Have fun, be safe.
October 31, 2009
October 30, 2009
This would be an amazing Halloween costume. Maybe a bit unwieldy, though.
(via shortformblog, hat tip: the Daily Dish)
Via KurzweilAI.net — The entire concept of printable electronics is incredibly cool.
Xerox Claims Printable Electronics Breakthrough PC magazine, Oct. 27, 2009
Xerox has announced a new silver ink that is apparently a breakthrough in printable electronics.
The possibilities range from printing on flexible plastic, paper and cardboard, and fabric, to printing RFID tags on almost anything.
Crating is a vital and not particularly easy task when preparing items for shipping, transport and storage. Done inadequately or worse still, poorly, your valuables, presentation materials, artwork or other item will likely not arrive at its destination in the condition it was in when originally packed up and crated. Because proper crating is so important when shipping or transporting items, leaving the task to professionals is a great option.
Navis Pack & Ship crating offers both individuals and businesses professional crating service for any item, including items with special needs. Here’s a partial list of items Navis is prepared to handle: antiques, fine art, computers & technology, equipment & machinery, medical equipment, furniture, household palletizing, engines & parts, and crates for glass, slate and marble.
Navis offers specialty crates including: ASTM-style crates, custom crates, ISPM-15 certified international crates, heat-treated crates, shipping crates, reusable crates, slat crates and wooden crates.
Your crating needs may be as big as moving your personal household or maybe even an entire business, as simple as getting your trade show materials to the convention center, or as specialized as transporting a priceless Old Masters oil painting. Navis Pack & Ship crating services will pack your item and get it to the destination in the same condition the item was in before being shipped.
From the goNavis link in the first graf:
Thousands of businesses and residential customers have come to trust Navis Pack & Ship’s unique fine art, computer, trade show, furniture and equipment crating solutions–honed over 25 years of real world testing in packaging goods for safe transport and shipping. Navis Pack & Ship crating services include custom crates and/or palletizing any fragile, large, awkward or valuable item you have, onsite in your home or office or offsite at one of our well-equipped warehouses.
Efficiencies are going up and costs and holding steady or falling. All this bodes well for the future of solar power.
From the link:
Dye-sensitized solar cells are flexible and cheap to make, but they tend to be inefficient at converting light into electricity. One way to boost the performance of any solar cell is to increase the surface area available to incoming light. So a group of researchers at Georgia Tech has made dye-sensitized solar cells with a much higher effective surface area by wrapping the cells around optical fibers. These fiber solar cells are six times more efficient than a zinc oxide solar cell with the same surface area, and if they can be built using cheap polymer fibers, they shouldn’t be significantly more expensive to make.
The advantage of a fiber-optic solar-cell system over a planar one is that light bounces around inside an optical fiber as it travels along its length, providing more opportunities to interact with the solar cell on its inner surface and producing more current. “For a given real estate, the total area of the cell is higher, and increased surface area means improved light harvesting and more energy,” says Max Shtein, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Michigan who was not involved with the research.
Solar on fiber: An optical fiber (left) is covered in dye-coated zinc-oxide nanowires (closeup, right). Both images were made using a scanning electron microscope.
Credit: Angewandte Chemie
All you need to know about this linked article is in the subhead:
Ray Kurzweil to receive The Economist’s Innovation Award KurzweilAI.net, Oct. 29, 2009
The Economist’s Innovation Award for Computing andTelecommunications will be given to Ray Kurzweil today in London for contributions to optical character recognition (OCR) and speech recognition technology.
“Ray Kurzweil has used the advances in basic electronictechnologies to pioneer a range of innovative products inoptical character recognition, speech recognition,music, text to speech synthesis, and medicine,” said Andrew Odlyzko, Professor, School of Mathematics, University of Minnesota.
“His vision and sense for how fast technology wasprogressing led to products that were usually not only first to market, but were commercially successful, and have assisted the handicapped, advanced the arts, and stimulated the imagination of countless other technologists and entrepreneurs. His work is a stellar example of the achievements that The Economist’s Innovation Awards are intended to recognize and encourage.”
