Friday, 30 March 2012

 Sometimes you don't have to reinvent the wheel; you just have to add a more functional inflation valve or lightweight spoke. That's the direction that TrekPak takes in redesigning the photography backpack. The start-up uses a new, simple type of hardware to make organizing your camera gear fast, easy and secure.
A camera backpack with configurable compartments is nothing new, in and of itself. What TrekPak brings to the table is a patent-pending pin system built into an organizer that's retrofitted to a regular backpack or hard case. So, instead of buying a dedicated photography backpack, you can get a regular backpack or carry case and outfit it with the TrekPak system.
Trekpak adds custom compartments to your backpack when you have a lot of gear to organize, but can be pulled out and left at home when you don't need that level of organization. A regular backpack doubles as a sophisticated photography pack, reportedly making the TrekPak more comfortable and versatile than other photography backpacks.
Denver-based TrekPak also says that its pin-based system is superior to existing Velcro systems. The hardware consists of padded nylon walls and dividers with multitudes of holes on top. You can arrange walls in whatever way you need and then lock them in place with u-shaped pins. Slide, divide and secure. While TrekPak is built with photography in mind, the system can be useful to anyone with a lot of gear that needs to be neatly organized.
Of course, since backpacks and hard cases are different sizes and shapes, TrekPak is designing its organizers for specific packs. Currently the company is working on models for men's and women's Deuter Freeride Pro backpacks, as well as 15 different Pelican hard cases. The TrekPaks fit snugly within those models and are easy to install and remove. TrekPak hopes to add systems for additional backpack and hard case models in the future.
TrekPak recently kicked off a Kickstarter campaign looking for funding to finalize design, purchase materials and begin manufacturing. The company plans to get the product launched at the Overland Expo in Flagstaff, Arizona in May. The men's Deuter backpack with TrekPak system will retail for US$250, and the women's version will cost $220.
The video below shows the TrekPak system in action. About 2/3 of the way through, you might want to mute your computer if loud, obnoxious electronic music is something you try to avoid.
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By definition racing vehicles are these days developed within the confines of a formula to ensure a level of close competition. The formulas are changed every season or so but developments tend to be incremental rather than revolutionary. One experimental project that has been running outside of any formula and hopes to truly change the face of racing is the Delta Wing project designed by US-based Brit’ Ben Bowlby and supported by motorsport legends Don Panoz and Dan Gurney. Now the project has attracted a suitably hi-tech powerplant, some serious sponsorship, and its first race.
We first wrote about the DeltaWing over two years ago when the concept, with a rolling mock-up, was entered in a competition to design the IndyCar vehicle of the future. It’s unclear whether the conservative IndyCar organization still has any intention of embracing a radically new type of racing car but the partnership of Bowlby, Panoz and Gurney obviously felt the potential rewards justified development of the unusual composite chassis.
The DeltaWing is unlike any other racing car currently on track. The driver sits well back in the car, almost over the rear axle and looks ahead down a long, narrow fuselage to narrow twin front tires, specially created for the car by tire partner Michelin. With a rear-mounted engine, the car has a strong rearward weight bias, which makes it highly maneuverable, while its light weight and slippery shape make it far more efficient.
To take the project to the next stage, and perhaps a slightly different direction, global manufacturer Nissan has committed in a big way to providing engines and engineering development expertise. A race-prepared 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, featuring direct petrol injection and a turbocharger, will power “Nissan DeltaWing”, which is half the weight and has half the aerodynamic drag of a conventional racer.
Nissan is no stranger to endurance racing and indeed the Nissan DeltaWing’s first real race will be at Le Mans. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), the organizers of the famous Le Mans 24 Hours has invited the car to run in this year’s race from "Garage 56" - the spot in the pit lane reserved for experimental cars. As it doesn’t conform to any existing championship regulations, Nissan DeltaWing will not be eligible to challenge for silverware and will carry the race number "0". 

The new engine, badged DIG-T (Direct Injection Gasoline – Turbocharged), is expected to produce around 300 hp, sufficient to give Nissan DeltaWing lap times between LMP1 and LMP2 machines at Le Mans, despite having only half the power of those conventional prototypes. It features the same technology found in Nissan road cars, such as the Nissan Juke DIG-T.
Concept originator and designer Ben Bowlby commented: “Nissan has provided us with our first choice engine. It’s a spectacular piece. We’ve got the engine of our dreams: it’s the right weight, has the right power and it’s phenomenally efficient.” The first two Nissan DeltaWing drivers to be confirmed are British Sportscar racer Marino Franchitti (brother of IndyCar star Dario) and Nissan’s reigning FIA GT1 World Champion Michael Krumm. The 2012 Le Mans 24 hour will be raced on the 16th to 17th of June and there is sure to be huge interest in this unique vehicle

