Monthly Archives: September 2012

Bits and Pieces – Neil Young, Build A Bear, Sony save Olympus and more

The Slingshot

– Neil Young has developed and audio player. The Pono player uses digital-to-analogue conversion technology which is, apparently, intended to “present songs as they first sound during studio recording sessions” according to Rolling Stone.

– The Build A Bear shops are going high-tech – engadget

– The Slingshot mobile phone grip and tripod (pictured) means perfect photos from your phone could happen – Photojojo

– Sony have invested $645 million to save Olympus – Sony

– Camera+ is now available for the iPad – iTunes

– NASA’s Curiosity rover has found an ancient streambed on Mars – NASA

– Old iOS Music Accessories Should Work With Apple’s New Lightning Dock Connector – Gizmodo

– Intel Clover Trail is the next-generation Intel Atom chip that will be used in Windows 8 tablets and laptops – Intel


Google Street View heading back to the iPhone

Since the iOS 6 update that say Google Maps expunged from the system people have been talking about the new Apple Maps. That talk has not been particularly flattering, although I do know a few people who are fine with it.

It does not appear that Google Maps will be back on your iPhone or iPad any time soon (although you can just bookmark and use it in your web browser), but it appears the Google Street View will be back with us in a couple of weeks.

According to the New York Times the reasons why Apple dropped Google Maps was because:

Google, it says, was saving all the best features for phones that run its Android software. For example, the iPhone app never got spoken directions or vector maps (smooth lines, not tiles of pixels), long after those features had come to rival phones.

The even greater issue may be data. Every time you use Google’s maps, you’re sending data from your phone to Google. That information — how you’re using maps, where you’re going, which roads actually exist — is extremely valuable; it can be used to improve both the maps and Google’s ability to deliver location-based offers and advertising.

Apple, of late, has been disentangling itself from Google. (It also eliminated the YouTube app from iOS 6, although Google quickly released a free downloadable app.) So when it came time to renew its contract, Apple declined. It was no longer interested in supplying so much valuable user data to its rival.

What are your thoughts on the new Apple Maps?


Glass technology can potentially store data indefinitely

No matter how your data is stored – paper, cine film, video, CD, Blu-ray, hard drive, stone tablet – it will eventually degrade and be lost forever. It may take months, years, decades or more for it to happen, but it will happen.

However, according to Hitachi, that small piece of glass in the photo above may be a game changer. They have found a way to store digital information on slivers of quartz glass that can endure extreme temperatures and hostile conditions without degrading, almost forever.

“The volume of data being created every day is exploding, but in terms of keeping it for later generations, we haven’t necessarily improved since the days we inscribed things on stones,” Hitachi researcher Kazuyoshi Torii said. “The possibility of losing information may actually have increased,” he said, “As you must have experienced, there is the problem that you cannot retrieve information and data you managed to collect.”

The new technology stores data in binary form by creating dots inside a thin sheet of quartz glass, which can be read with an ordinary optical microscope.

According to the data will always be readable no matter how far computers advance due to the information being stored in binary.

The chip, made from quartz glass, is is two centimetres (0.8 inches) square and just two millimetres (0.08 inches) thick and is resistant to many chemicals and unaffected by radio waves, can be exposed directly to high temperature flames and heated to 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832 Fahrenheit) for at least two hours without being damaged. It is also waterproof, meaning it could survive natural calamities, such as fires and tsunami.

“We believe data will survive unless this hard glass is broken,” said senior researcher Takao Watanabe.

The material currently has four layers of dots, which can hold 40 megabytes per square inch and researchers think that adding more layers should not be a problem.

This reminds me a little of the data crystals used in Babylon 5. What are your thoughts on storing data on glass?


Random Bits – Mars, iPhone 5, iOS6, Blackberry and more

Unsurprisingly there are many stories focussing on Apple and the iPhone 5. However, other things have been happening in the world of technology. We will get to the iPhone 5 news after these bits and pieces.

– Richard Branson wants to go to Mars and get a colony started there – CBS

– Blackberry’s Vodafone network collapsed this morning, but should be back to normal now – Telegraph

– Researchers create working quantum bit in silicon, pave way for PCs of the future – engadget

– A mother who discovered on Facebook that her daughter had died after police had failed to contact her has made an official complaint – BBC

– Sony have unveiled a new and slimmer Playstation 3 – Engadget

Now some Apple news. Read the rest of this entry

Could Valve be beta-testing their console, Steam Box, next year?

Some exciting news in the world of console gaming is that Valve are working on bringing Steam games into the living room. This is thought to be via a new console currently being called the Steam Box.

Steam is the pioneering game platform that distributes and manages thousands of games directly to a community of more than 50 million players around the world.

While there is nothing official just yet, the thought of a console powered by Steam with all of those games available on it is very exciting.

Valve employee Jeri Ellsworth recently spoke about the prototypes they are creating at Valve’s new prototyping facility, but does not give away what exactly they are working on.

The team’s one year goal is “To make Steam games more fun to play in your living room.” That’s the team’s one-year goal, at least. According to endgadget “The challenge is making games that require a mouse and keyboard palatable to people who are used to a controller, or to people who just don’t want to migrate PC controls to the comfort of their living room. Working in tandem with Steam’s newly beta’d “Big Picture Mode,” Ellsworth’s team is creating a hardware solution to the control barriers found in many Steam games. She wouldn’t give any hints as to what that solution is exactly, but she left no options off the table — from Phantom Lapboard-esque solutions to hybrid controllers.”

