The fastest RC cars in the world

Friday, September 01, 2006

iTunes To Have Movie Downloads This Month

From Techcrunch:
Rumors have been swirling for weeks (see here and here) that Apple will soon be selling full length movie downloads on the iTunes service. This morning, Business Week is stating, based on unnamed sources, that the the service will launch by mid-September.

And adding color to the story: WalMart is pissed off.

Apple is pushing for, and apparently getting, $14 wholesale movie prices on new releases. They plan to retail new releases for $14.99 and older movies for $9.99. Normal wholesale DVD prices are $17. Walmart pays that normal wholesale rate, and now anticipates losing a significant share of their 40% market share in the $17 billion annual DVD market. Given that it will be trivial for iTunes users to simply burn a DVD of these movie downloads, Walmart has good reason to be worried. Netflix should be nervous, too.

Look for the initial announcement to only include movies from Walt Disney (Apple’s Steve Jobs is Disney’s largest shareholder), and possibly Fox and Lions Gate.

Note that Amazon may also soon have its own movie download service.

103" $80,000 Plasma Full-HD TV from Panasonic

Panasonic said on Thursday it would start selling the world's largest television set, featuring a 103-inch (262-centimetre) screen, for $80,000. "That's before installation cost," said a Panasonic spokesman at the IFA consumer electronics fair here. Panasonic is the main brand name for products of Japanese electronics giant Matsushita. The set is five inches thick.

From Engadget:
Oh goodie, Panasonic's 103-inch plasma just went up for pre-order in the US of The Fonz (get it, "Aaaaa"). Sure, the TH-103PF9UK's gonna cost ya, but you'll have it just in time to kick it with Bing as he croons his way around in those snappy yuletide sweaters at full, 1080p HD resolution. Well, almost. See, that massive 95.0 × 55.9 × 5.0-inch (2,414 × 1,421 × 127.5-mm) frame sports just one UXGA-capable DVI-D input, one component video in, and a couple of D-sub 15 and D-sub9 RS-232C jacks for your PC. That's right, for $69,999.95, you get 1600 x 1200 resolution out of the box. If you want to see this thing perform at that 1920 x 1080 resolution so often touted, then you'll have to drop even more cash for the optional HD-SDI expansion board. Hell, while you're at it, you'd best take their advice and pony-up for the professional installation -- 'cause at 474-pounds (215Kg) nobody wants to see a flat Santa.

From Gizmodo:
SOLD: First 103-Inch Plasma, to NBC Meatheads

Geeks, we lost. It reminds me of wedgies and having lunchroom meatloaf dumped on my head, but the first two Panasonic 103-inch plasmas were just sold to NBC for use on the set of Football Night in America. No, the first thing to run on these TVs won't be Xbox. The set, with a fully HD, 1920 by 1080 resolution screen, a 5000:1 contrast ratio, will first run the live version of Madden. The TV still has the screen real estate equivalent to four 50-inch plasmas, or a queen-sized bed.

And its full abilities have just surfaced. Everything looks standard (except the size, obviously) But we like the selective backlight control that tweaks contrast on individual parts of the screen. Want? Whateva! If you're so poor that you actually have to read Gizmodo without a Butler pouring wine into your mouth, fuggetabout it. The TV will be available for $69,999.95, come November. Panasonic says keep the extra nickel. They also said F U to Mark Cuban, who begged to be the first to buy it. Looks like between the 100-inch LCD, and this baby (huey) this could be the year that TVs got too big to fit in our livingrooms.– Brian Lam

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Telecrapper 2000 Telemarketer Interception System

It's an open source software that you can install on your computer to trap telemarketers in an endless loop on your computer and then record the results. Here's an amusing Flash animation reenactment of the Telecrapper 2000 in action.

Video: Successful sustained flight of manned bird-like flapping-wing ornithopter aircraft

By Justin Wastnage

The Canadian team behind the first sustained flight of an ornithopter flapping wings-powered aircraft believes the prospect of a manned craft is now real, despite video evidence showing the experimental craft suffered a buckled trailing-edge in the attempt.

