Archive for January, 2008

JVC and Funai team up to make LCDs

Japanese consumer electronics makers Victor Company of Japan Ltd (JVC) and Funai Electric Co Ltd will jointly develop and supply LCD television sets, an industry source said on Tuesday.The news pushed up shares of both companies, with Funai rising nearly 8 percent at one point.

Bigger rivals such as Sharp Corp have been forming similar alliances in the LCD business, where competition is intensifying.

JVC will supply LCD TVs made at a plant in Mexico to Funai, which will sell them under its own brand in North America, while JVC will market LCD TVs in Europe produced by a Funai plant in Poland, the source said. (link)

HTC no longer #1 thanks to Motorola and Samsung

High Tech Computer (HTC) has lost the title as the global top ranking vendor of Windows Mobile-based smartphones (excluding touch-screen models), with its share of the segment falling to below 30% currently, trailing behind Motorola and Samsung Electronics, according to internal data from Microsoft.

Motorola, Samsung and HTC have been competing fiercely in the segment with each vendor accounting for a 20-30% share globally, with Motorola now leading the contest with a small margin, the data showed.

Previous data indicated that HTC topped the segment with a market share of over 50% in Microsoft’s fiscal 2007 (from July 2006-June 2007).

However, HTC still retained the number one title in the Windows Mobile-based PDA phone segment, accounting for nearly a 50% share, according to the same data. (link)

Sound waves extinguishing fires in the future

Very interesting. Sound waves putting out fires. The article goes on to mention applications in space. Could this in theory replace conventional water sprinklers in buildings? What sort of volume is required to put out a flame? Lots of questions and plenty of theory. I’ll wait before replacing my fire extinguisher.

“”I throw more power into my voice, and now the flame is extinguished,” wrote Irish scientist John Tyndall about his experiments with sound and fire in 1857. Countless public demonstrations and a handful of lab tests later, researchers are still struggling to determine exactly how sound snuffs flames.

Sound travels in waves, which are simply variations of pressure in a medium—whether solid, liquid or gas. The energy from vibrating objects, such as speaker membranes, moves from particle to particle in the air in a repeating pattern of high- and low-pressure zones that we perceive as sound. According to the ideal gas law, temperature, pressure and volume are related; therefore, a decrease in pressure can lead to a corresponding decrease in temperature, which may explain how sound can extinguish a flame.” (link)

DUI defendant wants breathalyzer source code

Audio and video cables are notorious for being overpriced, but they have nothing on breathalyzer accessories. Law enforcement can buy a 10-foot direct connect cable for the Intoxilyzer 5000 for only $98, while a 2400-baud external modem (I kid you not) goes for a mere $297.

But it’s not the price of such accessories that has DUI defendants agitated; it’s the fact that breathalyzer software is secret. Across the country, attorneys are increasingly turning to the “source code defense,” claiming that they have no idea if cops’ breath detection equipment is accurate without peering through the device’s software. In the most recent challenge of this kind, the Kentucky Court of Appeals has demanded that the source code be opened for review. (link)

Gadget: portable gas sensor … did you just fart?

A gadget that fits into a person’s pocket could help unravel the environmental triggers for asthma attacks. Researchers created the portable gas sensor to study the relationship between asthma symptoms and the air a sufferer breathes.

People with asthma experience constricted airways and a tightening of the chest, symptoms that sometimes flare up into full blown attack of breathlessness. Certain allergens and pollutants are thought to worsen symptoms or to trigger severe attacks and the researchers hope to explore this connection. (link)

Glasgow University claims 100% accuracy, face recognition algorithm

Accurate face recognition is critical for many security applications. Current automatic face-recognition systems are defeated by natural changes in lighting and pose, which often affect face images more profoundly than changes in identity. The only system that can reliably cope with such variability is a human observer who is familiar with the faces concerned. We modeled human familiarity by using image averaging to derive stable face representations from naturally varying photographs. This simple procedure increased the accuracy of an industry standard face-recognition algorithm from 54% to 100%, bringing the robust performance of a familiar human to an automated system. (link)

Student behind Estonian DoS attacks

Last May, the web sites of a number of high-ranking Estonian politicians and businesses were attacked over a period of several weeks. At the time, relations between Russia and Estonia were chillier than usual, due in part to the Estonian government’s plans to move a World War II-era memorial known as the Bronze Soldier (pictured below at its original location) away from the center of the city and into a cemetery. The country’s plan was controversial, and led to protests that were often led by the country’s ethnic Russian minority. When the cyberattacks occurred, Estonia claimed that Russia was either directly or indirectly involved—an allegation that the Russian government denied.

Almost a year later, the Russian government appears to have been telling the truth about its involvement (or lack thereof) in the attacks against Estonia. As InfoWorld reports, an Estonian youth has been arrested for the attacks, and current evidence suggests he was acting independently—prosecutors in Estonia have stated they have no other suspects. Because the attacks were botnet-driven and launched from servers all over the globe, however, it’s impossible to state definitively that only a single individual was involved. (link)

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