Iphone Rumours

Wednesday, the 31. March 2010, 23:39 by

The annual flurry of rumours about a new iPhone has been delayed this year because everyone has been too busy talking about the iPad. However, with the iPad launching in the US on Saturday and in the UK, err, later at a price to be determined, we can turn our attention back to the iPhone.


The Wall Street Journal started the ball rolling last night, reporting that the new iPhone is “likely to be thinner and have a faster processor”. The WSJ also suggested that Apple was planning a second iPhone model to run on Verizon’s CDMA network. There are no CDMA networks in the UK – we’re all on GSM, allowing Apple to offer iPhones to other networks without problem.


Unimpressed by the WSJ’s “lame entry in the iPhone rumours game”, Jon Gruber – whose Daring Fireball blog is one of the web’s best sources for Apple news – added some more substantial thoughts. He suggested the new iPhone would be powered by a chip from the same A4 family as the iPad, have a Nexus One-beating 960×640 resolution display, a front-facing second camera and allow third-party apps to multi-task.


That’s a lot of detail. Amusingly, when a developer tweeted “I love how @gruber ‘casually’ slips all the iPhone inside info he has into a post criticising the WSJ”, Gruber replied “Not all”.


The most important part of Gruber’s post, for me, is the addition of multi-tasking. The iPhone currently prevents third-party applications, such as the Spotify mobile app, for example, from running in the background. That means that while you can listen to your iPod while checking your email or surfing the web, you can’t do the same with Spotify. Changing that would eliminate another advantage that Android phones have over the iPhone.


Meanwhile, Engadget says the new iPhone will be called the iPhone HD and will be announced on June 22nd, presumably with a release shortly afterwards. Will Apple really want to look like they’ve named their new product after Microsoft’s Zune HD?


Still, if Apple do plan to pitch the new iPhone as an HD phone then it’s going to need a storage increase. Adding HD video to a collection of apps, music and photos will stretch the 32GB offered by the top iPhone 3GS. Nobody seems to be mentioning storage but I’ll bet the new iPhone will at least match the 64GB iPod Touch. If we’re lucky, perhaps we’ll get 128GB but I won’t hold my breath.


Anyway, it’s all guesswork at the moment. What’s on your iPhone wishlist?

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Nuclear. . . . . . its all about the control

Wednesday, the 31. March 2010, 23:36 by

Western intelligence agencies are understood to have concluded that Tehran has escalated the covert elements of its nuclear programme, giving renewed impetus for a US-led push to tighten sanctions on Iran.


The findings are partly based on anomalies in Tehran’s nuclear inventory that were recently identified by inspectors from the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.



The inspectors have expressed serious concern that new uranium enriching equipment developed by Iranian scientists has mysteriously disappeared, the New York Times reported. The equipment has not turned up at Iran’s main uranium enrichment plant, leading inspectors to believe that it is being stored in secret until it can be installed in an as yet unidentified facility.


Iran recently piqued international interest after the country’s atomic energy chief, Ali Akbar Salehi,

 announced that work was to begin on two new plants to be “built inside mountains”. But a European official was quoted as saying that there was “some evidence” to suggest that building was already under way.


US intelligence agencies are studying satellite evidence of a number of suspect sites, while Israel is said to have uncovered evidence of “two Qom look-alikes”.


Six months ago, President Barack Obama exposed the existence of a secret Iranian nuclear facility near the city of Qom. The revelation shocked even Iran’s traditional allies and served to introduce a measure of consensus in the debate on how to respond to Tehran’s nuclear programme as Russia dropped long-standing objections to tougher sanctions against the Islamic regime. Since then, however, there have been signs that the international community’s united stand has begun to fray.


Veto-wielding Russia has hinted that it would limit the scope of any sanctions resolution introduced to the UN’s Security Council, while China’s attitudes remain uncertain. The United States and its European allies will seek to convince both states to back tough sanctions when foreign ministers from the Group of Eight leading industrialised nations meet in Quebec this week.

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Whats the matter? I dont know, tis dark in here

Wednesday, the 31. March 2010, 23:21 by

“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” said the fox to the prince in Saint-Exupery’s classic fable The Little Prince. And this is not only true when we refer to human emotions; in the universe, too, what is essential is invisible to the eye.


During the 20th century, astronomers collected a huge amount of information about the distribution of galaxies in the sky, their properties and composition. Even as early as the 1930s, Fritz Zwicky from Cal Tech noticed that whenever galaxies collect in clusters, they fly about each other at surprisingly high speeds.
His conclusion? A lot of invisible matter surrounds these galaxies, like ethereal cloaks, and that it is the gravitational pull from all this extra matter that causes the surprising motions of galaxies about each other.
Now, eight decades later, the case for the existence of dark matter, that is, matter that is around galaxies but doesn’t shine, is very clear cut.
That there is dark matter shouldn’t be a surprise. Even if some of us are real bright, we are all dark matter, because we don’t produce our own light. At most, we emit radiation in the infrared, invisible to the human eye. Same with planets and their moons that also only reflect visible light.
But what is surprising is that this dark matter hovering about galaxies is something quite different: it has nothing to do with ordinary matter, matter made of protons, neutrons and electrons. Problem is, we have no clue what it is.