The University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies has been working on the piloted Ornithopter concept since the early 1990s, with a proof of concept accelerating to rotation speed in 1999. The ornithopter (C-GPTR) performed its first sustained flight on 8 July on the final of three test runs. Once the aircraft reached forward speed of around 43kt (80km/h) the wings were given maximum throttle, flapping at a rate of 1Hz, lifting the aircraft off the runway at Toronto Downsview airport for 10s of straight and level flight at 48kt.

The ornithopter reached an altitude of around 1m (3ft 3in) and flew for around 330m (1,100ft) before the pilot Jack Sanderson thought he had hit cross wing and throttled back to bring the aircraft down. The team has since concluded that the trailing-edge section of the left wing buckled, caused by the flight loads coupled with the flapping loads. The aileron-less aircraft's left wing touched the tarmac, leading the ornithopter to tip, spin around and collapse the nose gear.

The aircraft had a maximum take-off weight of 350kg (770lb), but the team estimates the wing could have lifted only 270kg before bucking.

James DeLaurier, the researcher leading the ornithopter project says the flight, which lasted a total of 14s has crossed a psychological barrier regarding the feasibility of a full-scale flapping-wing aircraft. "The flapper's few seconds of sustained flight brings the notion [of human-carrying ornithopters] into the realm of reality," he says.

The project is now looking for funding to build a new wing optimised for the actual aircraft weight. If this is not found, the ornithopter will be rebuilt for the Toronto Aerospace Museum.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Early peek at Vista pricing shows big spread

From Arstechnica:
We know about Vista's many editions, but the pricing has been something of a mystery. Over the weekend, Microsoft Canada accidentally leaked details about Vista's Canadian pricing. Now Amazon has published a list of the US prices for the various Vista editions, along with a release date of January 30, 2007.

Here's the skinny on the pricing from Amazon. Keep in mind that pricing and release date are subject to change; in fact, a Microsoft spokesperson told Ars that the pricing is not set in stone.

Full versions:

Windows Vista Home Basic: $199
Windows Vista Home Premium: $239
Windows Vista Business: $299
Windows Vista Ultimate: $399

Upgrade versions:

Windows Vista Home Basic Upgrade: $99.95
Windows Vista Home Premium Upgrade: $159
Windows Vista Business Upgrade: $199
Windows Vista Ultimate Upgrade: $359

Trials of Boeing ATM concept begin in San Francisco

During a Tailored Arrival, integrated datalink technologies establish a four-dimensional flight profile between an air traffic control facility and the flight deck of an approaching aircraft when it’s ready to begin its descent, about 140 miles away from final destination. The flight crew uses the auto-load function to transfer the optimized trajectory into the aircraft’s Flight Management System, and the FMS flies the given trajectory to touchdown in an efficient, predictable, continuous descent. (Boeing graphic)

From Boeing News:

By Daryl Stephenson

Operational trials of Boeing Tailored Arrivals, a new Air Traffic Management concept, have begun in the San Francisco area.

These are the latest in a series of such studies by Boeing that show that Tailored Arrivals can increase airspace capacity; maintain schedule integrity; reduce fuel consumption, emissions and noise; and ease the workloads of controllers and pilots.

The first of nearly 20 flights in the trials – on a United Airlines Boeing 777-200 – arrived at San Francisco International Airport Aug. 17. The aircraft received a clearance that stretched from its oceanic control sector all the way to its arrival runway. Clearance delivery took advantage of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's new Ocean 21 system, which uses the FANS-1/A integrated datalink system.

Through Tuesday, nine flights had been conducted with United Airlines 777 airplanes, said Rob Mead, Phantom Works lead engineer for Advanced Air Traffic Management Air/Ground communications.

Boeing is under contract with NASA's Ames Research Center and working with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and United to conduct the trials, which are evaluating Tailored Arrivals approaches from the ocean.

"Our studies of Tailored Arrivals around the world are showing that this concept enables airlines to operate more efficiently," Mead said. "As they fly these optimized profiles, aircraft operators can more fully utilize the capabilities of their aircraft to significantly reduce noise and environmental impact around airports as well as reduce their fuel costs." Tailored Arrivals also enable pilots to fly airplanes as they were designed to be flown, which helps reduce crew workload and errors, he said.

