Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Green Technology

Green technology can mean anything from the way vendors design and manufacture products to how efficiently those products operate to the ease of recycling them.

In December of 2006, Congress passed a law requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to put together a report regarding power consumption in information technology data centers by mid 2007. The goal of the report was to outline potential incentives and voluntary programs that would promote energy-efficient computer servers and data centers. In other words, Congress wants corporations to go Green with environmentally friendly technology.

In July 2007, the government will launch the upgraded Energy Star 4.0 standards, which is a tougher rating system that will help users measure their computer’s energy efficiency. The Environmental Protection Agency says the upgrade will prevent the same amount of ozone-depleting greenhouse gases that is annually released by 2.7 million cars. In addition, Energy Star 4.0 will also help companies lower their electric bills-by enough to light 730 million square feet of U.S. commercial building space each year, according to the EPA.

While the new standards may seem annoying, the information highway’s fast-growing power consumption has already been forcing companies to adopt green energy practices. Technology experts say the power consumption of data centers doubles every five years or so, making them one of the fastest-growing leeches of energy in the U.S.

"The IT industry is where the automotive industry was 20 years ago," says Rakesh Kumar, research vice-president at consulting firm Gartner (IT). "We are so backwards when it comes to using alternative-energy and energy-efficient technologies."

Green light for Green technology

On May 10, 2007 IBM took the LED spotlight with their plans to invest $1 billion a year in products and services that will help reduce IT power consumption in data centers while doubling the computing capacity of its data centers. A hefty goal that other IT companies such as HP is also committing to.

Soaring electric bills for power-hungry data centers has companies creating energy-efficient products such as chips, desktop computers and servers. Last year, an industry consortium of IT companies called the Green Grid was formed to address the growing problem of power consumption in data centers.

One small data center in Romoland, Calif., has figured out how to run on only alternative energy. "We use no electricity from the power grid," says Phil Nail, chief technology officer of Web hosting company AISO.net. The company operates its 2,000-square-foot data center with solar energy captured via ground-mounted solar panels. But right now alternative energy is not a viable option in most cases… not yet.

Green PCs

HP Compaq dc7700 Convertible Minitower PC
Watts in Sleep Mode: 2.34

HP Compaq dc5700 Microtower PC
Watts in Sleep Mode: 2.60

Dell OptiPlex Model #745 Mini Tower
Watts in Sleep Mode: 2.66

Tech Networks of Boston
Watts in Sleep Mode: 2.66

ClientPro 434
Watts in Sleep Mode: 2.70

Friday, May 25, 2007

Woodsy Digital Cameras

Three-dimensional wood molding technology from Olympus is taking Japanese Cyprus wood and compressing it so it's harder than industrial plastic. A nice finish and little artist know how and presto, a wood that's moldable for manufacturing yet hard enough to be used as casing for standard consumer electronics such as digital cameras.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Gas prices too high? Don’t complain

European cities pay more than $5 a gallon!

Drivers in Amsterdam pay appx $7 per gallon and France has gas prices staying steady between $5 to $6. The contrast in prices raises the question: Is Europe a glimpse of the future for Americans?

There's little evidence that US drivers are adopting conservation strategies. The average light duty vehicle on US highways gets 21.6 miles per gallon (m.p.g.), according to a study by the Paris based International Energy Agency (IEA), while in Paris, its European counterpart gets 32.1 m.p.g. America has built its entire society around the car, versus European cities that have more compact centers where cars are often not practical.

US consumers want sleek and or pretty muscle cars, manufacturers make what the consumer wants, and the government panders to both spoiled brats It's a vicious cycle.

An Associated Press-AOL poll of 1,000 adults found that 64 percent say gas prices will cause them money problems in the future.

Sales of gas guzzling cars such as SUVs have been dropping steadily. Bio-fuel and hybrid cars have been gaining popularity and eletric cars are raising hopes of cutting down a huge monthly gas bill.

A new two seater all electric car called the Tango is one of the potential hopes.

Two decades ago Tango designer Rick Woodbury was constantly stuck in Los Angeles traffic jams. While sitting in one of the average traffic congestions he looked around at all the other cars and thought up a crazy dream of a narrow car that could double up in lanes or even travel between lanes, like a motorcycle.

