Archive for July, 2008

iShoe to prevent falls by the elderly

Scientists working to help astronauts regain balance after extended flights in zero gravity say they’ve found a way to use the research to help elderly people avoid catastrophic falls.

An “iShoe” insole contains sensors that read how well a person is balancing. The point is to gather information for doctors and to get people to a specialist — before they fall.

Erez Lieberman, a graduate student who developed the technology while working as an intern at NASA, says a damaging fall is preceded by numerous warnings, similar to how high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure point to a coming heart attack.

“You gradually get worse and worse at balancing,” said Lieberman, who studies in a joint Harvard-Massachusetts Institute of Technology health science and technology program. “If you know the problem is there, you can start addressing the problem.” (link)

Yahoo: DRM is dead, here’s a coupon

Yahoo Inc. is offering coupons or refunds to users who find songs they bought inaccessible after Sept. 30, when the company shuts its music-download service.

The decision to close the Yahoo Music Store had added fuel to criticisms over copy-protection measures known as digital rights management, but Yahoo promised it won’t entirely abandon loyal customers.

The company said Wednesday it is offering coupons on request for people to buy songs again through Yahoo’s new partner, RealNetworks Inc.’s Rhapsody. Those songs will be in the MP3 format, free of copy protection. Refunds are available for users who “have serious problems with this arrangement,” Yahoo said.

Spokeswoman Carrie Davis said a “small number” of users are affected by the change. Yahoo wouldn’t disclose the actual number. (link)

Dell dresses up Vostro lineup

Dell Vostro laptops are designed for small business and made for life. Packed with customized features and a choice of software, the Vostro line delivers easy-to-use technology, flexible connectivity options and exceptional support – all in a thin, durable design.

* Catches your eye. Captures your imagination – The Vostro 2510 is thin and light for easy mobility and features an attractive cherry-red exterior.
* High-performance graphics – Power through graphics intensive applications with help from a 256MB NVIDIA® GeForce® 8400M GS graphics card.
* CoolSlice – Work more comfortably with CoolSlice , a patented technology that deflects heat from the bottom of your system.
* Built-in Webcam – Videoconference with colleagues and clients or catch up with loved ones with a standard built-in 1.3MP Webcam. (link)

Get ready for faster firewire

IEEE 1394, better known under the brand names of Firewire and i.Link, will get a speed bump before the end of the year: The IEEE has approved the new IEEE 1394-2008 specification that provides support for a bandwidth of up to 3.2 Gb/s.

Firewire has come a long way. From the initial development by Apple in the late 1980s, to the technology’s completion in 1995 and surge in popularity in the early 2000s, the technology has become a serial bus interface common in Sony and Apple computers as well as a range of consumer electronics devices such as video cameras.

Most IEEE 1394 devices are still running on the S400 (400 Mb/s) specification despite the fact that S800 (800 Mb/s) was introduced with the IEEE 1394b spec in 2003. The problem with this spec was a different connector than the design that was used for S400. However, bilingual cables that are compatible with S400 and S800 ports are available. (link)

New MacBooks and iPods around the corner?

With the first phase of the iPhone 3G launch in the rear view, Apple Inc. is now shifting much of its focus towards product refreshes targeting its two other revenue drivers and is advising resellers to be prepared for product shortages in the interim.

More specifically, the Cupertino-based company in recent days issued an advisement bulletin to some of its channel partners hinting at a manufacturing ramp down of iPods and certain Mac notebook models, which will result in limited supplies of those products in the coming weeks.

To best address this situation and assure ample supplies for new customer orders through August, Apple “strongly suggested” that resellers bring in — or place immediate lump orders for — approximately 4 weeks worth of their top selling iPod models. Supplies of the players would start to become extremely limited in the next seven days, the bulletin said. (link)

British hacker to be extradited

Gary McKinnon, a British hacker accused of infiltrating almost 100 U.S. military computers in the months after Sept. 11, 2001, should be extradited to stand trial in the U.S., the U.K.’s highest court ruled today.

McKinnon, 42, who has said he was searching for information on unidentified flying objects, is accused hacking into 97 NASA, Army and Navy computer systems in 2001 and 2002. The House of Lords ruled unanimously that a decision in favor of McKinnon would “imperil the integrity of the extradition process.”

McKinnon asked judges to stop his extradition arguing that his human rights would be infringed by U.S. officials who told him prosecutors in New Jersey wanted to see him “fry.” McKinnon said he was also told that if he didn’t accept a plea bargain he’d get a longer jail term entirely served in the U.S. (link)

Gadget: Hard drive dock with tv/video out connections

Imagine being able to unplug your hard drive and hook it up to your TV to watch some popular movies or even see some great digital vacation photos sent by Uncle Phil of his recent vacation to Cleveland with the wife and kids. Okay, that would be torture, but being able to enjoy movie downloads or listen to favorite songs while looking at a digital photo album wouldn’t be too bad, would it?

The trouble is, that unless people know a lot about networking and media center TV hacks, the blinking VCR crowd isn’t likely to get it, much less enjoy it. Until now. This SATA HDD Multimedia Dock will plug in not only 2.5/3.5 inch hard disks but also SD Cards. And with its standard RCA or S-Video outputs, users can easily enjoy video, photos and even audio from their TVs without a computer. (link)


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