During a Tailored Arrival, datalink technologies establish a four-dimensional flight profile between an air traffic control facility and the flight deck of an approaching aircraft when it's ready to begin its descent, about 140 miles away from final destination.

The flight crew uses the auto-load function to transfer the profile into the aircraft's Flight Management System for review. Once the crew accepts the profile and confirms they will fly it, the FMS flies the given trajectory to touchdown with considerable accuracy.

Rather than a traditional vectored, step-down approach in which pilots must abandon the aircraft's built-in automation, the Tailored Arrivals profile is an efficient, predictable, continuous descent. Both airborne and ground systems have the same descent plan, and pilots and controllers have minimal need for voice communication as they make maximum use of modern aircraft capabilities.

An important objective of the San Francisco trials is to validate capabilities of NASA's Enroute Descent Adviser, which computes fuel-efficient descent solutions when there are complex traffic constraints and airspace restrictions. Specifically, the trials are examining the EDA's ability to predict trajectories and make adjustments to flight profiles and arrival times, and to coordinate and execute these trajectories across multiple air traffic control sectors and facilities. In order to make trajectory predictions more accurate, current cruise and descent wind forecasts available to air traffic control are being uplinked to aircraft flight decks.

San Francisco is one of three locations where operational trials of the Boeing Tailored Arrivals concept have been conducted over the past two years. The others have been in Australia and in the Netherlands.

From April to September 2004, Boeing worked with the Air Traffic Alliance (a grouping of European Aeronautics Defence & Space Co., Airbus and Thales), Australian air carrier Qantas and air navigation services provider Airservices Australia to conduct trials of Tailored Arrivals in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.

Results from more than 70 flights showed actual arrival times were as little as two seconds and never more than 30 seconds off of predictions made 40 minutes in advance. Voice communications were nearly eliminated. Flight and simulation data showed potential fuel savings from 400 pounds (180 kilograms) to 800 pounds (360 kg) per flight.

A second set of trials in Australia is planned for later this year. These trials are to include a demonstration of automatic detection of aircraft that fail to meet their negotiated estimated times of arrival or otherwise deviate from the profile cleared by the ground system. Quickly detecting aircraft that are "off plan" is essential if controllers are to maintain situational awareness as they transition from tactical to strategic control.

From January to March 2006, Boeing worked with the Dutch air traffic control agency Luchtverkeersleiding Nederland, Eurocontrol-Maastricht air navigation service providers and two Dutch airlines ( and Martinair Holland) to conduct more than 190 flights at night to evaluate continuous descent arrivals at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Data showed more accurate predictions of air traffic behavior for pilots and controllers, reduced noise and emissions, and fuel savings from 442 pounds (200 kg) to 884 pounds (400 kg) per flight. The trials also identified areas of air/ground data sharing that can improve predictions of arrival times and arrival paths. Such information is critical to design new ground systems and procedures for fuel- and noise-efficient continuous descent arrivals to be flown in more congested periods.

The Boeing Tailored Arrivals concept represents a significant step toward ATM solutions that can be part of the U.S. Next-Generation Air Transportation System and the Single European Sky ATM Research program, said Kevin Brown, Boeing Phantom Works vice president and general manager of Advanced ATM.

"Our work in this area stems from a strong commitment to global interoperability," Brown said. "We are working toward a global ATM system that leverages shared precision information to ensure efficient, safe operations."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Wi-Fi Alliance to test and certify 802.11n Draft 2.0 equipment

From Arstechnica:
In an unusual move, the Wi-Fi Alliance will certify the next generation of wireless networking equipment in two waves. The two-step process is designed to give consumers access to the latest technology now with some confidence of interoperability, and to give the IEEE some breathing room to finalize the specifications on its own schedule.

The first phase will be based on draft 2.0 of the standard, to be released this coming March, and certified equipment will have been thoroughly tested to ensure that it works with other certified 802.11n pre-standard gear. The second phase will certify equpment against the full, final version of the IEEE standard, and is expected sometime in the first half of 2008.