Thursday, 29 March 2012

 Cubist enthusiasts rejoice! A novel concept by researchers out of MIT might soon change the classic flat solar panel to a three-dimensional cubic tower, as studies performed on this new design reveal a significant increase in power output efficiency.
While considerable research has been done in the areas of improving performance and bringing down the cost of solar photovoltaic systems, little attention has been paid to the ways in which manufacturers could rearrange the cells to keep them pointed toward the sun as it crosses the sky, thus increasing its power output efficiency.
At least that was the case, until now.
Thinking cubically
MIT researchers built cubes and towers that essentially extend the solar cells upward in three-dimensional configurations. Doing this resulted in a power output increase ranging from double to more than 20 times that of fixed flat panels with the same base area.
These findings, which come from a combination of both computer modeling and outdoor testing on prototype models, are published in the journal, Energy and Environmental Science.
The significance of these results is not lost on at least one of the researchers. “I think this concept could become an important part of the future of photovoltaics,” says the paper’s senior author, Jeffrey Grossman, the Carl Richard Soderberg Career Development Associate Professor of Power Engineering at MIT.
How they did it
The team, using a complex computer algorithm to explore different configurations, discovered through a battery of tests that the biggest increase came from models with complex shapes. While some shapes proved to be more efficient than others — a cube where each face is dimpled inward provides more power output than a regular cube — they sometimes proved to be too difficult/overly complex to manufacture.
The algorithm was adjusted to optimize and simplify the shapes with as little loss of energy as possible. In doing this, the research team discovered that they were able to achieve about a 10-15% difference in power output between fully optimized shapes and simpler cube designs. This much of a difference, they felt, really doesn’t matter when you look at the enormous difference that using 3D shapes in general has on power output performance compared to standard flat panels.
From there, the team developed analytic software to test the various configurations under a range of latitudes, seasons, and weather. Upon confirming their model’s predictions, they built and tested three different arrangements of solar cells on the roof of an MIT lab building for several weeks.
The team was a bit dismayed at first when they went almost two weeks without a clear, sunny day for testing. Their feeling changed, however, when they looked at their data and realized the huge improvements in power output on cloudy days compared to flat panels.
Why does it work so much better?
The reason for the power output improvement — and the uniformity of said output over time is that the 3D structure’s vertical surfaces have more area to collect a greater amount of sunlight during mornings, evenings, and winter, even when the sun is closer to the horizon.
The team thought about convenience, too, as can be seen in the accordion- like tower design above. This was done so that the technology could be shipped flat and unfolded on site. This would be ideal for use in a parking lot to provide a charge to electric vehicles, and on ventures to remote lands that lack any sort of power grid.
Getting this idea off the ground
It should be noted that the cost of the 3D module exceeds ordinary panels. It should also be noted that this is balanced out by the much higher energy output that the 3D module provides for a given footprint. And since the power output is more predictable and uniform, integration with an existing power grid is much easier than conventional systems.
Grossman feels that the time is now for an innovation like this. “Even 10 years ago, this idea wouldn’t have been economically justified because the modules cost so much,” he says. But now, “the cost for silicon cells is a fraction of the total cost, a trend that will continue downward in the near future.” He adds, “Currently, up to 65% of the cost of photovoltaic energy is associated with installation, permission for use of land and other components besides the cells themselves.”
 A consortium of German research groups has created a new sandwich-type material that they claim offers strength similar to that of steel or aluminum, yet is significantly lighter and less expensive. It consists of a honeycomb-structured paper core, with glass fiber-reinforced layers of polyurethane on the outsides. To give an idea of how tough it is, it’s about to be tested on the diesel engine housing of a train.
The material is intended for a number of applications, but it was decided that the engine housing would be a good test. The housing will be located on the underside of the train, where it will be constantly subjected to track debris such as flying rocks. It must also contain engine fluids such as oil, to keep them from leaking into the environment, while additionally serving to contain the flames in the event of an engine fire – additives in the polyurethane ensure that it meets fire safety standards.
The experimental housing is reportedly 35% lighter than a standard metal unit, and is approximately 30% cheaper to produce. So far, it has done very well on mechanical stress tests, performed on a laboratory rig. The next step will be to actually install it on a running train, and see how it works in the real world.
Groups involved in the project include Bombardier GmbH, KraussMaffei Kunststofftechnik GmbH, Bayer MaterialScience AG, DECS GmbH, the DLR’s Institute for Vehicle Concepts, the University of Stuttgart, the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT.
 We've seen our fair share of portable device docks  from the acoustic to the power-hungry and everything in between. Most of those capable of charging the docked device as well as amplify its audio tend to have been designed for use with an iDevice, which is not much use to the 14 million U.S. Kindle Fire users. Rallying to the cause, Grace Digital has launched the FireDock - one of the first speaker docks crafted specifically for Amazon's Kindle Fire 7-inch tablet and featuring full-range stereo speakers, a Class D digital amp and an additional auxiliary input for an optional secondary audio source.
Although Amazon's Kindle Fire includes built-in stereo speakers, there will be occasions when the output could do with a significant boost to fully enjoy content provided by the likes of Netflix, Pandora Internet Radio or even Amazon's own audio books. Grace Digital's new FireDock speaker dock features a 16-watt Class D digital amplifier and 3-inch full-range, base-ported stereo speakers rated at 3W/8 ohms, with a frequency response of between 60Hz and 18KHz and signal-to-noise ratio of 89dB.
The cradle includes a USB port that allows the Kindle Fire to be charged while docked, whether Amazon's tablet is being used or not, and rotates for portrait or landscape viewing. Next door to this sits a strategically-positioned audio jack.
 In addition to operating from AC power, Grace Digital is also making an optional 7.4 V /2200 mAh Lithium-ion battery pack available (at an extra cost) to play the device on the road. The FireDock battery pack won't charge the Kindle Fire's own battery but will give mobile playback for up to six hours.
The 13 x 4.3 x 3.75-inch (330.2 x 109.22 x 95.25 mm) Grace Audio FireDock comes supplied with a wireless remote and has been given a shipping date of July 2, 2012 at a suggested retail price of US$129.99.

How a constant current regulator (CCR) can be used to create a low-power, low-cost, high-efficiency charging solution that is suitable for rechargeable batteries for a broad selection of applications. A charger has to fulfill the basic roles of charging the battery, optimizing the rate at which the charging process is carried out, then terminating this process. By implementing a simple controller mechanism it is possible to terminate charging in a timely manner.
Chargers can use either constant dc or pulsed-dc power approaches. For each of these, the output does not change, but remains at a constant level throughout the charging period and is not affected by the total charge that has already been placed upon the battery. Alternatively, for small capacity batteries, such as those generally used in portable applications, trickle chargers are often called for. Here the battery is charged at close to its self-discharging rate, thus maintaining a full capacity battery. In this particular situation a battery regulator of some form is recommended, to avoid overcharging (as otherwise it will continue to charge the battery even when it is fully charged), which could potentially shorten the battery’s life.
The capacity of the battery over a 1 hour period is denoted by C. In order to explain this a little further, take a battery rated at 800 µAh. If this was to be charged at 0.5 C, a charge current of 400 µA over a period of two hours would be required.
As well as the C value, the charge current needed for a rechargeable battery will depend on the technology the battery is based upon. Each of the technologies currently used has attributes that make them more suitable for certain kinds of applications. The three most common rechargeable battery technologies are:
1. Nickel metal hydride (NiMH): Has a very high storage capacity compared to other technologies, allowing greater levels of charge in smaller form factor batteries.
2.Nickel cadmium (NiCd): Has a longer lifespan than NiMH and exhibits a lower self-discharge level. NiCad also allows production of batteries that have the lowest cost of the three technology options.
3.LIthium-ion (Li-ion): Results in lightweight batteries that are capable of working at lower temperatures, making them particular suited to outdoor application scenarios. This technology requires charging times that are comparatively short. Furthermore, it can cope with a greater number of charging cycles than NiCad or NiMH alternatives.
Simple charging solution
A simplified illustration of a typical charging circuit is shown in Fig. 1. It consists of a voltage reference, power source, LED indicator, controller, and CCR. For a NiMH battery the nominal voltage is 1.2 V/cell and should be charged up to 1.5 V to 1.6 V/cell. There are several different techniques for determining when to terminate the charge. These include peak voltage detection, negative delta voltage, delta temperature (dT/dt), temperature threshold and timers. For high end chargers these may be all combined together. For a CCR charger, a peak voltage detecting circuit is employed - which terminates the charging process when a predetermined peak voltage has been reached. This peak is 1.5V/cell and will allow charging of the battery to approximately 97% of full capacity. As they behave in a very similar way, NiCad batteries can be charged using the same methodology. The charging cycle of Li-ion batteries is more complicated. Here the usual method is to charge the battery to 4.2 V/cell at between 0.5- and 1-C charging capacity followed by a trickle charge. The temperature rise of Li-ion batteries should be kept below the 5°C mark while the charging process is being carried out a higher temperature rise will indicate potential for combustion. It is during the trickle charge part of the charging cycle that the battery temperature will rise by the greatest degree and is therefore when the risk of combustion occurring is at its highest. Often some form of smart IC will be employed to monitor and control the charge of the battery and thereby safeguard against this.
Simple charging circuit
We will first discuss the different parts of the charging circuit. 

 the setting of the reference voltage (Vref) is shown utilizing a three-terminal programmable shunt regulator. The resistor R2 is set to 1.0 kΩ and Rref can then be adjusted to match the Vref required. The equation that describes the ratio of R2 to Rref is: 

A single comparator is used to compare the voltage of the battery to Vref. Connected to the inverting input is the battery voltage. Hysteresis is added (see Fig. 3) to the set up to avoid oscillation occurring in the comparator – thus improving system performance. This is done by placing the feedback resistor Rh between the output and the non-inverting input. The 1.0 kΩ resistor R3 is used to make the ratio of R3 to Rh as simple as possible. By adjusting Rh, the bandwidth of the hysteresis loop can be changed. Increasing Rh means that the bandwidth is lowered while decreasing Rh raises the bandwidth. It is recommended that the bandwidth for the hysteresis loop should be greater than 200 mV, because when charging is terminated the voltage of the battery will drop slightly. 