Soon after that crazy thought Rick Woodbury and his son Bryan created the Tango. The Tango seats two passengers, one in front of the other and is small enough to park four to a parking space. Top speed is 130 miles per hour and about 80 miles per charge.

It takes three hours to completely recharge in a dryer socket or 10 minutes to recharge 80 percent in a high-current, 200-amp socket. It has jet-pilot seat belts and a racing-regulation roll cage. It doesn’t weigh much more than 3,000 pounds, which is about the same as a Toyota Camry, including 1,100 pounds of Yellow Top batteries under the floorboards as ballast, so it's not tippy on turns.

The storage is small, enough room for a couple briefcases and workout gear or a baby seat, umbrella stroller and diaper bag or 12 sacks of groceries. The cost is currently eighty grand for hand-assembled, leather-lined luxury models with 400-watt Nakamichi sound systems. They’re hoping to bring the price down to approximately $20,000 or less with a mass-produced consumer version.

In 2000 in the Seattle-Everett area, traffic jams on peak commuter roads delayed the average commuter 82 hours. In 2002, 92 million people drove to work alone, according to a transportation study at Texas A&M University of the nation's 75 most congested areas. Specialized cars such as the Tango could ease traffic jams, make better use of roads and save hundreds of dollars every year.

Engineers and executives at GM's Research and Technology Division, were at first ecstatic when they first saw the Tango and tentatively offered parts at cost as well as potential distribution through a GM dealer network. The potential of a $5 million fund was considered to get the project started, pending a solid business plan and market survey. In addition, the Tango business development project could have given GM credits under a California state law requiring 10 percent of cars sold by major automakers to meet zero-emission standards. But they withdraw the earlier this year and decided to sue California over the 10 percent rule.

An SUV is not needed to get groceries, buy hardware, shop at Nordstrom or even just commute to work. These things can be done in a small car and the savings can go towards something more important.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Lose weight sitting at your desk?

I go to a gym and exercise regularly, so the "Lose weight without exercise!” ads are not only misleading and straight out false, but just plain annoying. You can not just sit around and lose weight, that’s not how it works. But what if you could? What if enough people dreamt of a way to sit at they're desk and actually lost weight came true?

Possibly with the Jedi force, Geek-a-Cycle may have possibly heard enough dreamers wishing they could do just that and have come up with Exercise Workstation.

What is it?

A recumbent exercise bicycle built with an ergonomic designing which allows the bicycle to comfortably sit under a Geek-a-Cycle desk. You can order just the bicycle by itself and they do provide the measurements to ensure the bicycle will comfortable fit under the desk to provide maximum work-station productivity.

New work / exercise fusion ideas such as these are starting to pop up across the innovative business world. Fifteen obese office workers participated in a study where they walked and work at a vertical computer workstation on a treadmill at the slow pace of 1 mile per hour. On average, they burned approximately 100 calories per hour. If they used the treadmill workstation for 2-3 hours a day, the researchers estimated they could lose 44-66 pounds per year. British Journal of Sports Medicine: "The energy expenditure of using a ‘walk-and-work’ desk for office workers with obesity." Original study article

Things to keep in mind

Walking at 1 mph is tougher than walking at a normal walking pace of two to four mph (miles per hour). Those using any type of treadmill need to have proper footwear to prevent additional health problems. In other words, just because your sitting down doesn’t mean you can wear heels, sandals, or dress shoes.

Recumbent exercise bicycle users must be careful of Plantar fasciitis, a partial or complete tear in what is called fascia (fibrous connective tissue) -- the bottom of the foot. Also, if you do work at a desk for eight plus hours a day, there’s always the risk of carpal tunnel… so always keep physical safety in mind regardless of how minor or unlikely it may seem.

Proper posture is also important, whether at a desk or on a treadmill workstation. If you are hunching over the keyboard, you are. This is one of my bad habits I don’t notice until my back muscles have just about had enough of that. I was reminded of this again last night as I was standing up for more than ten minutes and notice I was resting my weight on my back muscle, which was putting strain on it. Not good for someone with back problems. Throughout the standing up time, I constantly had to remind myself to stand properly or get tired more quickly. Good posture is the main principals in ergonomics which helps prevent shoulder, neck, and back problems.