“I am deeply honored to receive this recognition,” said Kurzweil, Founder, Kurzweil Computer Products (now Nuance), currently CEO, Kurzweil Technologies, Inc. “In my work in optical character recognition and speech recognition, my goal was to provide new modalities for the transmission of human knowledge. As an inventor, I quickly realized that timing was critical to success, so I sought to develop models of how information technologyevolves. With these projections, we can use ourimaginations to envision inventions of the future, and I have tried to do that in my books and web sites such as KurzweilAI.net.”
I’ve done plenty of blogging about cloud computing, but as the buzzword gets more and more mainstream, more people become curious. This article lays out the basics, pros and cons of cloud computing for anyone looking for a quick primer.
From the second link:
What exactly are we talking about? The “cloud” is an IT term for the Internet, and cloud computing, or cloud integration, means storing and having access to your computer data and software on the Internet, rather than running it on your personal computer or office server. In fact, if you use programs such as Gmail or Google docs (GOOG), you may not realize you are already doing cloud computing.
Part of the confusion is that the terminology is rather vaporous, particularly for non-tech-savvy types, including many small business owners. And it does represent a major shift in how businesses and individuals use and store digital information. We’ll go through some pros and cons that may help you decide whether this is right for your firm.
October 29, 2009
The history of the humble business card can be traced back to China in the 1400s, but the story takes off in 17th century France with visiting cards, or visite biletes. These were introduced during the reign of the sun king, Louis XIV. The first use of a hand-sized card for business also dates to the 1600s in London with tradecards. These predecessors to the modern business card were used for advertisement and provided maps to shops distributing the tradecards.
Before printing technology made newspapers and periodicals widespread and cost-effective, business cards were a primary source for advertising and communication. Printing technology also worked in the favor of business and visiting cards by adding color and other options. In the mid-1800s visiting cards became popular in the United States and eventually led to a firm distinction between visiting and business cards.
Today business cards are a staple of business communication and introduction even with the advent of digital alternatives. If you are looking for an online business card, letterhead or customized envelope solution, hit the link way up there in the first sentence to head to Businesscards.com. You have free reign to create any design for your card using the Businesscards.com editing tool, and you’re offered multiple printing options.
From the link:
Create custom designs & print your business cards, letterhead and envelopes with our online editor. More than just an ordering system, putting creative control in your hands with powerful desktop publishing features. Start with our hundreds of layouts, graphics, logos, backgrounds and templates pre-loaded in our editor for your business card and stationery, or upload your own backgrounds and graphics to create professional templates that can be modified for endless possibilities.
Corporate housing is a fixture of the business world and at its best corporate housing is simple. Simple for the company providing the accommodations and simple for the person moving into the corporate housing. PC Housing offers a corporate housing solution that meets both standards. PC Housing works to meet the specific needs of each of its corporate clients and is proud of its long-standing relationships based on that high level of service.
PC Housing even guarantees its service. If for some reason a PC Housing client is not not satisfied with the accommodations or service and the problem isn’t fixed within two days, that client gets $500 back.
From the PC Housing link:
Human Resource and Travel Managers Nationwide have relied upon PC Housing to provide their new employees and transferees consistent quality housing and superior service for over a decade.
To these industry professionals, PC Housing is not just another Vendor. Instead, we are a valued service partner they count on to assist their employees in getting settled in a new area and workplace.
Our apartments, condominiums, and homes are all fully furnished and accessorized with all bed and bath linens, a fully equipped kitchen, a comfortably set bedroom, all utilities, cable, local telephone service, high speed internet, and parking. Most of our accommodations even come with a washer and dryer. Housekeeping is also available.
PC Housing takes a lot of the hassle and headache out of corporate housing and makes the living part of relocation simple for both the person making the move and the company.
And if the GOP is honestly against it I really wonder why the party took itself out of the sausage-making from day one.
From the link:
U.S. House leaders today plan to unveil legislation that would create a government-run health- insurance program, require employers to offer coverage to their workers and impose a new tax on the wealthiest Americans.
The legislation comes after three months of negotiations by House Democrats and represents the most sweeping changes to the nation’s health-care system since the 1965 creation of the federal Medicare program for the elderly. The measure would overhaul the insurance market, encourage greater use of preventive medicine and help Americans buy coverage.