The equations to calculate the high and low voltages of the inverting input are as follows:
The two bipolar junction transistors (BJTs), Q3 and Q6, act as a switch that controls the charging current. The base of Q6 is controlled by the output of the comparator through the 5.6kΩ resistor R6. The collector of Q6 is connected to the base of Q3 through the 1.0kΩ resistor R5. When the output of the comparator goes low, Q6 is turned off, causing Q3 to turn off, thereby resulting in termination of the charge current. To indicate that the battery is being charged, an LED is placed in series with CCR Q7 (and supplied with a constant current). This turns off when the battery has been fully charged.
In modern electronic system designs, engineers are concerned with curbing power dissipation, striving to make the products they develop more energy efficient as well as more reliable. Lowering the input voltage is one way to increase the performance of the circuit. For this reason a low VCE(sat) transistor and a low VF Schottky diode are also included in this charging circuit. The power dissipation levels are also of major importance when it comes to the operation of the CCR. It is through this device that all the voltage will be dropped, so that the battery is charged at a constant current this results in the rise in its temperature already discussed. As the device begins to heat up the current drops until it reaches a stable point. To minimize the temperature rise of the CCR, copper covers a large proportion of the empty space found on the board. The cathode of the CCR is then connected to this area of copper to provide it with a heat sink. When using multiple CCRs in parallel, it should be kept in mind that the power dissipated by the individual CCR is only the voltage multiplied by the individual current that is going through it, not the total charge current. Figure 5 describes the power dissipated by the CCRs over time.
Using the charging circuit in Fig. 4 the programmable precision reference can set a suitable Vref. The battery voltage and Vref are connected to the inputs of a comparator. While the battery voltage is less than the value of Vref, a constant current can be delivered to the battery via the CCR. Once the battery voltage is equal to Vref the charging is concluded.
ON Semiconductor’s TL431 three-terminal programmable shunt regulator and its LM311 single comparator are recommended for this circuit design. The need for inclusion of a smart IC (in the case of Li-ion battery technologies) is negated, by removing a trickle charge from the charging process. This keeps the battery in a safe operating area and helps to increase its lifespan.
The CCR-based charging circuit detailed here can, thanks to the removal of the trickle charger element, work with all of the main battery technologies (NiCd, NiMH, and Li-ion). It can thus be implemented in a multitude of different application scenarios (supporting a wide range of charging currents) – from the AAs used in the everyday domestic environment, to portable consumer devices, right through to handheld power tools. ON Semiconductor application note AND9031 provides details of the circuit in operations and results

 After its successful inaugural Paris-to-Brussels flight last year, the Solar Impulse solar-powered aircraft will attempt to fly all the way to Morocco in May or June of this year, a journey almost ten times the distance, and its furthest flight and as a close as it has yet come to a trial run of its round-the-world flight planned for 2014.
To recap briefly on the engineering marvel that is the Solar Impulse, the aircraft has the wingspan of Airbus A340 at 63.4 m (208 feet) but with only the weight of a family car (1600 kg/ 3527 pounds). Solar cells, some 12,000 of them, are built into the wing, providing pollution-free renewable power to four 10-hp electric motors. But they also charge 400 kg (882 lb) of lithium batteries which can keep the Solar Impulse in the air at night. 
The night-flying capabilities of the Solar Impulse will be tested in what is to be the aircraft's longest-distance flight to date, expected to take 48 hours. However, there is a scheduled stop at Madrid to switch pilots.
It's hoped the flight will allow Solar Impulse pilots and founders Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg to gain in experience with the technicalities of long-distance flight, including cooperation with international airports and adapting to air traffic flows.
Earlier this month Borschberg completed a 72-hour non-stop simulated flight in a full-size mock-up to test the human stresses of continuous flying. "Thanks to a careful management of the rest periods I was able to maintain optimum vigilance throughout the flight," Borschberg said as he emerged from the simulator (in what I can only imagine was a pre-prepared statement). "We learnt a great deal about the practical management of life on board." 
The forthcoming flight appears to be sponsored at least in part by the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy which intends to have built five solar power installations generating 2 GW of solar power by 2020. But as long-standing fans of the Solar Impulse we couldn't resist an update on what is another fascinating paragraph in what's still the first chapter of the book of green aviation.
 Every hour the sun beams onto Earth, there is more than enough energy to satisfy the global energy needs for a whole year. However, the technology produces less than one tenth of one percent of today’s global energy demand.
Global climate change and the need to reduce energy consumption are adding to the call for smart megawatts power generation. The recent nuclear crisis in Japan and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, along with ever-rising energy costs are also spearheading the development of safer alternative-energy solutions. With the 42nd Anniversary of Earth Day fast approaching, the cry for an endless amount of clean energy has never been louder.
To gain a clearer view of the new technological advancements shaping the future of solar energy, we looked to Mouser Electronics, a leading global semiconductor and electronic components distributor that works with design engineers and buyers. Known for its rapid introduction of the latest products and most advanced technologies used for prototype development, the company is keenly positioned as a foremost design-fulfillment distributor inspiring a new generation of solar solutions.
Delivering the Power of the Sun
One way Mouser is helping design engineers tap into the energy of the sun is with their Solar Product Knowledge Center (PKC) application training site. Engineers can quickly review new products and technologies, select a particular supplier, get details on a specific application, or access a library of solar design resources.
“Much of today’s advanced design solutions require more than a list of part numbers and suppliers in stock. The web experience also needs to be an informative one. Not only does it need to contain the latest solar advancements, trends and supporting product information, but the site also needs to let engineers access the information they need in as few clicks as possible. The one component engineers have in short supply is time,” shares Kevin Hess, Mouser VP of Technical Marketing. 
A recent game-changing development seen at Mouser is the new solar micro inverter. A key player in advancing this technology has been STMicroelectronics, a company whose products and solutions are well positioned in the photovoltaic world. Instead of having one large inverter that handles all of the current conversion from DC to AC, these new solar panels have a solar micro inverter that takes the DC current generated by the solar panel and converts it directly to AC current before leaving the panel. This has led to a complete solution contained within the solar panel, resulting in greater conversion efficiency since power isn’t lost in having to travel over long wires. Additionally, this solution provides even greater, easier scalability. Expanding your solar power system is as simple as adding another solar panel.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