The Hardware team are planning beta-testing with one of the first products ready for next year with those being tied to Steam in some way.

They are currently doing internal testing at Valve so that means there could be some very cool and interesting products heading our way.

Apple’s iPhone 5 had more than 2 million pre-orders in 24 hours

We knew it was going to be popular, but the iPhone 5 is already a record breaker.

Pre-orders broke 2 million in the first 24 hours of availability. This is more than double the previous record of one million devices pre-ordered, held by iPhone 4S.

“iPhone 5 pre-orders have shattered the previous record held by iPhone 4S and the customer response to iPhone 5 has been phenomenal,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

Of course this huge demand means that it may take a little longer for many people to receive the phone. Apple claims the “majority” of pre-orders will be delivered to customers on Sept. 21, but “many” are scheduled to be delivered in October.

AT&T also announced the iPhone 5 is the best-selling iPhone the company has ever had. “Customers ordered more iPhones from AT&T than any previous model both on its first day of pre-orders and over the weekend.”

The iPhone 5 is here – What are the changes?

As you are no doubt aware Apple’s iPhone 5 is now with us. At first glance it may not look that different, but it is the biggest redesign of the iPhone so far – it has a larger screen, different shape, new earphones and features. The back and sides are made from a single piece of aluminium and it is 20% lighter than the iPhone 4.

They also announced new iPods and an updated iTunes.

Apple confirmed yesterday that the iPhone 5 will be released on September 21. Unlocked, the phone will cost £529 (16GB), £599 (32GB) and £699 (64GB). Of course you will be able to get it cheaper via contracts.

Apple vice president Phil Schiller said the phone was “the most beautiful product we have ever made.”

You can watch the full announcement over at Apple.

Let’s look at the iPhone 5 a bit closer. Read the rest of this entry

Google’s Project Glass spotted at New York Fashion Week

Project Glass are the augmented reality glasses that Google are working on.

Until now they have only been seen during tech demonstrations. It now appears that they have escaped into the wild as they were used at Diane von Furstenberg’s show for New York Fashion Week to record the goings on from behind the scenes.

Whether you love or hate the idea of Project Glass this does show one of the uses for the glasses. A quick and easy way to capture images and video footage to give a first person perspective. Although I am sure there are cheaper options as they currently cost $1500 a pair.

All the footage from the fashion show will be edited into a short film called DVF through Glass which will be out on 13th September.

Until then DVF posted many photos taken from models and others wearing Google’s glasses over on their G+ page.

Below is some unrelated footage that was taken using the glasses. Read the rest of this entry

Random Bits – Kindles, Raspberry Pi, XCOM and more

– Everything you need to know about Amazon’s new Kindles – Mashable

– Raspberry Pi being manufactured in the UK – BBC

– Nokia faked their PureView advert – The Verge

– The image on the left shows Curiosity’s tracks on Mars, as seen from space – io9

– Set OS X Mountain Lion’s update frequency to any schedule you want – Lifehacker

– Nokia are working on new phones – The Verge

– Check out the PC version of XCOM: Enemy Unknown – Kotaku

– Remote control cyborg cockroach anyone? – Gizmodo

– UK broadband aided by planning permission rule changes – BBC

– Watch a robot that can run faster than Usain Bolt

Kinect will get Windows 8 support in October

Microsoft rolled out their plans for Kinect for Windows yesterday. It included the new markets it would be expanding into and, more importantly, the fact it will get support for Windows 8.

Here is the press release:

In addition to making Kinect for Windows hardware available in seven new markets this fall, we will be releasing an update to the Kinect for Windows runtime and software development kit (SDK) on October 8. This release has numerous new features that deliver additional power to Kinect for Windows developers and business customers. We will share the full details when it’s released on October 8, but in the meantime here are a few highlights:

  • Enable businesses to do more with Kinect for Windows
    We are committed to opening up even more opportunities for the creation of new end user experiences. We’ll be adding features such as expanded sensor data access—including color camera settings and extended depth data—to continue to inspire innovative uses of the Kinect for Windows technology in new and different places.
  • Improve developer efficiency
    We continue to invest in making our platform easier and more powerful for developers. That’s why we’ll be releasing more tools and samples in October, such as a new sample that demonstrates a “best in class” UI based on the Kinect for Windows Human Interface Guidelines.
  • Extend our Windows tools and operating system support
    We want to make it easy for our customers to be able to build and deploy on a variety of Windows platforms. Our October update will include support for Windows 8 desktop applications, Microsoft .NET 4.5, and Microsoft Visual Studio 2012.

It has been a little more than seven months since we first launched Kinect for Windows in 12 markets. By the end of the year, Kinect for Windows will be available in 38 markets and we will have shipped two significant updates to the SDK and runtime beyond the initial release—and this is this just the beginning. Microsoft has had a multi-decade commitment to natural user interface (NUI), and my team and I look forward to continuing to be an important part of that commitment. In coming years, I believe that we will get to experience an exciting new era where computing becomes invisible and all of us will be able to interact intuitively and naturally with the computers around us.