Pay good attention to your posture so you aren't leaning or hunching. If you can't get the right angle with the screen, you might have to order the custom treadmill workstation or find a friendly handyman to put one together for you. For a short span of time, you can try a DIY (do it yourself) exercise desk such as this maker. The DIY exercise office

Monday, May 14, 2007

Geek Squad Hospital – Open For Business & Needing Repairs

The Geek Squad subsidiary of the Best Buy Company didn't pick Silicon Valley or any other high-tech hub to build its pc hospital. Instead, it choose Kentucky countryside.
The 165,000-square-foot Geek Squad City warehouse is located south of Louisville with the primary goal of cutting the time it takes to repair and return PCs and specifcialy laptops.

"This is all about giving the customer a better experience," said Michael Rodgers, Geek Squad City's "ambassador," or spokesman.

Not too far away is a UPS air field, Louisville & Brooks has a work force ready to work and the state offered tax benefits worth up to $9.3 million was the bow on the present the company was looking for in making it’s final location decisions.

Inside the facility Geek Squad's "agents" fix several laptops a day and estimates that boost that 700,000 PCs will be repaired this year. Quick computer repairs are crucial with customers who don't or can’t wait the standard one week turn around time for non store available services. .

Geek Squad was originally founded in 1994 by Robert Stephens and offered various computer-related services. In addition to the in-store service, the company offers on-site and 24-hour telephone support. In 2002, Stephens sold it to Best Buy who has than expanded the services.

Conversely, there are some original Gek Squad employees ad former employees who say that GS has lost the “cool” factor it once had. The Consumerist website reports that Robert Stephens built a top notch award-winning company that earned a reputation for being the best; but when it was sold, the service it had so richly earned didn’t stay.

There has been a variety of complaints from former employees and interviewees regarding Salesman not techies. Several reports of former and interviewees reported that Geek Squad hires only Salesman and turns them into Tech Fixers rather than hiring people who know what they’re doing and training them in Sales.

Customers also notice a downgrade in service. Many times, Geek Squad “Agents” either show up a hour or more late or they simply do not show up. At the Tech Support Guy forums, one Tech Support professionals says s/he has fixed enough of Geek Squad’s wireless network setups ‘hack jobs’ that s/he has given them a vote of incompetence –followed by others who supported the vote with they’re own experience.

In addition, Geek Squad has had two separate (known) lawsuits filed against them within a year. In April, 2006, the Geek Squad was accused of allegedly allowing they’re employees to use unlicensed versions of software before obtaining the offical rights. This year, a Geek Squad employee was arrested for covertly recording a 22 year old woman in her shower and later placing the camera phone in her 13 year old sister's bedroom while on a service call -- The suspect was arrested.

Many people who have laptops store incredibly sensitive files, financial data and even more personal photos. Laptop owns must feel absolutely confident that the service they use can be trusted and will respect customer confidentially 100 percent. However, too many Geek Squad “Agents” seem to abusing the basic principals of business ethics and not enough corporate assurances have protected customers. In my opinion, it seems as if Best Buy’s Geek Squad is succeeding in unwarranted business and souring the public's opinion of the help desk / information technology repair service industry in general.

While it is completely understandable that Best Buy wants Sales People, they should keep in mind that word of mouth advertising in today’s online world travels and never really disappears… eventually one byte leads to anther in (loss of business revenue) virus corruption.

Sources Include:
Tech Support Guy
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Stop smoking with an E


It looks like a cigarette, shape, smoke, nicotine and a glowing light - but it has no tobacco.

A Hong Kong based company has developed the battery-powered "e-cigarettes" as an alternative to nicotine gum in an attempt to help smokers stop smoking with a more smoke-like experience. The "e-cigarettes" sell for around 1,600 yuan ($208 US Dollars) a piece and are already available in China, Israel, Turkey, and a number of European countries, but not yet the United States.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

One billion is offered for biotech program

In the most sweeping policy announcement of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick administration, Governor Patrick proposed a $1 billion life science initiative on Tuesday May 8th 2007 at the biotechnology International Convention. The initiative will potentially cement the state's reputation as a global powerhouse of medicine and biotechnology scientific research.