 Popular social networking app Seesmic got an update today in the form of new features and a brand-new paid Pro version. While at first glance this may seem like all good news, I must warn you that there is a bit of a downside.
First, the good stuff. All Seesmic users now have the ability to view Instagram and Twitter thumbnails right from within the timeline, which is a lot more convenient than before. Along with that, they can now upload images directly to Twitter natively. And of course, there are the requisite minor bug fixes and performance improvements that come with pretty much every other app update.
Then, there's the brand-new offering, Seesmic Pro. For $2.99, this premium version of the app comes with the ability to view updates from multiple accounts, all within a single timeline. This includes Facebook as well as Twitter. While I don't personally like to mix feeds from my different accounts, there are certainly a ton of users out there who do, which is why this little addition is important.
Now here's where the story gets a little fishy: Seesmic Pro also comes ad-free, which is awesome news for paying users. Unfortunately this means that users of the free app, who have always enjoyed an ad-free experience previously, now get to see ads popping into their timelines every so often. For dedicated Seesmic users, this probably won't be a deal breaker. Nevertheless, it still feels a bit unfair.
 Ten years ago or even five years ago the personal computer industry was the driver of technical innovation. Desktops and laptops up-deployed technology to servers, and down-deployed technology into embedded and consumer products.
Today, technical innovation is driven by mobile and cloud computing. This innovation is feeding a worldwide industry that meets the demand for billions of mobile devices and the computing cloud that supports them. Innovation in size, power requirements, memory, battery life, and flexibility are the answer to the world’s thirst for small mobile devices that can do everything the desktop and laptop used to do, and even more. Add the huge increase in bandwidth now available via Wi-Fi and 3G/4G networks that is driving innovation in servers to enable the cloud.
Today’s computing landscape has shifted test and measurement needs as well. This innovation shift has changed the conversation around test and measurement needs to address designers’ debug and compliance test requirements.
The latest applications that consumers enjoy via their mobile devices every day, such as high-pixel still cameras with image processing/DSP, high-definition video, social media, GPS navigation and location services are driving tablet, smartphone, and other mobile device innovation at a furious pace. These mobile computing trends underscore the importance of:
• System performance: to manipulate photos, video, etc. requires significant system bandwidth and computational capability.
• Battery life and power management: system and connectivity bandwidth consume power, yet users expect all-day performance from their mobile devices.
• Connectivity bandwidth: App downloads, tweets, check-ins, etc. place demands on 3G/4G networks, but also on the internal buses, from the RF chip to the system-on-chip.
• Cost: The ubiquity of mobile computing puts a tremendous emphasis on cost due to the significant volumes.
• Size: To integrate these capabilities into a small form factor requires high levels of integration.
Servers that enable the cloud must keep pace with the demands of billions of smart device transactions in the hands of billions of consumers worldwide. In December 2011, IHS iSuppli had this to say about cloud computing:
“The cloud computing market is heading into the stratosphere as companies seek to offer services designed to serve tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices. …projected to surge to $110 billion in 2015, up from $23 billion in 2010.”
Device and application innovation
To address the advances in applications for mobile devices, major technology innovation is required inside these devices and inside the servers that support them, including low power high performance multicore SoCs or application processors on today’s most popular ARM and IA platforms. High-performance buses now come in a large variety for systems, displays, and I/O. Today there are many more buses to test and verify. Chief among these are the MIPI D-PHY and M-PHY multi-lane serial internal buses, which deliver high bandwidth at much lower power than traditional internal buses. For server computing, PCIe and DDR continue to evolve to deliver greater performance. 
Table 1 underscores the difference between the requirements of a mobile computing device and a cloud server. For example, D-PHY, M-PHY and PCIe are all common internal physical layer buses. For a server computing application, PCIe 3.0 is the optimum bus because it delivers a maximum bandwidth of 8 Gbits/s. However, for a mobile computing device where power consumption is critical, a bus such as M-PHY, which delivers almost as much bandwidth (5.8 Gbits/s), is preferable because it consumes 1/20th of the power per bit (~10 pJ/bit).
Advanced memory and connectivity
Relentless market forces have dramatically improved low-power memory systems. The mobile computing industry has seen the recent development of memory systems such as LPDDR, UFS, and UHSII. DDR4 and GDDR5 provide the very high speed and performance that servers require.
Mobile devices need access to high bandwidths and they require integration of the RF and digital functions. Cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, and RFID technologies require a high degree of integration and reliability to deliver data to mobile devices quickly and accurately.
Supporting design with new debug and validation tools  
 shows a typical mobile computing architecture; each block presents unique test and measurement design and validation challenges when compared with a traditional PC architecture.
With the latest low-power, high-performance, multicore SoC/application processors, insight into on-chip instruction execution and I/O is limited. No longer can a designer gain visibility through a front-side bus. New tools to trace on-chip execution via Embedded Trace Macrocell (ETM) and Program Flow Trace Macrocell (PTM) for ARM cores and proprietary tools for other architectures are needed.
New mobile computing buses such as MIPI are designed for low power by implementing different signaling methods. For example, D-PHY CSI2/DSI1 has a unique PHY that shifts from a low-power, single-ended 20-Mbit mode to a high-speed 1-Gbit differential mode. M-PHY CSI3/DSI2 has a bursty implementation with a power-saving idle mode that makes lane lock challenging at 5.8 Gbits/s.
Debug tools need to be able to track those signaling changes to effectively capture, display, and analyze the bus. Bursty buses such as M-PHY also create challenges in characterizing current drain and predicting the battery life. Greater dynamic measurement range (microamperes to amperes) is needed in power analysis tools to accurately measure the bursty current drain of mobile devices.
At data speeds exceeding 2.4 Gbits/s, capturing address, command, and data of DDR4 and GDDR5 server memory for debug and validation can be problematic. Memory technologies targeting mobile computing devices must provide adequate signal access. Developing effective probing techniques is critical to the validation process.
Other challenges include cross-domain debugging of digital and RF signals. Chasing issues from the air interface through the RFIC to the baseband IC across a digital IQ bus calls for tools that can acquire, display, and analyze across multiple domains, with support for multiple cellular standards and the DigRF v4 digital IQ interface.
The BlueStacks beta (download) leverages a new, patent-pending technology that the company has developed called LayerCake, which does two things necessary for running Android apps on Windows. First, it powers the app on hardware that it wasn't originally intended to run on. That's basically the ARM to x86 conversion which runs the apps, and it comes with the blessing of one of AMD's head honchos.
"LayerCake is a disruptive technology that enables PC manufacturers to bring the best of the Android ecosystem to their customers. We are excited to work with BlueStacks to make the emerging Android mobile apps market part of the broader computing arena," Manju Hegde, corporate vice president, Content, Applications and Solutions at AMD, said in BlueStacks' statement announcing the new beta.
LayerCake also includes hardware graphics acceleration that wasn't available in last year's BlueStacks alpha. This means that it uses your PC's graphics card to make graphics-intensive apps, including Android NDK games like Air Attack HD, run more smoothly. "It's actually quite similar to the hardware acceleration in your browser," BlueStacks CEO Rosen Sharma said during a phone call with CNET yesterday.
There's more to LayerCake's hardware acceleration than that, though. It also can replicate accelerometer tilting in apps that utilize it via the mouse or arrow keys. Pinch-to-zoom is also supported on mouse trackpads.
BlueStacks saw enormous success during its brief, three-month long alpha test last year. "We had more than one million downloads in three months," said Sharma, who added that BlueStacks traffic equaled one-sixth of the Kindle Fire purchases during the same period. "It's possible that two months from now, we'll become the largest Android deployment on large screens," he said.
This beta debuts a significantly changed program. You can download apps directly from within BlueStacks, without using an Android phone, and it comes with a dock launcher that fits naturally with the Windows interface. Using BlueStacks' Cloud Connect feature for syncing apps, you can now send and receive text messages on your PC. There are plans, Sharma said, to expand it to include more of your phone's notifications, too. 
Android apps such as Angry Birds, which cost money for their PC versions, can now run on your PC. So if the Android app is free, then you can run it on your Windows box for free, too. The multitude of simple photo editors are another example of Android app that BlueStacks can run on your PC. I'm not sure the world wants the Android version of Instagram on Windows, but chances are somebody will dig applying those filters to the photos saved on their desktop.
"This is a leveling of the playing field," said John Garguilo, BlueStacks' vice president of marketing and business development.
You can also run apps in either windowed or full-screen mode, and BlueStacks now comes localized for 12 non-English speaking countries including Korea, China, Germany, The Netherlands, Brazil, Japan, Argentina, Mexico, Spain, France, Italy, and Russia. Localization goes beyond translation, and includes region-specific apps. So, KakaoTalk will come with the Korean version of BlueStacks; Germans will get eBuddy; WhatsApp comes to the Spanish-speaking countries, and China gets Weibo. Among the numerous pre-installed Android apps on BlueStacks for English-speakers are Fruit Ninja, StumbleUpon, and Evernote
 The original PhotoToaster ($1.99) was already a favorite among photo app users, and I've had a chance to check out a demo of PhotoToaster 3.0, which adds several new features to make the app an even stronger image editor.
New lighting adjustments and presets
Several new one-touch presets have been added in the latest version including Clarify, Amplify, Bleach Bypass, Sketch, Dynamic HDR, and Dramatic. Each of the new effects I tried in my testing added even more options for playing with your images, and -- like the original -- you have the option to use sliders to fine-tune each effect.
The addition of new lighting adjustments in PhotoToaster 3.0 are what make these new effects possible, letting you lighten shadows, adjust intensity and midtones, and give you the ability to "save" poorly lit photos. You also can now adjust black intensity for better contrast in your images.
PhotoToaster also will now have the option to decrease noise in photos. Images taken in low light can often have noise artifacts in the picture. Using a new slider, you can now decrease the noise for much smoother looking pictures, even in low light.
Improved photo management
A new Recent photos button lists out your most recently edited images so you can get back to them quickly. Photos are listed with a thumbnail, the time the shot was taken, file size, and resolution. You can swipe to browse all your recent images, and touch an arrow to the right of an image to see the GPS location where the photo was taken and all the data pertaining to the photo (exif, focal length, shutter speed value, and other image metadata).
You also can now specify which folder to save your edited photos and automatically save originals to your photo library. The latter is a particularly great addition, because before when you snapped the image within PhotoToaster and started adding effects, if you saved the image, you would no longer have the original for experimenting with further tweaks. 
Several more tweaks
Developer East Coast Pixels says many more small adjustments were made to increase performance and make it easier to take good looking photos. Several of the effects adjustments were made twice as fast, there are more aspect ratios for cropping, higher resolution borders, and you can now directly print your photos with AirPrint capable printers. PhotoToaster was already one of my favorites for image editing on iOS devices and the changes in this latest version make the app even more worthy of space on your Home screen -- especially if you like to play with your photos. The app is ready to go and waiting for the Apple approval process,
 If you are an audio enthusiast or musician and make use of Apple's Logic Pro or Logic Express software packages, then Apple has released a couple of updates that address compatibility, performance, and stability in these programs.
While the updates have not yet been listed on Apple's support download page, they should be available via Software Update for those who have either Logic Pro or Logic Express installed, so you can manually invoke Software Update from the Apple menu to get these updates.
According to the release notes for each of these updates (Logic Pro and Logic Express), the following problems have been addressed in both programs:
Provides compatibility with songs created with GarageBand for iOS 1.2.
Resolves an issue in Logic Pro 9.1.6 in which projects with a large number of fades displayed "I/O Error, Result code = -36" when playback was started.
Improves performance when using multiple instances of EXS24 in 32-bit mode with EXS24 Virtual Memory mode active.
Resolves several issues related to the download and installation of basic and additional content.
Resolves an issue that could occur which caused the application to stop responding when performing Undo. This would occur after deleting a file or region in the Audio Bin.
Plug-ins and instruments