The Wi-Fi Alliance, which includes industry heavyweights like Intel, Motorola, Cisco, and Texas Instruments, recognized a need for quick action in response to the heavy demand on faster wireless networking equipment. All of the major networking specialists, including Linksys, Netgear, and D-Link, already have products on store shelves based on draft 1.0 of the 802.11n standard, and millions of units are expected to ship in 2007. The problem with that is interoperability, as some parts of the draft are open to some interpretation, making routers from manufacturer A less than guaranteed to work with access cards from manufacturer B today. Forcing manufacturers to submit to interoperability testing should eliminate that concern.

The two stages of certification will carry clearly different brandings, though no names or images have been chosen yet. Phase one gear will also be clearly marked as not guaranteed to be forward-compatible with phase two, in order to cut down on customer confusion and the nearly inevitable lawsuits that would result from leading us to believe that everything will work perfectly with final stage equipment.

Now, stage two will be backwards-compatible, but there's just no guarantee that missing features in phase one will be available through firmware or driver updates. Chipset makers and networking equipment manufacturers from Atheros and Airgo to Netgear and Dell are supporting the two-stage approach, and Intel plans to support 802.11n in its first phase of certification in its Kedron wireless module for Santa Rosa, the next generation of the Centrino mobile platform. If the IEEE does not produce its next draft by next spring as expected, the Alliance will take it upon itself to pull together the next best thing—a coherent set of de facto standards.

Digital Camera that makes you thinner

Hewlett-Packard's Design Gallery software offers a "Slimming Mode" that makes the object in the center of the photo appear longer and leaner. Credit: Hewlett-Packard

From Cnet:
Want to look thinner? Taller? Tanner? Don't worry, there's a camera for all that.

Today's cameras will let you do more than adjust the flash; they'll let you adjust reality. Photo-adjusting features that once required a PC and special know-how are now allowing consumers to alter a photo as soon as it's snapped.

Some new Hewlett-Packard cameras include a feature that makes subjects look thinner, while another mode makes facial lines and pores virtually disappear. A "skin tone" feature on some Olympus models can give consumers a leisure-class tan. Other manufacturers offer modes to make the colors of the world richer as you capture them. Using these new in-camera tools, consumers can even crop out ex-boyfriends, or put a virtual frame around a new one.

What's new:

Some cameras now come with features that make subjects look thinner or decrease the look of facial lines, while other in-camera tools can make landscapes richer.

Bottom line:

The changes in photography may make consumers more comfortable with the way they appear in pictures, but some critics say they could also undermine people's ability to believe in photographs' integrity.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Corsair introduces 1111 MHz "Dominator" memory

From TomsHardware:
Forget 1 GHz memory, 1111 MHz is what you need. In what appears to be an accelerating race between performance memory manufacturers, Corsair has taken the lead. The company today announced its "DHX XMS2 Dominator memory series," which includes the first PC2-8888 memory. The modules are clocked at 1111 MHz at CAS 4 settings. Corsair also offers a "regular" and "lower-cost" PC2-8500 (1066 MHz, CL-5) version of the new memory.

Corsair claims that its new Dual-path Heat Xchange (DHX) of the memory devices is the "most advanced" thermal dissipation technology that allows RAM to run at lower temperatures - or higher clock speeds for that reason. In fact, the company believes that DHX is so effective that it guarantees "module reliability at over 2.5 volts (2.4 volts, +/- 5%) when combined with Corsair's new "Airflow" fan"

New technologies aren't cheap and Corsair's Dominator memory is not an exception. Expect to pay between $380 and $400 for the 1066 MHz version in a 2 GB pack and between $600 and $650 for the 1111 MHz memory (2 x 1 GB). The Dominator Airflow fan will be offered for about $25.

New York to L.A. in Two Hours

From Wired:
A new generation of private jets could trigger a boom in luxury supersonic flight -- without the sonic boom. Flying at up to Mach 1.8, these luxurious private jets would cut the travel time between Seattle and Tokyo to about 5 hours, instead of 9.5 hours.

General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce have submitted designs for the QSST engine that suppress take-off and landing noise, according to backer Supersonic Aerospace International of Nevada. The company was started by Gulfstream founder Allen Paulson's son J. Michael Paulson in 2000 and claims 22 patents on the aircraft. Rendering Courtesy: Supersonic Aerospace International

Video: Charlie Rose Interviews Conan O'Brien.