Well, we do know a few things. For example, it seems that most of dark matter is made of tiny particles that interact only very weakly with ordinary matter. Sometimes they are called “wimps” (weakly interacting massive particles.) There are some suggestions to what these wimps could be, but so far we are not sure.


Recently, results were announced on a search for wimps in an underground mine in Minnesota, the CDMS experiment. In spite of much expectation, the results are still uncertain. The search goes on. Meanwhile, dark matter has inspired some wonderful books, such as Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.
We also know that dark matter is about six times more abundant than ordinary matter. So, our material stuff is clearly subdominant when it comes to galactic and cosmological dynamics. We have just heard the results from UCLA astronomer David Law and collaborators that the shape of the dark matter cloak surrounding our own Milky Way is similar to that of a squashed beach ball. Again, a big surprise; it would make much more sense if it were simply a nicely spherical blob surrounding our galaxy, as nearly symmetrical as possible.


This is because, as stars, large mass objects that form due to gravity tend to assume spherical shapes. Why then does our galaxy’s dark matter cloak have this funny shape? What about other galaxies? We still don’t know. But the message is clear: Nature really doesn’t care much for our expectations of symmetry and order.


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Another politics commentary . . .

Wednesday, the 31. March 2010, 23:07 by

Working life sucks. Let’s be honest here. Bad stuff can happen to good people. Bright, smart, hard-working souls who try to do a good job often end up getting walked over, trodden on, beaten down. And arrogant, nasty, vindictive types often seem to have a fast-track ticket that allows them to rise straight to the top.


But you didn’t need me to tell you that. I bet you can think of a dozen instances where you have seen precisely that happen. But why does it go on in the first place? Because business is about competition. Some of it is subtle and unspoken, but nearly everyone is competing for budgets, opportunities to work on more exciting projects, customers, or resources. And then there’s competition for promotions, time with important colleagues, prestige, recognition, bigger salaries, and, of course, power.


But the very fact that people do plot and scheme at work illustrates one of the truths of politicking – that it delivers results. While we’re at it, here’s another home truth – politicking happens whether you like it or not. Yes, some people try to be noble and refuse to play the political game; they focus on their jobs and work hard in the hopes of being noticed and rewarded for their efforts. But sadly there are limited opportunities in the world of work and, more often than not, these sorts of people just end up being overlooked or ignored – either by colleagues or important customers or both. Do you want to be overlooked or ignored?


Of course not. You’d think that would be a silly question – whether anyone would choose to be overlooked or ignored. But too many people try in vain to get ahead without playing the political game. I coach managers across a lot of businesses, and this is always the first point that needs hammering home. If you can find the right buttons to push, your colleagues and customers will give you pretty much whatever you want. If you think you can succeed without getting political, you need to wake up. Wake up and smell that coffee.


Because people at work can broadly be divided up into two camps. Of course there are shades of grey, but let’s simplify to make the point. On the one hand, we have the purists, the people who focus on their work. They dislike politics and try to work hard. They may be very good at their jobs and work honestly and diligently – if somewhat naively. They follow rules and regulations, trying to do what is “fair” or “right” and feel frustrated when decisions are not “fair” or “right”. Nice does not mean nice, it often ends up meaning loser They are nice guys, but I’m afraid nice does not mean nice, it often ends up meaning loser. And because they refuse to play politics, they get taken advantage of. They end up as organisational martyrs, moaning about the unfairness of life but never doing anything about it. On the other hand, we have the players. And the players are the very opposite of purists.


While they respect official rules and regulations, they understand that the unofficial rules of politics are often more important. They realise that decisions are rarely “fair” or “right” and that decision makers have both personal as well as professional buttons that need to be pressed. Okay, they may not always be the very best at their day-to-day jobs, but their connections and influence help them to vault up the career ladder over their purist colleagues. Many purists refuse to play the political game, believing it to require underhand tactics and a malicious intent.


But politics are not automatically bad. Politicking merely describes the act of scrutinising business relationships and learning how to influence others more effectively. It usually involves going through informal channels rather than officially sanctioned ones, but that doesn’t make it bad in and of itself. Nor does politicking have to be selfish. You can use your understanding of politics to influence people and achieve goals that are good for the organisation as well as yourself.


Even in the most friendly and supportive of organisations, people don’t always agree – so having an understanding of politics and how to exert influence can help you to pull people together and achieve outcomes that are in the organisation’s best interests too. Try to manipulate and use people and you will probably get caught. You could be tarnished with the label of being “political”, which can make people refuse to trust you or want to listen to you again. So effective politicking has to be as much about give as it is about take.


So. Play the game. Or get left behind. Which are you going to do?

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Pumped and ready to go, the LHC is in the house.

Wednesday, the 31. March 2010, 18:38 by

Its was a big day yesterday at Cern. The largest particle basher ever assembled by the human race was gearing up to be fired at near-maximum capacity, crossing the streams of its massive
hadron cannons, smashing particles at a never before seen 7 tera-electron-volts (TeV) energies.

