 4G and Everything In-between

February 23, 2011 Leave a comment

“It’s hard to believe nowadays, but in a simpler time, cellphones really were called “cell phones,” not dumbphones, smartphones, feature phones, or superphones. They bulged in your pocket — if they fit in your pocket at all, that is — and they made calls. That’s it. None of this social networking, messaging, browsing, Instagramming, Flash 10.1 nonsense. They didn’t upload 5 megapixel photos to Flickr, and they most certainly didn’t turn into wireless hotspots.

Of course, those bleak days are mercifully behind us now — but as carriers around the world start to light up a promising new generation of high-speed wireless networks, things are beginning to get a little confusing. Just what is “4G,” anyway? It’s one higher than 3G, sure, but does that necessarily mean it’s better? Why are all four national carriers in the US suddenly calling their networks 4G? Is it all the same thing? Answering those questions requires that we take a take a little walk through wireless past, present, and future… but we think it’s a walk you’ll enjoy.

First things first: “G” stands for “generation,” so when you hear someone refer to a “4G network,” that means they’re talking about a wireless network based on fourth-generation technology. And actually, it’s the definition of a “generation” in this context that has us in this whole pickle in the first place; it’s the reason why there’s so much confusion. But more on that in a bit — first, let’s take a trip down memory lane into the primordial ooze that gave rise to the first generation way back in the day.”

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