“We think we’ll have the votes,” said California Representative George Miller, who runs the House Education and Labor Committee, after meeting with fellow Democrats yesterday. Formal debate is planned for next week, Miller said.
Lawmakers said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to a compromise over one of the most divisive issues facing Congress — the establishment of the government insurance program to compete with private insurers try to and drive down costs.
My Dad’s parents lived on a large rural spread with multiple sheds filled with old farming equipment, kitchen utensils and all sorts of rusting bric-a-brac. One thing that ended up in our suburban backyard was a large dinner bell forged in the late 1800s. It was heavy enough to seriously list to one side without a substantial weighted pull cord and totally unnecessary for the size of the yard. It was incredibly cool — a big old chunk of iron that passed through multiple generations of my family. Some day I’ll be proud to ring that bell in my own backyard.
If you don’t have a treasure trove of heirloom ranch material to go through, you can still enjoy the look and sound of a dinner or farm bell. Hit the link and head to Outdora for a large selection of outdoor bells, wind chimes and sources of pleasant natural music provided by a little metal and the wind. And if your kids regularly don’t hear the call to get in the house to eat, a dinner bell might be just what the cook ordered.
Of course the need for a dinner bell or farm bell isn’t required to add one to your outdoor decor. Outdora has a variety of outdoor bells to meet whatever decorating scheme you have. If you want to rustic that’s not a problem; if you prefer more of a wind chime look and sound, you can find that, too; and Outdora even offers a combination water fountain with bells.
The bell currently resting in my Dad’s backyard dates back to a couple of centuries ago and is one of the lucky amongst farm bells to still have a place of honor in someone’s yard. You can start your own tradition by adding a dinner bell to your backyard.
Nothing says good cooking better than a pealing farm bell.
I just wish this image was larger …
Caption: This is a full sky panorama of the Milky Way.
Credit: Dr. Axel Mellinger
Usage Restrictions: None
Related news release: Physicist makes new high-res panorama of Milky Way
Are you looking for an investment vehicle combining strong return-on-investment and still considered a secure bet? Trust deed investments may be the answer. Trust deed investments have the potential to offer high returns relatively safely, but this investment vehicle isn’t for everyone. Like with any investment you should take the time to learn about the pros and cons of trust deed investment.
Trust deed investments come with one major entry on the con side of the balance sheet — very little liquidity. If you need your investment money at a certain time or on short notice trust deed investments are not for you. Another potential con is you might end up owning the property behind your trust deed investment.
The pro side has its one major entry as well, and it’s pretty strong — trust deed investments are one of the safest high-yield investment vehicles out there. With trust deed investments your investment is secured by a deed of trust against a property owned by the borrower of your money. A trust deed investment allows you put money into real estate through an intermediary and typically you only deal with the outlay and return aspect of investing in property.
From the link, eight points from Federal Home Loans Corporation on trust deed investments:
Having provided all the pitfalls and negatives, you should not lose your money in trust deeds. Let’s recap:
- Keep your money in the bank if you need it.
- You may end up owning the property.
- Keep your broker honest; use the title company.
- Demand paperwork in your name.
- Understand how value is determined.
- Invest in first trust deeds only.
- Be aware of the occasional requirement for the temporary investment of additional funds.
- Adjust with the market.
I’ll let this release speak, so to speak, for itself:
Gamma-ray photon race ends in dead heat; Einstein wins this round
IMAGE: In this illustration, one photon (purple) carries a million times the energy of another (yellow). Some theorists predict travel delays for higher-energy photons, which interact more strongly with the proposed…
Racing across the universe for the last 7.3 billion years, two gamma-ray photons arrived at NASA’s orbiting Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope within nine-tenths of a second of one another. The dead-heat finish may stoke the fires of debate among physicists over Einstein’s special theory of relativity because one of the photons possessed a million times more energy than the other.
