The fastest RC cars in the world

Friday, September 22, 2006

Face on Mars Gets a Make-Over

After multiple attempts to image the Cydonia region from April 2004 until July 2006 were frustrated by altitude and atmospheric dust and haze, the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board Mars Express finally obtained, on 22 July, a series of images that show the famous 'face' on Mars in unprecedented detail.
Original 'Face on Mars' image taken by NASA's Viking 1 orbiter, in grey scale, on 25 July 1976. Image shows a remnant massif located in the Cydonia region. On 31 July 1976, a NASA press release said the formation "resembles a human head." However, NASA scientists had already correctly interpreted the image as an optical illusion caused by the illumination angle of the Sun, the formation's surface morphology and the resulting shadows, giving the impression of eyes, nose and mouth.
The "Face" is show in gray scale similar to the Viking 1 photograph.A perspective view showing the so-called 'Face on Mars' located in the Cydonia region. The image shows a remnant massif thought to have formed via landslides and an early form of debris apron formation. The massif is characterized by a western wall that has moved downslope as a coherent mass. The massif became famous as the 'Face on Mars' in a photo taken on 25 July 1976 by the American Viking 1 Orbiter. Image recorded during orbits 3253 and 1216 by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA's Mars Express. Image is based on data gathered over the Cydonia region, with a ground resolution of approximately 13.7 metres per pixel. Cydonia lies at approximately 40.75° North and 350.54° East.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

DARPA pulls plug on X-50 stopped-rotor concept

Loss of second Dragonfly demonstrator due to lack of low-speed control, says agency
The latest attempt to develop a stopped-rotor aircraft has been scrapped, with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) withdrawing support for Boeing's canard rotor/wing (CRW) concept following the April loss of the second X-50A Dragonfly unmanned demonstrator.

The crash investigation has concluded that the aircraft was lost due to insufficient low-speed control authority. The crash of the first X-50, in March 2004, was caused by a cross-coupling control phenomenon. Neither vehicle had progressed beyond hover and low-speed manoeuvres in the brief flights completed before they crashed.

The CRW was intended to take off like a helicopter, transition to forward flight and stop the rotor, which would then act as a fixed wing. Investigators concluded the X-50's fuselage aerodynamic pitch moment was extremely sensitive to airspeed and wake strength. "At very low speeds, the rotor wake impact on the fuselage resulted in a strong pitch-up moment that used up the available control margin," says DARPA. As a result, the vehicle was unable to recover from an aerodynamic disturbance during its last flight.

Boeing is using remaining DARPA funds to complete a study later this year to "draw together final ideas on the potential of the stopped-rotor concept", says the agency. Stopped rotor has long been eyed as a potential high-speed rotorcraft configuration, but previous efforts have also failed to produce a viable design.

Italian aerospace research agency CIRA, meanwhile, is to invest in feasibility studies on a vertical take-off and landing flying car that would stop its rotor in forward flight and stow the rotor while on the road. An initial prototype may be completed by January and production vehicles could be flying in around six years, says CIRA.

The two-seat Aviocar would be built with the help of Italian propulsion company Avio, with development and preparation for production estimated to cost around €60 million ($76 million), according to CIRA president Sergio Vetrella.

After a vertical take-off the rotor would stop in flight to become a fixed wing, and the rotor would stow itself lengthwise when the vehicle was being driven on roads. CIRA says advanced navigation, control and communications technology would allow for the consistent and safe management of private traffic, both on the ground and in the air.

Tweaked Firefox Lets You Surf Internet Without a Trace

From PC World:
A tweaked version of Firefox that makes Web browsing anonymous has been released by a group of privacy-minded coders.

Every few minutes, the Torpark browser causes a computer's IP address to appear to change. IP addresses are numeric identifier given to computers on the Internet. The number can be used along with other data to potentially track down a user, as many Web sites keep track of IP addresses.

Hackers Promote Privacy

Torparks's creators, a group of computer security gurus and privacy experts named Hactivismo, said they want to expand privacy rights on the Internet as new technologies increasingly collect online data.

The browser is free to download at It's a modified version of Portable Firefox, an optimized version of the browser that can be run off a USB memory stick on a computer.

The Torpark browser uses encryption to send data over The Onion Router, a worldwide network of servers nicknamed "Tor" set up to transfer data to one another in a random, obscure fashion.

Internet traffic, such as Web site requests, carries information on where it came from and where it's going. But that's muddled using Tor, which has been endorsed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and is hard to trace back to a source.