Among the scientists on the case at CERN, they are expecting nothing more than a multi-particle firework
display, whilst some conspiracy tin-foil hat wearing theorists such as the “Doctor Dark Energy” AKA Walter L Wagner, feared some kind of imploding doom scenario black hole mishap. Maybe some planetary soupening or custardisation event, etc.

The Doctor contends that the LHC may trigger a “magnetic trap of devil” event, destroying the Earth or anyway some part of it in a “collaptic explosion”. Evidently his previously announced plans to extirpate CERN head Rolf Heuer “and all his bigbangers” using a nuclear weapon borrowed from Osama bin Laden have run into trouble,

Shortly after 12:00 UK time, with both beams up and running at 7.5 TeV – several times any previous collision energies achieved – controls were cautiously tweaked to cross the two proton streams inside the detector arrays. Jubilant boffins packing the several control rooms involved cheered and clapped as the human race’s first 7 TeV collisions appeared on the screens.

In time, perhaps, the elusive Higgs boson might be found or not found, so conclusively settling the long-running grudge match between boffinry heavyweight Professor Higgs and his nemesis, famed wheelchair robovoice savant Stephen Hawking.

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A robotic vision of the future – Sarco Exoskeleton

Thursday, the 25. March 2010, 21:36 by

I’ve been watching this company for a while. Think Cyberdyne from the fictional (or was it a documentary) The Terminator films, and those mad cap black op government inventors at Darpa, and you have yourself a North American company who’s won a contract to research and develop powered exoskeletons which are clearly going to be used on the battle fields of the future.


The exoskeleton promises to make a difference to many areas of military and civilian life alike. As demonstrated in the video, soldiers will be able to do what they need to for longer. Meaning a soldier’s efficiency will be greatly increased. The further applications are yet to be tested, but refined models should be able to assist those with physical disabilities, not to mention the possibility for a commercial edition. I wonder what the price will be? It’ll surely be worth every penny, did you see how the arm floated upwards? Awesome.

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Error 8001050F – The day the earth stood still

Tuesday, the 2. March 2010, 08:09 by

Sony says it has fixed a bug that halted play for millions of gamers on older models of its PlayStation 3 (PS3) gaming console for more than a day.
It said the problem had been caused by a bug in the console’s clock, which recognised 2010 “as a leap year”.
On Monday, Sony urged owners of the “Fat” model to stop using the machine as it could result in errors in some functionality or the loss of data.
The issue did not affect newer PS3 Slim systems sold since September last year.
“Having the internal clock date change from 29 February to 1 March (both GMT), we have verified that the symptoms are now resolved and that users are able to use their PS3 normally,” Sony spokesman Patrick Seybold said on the PlayStation blog.
The Japanese electronics giant advised PS3 owners to adjust the clock settings manually if they still had problems connecting to the internet or playing games.
The PlayStation Network is used by millions around the world.

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Augemented Reality, Ive seen the future, and its…..heavily branded

Monday, the 1. March 2010, 22:50 by

This really is the future of augemented reality. If you dont know what that is, think overlaying real time digital information on a real world stream, viewed from a viewfinder on a camera, mobile phone, pair of spectacles etc.

Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.

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Digital Economy Bill – Not going soft on Pirates.

Monday, the 1. March 2010, 22:45 by

One of the most controversial measures in the Digital Economy Bill, which is now working its way through Parliament, is the proposal to disconnect the internet accounts of those accused of persistent file sharing. ISPs, most notably Talk Talk have opposed the proposal and even started a petition to have it removed from the Bill.

Has victory been achieved? The Guardian reported this evening: Plans to cut off internet connections of illegal filesharers dumped. Fearing “the effect of the plans on its popularity”, the Guardian says, the Government has “backed away” from plans to cut filesharers off in a reply to a petition on the Number 10 website.

However, the victory may not be so clear cut. The article concludes: “Now the Government is retreating from the idea of termination – although it is still retaining the idea of ‘temporary’ suspension ‘as a last resort’.”

It could be a semantic issue then. In a comment on the article, Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group says that the Government is simply choosing a term that sounds “more reasonable”. He points to an ORG post that says:

“Please do not be confused by the government’s semantics. BIS and DCMS decided in the summer that they would not refer to ‘disconnecting’ users, because that sounds harsh and over the top. ‘Temporary account suspension’ sounds much more reasonable.”

The ORG could be right. The Goverment replied to the petition on Friday. A month ago in Oxford, Stephen Timms, the minister for Digital Britain, gave a speech in which he referred to “temporary account suspension – as a last resort”. The was no mention of disconnection.

The ORG concludes: “What journalist is going to run a story on ‘temporary account suspension’ (yawn)? This is why the government has chosen these disingenuous terms: it‘s just more spin. What we still don’t know is how long a family’s internet might be disconnected for.”

Very true. And we won’t for a while yet. The Bill doesn’t specify exactly how the anti-piracy measures will work. The Bill sets the framework and the details will be filled in later.

What’s clear is that the Government’s language still leaves open the options that the Downing Street petitioners were worried about.

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