For Einstein’s theory, that’s no problem. In his vision of the structure of space and time, unified as space-time, all forms of electromagnetic radiation – gamma rays, radio waves, infrared, visible light and X-rays – are reckoned to travel through the vacuum of space at the same speed, no matter how energetic. But in some of the new theories of gravity, space-time is considered to have a “shifting, frothy structure” when viewed at a scale trillions of times smaller than an electron. Some of those models predict that such a foamy texture ought to slow down the higher-energy gamma-ray photon relative to the lower energy one. Clearly, it did not.
Even in the world of high-energy particle physics, where a minute deviation can sometimes make a massive difference, nine-tenths of a second spread over more than 7 billion years is so small that the difference is likely due to the detailed processes of the gamma-ray burst rather than confirming any modification of Einstein’s ideas.
“This measurement eliminates any approach to a new theory of gravity that predicts a strong energy-dependent change in the speed of light,” said Peter Michelson, professor of physics at Stanford University and principal investigator for Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT), which detected the gamma-ray photons on May 10. “To one part in 100 million billion, these two photons traveled at the same speed. Einstein still rules.”
Michelson is one of the authors of a paper that details the research, published online Oct. 28 by Nature.
Physicists have yearned for years to develop a unifying theory of how the universe works. But no one has been able to come up with one that brings all four of the fundamental forces in the universe into one tent. The Standard Model of particle physics, which was well developed by the end of the 1970s, is considered to have succeeded in unifying three of the four: electromagnetism; the “strong force” (which holds nuclei together inside atoms); and the “weak force” (which is responsible for radioactive decay, among other things.) But in the Standard Model, gravity has always been the odd man out, never quite fitting in. Though a host of theories have been advanced, none has been shown successful.
But by the same token, Einstein’s theories of relativity also fail to unify the four forces.
“Physicists would like to replace Einstein’s vision of gravity – as expressed in his relativity theories – with something that handles all fundamental forces,” Michelson said. “There are many ideas, but few ways to test them.”
The two photons provided rare experimental evidence about the structure of space-time. Whether the evidence will prove sufficient to settle any debates remains to be seen.
The photons were launched on their pan-galactic marathon during a short gamma-ray burst, an outpouring of radiation likely generated by the collision of two neutron stars, the densest known objects in the universe.
A neutron star is created when a massive star collapses in on itself in an explosion called a supernova. The neutron star forms in the core as matter is compressed to the point where it is typically about 10 miles in diameter, yet contains more mass than our sun. When two such dense objects collide, the energy released in a gamma-ray burst can be millions of times brighter than the entire Milky Way, albeit only briefly. The burst (designated GRB 090510) that sent the two photons on their way lasted 2.1 seconds.
NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is an astrophysics and particle physics partnership, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, along with important contributions from academic institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden and the United States.
But while there is a growing consensus that the so-called Great Recession ended some point earlier this year, some economists think that one quarter of solid economic growth does not indicate that a Great Recovery has begun.
Unemployment continues to rise and about 30% of factory capacity remains idle. Credit for businesses is still tight and consumer confidence is falling.
It’s also worth remembering that the economy grew as recently as the second quarter of 2008, when rebate checks sent to most taxpayers created a sugar rush of economic activity and a 1.5% rise in GDP.
Of course, that growth wasn’t enough to prevent the meltdown in financial markets last fall that touched off sharp declines over the next three quarters.
From the link:
For the first time since the recession began, the portion of companies planning to add employees in the next six months outnumbered those expecting to cut jobs, according to this month’s quarterly survey of economists at 78 firms by the National Association for Business Economics.
Almost three and half billion dollars of stimulus money in fact. This ARRA cash will be stretched by a requirement for matching private investment.
From the link:
President Obama on Tuesday announced a $3.4 billion federal investment to modernize the country’s outdated power grid.
The money will go to 100 projects in 49 states to add automated substations, digital transformers, electric meters in homes and other high-tech equipment to create a “smart” grid.
“We’re going to create an energy superhighway,” Mr. Obama said when making the announcement at Florida Power & Light Co.’s DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia, Fla., one of the country’s biggest solar-power facilities.
Sometimes moving doesn’t require the full-court press of relocated an entire household of possessions. Maybe you’re a student moving into a dorm or apartment at school, or a senior downsizing from a home to a retirement apartment or senior living facility, or possibly you have a second home by the lake or for vacations and need relocate some possessions to the second home. The answer for any of these scenarios is the goNavis Navis Pack & Ship for small moving needs.