Encryption Still Important

One minor downside is that surfing with Torpark is slower than with a typical browser over the same connection.

Torpark cautions that data sent from the last Tor server to the Web site is encrypted. Since only the user's connection is anonymous, Torpark advises that sensitive data such as username and passwords should only be used when the browser displays a golden padlock, a sign that a Web site is using encryption.

Torpark's user interface appears similar to Firefox with a few changes. It shows the current IP address that would be seen by Web sites in the lower right hand corner, and features a special "Flush Tor" button to reset a new, random server connection.

A test of Torpark using a computer in London employed IP addresses of servers registered in Berlin and Madison, Wisconsin.


Video: Kevin Rose shows on the Screensavers Dec. 13, 2004

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Conventional Hard Drive Obsoletism? Samsung's 32 GB Flash Drive Previewed

From TomsHardware:

Still Samsung's latest SSD drive offering creates large potential for a "platform shift", representing marked benefits for the mobile enthusiasts and space conservatives among us. Keep your eye out for the integration of these Flash drives and consider their advantages when making your next upgrade decision.

As a stand-alone purchase it would wise to utilize the fast file access as a location for your operating system and swap files, and distribute file/system access between existing drives. Integrated features of the drive also let users easily take advantage of Vista's new ReadyBoost/Superfetch features. The power consumption and physical sturdiness of the unit indicate strong inclinations toward mobile use and should allow for the manufacture of products with longer battery life, increased durability and reduced weight as well as decreasing boot times. Non-volatile, large capacity Flash based SSD is a fantastic idea whose time has almost come.

Sources: Zune's DRM not viral after all

From ArsTechnica:
Zune's digital rights management (DRM) scheme will not add its own DRM to unprotected files, Ars Technica has learned. Trusted sources tell us that Zune's wireless sharing feature, which requires Zune's DRM to function, will only monitor the presence of shared songs for the purposes of controlling playback. Files themselves will not be modified, either on the player or on a local PC.

We also learned that users cannot share files that they have received by sharing. That is, if Eric shares his favorite song, Cotton Eye Joe, to Nate, Nate's stuck with it. He cannot share it to anyone else, and once his 3 plays/3 days are over, his options are to expunge the song or purchase a new copy (with DRM) from the Zune Marketplace. The Zune player itself will simply monitor the age of the song (on the device) and how many times it has been played, and prevent playback when the limits have been reached.

Many questions remain about Zune's sharing features. How did Microsoft arrive at this 3x3 sharing limitation, and were the music labels involved? Are there additional limits on the service? Is this sharing business built-in to the Zune Marketplace's pricing? For now, however, we'll have to be content knowing that Zune's DRM is not viral, which alleviates many questions but does not eliminate the unfortunate fact that this otherwise interesting feature is crippled.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Poll: Americans don't want net neutrality (or maybe they don't know what it is)

From ArsTechnica:
The poll also found that many Americans have no idea what net neutrality is, or why they should care; only 7 percent said that they had even heard or seen anything about net neutrality. When pollsters introduced the concept to poll takers, they described it solely as "enhancing Internet neutrality by barring high speed internet providers from offering specialized services like faster speed and increased security for a fee." When presented this way, 19 percent of respondents said that net neutrality was more important to them than "delivering the benefits of new TV and video choice," which received a 66 percent backing.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Warner patents all-in-one hybrid disc

From Engadget:
Most studios have already picked a side in the HD DVD / Blu-ray war, but for the few still contemplating a near suicidal attempt at a simultaneous DVD, HD DVD and Blu-ray release, there's help on the way. A pair of Warner engineers have been working on a way to get all three formats to hold hands on a single disc, and have recently filed a patent to that effect. This is made possible by the fact that Blu-ray uses a 405nm laser to read its 0.1mm deep info layer, while HD DVD uses the same blue laser wavelength at the depth of 0.6mm. The hybrid disc works by making the Blu-ray layer act like a two way mirror, reflecting enough light for Blu-ray playback, but letting enough light through for HD DVD operation. As for DVD, that layer can be found on the flip side of the disc. Of course, the new format will cost more to produce than your standard next-gen disc, and we're not quite sure this isn't all madness to begin with, but we suppose we'll have to play the game if we don't want to end up buying every title in triplicate.

The Best Time to Buy Everything

AT 50 CENTS a roll — instead of the regular retail price of $4 — buying wrapping paper after New Year's is an easy way to save. The same holds true for buying half-price inflatable pool loungers and patio furniture after Labor Day weekend.

