Daily Archives: October 2, 2007

’30 Year Laptop Battery’ is Unscientific Myth

An anonymous reader wrote to mention the wonderful news: “A research group funded by U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory is developing a battery which can provide continuous power to your laptop for 30 years! Betavoltaic power cells are constructed from semiconductors and use radioisotopes as the energy source…” Except, not so much. ZDNet’s Mixed Signals blog with Rupert Goodwins explains why (as always) if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is: “The sort of atomic structures that generate power when bombarded with high energy electrons are the sort that tend to fall apart when bombarded with high energy electrons. While solar cells have the same problem, it’s to a much lesser extent. There’s a lot of research into making materials that don’t suffer so much, but it remains a serious issue … while it’s true that a tritium-powered battery will eventually turn into an inert, safe lump of nothing much, and while it’s also true that a modest amount of shielding will keep the radioactivity within the the battery the while, there’s the small problem that if you break the battery during its life the nasties come out.”

The Propaganda and Truth in democraticspace.com

“Propaganda is a concerted set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behavior of large numbers of people. Instead of impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense presents information in order to influence its audience”. I’ve spent some time doing research this month, and over the summer, and realized that the propaganda machine is alive and well on the web. It is the wild west of information and media manipulation, casting a shadow over the unlearned and untrained eye of the receiver. With blogs and new sites, allowing interactivity we can all become victims. One unfortunately victim is the website, democraticspace.com. It was probably the best site to get objective information about clients, in Ontario (dare I say Canada) and probably still is. However, it seems that there is a major problem with the “comments” section, for each candidate. What is interesting is how people use the comments section to spread false information and lies about various candidates. We are a democratic country and we still have freedom of speech, however media impression is still a tool used to defame an aspiring candidate’s reputation. One of the reasons this happens is because search engines, like Google and Yahoo, use tags and keyword information. If someone spreads enough bad information about a candidate, then as voters do their research they may actually see the rants and ravings of the commentary. To many the web is still a new thing and they may believe everything they see. At present all we can do is try to filter and present truthful information, hoping the receiver of that information will be able to correctly know what the truth actually is. Albeit, demrocraticspace.com officials may have truthful information, controlling who posts comments can be a challenge. What is unfortunate is that this offers political parties a free way to destroy another person’s character. The Internet is the wild west of media manipulation and we will need to find new ways to make sure its integrity is not destroyed. This will be a long process, and who knows how it will be achieved. In the interim, we the voters need to be diligent and informed. Right now, the web is the equal to a tabloid newspaper or Fox News (sorry Fox – but some of the stuff you talk about…). I am impressed with democraticspace.com and they are trying. Recently the veil was lifted as they revealed that the same person was posting comments from the same machine, under different names and alias’s.

“in the interests of transparency…Malik, Naim_Malik, albert_chang, sue_sung, jacckie, josh_siato and John Lee are all posting from the same IP address. Comment/commentaire by democraticspace 10.02.07 @ 5:15 am”

Knowing this now and the previous posts, in reference to the destruction of lawn signs, the obvious intension was to destroy the reputation of the PC candidate – Alex Yuan. Seems that either some Liberal or maybe NDP supporters (hard to tell – but I doubt they were really NDP’ers?) were trying to gain “brownie points” in the riding. It is strange that there is so much commentary for this riding, but a website like this should not be used to spread misleading information, increasing the likelihood of someone searching on a candidate and getting the wrong impression. It’s great to see that democracticspace.com is doing their utmost best preserve the integrity of the site; making sure that information is factual, not hearsay. In the media sometimes you have to read through the cues and wordings of a commentator. Do they have an agenda? What opinion are they pushing or supporting? Just like a call in radio show, the host will challenge any opinion presented over the airwaves. This is so people do not get false information and make an incorrect judgment about the issue. In the end maybe we will come up with better technology, with the ability to challenge the commentary of posts. A good example is Steve Munro of www.stevemunro.ca , who does his best to challenge and moderate the comments of other posts. I hope in the future democraticspace.com does more to challenge comments. They are still the best site for candidate information on the web at present (especially for the G.T.A), so they will need to be the best site they can be.

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The GTA Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario

Joost free video-sharing service opens to public

Internet-based television service Joost on Monday launched its software for Mac and Windows, making the peer-to-peer technology widely available to the public for the first time. With Joost version 1.0, users can now download the free software without being “invited” by a friend. With Joost version 1.0, users can now download the free software without being “invited” by a friend. They can transmit video using peer-to-peer technology (P2P), the same approach used to launch the Skype internet calling service and Kazaa, the music-sharing website.

P2P is a method of distributing data in which multiple computers each transmit and receive information.

Sharing the computing power and band width of its users instead of filtering everything through a central data server can lead to better transmission quality, particularly as the number of users goes up.