The Output Distortion setting for the Compressor plug-in now works as expected with the "ClassA_R" and "ClassA_U" models.
Fixes an issue in which the Autofilter plug-in might produce clicks with certain settings.
The "Select Zone of Last Played Key" setting now works as expected in the EXS24 editor.
When adding Auxes as additional outputs for Multi Output Software Instruments, the additional Auxes are automatically assigned the same color and track icon as the Software Instrument.
Fixes an issue in which copying a MIDI region in a project which does not start at 1 1 1 1, and in which the Transposition track is active, might result in unexpected transposition of the copied region.
The Controls View of plug-in GUIs now fit properly on the 11-inch MacBook Air display.
Resolves an issue in OS X 10.7.x Lion that caused the Consolidate Project command in Logic to open a backup of the project at the end of the process.
As always, be sure to back up your system and ensure you have a backup of your Logic projects before you install and use these updates.
 Opera ports its WebGL hardware acceleration from Opera Mobile to the Android version of Opera Mini 7, which first debuted last month at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
Opera Mini 7 for Android (download) improves the lightweight browser's compressed browsing feature called Turbo with hardware acceleration, and expands the Speed Dial landing page beyond nine Web sites.
It does not include the new home screen that is coming to Opera Mini 7 for feature phones, which will bring interactive social-networking to people who have those lower-powered phones.
Phillip Gronvold, Opera's product manager for mobile, told CNET before the Barcelona event that Opera Mini's data-compressing Turbo makes the browser an important option for people on plans with tight data restrictions. He also said that Turbo works a bit differently on different versions of Opera, with Turbo willing to sacrifice Web site stability for its enormous bandwidth savings -- up to 90 percent less data in some cases.
Meanwhile, development proceeds on Opera 12. HTML5 Drag and Drop is now supported, which allows for dragging items between Web sites, or to and from the desktop. CSS3 Animations has been added to Opera 12, and support for CSS3 Transitions has been improved. 

Out-of-Process Plugins have also been added to this rough developer's build of the browser. OOPP, which has been available in Chrome and Firefox for some time, prevents plug-in crashes from crashing the entire browser. Opera stated in its blog post announcing the update that it expects OOPP to also allow for 32-bit plug-ins to run in a 64-bit browser, although it didn't clarify how that would be achieved.
Finally, Mac installers of Opera will be universal going forward. This means that they will automatically default to 64-bit, unless you're running a 32-bit Mac. The company will no longer produce a stand-alone 32-bit version for Macs, probably because new Macs all have been 64-bit for a few years.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