In fact, bargain lovers know that there's a smart time to buy just about anything. For example, those looking for a great deal on a car should shop on weekday mornings in September. Groceries are cheapest on Sunday evenings.

We talked to the experts, and found the best time to buy everything from wine to wedding dresses.

Airplane Tickets

When to buy: On a Wednesday, 21 days (or a couple of days earlier) before your flight.
Why: Airlines make major pricing changes (and run fare sales) every week, typically on Tuesday evenings and Wednesday mornings. About 21 days out from your flight, you'll see plenty of deals out there as airlines scramble to fill seats, says Anne Banas, executive editor of, a consumer travel advice Web site. Don't wait much longer, she cautions; prices jump significantly from 14 to seven days ahead of departure.


When to buy: During a holiday weekend.
Why: You'll find sales on select models all year long, but retailers bring out the big guns for holiday weekends, says Carolyn Forte, homecare director for the Good Housekeeping Institute. But don't worry about spending your Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends shopping for a new fridge — smaller holidays like Columbus Day and President's Day have their share of sales, too.

Baby Clothes

When to buy: During your pregnancy.
Why: Once you know your due date, keep an eye out for end-of-season clearances, recommends Alan Fields, co-author of "Baby Bargains." "If you're [newly] pregnant now, you know you'll be having a baby next summer," he says. "Well, right now, stores are closing out all the summer clothes." You can pick up newborn essentials like onesies for less than half price. (For more ways to save, see our column Oh Baby!)

Broadway Tickets

When to buy: Hours before the curtain rises.
Why: How does a $25 front-row seat to the smash musical "Wicked" sound? Several musicals offer same-day ticket lotteries that offer up orchestra seats at inexpensive prices. If you'd rather not gamble on getting a seat, wait in line at the famous TKTS booth in Times Square. There, you can get tickets for hit musicals for up to 50% off. On a recent night, prime seats were available for "Hairspray," "Rent," "Sweeney Todd" and "Beauty & the Beast." (For the right times to drop by TKTS, and other ways to save, see our column A Midsummer Night's Dream.)


When to buy: Weekday mornings in September.
Why: By September, all the next year's models have arrived at the lot, and dealers are desperate to get rid of the current year's leftovers, says Phil Reed, consumer advice editor for It's the prime time of year for incentives and sales, not to mention bargaining. "Any car that's been on the lot for a long time loses its value in the eyes of the car salesman," he says.

Heading to the dealership on a weekday morning also helps because there's low foot traffic, meaning you'll have ample time to negotiate and fewer people trying to buy the same car. The more demand, the less willing a salesman is to go down on price, says Reed. (For more, see our column Summer Car Savings.)


When to buy: December
Why: Most people assume that because everyone wants a good bottle of Champagne for New Year's Eve that prices go up during the holidays, says Sharon Castillo, director of the Office of Champagne, USA, which represents the trade association of growers in the Champagne region. But due to fierce competition among the Champagne houses, prices are actually lower during the holidays than they are at any other time of year. (For more on picking the right bottle, see our column Break Out the Bubbly.)


When to buy: Thursday evenings, six to eight weeks after an item arrives in stores.
Why: After an item lingers in stores a month or more, retailers start dropping its price to get it out the door, says Kathryn Finney, author of "How to Be a Budget Fashionista." These season-end clearances tend to be the same month that designers host fashion weeks (February and September) to preview the next fall or spring collections. So smart buyers can check the catwalk to see if any of this season's trends — say, leggings or military-style jackets — will still be hot next year, and then scoop them up on clearance.

Hitting the mall on a weekday ensures you'll get a good selection. "On the weekend, you'll only get picked-over stuff because the stores don't have time to restock," she says. By Thursday, most of the weekend sales have begun, but everything available is on the floor.

Computers and electronics

When to buy: Just after a new model is launched.
Why: When the latest and greatest of a product is released, you'll often see prices drop on what had previously been the best thing out there, says Tom Merritt, executive editor for CNET, an electronics review web site. Case in point: When Apple released the Nano last September, prices for the now-discontinued Mini dropped 12%, from $199 for a 4GB to about $175. So keep your eyes open for announcements from major manufacturers. Want a little less work? Time your purchases for after big annual technology show like MacWorld (next held Jan. 8-12, 2007) and the International Consumer Electronics Show (next held Jan. 8-11, 2007).


