Archive for September, 2011

Is Kindle Fire The Best Android Tablet?

September 30, 2011 Leave a comment

“The Kindle Fire could be the first truly successful Android tablet. It touts a very reasonable $200 price tag, a well-curated app store, easy access to Amazon’s cloud-based services, brand trust and recognition. It’s Amazon’s most ambitious foray into hardware since the original Kindle’s debut.

And the Fire has the potential to engulf all its Android tablet brethren.

To date, Android tablet sales have mostly been lackluster. The Motorola Xoom only shipped 440,000 units in its first three months. Samsung’s 7-inch Galaxy Tab fared better, hitting the one million mark before it had been on the market for two months. But there are countless other Android tablets, and none of them are making a big splash in the iPad-dominated space. Many have taken to slashing their prices just to make a tiny grab at the tablet market.

But the Kindle Fire has the ability to change all that.

The failing point of many existing 7-inch tablets as that they thought of the iPad as their competition. But a 7-inch “tweener,” as Steve Jobs dubbed it, is an inherently different device, and Amazon, with the Kindle Fire, has embraced that difference.

The Kindle Fire is a device created for content consumption, not creation — for reading, listening to music and watching video. As such, at least to start, it’ll rely heavily on Amazon’s own apps and services.

Whether Amazon’s 7-inch tablet fires up Android development will depend on the success of the device.”

Messenger Takes Shocking “Cheesy” Photos of Mercury

September 30, 2011 Leave a comment

“The planet Mercury is dotted with holes that appear to be unlike any other landform yet seen in the solar system, new pictures show.

High-resolution photographs from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft revealed the shallow, rimless, irregularly shaped depressions—similar to the holes in Swiss cheese—in impact craters all over Mercury.

The features are “widespread both in latitude and longitude,” said study co-author David Blewett, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland.

Dubbed hollows, the odd landforms can be tens of meters to a few kilometers wide, whereas the impact craters that contain them are tens of kilometers wide or bigger.

The hollows are often seen in clusters on the walls, floors, and peaks of the craters. Many hollows have smooth, flat bottoms and feature highly reflective material.

While Mercury had previously been thought of as a geologically dead planet, with few changes to its surface over the past billion years, “these [hollows] just look fresh,” Blewett added.

“I think there’s a distinct possibility that they’re active today.””

SeaTwirl Uses The Ocean As Roller Bearing To Produce Energy

September 30, 2011 Leave a comment

“Swedish eco-designers, Ehrnberg Solutions AB, have just completed their most successful prototype of the floating SeaTwirl vertical wind turbine.

The device captures and harvests offshore wind, without having to convert the energy as it is being stored. SeaTwirl is the first of its kind with only two moving parts, and it uses only sea water as a roller bearing, omitting the need for a gearbox or transmission.

SeaTwirl is already being praised as one of the most simple and cost effective wind turbines ever made. Its vertical blades spin, absorbing energy from the wind and storing it throughout a water filled torus.

The torus also holds the turbine above sea level and assists in the spinning even when winds have died down. Meanwhile, a tiny generator at the bottom of the turbine then converts the energy to electricity.”

NASA To Create Largest Ever Solar Sail For Garbage Satellite Disposal

September 30, 2011 Leave a comment

“NASA’s upcoming Technology Demonstration Missions are intended to “transform its space communications, deep space navigation and in-space propulsion capabilities.” Three project proposals have been selected for these missions, which should be launching in 2015 and 2016.

One of those projects, the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration, we’ve told you about already. Another, however, will be demonstrating a mission-capable solar sail.

While NASA has recently tested a solar sail measuring 100 square feet (9.29 square meters), this one will be the largest ever flown, spanning a whopping 15,543 square feet, or 1,444 square meters.

So, what would one do with a solar sail that big?

For one thing, it could be used to gather orbital debris over a period of several years – sort of like a drift net fishing trawler in space.

It could also be included in a satellite’s payload, and activated at the end of the spacecraft’s mission. The sail, still attached to the satellite, could then be used to drag it out of its orbit.”

Why Do You See Stars When Hit On Your Head Or Face?

September 30, 2011 Leave a comment

“Naturally, it starts with your brain.

A little set up: The part of the brain that handles what you see is called the occipital lobe,; it’s located at the back of your head. Its job is to take the information sent from the retina and turn it into something that makes sense to you.

So before you know that the thing in front of you is actually your cat chewing on a power cord, your retina has to take the observable light, convert it first into a chemical signal, and then into an electrical impulse, before sending back to you brain for interpretation.

The occipital lobe will then say, yup, based on this information, that’s your cat trying to off himself. You get the idea: Your eyes and your brain work together to understand what’s in front of you.

Your brain reads other types of stimulation, too. Robert Wade Crow, an assistant clinical professor of neuro-ophthalmology at UC Irvine explains, “If you irritate the brain, it may create a response like it’s normally used to creating, which is, in this case, a visual response.”

Poking the occipital lobe can make it cry vision. The thing is, the response is not anchored to anything, so instead of seeing floating suicidal cats or baseballs speckling your vision when the occipital lobe is bumped, you just see light.”

Turn Your USB HDD Into a NAS With LaCie’s LaPlug

September 30, 2011 Leave a comment

“LaCie has always taken an understated approach to its lineup of boxy network storage devices, and the LaPlug is no different.

With this little guy sitting in your living room, you can wirelessly share and access data across your home network, while streaming USB drive-stored multimedia content to any UPnP/DLNA-certified devices, including the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 or any compatible smartphones and tablets.

With a quartet of USB 2.0 ports, along with gigabit ethernet and WiFi b/g/n capabilities, the LaPlug also allows you to back up your files in a centralized and remotely accessible location.

You can grab one now for $75…”

The Polymorphic Bench is Almost Alive!

September 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Keeping the current trend of designing “kinetic” furniture (that morph into different shapes according to the motions and contours of its users) alive, here is another one which is almost similar in functionality but completely different in construction to the “Cay Sofa” reported a fortnight ago.

“Polymorphic is a kinetic installation utilizing an innovative design and engineering solution inspired by the simple kinetic action of a see-saw and the reverberating motion of a Slinky.

The design is comprised of a double-sided bench which transforms through a series of 119 unique and interconnected sections into a chaise lounge and finally an interactive balance board.

These sections are connected via an inventive pivot and bolt system which allows the vertical movement of one section to be picked up by others down the line.

Together, this motion allows the installation to transform from a series of leveled sections into an undulating form activated through interaction with its occupants.

While the overall form of the bench is realized as a continuous landscape, each seating condition was designed according to existing ergonomic profiles in order to maximize comfort and functionality.”