Traditional full-household moving services can be expensive, and if you only have small moving needs you can end up paying for unused service if your total move comes in under a minimum weight fee. Navis’s Pack & Ship has no minimum because it’s designed for small moves. The service can even save money over do-it-yourself moves when you take the total cost into account. Costs such as time spent, moving vehicle rental, fuel and more.
Hit the link for the full story on Pack & Ship from goNavis.
Here’s a sample from the link:
Why large movers, residential customers, retirement communities, and commercial shippers look to Navis Pack & Ship for small moving solutions:
1. Safety: We ensure that your small move shipment of furniture, heirlooms, or other fragile, large, awkward, and valuable items are delivered intact, on time, on budget, and with the pick up and delivery options that best suit your needs.
2. Hassle-free: Moving is stressful. We take care of all your small move headaches from anywhere in the US and Canada to anywhere in the world.
3. Temporary storage: If you’re a student who needs storage for the summer, or a senior who needs storage during your transition, we can ship your small move to our warehouse and deliver your goods to you later.
4. No hidden charges: We never perform a small move or handle a shipment without providing you with a clear, written estimate of our price and services.
5. Protection: Transit insurance is available on everything we pack and ship.
October 28, 2009
Government funded skunk works for energy.
From the link:
Its mission is to identify “revolutionary advances in fundamental sciences,” then translate these advances into “technological innovations,” particularly in areas where industry won’t do this on its own because the technology is considered too risky. In some ways ARPA-E is supposed to be for energy technologies what DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is for the military. That agency had its hand in the development of a number of revolutionary new technologies, including Arpanet, the precursor to the Internet.
The first batch of ARPA-E projects is certainly fascinating. It includes projects that could improve the performance of current energy technologies by many times, slashing the cost of solar panels and batteries, for example. If they succeed, the world could be a different place. Renewable energy could out-compete fossil fuels without the help of subsidies and long-range electric cars could become widely affordable, challenging the dominance of the internal combustion engine.
flickr / Martin Krzywinski
This image is great. For the life of me I remain astounded by the success of the iPod/iTunes. I understand the branding quick-to-market aspects, but the iPod is a terrible tech device and standard. Ridiculous proprietary files, a history of just crippling DRM and many, many, many better and less expensive options out there. I know multiple people who lost massive collections of iTunes music because of the non-consumer/non-user friendly backbone of the service.
These rechargeables are expected to triple the storage of lithium-ion batteries.
From the link:
A Swiss company says it has developed rechargeable zinc-air batteries that can store three times the energy of lithium ion batteries, by volume, while costing only half as much. ReVolt, of Staefa, Switzerland, plans to sell small “button cell” batteries for hearing aids starting next year and to incorporate its technology into ever larger batteries, introducing cell-phone and electric bicycle batteries in the next few years. It is also starting to develop large-format batteries for electric vehicles.
The battery design is based on technology developed at SINTEF, a research institute in Trondheim, Norway. ReVolt was founded to bring it to market and so far has raised 24 million euros in investment. James McDougal, the company’s CEO, says that the technology overcomes the main problem with zinc-air rechargeable batteries–that they typically stop working after relatively few charges. If the technology can be scaled up, zinc-air batteries could make electric vehicles more practical by lowering their costs and increasing their range.
Debt settlement is simply the process and approach to getting out from under your unsecured debts. When you get into a debt settlement program you should be given a two basic services — a solution to lowering your unsecured debt and help in dealing with your creditors — these two services should help get you back on the path to financial freedom.
Right now household debt is a serious issue in the United States, and in this economic climate coupled with this level of unemployment debt is crippling for many people. Once you’re deep in debt it is very easy to lose control of the situation. And if you’re unemployed, or you are using credit to cover bills and basic necessities, debt can overwhelm your personal financial situation. When you reach a point of crisis your options become somewhat limited. Debt settlement is the best choice for most people, but other options include credit counseling or even personal bankruptcy.
The key to getting on top of debt problem is, of course, recognizing the problem in the first place. Usually debt problems have many ways to reminding you, maybe multiple times a day through collection efforts, of the problem. The next step is to not go into despair or resignation and start taking action to fix your debt problems.