In addition to research, the 10-year initiative would fund start-up companies, as well as create a stem cell bank at the University of Massachusetts for newly created lines of embryonic stem cells, a controversial arena of research currently barred from federal funding.

"We want Massachusetts to provide the global platform for bringing your innovations from the drawing board to the market, from inspiration to commercialization, from ideas to cures," said Patrick.

Patrick was joined on the platform by Senate President Therese Murray, who wore a yellow bracelet in memory of family members who have died of cancer, and House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi. Both pledged support for the proposal.

If approved the plan would dramatically increase the biotechnology research industry and create hundreds of new jobs.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

VisualWare's 3D glasses

From Tech Japan

A company called VisualWear will be the Japanese representative for Icuiti of America's "Video Eyewear" display system.

Icuiti will likely be releasing this same product here in the USA, but as the product has not yet been announced domestically.

VisualWear o­n the 25th presented their "Video Eyewear" glasses-style wearable display system that supports 3D display to members of the press.

This product, developed by Icuiti in America, will be sold in Japan and Asia through VisualWear. It will be officially announced and displayed at the "3D Video Exposition 2004" to be held from December 1st at Pacifico Yokohama, and sales will begin that same day -- but before that, they held a preview event today.

Video Eyewear is consists of a glasses-style display part and controller unit about the size of a pack of smokes. The controller unit features NTSC video and audio inputs, as well as analog RGB input, and can display up to 640 x 480 dot (VGA) resolutions.

The displays themselves are two 1cm square displays, which provide the effect of a 42" display when seen from a distance of 2m. They also feature stereo earphones.

Also, the displays feature 3D display capabilities, and can represent 3D video from any standard parallax source. However, they cannot convert conventional video to 3D video. From two AAA batteries, the glasses can operate about 5 hours.

Video Eyewear is listed as Open Price, but the actual retail price is said to be less than 70,000 yen. Sales will be conducted o­nly o­n Visualwear's website.

Additionally, Visualwear is developing a shutter system to allow conventional DV cameras to record 3D video, as well as a 3D video editing kit for PCs; both will be sold to contents makers.

Mr. Masashiro Yamachi, CEO of Visualwear, said that Video Eyewear "is a new display that compares with the auroras." He said that the 3D technology could be applied to sightseeing video, introduction videos, and sports videos.

Also proposed is a system that can be combined with the video output o­n cellular phones, and a demonstration of this concept was conducted.

Future plan s for Visualwear include a single-eye type (no 3D support) display, as well as inserting storage and/or memory card slots into the controller unit.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Poppy quarter causes a spy alert

From: The Associated Press


An odd-looking Canadian coin with a bright red flower was the culprit behind a U.S. Defense Department false espionage warning earlier this year about mysterious coin-like objects with radio frequency transmitters,

The harmless "poppy coin" was so unfamiliar to suspicious U.S. Army contractors traveling in Canada that they filed confidential espionage accounts about them.

The silver-colored 25-cent piece features the red image of a poppy — Canada's flower of remembrance — inlaid over a maple leaf.

The supposed nano-technology actually was a conventional protective coating the Royal Canadian Mint applied to prevent the poppy's red color from rubbing off.

"It did not appear to be electronic (analog) in nature or have a power source," wrote one U.S. contractor, who discovered the coin in the cup holder of a rental car. "Under high power microscope, it appeared to be complex consisting of several layers of clear, but different material, with a wire like mesh suspended on top."

The confidential accounts led to a sensational warning from the Defense Security Service.

Meanwhile, in Canada, senior intelligence officials expressed annoyance with the American spy-coin warnings as they tried to learn more about the oddball claims.

"That story about Canadians planting coins in the pockets of defense contractors will not go away," Luc Portelance, now deputy director for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Intelligence and technology experts were flabbergasted over the warning when it was first publicized earlier this year. The warning suggested that such transmitters could be used surreptitiously to track the movements of people carrying the coins.