Founded by Skype’s Janus Friis and Kazaa’s Niklas Zennström, the service got a shot in the arm earlier this summer when it raised $45 million US from five investors, including CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc. The company has also signed deals with other big media players such as Turner Broadcasting System, Sony Pictures Television, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League.

Overall, Joost says it has 150 channels of video. The mainstream approach is different from that of Kazaa, which has run into trouble with the music industry over users sharing music downloads for free.

While Joost focuses on bringing television programming to the internet, much of the move among technology firms has been to find a way to bring the internet to television in the form of set-top boxes such as Apple Inc.’s Apple TV.

read more | digg story

Sega Mounts Comeback Through Restructuring and Acquisition

Next-Gen discusses Sega’s plan to return to gaming glory and what milestones have been reached thus far. A Next-Gen story titled “Sega: The Blue Sky Company” investigates Sega’s recent history and its goals for making a comeback to gaming’ headlines.

In order to reach its new, ambitious goal of becoming 25 percent of the gaming software market, Sega has gone on an organizational reconstruction and acquisition binge, combining fragmented studios into a powerful portfolio of production prowess. Unprofitable internet service providers SegaNet and Dreamarena have been axed in favor of investments in arcade spots like Japanese pachinko places and the American entertainment chain GameWorks. Additionally, fresh marketing campaigns, including deals with Nintendo to release aging properties on the Wii’s Virtual Console and the ‘Sega Loves Your PSP’ line of Playstation Portable games, have helped the company regain market share.

Sega Europe boss Mike Hayes expects “two or three” more studios to be added to the company’s western empire. “Who they would be and when that will happen is based on the market and the opportunities that arrive, so we’re constantly on the lookout,” noted Hayes.

Whether Sega Sammy can reach its lofty goals and revive its aging brand through new businesses and a portfolio of developers has not yet been proven, but gamers will undoubtedly enjoy watching the classic company progress into the future.

read more | digg story

First Look @ Microsoft Surface

It’s not often that one gets a chance to attend a demonstration of a new method of human-computer interaction. Having been too young to witness the development of the command line in the 1950s or the modern graphical user interface at Xerox PARC in the 1970s, it was a genuine thrill to visit Microsoft’s campus for a personal demo of “surface computing.” While future computer historians are unlikely to view this technology as being anywhere near as groundbreaking as the CLI or GUI, the multi-touch interface nonetheless serves as an innovative way of interacting with the personal computer.

Microsoft Surface has taken many years to come to fruition. The original idea was developed in 2001 by employees at Microsoft Research, and it was nurtured towards reality by a team led by chief architect Nigel Keam. Not content with merely coming up with a new idea, the Surface team is committed to actually releasing it to the commercial market as early as the end of 2007. From there, the team hopes that the product will make its way from retail and commercial establishments to the home, in much the same manner as large-screen plasma displays have migrated out of the stadium and into the living room over the past few years.

Microsoft began the Surface project back in 2001, after the idea had already been proposed by employees in the Microsoft Research division. For many years the work was hidden under a non-disclosure agreement. Keam mentioned that, although necessary, the NDA made it frustrating when Microsoft scheduled the official Surface announcement just days after Apple announced the iPhone. While both projects employ touch-sensitive screens with multi-touch capability, they are very different from each other, and the development timelines clearly show that neither was “copied” from the other. As Keam put it: “I only wish I could work that fast!”

Beyond creating the hardware, however, the Microsoft Surface team has identified several different scenarios where the device could be used in retail and commercial environments, and it has developed demonstration software that shows off the potential of the system. Microsoft has partnered with several retail and entertainment companies and will be co-developing applications customized for these environments.

read more | digg story

Show me the money!

Auditor general found no written request from Iranian-Canadian Community Centre of Toronto. Sometimes money just falls into your lap. The group, founded in August 2005 and mistakenly listed as an animal welfare charity at one point, got a $200,000 grant from Ontario’s ministry of citizenship and immigration last year to help build a community centre in the Richmond Hill area.

But the auditor found no written request for funding. In fact, since the group was operating for less than two years, it didn’t qualify for a grant under other programs administered by the ministry.

“We had a number of groups where there wasn’t any documentation of what they wanted the money for,” McCarter noted.

As first reported by the Toronto Star last spring, the group had numerous Liberal connections.

One member of its executive had worked for Health Minister George Smitherman. Another, Reza Moridi, has since left the executive and become a Liberal candidate for the Oct. 10 provincial election.

Yet another quit to become a Liberal riding association president. And another is a long-time acquaintance of Finance Minister Greg Sorbara.

However, McCarter concluded the political connections were not a factor in the group getting the grant.

Still looking for land and money to build a community centre, the Iranians have put their $200,000 in the bank.

“It astounds me,” said Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory, noting that families of children with autism are struggling to pay their treatment bills while taxpayers’ money sits idle.

read more | digg story