If you are looking to go the debt settlement route you are halfway there. Be sure to take your time and choose your debt settlement company carefully. Make sure the company doesn’t make claims unsupported by the Federal Trade Commission, take note of their questions about your debt situation and household budget, get all the details about your program and find out up front how you will be charged for the service.
Interesting bit of customer relationship hardware. This takes the loyalty program concept and data mining possibilities to an entire new stratosphere. I do wonder how long customers will be willing to mess with haul a device around when they shop. There will have to be a very serious incentive to go through all the trouble. Certainly more than pre-scanning your items and getting a few instant coupons.
Modiv Media’s device has five basic parts/features: scanner, radio module, browser application, display and data mining.
If it catches on it ought to provide a trove of shopping data beyond just the loyalty info gathered at checkout — stuff like items scanned and later discarded, time spent shopping and much more. And it has the customer acting as their own checkout clerk. Of course if it doesn’t catch on it may become the latest CueCat.
From the first link:
Customers using the device, which works with the store card, can save time by scanning and bagging their own groceries as they shop. Meanwhile, it displays advertising and offers electronic coupons for instant savings, all chosen according to the customer’s purchasing history and location in the store. Introduced in July 2007, the Modiv Shopper is now used in 260 stores. The company says customers who use it spend $7 more per trip–and visit the store 10 percent more often–than they would otherwise. Modiv makes its money by licensing and developing its system for retailers and by collecting advertising revenue whenever an offer is displayed.
Look no further than Outdora.com.
Outdora offers a full line of Fire Magic grills, grill accessories and other Fire Magic products, all offered at a sale price marked below list. Do you need a built-in Fire Magic grill? Outdora has models with rotisseries, countertop grills and basic built-in grills. Freestanding grills? You can find freestanding grills on pedestals, table top models, grills with rotisseries, grills with built-in LCD thermometers and more. You can even find side burners and rotisserie kits to add to a Fire Magic grill.
Cookouts, barbecues and even preparing full meals outside is a big part of outdoor living. Everything from knocking out a few hot dogs to slow-smoking racks of ribs to cooking multiple dishes over an open outdoor flame makes for a fun and relaxing meal and atmosphere. To make your outdoor kitchen or barbecuing experience smooth and easy you want to have the right equipment on hand and that equipment begins with your outdoor grill.
Fire Magic grills are on the high-end of outdoor grill options out there, but the product line offers a wide variety of grilling options including how the grill is installed (built-in, freestanding, countertop, table top), accessories and features (rotisserie, side burner, and more) and type of heat (electric, propane, charcoal and wood burning). Speaking of heat — some models cooking temperatures up to over 700 degrees for intense and instant searing of your favorite cut of steak. My personal favorite is a blue rare cowboy cut — that is, a very thick ribeye cut with the bone left in.
Fire Magic grills have been around since 1937 providing barbecue and outdoor living fun. Fire Magic’s current line of outdoor grills feature stainless steel styling to complement modern decors. So if all that makes you interested in a Fire Magic grill, hit the link and head to Outdora to check out the entire line of outdoor grills and grilling accessories.
Anyone remember BigDog, the four-legged military robot from Boston Dynamics that many found a bit creepy? Meet Petman, the two-legged cousin of BigDog.
From the Technology Review link:
This bipedal bot walks on two legs and can recover from a push, using the same balancing technology that allows BigDog to recover from a kick or keep its balance when walking on ice.
While BigDog was designed to carry payloads for soldiers in the field, Petman will be used for military chemical suit research. In the final version, which should be ready in 2011, Petman will have a range of motions. According to the company:
Unlike previous suit testers, which had to be supported mechanically and had a limited repertoire of motion, PETMAN will balance itself and move freely; walking, crawling and doing a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents.
Here’s four quick and easy graphs that nicely illustrate the current economy and how we got here.
From the link (hit the link for an analysis of the ongoing economic crisis and how to get out of it):
October 27, 2009
I’ll just leave this one with, “wow!”
If you want to read more about this amazing feat, hit this PhysOrg link.