The Defense Security Service never examined the suspicious coins, spokeswoman Cindy McGovern said. "We know where we made the mistake," she said. "The information wasn't properly vetted. While these coins aroused suspicion, there ultimately was nothing there."

"It's not uncommon at all," Pike said. He added that the coin's protective coating glows peculiarly under ultraviolet light. "That may have been a little bit suspicious," Dennis Pike of Canadian Coin & Currency said.

Some of the U.S. documents the AP obtained were classified "Secret/Noforn," meaning they were never supposed to be viewed by foreigners, even America's closest allies. The government censored parts of the files, citing national security reasons, before turning over copies under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

Nothing in the documents — except the reference to nanotechnology — explained how the contractors' accounts evolved into a full-blown warning about spy coins with radio frequency transmitters.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Get Off The Computer!

This would do it.

Douglas Engelbart created the computer mouse, Christy Canida and Noah Weinstein created the Mouse mouse.

Canida and Weinstein, both regular contributors to the Instructables website has put together this "Fully functional and furry" case mod. You find all the instructions to make your Mouse mouse at Instructables which is a community site devoted to making geeky cool stuff. This one was created using the skin of a real mouse - bought (already dead).

I was totally fine with the idea being weird, but it was just creepy to read the comment of fan saying

"have four pet rats at home and I would love to do this to one of them if it dies. It's pretty simple for me really. This is not some gory, sick fetishism, its purely something to remind myself of my pet and how much I love(d) it."

Product Development

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

1900 to 2000 - A Century of Predictions

Here’s something I never thought I would write: I just read a fascinating article in The Ladie's Home Journal

An article by John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. titled “What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years” is a list of predictions from December 1900 to the year 2000. Despite the fact that at the time, they must have sounded like pure science fiction, some come true with amazingly accuracy.

In the article, Mr. Watkins writes “These prophecies will seem strange, almost impossible. Yet, they have come from the most learned and conservative minds in America.

Here is a look at some of the technological and society predictions.

What came true & exceed the prediction:

Prediction #5: Trains will run two miles a minute, normally; express trains one hundred and fifty miles an hour. Cars will, like houses, be artificially cooled.

Prediction #15: No Foods will be Exposed. Liquid-air refrigerators will keep great quantities of food fresh for long intervals.

Prediction #18: Wireless telephone and telegraph circuits will span the world. A husband in the middle of the Atlantic will be able to converse with his wife sitting in her boudoir in Chicago. We will be able to telephone to China quite as readily as we now talk from New York to Brooklyn. By an automatic signal they will connect with any circuit in their locality without the intervention of a “hello girl”.

I wouldn’t be a surprise to see these prediction in a similar magazine article published a few years ago or in the near future:

Prediction #16: There will be No C, X or Q in our every-day alphabet. They will be abandoned because unnecessary. Spelling by sound will have been adopted, first by the newspapers. English will be a language of condensed words expressing condensed ideas, and will be more extensively spoken than any other.

Prediction #17: A university education will be free to every man and woman.

Than there are the prediction that have turned out to be inevitably dead wrong, even laughable:

Prediction #17: Etiquette and housekeeping will be important studies in the public schools.

Prediction #27: Few drugs will be swallowed or taken into the stomach unless needed for the direct treatment of that organ itself.

Wish it were true:

Prediction #3: Gymnastics will begin in the nursery, where toys and games will be designed to strengthen the muscles. Exercise will be compulsory in the schools. Every school, college and community will have a complete gymnasium. All cities will have public gymnasiums. A man or woman unable to walk ten miles at a stretch will be regarded as a weakling.

Prediction #11: No Mosquitoes nor Flies. Insect screens will be unnecessary. Mosquitoes, house-flies and roaches will have been practically exterminated. Boards of health will have destroyed all mosquito haunts and breeding-grounds, drained all stagnant pools, filled in all swamp-lands, and chemically treated all still-water streams. The extermination of the horse and its stable will reduce the house-fly.

Prediction #15: Storekeepers who expose food to air breathed out by patrons or to the atmosphere of the busy streets will be arrested with those who sell stale or adulterated produce.

Second Life: Ima goin to the courts