 To stand out from the crowd these days, iPhone cases need to do more than simply protect an iPhone from various bumps and scrapes - whether it be the inclusion of a physical keyboard, wall charger, lens filters or, in the case of the MagniCase, a flip-out Fresnel lens that magnifies the iPhone’s display by up to 1.5 times.
The brainchild of mechanical engineer Hieu Ngyen, the MagniCase features a high quality Fresnel lens with 250 grooves per inch density that Ngyen claims provides a new iPad equivalent 264 pixel per inch (ppi) pixel density and effectively ups the 3.5-inch display of an iPhone 4/4S to the equivalent of a 5.3-inch display. Ngyen says the iPhone’s 326 ppi Retina display enables the 1.5x magnification to be achieved without any noticeable decrease in screen resolution.
When viewing the magnified display, the lens is positioned about 4.3 in (11 cm) from the front of the iPhone at the end of an extension arm, with both the shatter-resistant lens and arm folding up neatly into the rear of the case when not in use. The lens and arm will also act as a stand in both vertical and horizontal orientations. 
Ngyen is seeking funds through Kickstarter to bring the MagniCase to market and at the time of writing had raised US$1,375 of his $25,000 goal, with 43 days remaining. If he hits his target, the MagniCase will be offered in black, white, grey, pink, blue or clear and retail for $40, with replacement Fresnel lenses available for $10 each. However, if you get in early with a pledge of $25 to the project you’ll secure one MagniCase and one replacement lens. .
 The application formerly known as Card Case has been rebranded "Pay With Square," the company announced today. Square hasn't said why it changed its mobile app's name, but the branding appears to make it clearer to users what they should do with the app. Card Case was, after all, a cryptic name for a mobile-payment solution.
Pay With Square comes with the same features users found in Card Case, allowing them to pay for products at merchant stores that support Square without ever needing to take their credit cards out. To improve the experience a bit, the company has made it easier for users to find Square-approved merchants by pulling them from the old version's virtual wallet and placing them in plain view. In addition, users can now find merchants by scrolling through a map or searching from the program.
Square has also added a host of social features, including allowing users to add businesses to their favorites list and then share those with friends.
The challenge for Pay With Square is to break out from its niche and become a mainstream competitor to services like Google Wallet. At this point, the mobile payments space is up for grabs with no firm taking a dominant position. Whether it'll be Square, Google, the joint carrier venture Isis, or countless other mobile payment solutions that actually takes hold remains to be seen.
For Square, the odds seem to be against it. According to All Things Digital, which first reported on the new app, only 75,000 of Square's 1 million merchants allow for payments through Pay With Square. According to the Google Wallet Web site, MasterCard PayPass -- just one of the ways users can pay with Wallet -- is available at more than 140,000 merchant locations across the U.S.
Pay With Square is available now in the App Store and Android Market. The app works on all iPhone flavors, as well as Samsung's Galaxy line, the HTC Evo 3D, the Nexus S, and the Motorola Photon 4G.
 Imagine the convenience of brewing a creamy, steaming cup of espresso right in your car and you'll get a sense for the impetus behind the latest creation from Handpresso. The company has added to its range of mobile espresso machines with the Handpresso Auto, a well-designed in-car gadget which is designed to turn just about anyone into a mobile barista.
Weighing in at just under a kilo (880g/1.94 lbs) the Handpresso Auto looks a little like a water bottle you'd carry on a bicycle but the similarity ends there. Powered by 12V DC from the nearest cigarette lighter (it draws 140 watts), you add 1.79 ounces (53ml) of water, a circular E.S.E. (easy serving espresso) 'pod' of coffee grounds, screw on the lid and in two minutes, with steam driven at 232 psi (16 bars), you'll have your fix. 
Doubtless the urge to make a cup while on the roll is an exciting prospect, but, as the video below suggests, brew responsibly and pull over safely before firing it up. Of course, if you're gridlocked, you might just be able to make a few bucks selling shots to your fellow prisoners!
The Handpresso Auto costs €149 (around US$200).
 Two new features designed to protect your privacy while you browse the Web and guard you against misleading SSIDs come to all three AVG suites in a service pack update.
The Service Pack 1 update for AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012, AVG Anti-Virus 2012, and AVG Internet Security 2012 are available exclusively today from
Both of the new features are available to free and paid users, but the tracking ad blocker called AVG Do-Not-Track is the big one. It works similarly to Do Not Track Plus. While the toolbar is an optional browser add-on, AVG Do-Not-Track appears to be an automatic browser add-on install that can only be removed after the fact.
AVG evangelist Tony Anscombe said in a telephone interview that AVG created its more robust anti-tracking feature to "put control back in the hands of the user."
"The user won't see ads out of context to the page their on. There are obviously products out there that do this, but this is in AVG. We're making it mainstream," he said. That's no idle boast, either. AVG claims more than 100 million active users, the vast majority of whom use AVG Free.
To fine-tune AVG Do-Not-Track, click on the icon shaped like an eye and it'll tell you which ad networks and Web analytics are following you as you browse around. Each one will have an eye icon next to it. Click it to block that particular tracker, or use the Block All option at the bottom of the window.
The AVG add-on also activates the standard browser Do Not Track option for the browsers that support it, but its that standard Do Not Track's lack of effectiveness that has prompted software makers to jump into the fray.
In hands-on testing, AVG Do-Not-Track worked effectively and appeared to not slow down Web site loading times. Unlike Do Not Track Plus, which debuted in January, AVG's add-on does not rebuild your social networking buttons if you choose to deactivate them. The benefit of a social button rebuild is that you get to keep much of the modern Web's social functionality. AVG certainly has a better-looking app, though, and it's good to see a such a prominent security software vendor reacting quickly to a major security concern for once. 
AVG has also included a less significant but still useful feature update that helps protect you when you're using public Wi-Fi networks. Called Wi-Fi Guard, it double-checks when you connect to a Wi-Fi network of the same name, but in a different location. This can prevent SSID name spoofing from snaring you. One situation that Anscombe suggested is for people who regularly connect to a Starbucks network, where the SSID is identical across multiple locations, and have their Wi-Fi auto-connect to "Starbucks." A faked Starbucks network would be detected, and AVG would open a window asking you if you really wanted to connect to "Starbucks."
Other minor changes in the AVG 2012 Service Pack include adding P2P clients to the AVG Advisor feature; making rootkit scans part of the whole computer scan, as opposed to a separate option; and reducing the size of the installer from 65 MB to 48 MB. But clearly, AVG's Do-Not-Track has the most potential to change people's browsing habits, and could lead to other security vendors extending more Do Not Track-related options to their customers.
 The fact that most major manufacturers are now investing serious amounts of time and money in battery electric vehicle (BEV) development is proof positive that an electric automotive future will soon be upon us. While some, like Mitsubishi and Nissan, are already leading the charge onto the driveways of more and more folks around the globe, others prefer to take a more considered approach. Such is the case with Volkswagen. After giving us a glimpse of its plans for an electric Golf back in 2010, the company has now announced that a nine-month pilot scheme is to start next month in the U.S., to evaluate a prototype electric version of the company's popular hatchback ahead of commercial production.
Some 20 E-Golf vehicles will be deployed by Volkswagen of America during the pilot in the Detroit Metro, San Francisco, and Washington areas, twelve of which will be allocated to VW employees. Data gathered during the trial period will be used in the development of future BEV technology - VW will monitor the effects of different climate conditions on performance, test user experience and driver patterns, and evaluate energy performance.
"During this test we will examine in detail all the technical and administrative aspects of typical consumers using electric vehicles on an everyday basis," said VW's Dr. Rudolf Krebs.
Drivers will also be asked to test specific services designed for the E-Golf, including 200-volt charging stations that will be installed at the homes of those testing the vehicle. They'll be given an iPhone, too, with a dedicated app pre-installed for remote monitoring of charge levels, and regulation of the car's internal temperature. The app can be used to start the charging process. The company is about to set up a dedicated web portal to support the E-Golf pilot scheme.
The five-seat, four-door E-Golf hatchback BEV features a lightweight (187 pound/80 kg) 85kW peak electric motor that is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph (100 km/h) in 11.8 seconds, offers a top speed of 84 mph (135 km/h) and delivers 199 pound-feet (270 Nm) of torque, the latter almost as much as the new GTi Cabriolet. It's powered by a 26.5 kWh Lithium-ion battery pack made up of 180 cells spread over 30 modules, giving an estimated range of 93 miles (150 km) - although the scheduled production version that was recently confirmed for European availability late next year (with the U.S. penciled in for 2014) is expected to get a bit of a range boost.
The E-Golf implements a number of measures to maximize energy efficiency, including the ability to coast when the accelerator pedal is released, three-level regenerative braking and Normal, Eco and Range driving modes. A constant thermal environment in the battery compartment is maintained by a combination air/water cooling system.
 Improve HTTP -- the Hypertext Transfer Protocol that browsers use to request Web pages and servers use to deliver them -- with a technology it calls HTTP Speed+Mobility. Google has proposed an idea called SPDY for speeding up HTTP and won an important ally at IETF, the group that oversees the standard and that's beginning work on a new HTTP 2.0.
But Microsoft wants a piece of the action, too. It thinks SPDY is OK but wants to augment it with the new WebSocket high-speed communications link between browsers and Web servers. WebSocket has begun arriving in browsers after a hiccup last year.
And Microsoft wants to extend the work so mobile apps, can take advantage of the performance improvement, too. "We think that apps -- not just browsers -- should get faster too. More and more, apps are how people access Web services, in addition to their browser," said Sandeep Singhal, program manager of Microsoft's Windows Core Networking group, and Jean Paoli, general manager of Microsoft's Interoperability Strategy, put it in a blog post about HTTP Speed+Mobility.
Speeding up the Web is a high priority for many these days. Faster Web sites lead people to spend more time -- and often more money -- on Web sites. Google has been working for years on a "speed up the Web" effort, and Microsoft has similar incentives with Bing.
Here's what Microsoft's executives had to say about working with Google's approach:
The HTTP Speed+Mobility proposal starts from both the Google SPDY protocol (a separate submission to the IETF for this discussion) and the work the industry has done around WebSockets.
SPDY has done a great job raising awareness of web performance and taking a "clean slate" approach to improving HTTP to make the Web faster. The main departures from SPDY are to address the needs of mobile devices and applications.
And in what is perhaps a jab at Google and SPDY, the pair added, "We are looking forward to a vigorous, open discussion within the IETF around the design of HTTP 2.0."
Growing out a of a research project led by Kenmochi Hideki at Spain’s Pompeu Fabra University in 2000, Yamaha’s Vocaloid is a singing synthesizer that lets those with a voice like Roseanne Barr after a big night out synthesize more pleasing vocals by inputting lyrics and melody. While the current commercial version of Vocaloid 3 requires these inputs to be prepared on a PC prior to a performance, Yamaha has now developed a Vocaloid keyboard prototype that lets users input lyrics and melody and generate a singing voice in real time.
The Vocaloid keyboard prototype is optimized for Japanese users with 16 buttons for inputting consonants, vowels and two types of voicing marks used in the Japanese written language with the left hand, and keys to “play” the voice with the right. An LED display above the keys displays the entered text and the pronounced text in katakana to allow the played content to be checked. The three knobs to the left of the display are used to adjust the vocal sound.
A Yamaha spokesman says the keyboard doesn’t only allow Vocaloid users to give live performances, but also makes it easier for those users who might be daunted by the current Vocaloid software interface, but are able to play a keyboard. While it looks like it could take some practice to get the left hand up to speed using the device, the spokesman said that several keyboard players evaluating the system have been able to perform simple nursery rhymes after about three hours. 

