Alien Laptop Intimidates Foes, Classmates

If you want to have the coolest laptop on campus, there’s no doubt in my mind that the one to have is the Alienware Area 51 Sentia. Ranging in price from overpriced to absurd, the 5.5 lb laptops have a 14″ sxga+ screen, 256-1024 megs of RAM, 40-80 gig hard-drives and run Windows XP Home or Pro on Centrino chips between 1.3 and 1.7 GHz. While the specs may not seem all that different than what’s available for the Dell 600m I reviewed, Alien has a reputation for making computers with top-notch performance, especially for gaming (and graphics intensive molecular modelling software, if you need to justify it for school). While I wonder if the Centrino chips they’re running live up to Alien’s perfomance reputation, I quickly forget those doubts when I see the Alien Blood Green (my name, not their’s) color and the glowing eyes of the little alien head on the lid, sure to strike fear in the hearts of your opponents in the coffee-shop WLAN party…

More Info in Bar Codes Than Corps Want You To Know

The New York Times has an article in the Circuits section today on an MIT student who has created a very cool device for “green” consumers: a barcode scanner that draws on an internal database to give users information about the corporation that made the product, such as whether they pollute or use sweatshop labor. The device, housed in an old geiger counter and called the Corporate Fallout Detector, is made by James Patten. Of course being a Media Lab student, James didn’t just make it just display the data on a screen — instead the device rattles like a geiger-counter at Chernobyl when scanning products from companies with bad reputations. I can’t wait for someone to make an program for a Palm that does the same — can you imagine scanning a can of soup just as somebody else is looking at the same brand and your PDA starts ticking like it’s a meltdown?! Drag out your old CueCat, it’s time to hunt corporate scum!

RSS turf wars: reality tv for geeks

The chickens are coming home to roost as an alternative to RSS is being developed. I love this stuff.

Battle of the blog | CNET

“‘Dave Winer has done a tremendous amount of work on RSS and invented important parts of it and deserves a huge amount of credit for getting us as far as we have,’ Tim Bray, a member of the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) influential Technical Architecture Group, wrote in a June 23 Web log entry. (Bray is also a co-creator of Extensible Markup Language (XML), a (W3C)-recommended language on which RSS is based.) ‘However, just looking around, I observe that there are many people and organizations who seem unable to maintain a good working relationship with Dave.’

The posting, which has served as a flashpoint for those on both sides of the controversy, has understandably drawn Winer’s wrath.

‘Why has my personality become the issue? They’re using that to try to get me to shut up,’ Winer said in an interview. ‘I think most people don’t have a difficult time working with me. It’s unfair. It’s untrue. And it’s unbecoming of someone of (Bray’s) stature to make statements like that. You can’t create things with flames–you can only tear things down with flames. If they want to create things, they can’t do it with the dislike of one person.'”

It’s a conspiiiiiiracy!!

Home Built Car PC

Check out this amazing home built in-dash car PC based on a mini-ITX board. The Integrated Car Entertainment unit (ICE) is a spectacular example of what one can do with one of these boards if you’ve got a little cash and a lot of inspiration. The ICE integrates voice control features and a touch-screen from a glove-box mounted PC running Windows XP with 40 gig hard-drive. The whole thing is even removable so the owner can transfer files from his home PC. Amazing work!

Update: The creator of this project has set up his own page, and given me a few details about the equipment used. In particular I was interested in the screen, which it turns out is from Xenarc called the 700TS. It’s not cheap — around $600, but even so I’d reckon the parts for this project cost less than $1000. Not bad for such a kick-@$$ system.

Junkyard Mega-Wars Premiere!

Just a reminder that ST’s favorite show, Junkyard Mega-Wars is premiering its 11th season tonight (Wednesday) at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Back with an all-new format and all-too-pretty new hosts (including an ex-Temptation Island contestant with apparently no mechanical chops) the show looks like it may have lost some of its original rough edges, which is what made it appealing in the first place. It could still be fun though, so tune in tonight and watch the teams take on their first challenge: snowmobiles!

007 USB Camera

Philips has come up with a twist on the whole USB keychain fad: the USB keychain camera. While only sporting a resolution of 640×480, at about the same size as a disposable lighter the camera is so tiny you could practically swallow it, which is no doubt why its name is the Key007, meant to inspire Bond-wannabes who may need to hide the evidence quickly. The 007 model has 64 megs of storage, and the 008 model has 128. Both can be used as keychain hard-drives and are charged from the USB port, eliminating the need for batteries. Image quality is reported to be poor, especially as they have no flash. Price as yet unknown.

Sucks MORE!

IP legal eagle and Creative Commons architect Larry Lessig has a bit on his blog about vacuuming CAT5 network cable through kinky conduit (via bOINbOING):

But when we tried to run the Ethernet cable from the roof to the basement, we discovered that the conduit makes 3 90-degree turns and one 45-degree turn, and it was not at all clear how one pushes a cable through such a maze.

So of course we turned first to the internet. I typed in a totally natural language question into Google (which I find these days is increasingly the best method): something like “how do you thread a cable through a long conduit with 90 degree angles.” The first post that came up was a thread from some list titled Threading fiber through a long conduit. This thread reported no good luck, but it had the kernel of an idea: a vacuum cleaner.

So we took a bit of foam, tied it to the end of a roll of kite string, and connected a small Shop-Vac at the other end of the conduit (which is at least 50 feet long). Bingo. The key, it seems, is to have a big but light obstruction, and google at hand.

GNU/Linux Phone!

Motorola has released, at least in Asia, their first GNU/Linux based phone. As far as I know, it’s the first Linux phone to actually make it to market. The new A760 seems to be based on Motorola’s previous hybrid phone, the A388 currently available for Cingular. That phone had a mono screen, which seems to have gotten an upgrade to color on the newest version, but otherwise the hardware looks much the same, and probably comes close to the 4.5 oz weight and 3.86″ x 2.28″ x .98″. The A388 is a GSM phone with GPRS capability, and includes both web browsing software as well as PIM functions. Expect the A760 to have the same specs but a more refined software package that will be upgradable and expandable through third-party developers.

Motorola also debuted a new camera phone, called the vV690, capable of video streaming that looks to be very compact and stylish. Go to Digitimes for more pics and details about nine new phones from Motorola.

Long Live Minidisc. The Minidisc is Dead!

We’ve always had a soft-spot in our wallets for Minidisc players here at StreetTech — it seemed like such a promising media. But with the 10th anniversary of the Minidisc it is time to declare the format dead. Failure to adopt MP3 standards has let the format lag behind the advancing technology and diminishing prices of flash and hard-drive based MP3 players. That hasn’t stopped Sony from releasing a slew of new minidisc products though, such as this CD/MD player recorder called the LAM-Z10, which can be hooked to a computer for transfering music from MP3 on computer to ATRAC on MD. The LAM-Z10 supports MDLP technology for storing up to 320 minutes of music on single disc, and can dub CDs to MDs at 4x speeds. The design is pleasing too, with a bulbous shape almost reminiscent of the ’70s, inviting comparisons with the 8-track cassette players of that time. Buy it today for $400 from Minidisco and get a jump on the retro MD trend.