When to buy: Early morning or late evening on a weekday.
Why: Time your trip based on whether prices are rising or falling, advises Marshall Brain, founder of HowStuffWorks, a consumer guide. Gas stations tend to change their prices between 10 a.m. and noon, so hit the pump in the early morning if gas prices are on the rise. Go later in the day if prices are falling. Tipsters on reported that on Sept. 3, a WaWa gas station in Lanoka Harbor, N.J., was offering regular gas for $2.85 a gallon. One day later the station's price had dropped to $2.65. In that case, going early would have cost you 20 cents more per gallon.

Try not to buy gas on the weekends, Brain says. Gas prices are often slightly elevated, as stations try to profit from leisure travelers. (For more ways to save, see our column Save on Gas.)

Gift Cards

When to buy: A day or two before you give it.
Why: These days, gift cards carry a plethora of hidden pitfalls, from expiration dates to dormancy fees, says Dan Horne, a professor of marketing at Providence College known as the "Gift Card Guru." That countdown to fees starts as soon as you buy the card. "You don't want to short-change the recipient," he says.


When to buy: Sunday evenings.
Why: Store sales tend to run Wednesday through Tuesday, says Teri Gault, founder of The Grocery Game, a consumer savings program. On Sunday, you'll also have the latest round of manufacturer's coupons from your morning paper. "You can maximize your coupons available for that shopping week," she says. Heading to the store close to closing time means you'll have access to sales on fresh items that must be sold by the end of the day, such as meats and baked goods.

Of course, you'll also benefit from in-season items that can be frozen for use later in the year, says Gault. That means turkeys at Thanksgiving and hams at Christmas and Easter. During the spring and summer, buy fresh produce. Peaches bought at $1 per pound now can be kept frozen for smoothies and pies throughout the winter, she says.

Shrubs, Trees and Other Plants

When to buy: Fall
Why: Take a break from raking up leaves to purchase trees, shrubs and other perennials for your yard. Prices nosedive after midsummer, as garden supply stores and nurseries try to clear out their stock. You can also get great deals on bulbs during the fall. Just store them according to the package instructions for best planting results next spring. For more, see our column Cheap Landscaping Tricks.)


When to buy: Six to 12 months after a particular model is launched.
Why: A new TV drops in price after a few months on the market, says CNET's Merritt. Although there will be newer models out there, it's unlikely they'll offer any significant improvements to justify that brand new price. "The technology is proceeding at such a pace that the models out there are not going to be obsolete anytime soon," he says. (For more, see our column The World Is Flat.)

Wedding Dresses

When to buy: Between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Why: Boutiques are stocked up on dresses for the post-Christmas rush (many people get engaged over the holidays), yet traffic is low, says Fields, who also co-authored "Bridal Bargains." "It's not a busy time to buy a wedding dress because people are thinking about the holidays," he says. You'll also have room to bargain.


When to buy: Early fall.
Why: For best selection, you can't beat the fall harvest season. That's when most vineyards release their latest vintages. Buying in August and September is also your best shot at snagging so-called "cult wines" — those with limited production and high demand, says Kathleen Schumacher-Hoertkorn, CEO of New Vine Logistics, an online interstate wine retailer. (For more, see our column Buying Wine Online.)

Flash memory to replace Hard Disk? TDK samples 32GB Flash disk

From RegHardware:
TDK has followed Samsung and launched a hard drive replacement based on NAND Flash memory. The product, which is currently available in sample quantities, was announced by the company last week.

The 32GB unit hooks up to the host across a standard IDE connector, but it's about 80 per cent of the size of a standard 2.5in notebook drive - the part's an obvious choice for battery powered systems since it consumes less power than a standard HDD. The unit's controller supports data transfer rates of up to 33.3MBps, the manufacturer said.

Samung launched its 32GB Flash-based "solid-state disk" in March this year. It's pitching the technology as a both a faster and a lower power system than traditional HDD technology.

TDK said it was sampling the drive to storage companies. There's no indication when the part will ship commercially - or how much it's likely to cost. ®

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Did HD-DVD win the war against BluRay this week?

From APC Magazine:
To the uninitiated, HD DVD’s future looked brighter than ever earlier this week with the news that it gained backwards compatibility with a layer that will be playable in existing DVD players.

Unveiled by Toshiba and Memory-Tech, a triple-layer HD DVD/DVD medium could have, in theory, been enough to topple its competing, next-generation optical format, Blu-ray. As a result, many people are already claiming Blu-ray is dead.

This is about where I laugh intensely and pull the forgotten rabbit out of the hat. Some of you may wish to sit down for this.

Blu-ray can already do this.

Needless to say, a hybrid is exactly what is needed to encourage migration to a new format. Such a system would no doubt prove popular to most consumers.

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