Yamaha doesn’t have plans to release the Vocaloid keyboard commercially, but says the device’s sound chip can be provided to other companies who might wish to pursue it.

Monday, 26 March 2012

 Germany’s IBA stands for “Internationale Bauausstellung,” which translates as international building exhibition. But the IBA_Hamburg site located on the Elbe islands of Hamburg isn’t just a place to showcase buildings, it also serves as a seven-year real-time research and development project aimed at delivering CO2-neutral city development. Central to the site is the IBA information center, known as the IBA_Dock, which is constructed upon a floating pontoon and integrates numerous renewable energy technologies.
With modular superstructures sitting atop a 1,250 m2 (13,454 sq ft) steel-constructed pontoon, the IBA_Dock is based on IMMOSOLAR’s the “zero balance concept,” which focuses on solar energy management and systems that provide buildings with sustainable heat and cooling all year round. Sixteen rooftop solar thermal collectors with a total surface area of about 34 m2 (366 sq ft) are positioned facing south at the relatively steep angle of 50 degrees to maximize the heating of water in the colder months.
Solar energy captured from these collectors feeds into an electric heat pump that draws its environmental heat from water taken directly from the Elbe using a heat transformer built into the pontoon. This provides both the heating and cooling requirements for the building’s water and air conditioning, with excess energy able to be temporarily saved for later use. The building features heating and cooling ceilings that either heat the rooms in the colder months or remove heat in the warmer months.
The 44 kW heat pump, along with a ventilating machine that provides air exchange for the entire building, are powered by 103 m2 (1,108 sq ft) of south-facing photovoltaic solar cells located on the building’s roof terrace level and angled at 30 degrees that deliver 14.8 kWp (kilowatt peak).
IBA_Hamburg kicked off in 2007 and the IBA_Dock commenced construction in 2009. The “exhibition” is due to culminate in 2013 with the presentation of the finished projects that might provide a glimpse of what a future environmentally-friendly metropolis might look like.
 iOS 5 users, beware a security flaw in Safari that can be used to trick you into visiting potentially malicious Web sites.
Discovered earlier this month by Germany security firm MajorSecurity, the vulnerability could allow cybercriminals to spoof the URL displayed in the browser, trapping users at the wrong sites.
"The weakness is caused due to an error within the handling of URLs when using javascript's method," explained David Vieira-Kurz of MajorSecurity. "This can be exploited to potentially trick users into supplying sensitive information to a malicious Web site, because information displayed in the address bar can be constructed in a certain way, which may lead users to believe that they're visiting another web site than the displayed web site."
First uncovered in IOS 5.0, the hole was reproduced in iOS 5.1. The security firm was able to confirm the flaw on an iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, and "iPad 3," all running iOS 5.1.
Apple was informed of the bug by MajorSecurity on March 3, but the information didn't go public until this past Tuesday. Apple did not immediately answer CNET's request for comment. But MajorSecurity is advising users to upgrade to a new version of IOS when a patch becomes available.
Since Apple has acknowledged the issue, it should be able to push out a fix in its next iOS update, says The Next Web. For now, though, mobile Safari users should follow the usual advice of not opening links you don't trust and be on the lookout for any site that asks for personal information.
Curious iOS 5 users can reproduce the bug themselves via the following steps outlined by MajorSecurity:
 With the cost of fuel hitting family budgets harder and harder, Ford of Europe has commenced production of its most fuel efficient (and lowest CO2 emissions) passenger car ever. The company’s new Fiesta ECOnetic Technology is powered by a 1.6-liter Duratorq TDCi diesel engine providing 205 Nm of torque that offers fuel economy figures of 3.3 l/100 km (114.7 US mpg) with CO2 emissions of 87 g/km.
In addition to the diesel engine that features bespoke calibration and optimized gear ratios, the car’s fuel-sipping specs come courtesy of a variety of ECOnetic technologies. These include Auto-Start-Stop, which shuts down the engine when the vehicle is at idle, Smart Regenerative Charging, which feeds back energy captured when braking to the vehicle’s battery, Eco mode, which provides the driver with feedback about their driving style, and a gear shift indicator in the instrument cluster that signals the optimum time to change gear.
While the car’s engine is built in Britain, the new vehicle is now rolling off the production line at Ford’s Cologne Assembly plant in Germany, and will come in three- and five-door versions, with a variety of trim levels depending on the market. The company says half of all Ford cars sold in Europe will be ECOnetic Technology models by the end of the year, increasing to two-thirds in 2013.
North American motorists hoping ECOnetic Technology models will be showing up in showrooms across the pond seem to be out of luck with a 2009 article in Business Week saying Ford wouldn’t be able to sell enough of the vehicles at a cheap enough price, due to exchange rates. Additionally, upgrading its Mexico plant to produce diesel engines would cost more than US$350 million. The company doesn’t believe there is a sufficient market for diesel cars in North and South America to justify such an outlay.
But buyers in the U.K. should note that the car’s fuel economy and CO2 emission figures mean that it is exempt from road tax and avoids London’s Congestion Charge.
 Angry Birds Space is not yet available to Windows Phone 7 users, but will be soon, according to the CEO of game maker Rovio, who contradicted an earlier report quoting a company executive who said the new game would skip the Microsoft platform.
The kerfuffle suggests some interesting backroom maneuvering in the hours between the two reports. Microsoft partner Nokia, for instance, may have expressed some displeasure about the original statement to the Angry Birds maker, a fellow Finnish company.
Absent the new Angry Birds game, Windows Phone 7 could have a much harder time attracting new users. That, in turn, could hurt Nokia, which just brought its first Windows Phone 7 handsets to the U.S. -- and could also potentially damage the outlook for Redmond's next mobile operating system, Windows 8, due out later this year.
It's also possible that Microsoft's clout is simply on the rise in the smartphone arena, given the possibility that Windows 8 might become a third major player in the smartphone market.
Either could be a plausible interpretation of the sudden volte-face Rovio has just executed.
In an interview with Reuters, Rovio CEO Mikael Hed said the company was "working towards getting Angry Birds Space to WP7."
While Hed didn't say when Windows Phone users could expect the game, his comments directly contradicted what Rovio's chief marketing officer told Bloomberg in an interview published earlier today. That official, Peter Vesterbacka, said that "it's a big undertaking" to support Microsoft's mobile operating system, since the game -- currently available for iOS and Android -- would have to be completely rewritten for Microsoft's current mobile OS.
"If you look at activations, Apple's iOS and Android are clearly bigger than any other platform," Vesterbacka told Bloomberg. "We want to be on all screens, but we have to consider the cost of supplying the smaller platforms. With Windows Phone it's a lot of work to technically support it."
Vesterbacka then told Bloomberg that Rovio had no plans to release Angry Birds Space on Windows Phone 7.
Rovio launched Angry Birds Space yesterday on Apple's iOS, Google's Android, and on Mac and the PC. The game takes the same basic function of launching birds from a slingshot at pigs but adds gravity elements -- or lack thereof -- that one would find in space. The game comes with 60 levels that, Rovio says, present a bundle of surprises to players. Angry Birds Space is already the top game in Apple's App Store.
Angry Birds Space won't be Rovio's first time bringing the Angry Birds franchise to Windows Phone 7. Last June, Rovio launched Angry Birds on Microsoft's operating system, delivering the same experience users would find on other platforms. As Vesterbacka pointed out in his interview with Bloomberg, the game is the most popular app in the Windows Phone app store.
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 Hollywood isn’t the only industry fascinated with remakes, reimagining and sequels these days. The motor world has its share of revivals and updates too. Case in point, Italian car maker Alfa Romeo and the Milan-based coachbuilding firm Carrozzeria Touring have teamed to unveil their latest collaboration: the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante 2012. Created as part of Alfa Romeo's centenary celebration, the Disco Volante 2012 dips back into the past to draw inspiration from one of the true classics of 20th century motoring, the 1952 Alfa Romeo C52 Disco Volante. However, where the original was a concept series with a run of only four, the 2012 version will be offered for sale later this year as a very limited series two-seater coupé that, in the words of Alfa Romeo, blend the ingredients of “innovation, emotion and aerodynamic properties into a timeless and essential shape”.
Mention the words “Disco Volante” to a car enthusiast and have your hanky ready because they're certain to go weak at the knees and start drooling. Italian for “flying saucer,” it was a true classic and an incredible influence on future car design. By itself, it practically defined the Italian sports car. Small wonder it’s been immortalized in bronze at the Fiera Milano trade fair grounds.
C52 Disco Volante
Few would argue that the original Disco Volante was a perfect car. In many ways, it was pretty ghastly. It was so cramped that it seemed to be designed for Munchkins and getting in and out of it left you without any dignity - if you could manage it at all. Then there was the fact that the engine made the cockpit so hot that it turned it into a mobile leg sauna. Or that, though designed as a racing car, it never even made it to the starting line.
But it was, and is, a mind-bogglingly beautiful machine - a kind of low-slung UFO on wheels with an oval cross section and graceful curves broken by bulges like something off of a fighter plane. The embodiment of Touring’s founder Felice Bianchi Anderloni’s moto: “Il peso è il nemico, la resistenza dell'aria è l'ostacolo" (weight is the enemy, air resistance the obstacle), the Disco Volante weighed in at only 1653.5 lbs (750 kg) and featured an aluminum shell that was not only streamlined for even flow of air going front to back, but for cross winds as well.
Though based on the Alfa Romeo 1900, the C52 Disco Volante was so heavily redesigned that it was practically a whole new car. Its two liter straight-four aluminum engine with two twin-choke Weber carburetors put out 158 bhp. This was bolted into a state of the art tubular spaceframe chassis for more rigidity with front wishbones and rear live axle and it was all wrapped in that fantastic, round aluminum body with its large overhangs and full under-body. Put it all together and you get 140 mph (225 kph) of pure beauty.
The C52 Disco Volante may not have won any races and may have been a bit too aerodynamic with its tendency to lift at both ends, but it went on to inspire a whole new class of sports car including, it’s said, the Jaguar E-Type. This made it a very hard act to follow and with the Disco Volante 2012, Alfa Romeo doesn’t make the mistake of trying to catch lightning in a bottle twice. The new version isn’t so much
The Alfa Romeo Disco Volante 2012
The new take aggressively retains the overall teardrop shape, yet with a rounded glass roof that seems almost domestic. The front goes for the same dramatic impact as the C52, but it’s bulkier and its integrated bonnet and wings looks less like the front end of a flying saucer than the business end of a knife. The rear is pronounced and decidedly muscular providing an air of power rather than lightness. However, the 2012’s heritage is obvious in the details, such as its pronounced waistline, the partly covered wheels, the prolonged rear lines and the limited front overhang. It’s all very Italian and small wonder that Alfa Romeo uses words like “extrovert” and “tempting” to describe it.
The rolling chassis is based on the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione providing a light, rigid structure on which the body work and drive train are integrated. A steel space frame provides further weight reduction and improved torsional stiffness. There are also front and rear double-wishbone suspension combined with hub carriers of forged aluminum and additional trailing arms for the rear suspension.
Under the bonnet is a 4.7 liter V8 engine with a 6-speed, electroactuated sequential flappy-paddle gearbox with automatic mode that yanks out the teeth with 450 bhp and an estimated top speed of 181 mph (292 kph), while it’s estimated to do 0 to 60 mph (100 kph) in 4.2 seconds.
The Disco Volante 2012 was unveiled at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show and delivery is expected to be in around eight months. No price has been set, but expect it to be in the nose-bleeding region.
 iPad users challenged by the Music app's tiny controls may appreciate an alternative audio player dubbed Deck.
Selling for $1.99 in the Apple Store, Deck provides a large interface with simple features and big controls so you don't need to struggle to manage and play your favorite music. I've been using the app frequently since Apple -- in my opinion -- screwed up the tablet's Music app with iOS 5.
Launching Deck displays its hefty audio player with all the standard buttons--Play, Pause, Back, Forward, Volume, and more. You tap on the Menu button to access your music library. From there you can view your music by Playlist, Artist, Album, Song, or Podcast. My only gripe here is that there's no way to view iTunes U content as there is with Apple's Music app. But I can launch the dedicated iTunes U app for that.
Tapping a particular album or playlist displays all of the tracks. Tapping a song loads it into the music player. The large buttons let you control the song, change the volume, and jump to the next or previous track. Other buttons let you rewind by 30 seconds or shuffle through your entire library.
The album's cover art appears in the background and as a thumbnail. You can clearly see the name of each track, the artist, and the album near the audio controls. A large slider lets you easily move forward or back along the current track. And you can use the app in either portrait or landscape mode.
Deck lacks one detail offered by Apple's Music App. You won't see the length of a track until you start playing it. But that's a small price to pay for the app's more user-friendly look and feel.
If you've been struggling with the small and awkward controls of the iPad's default Music app, you may want to take Deck out for a spin.
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