Sunday, 30 September 2012

Attention married men, here’s the perfect excuse to put your feet up – sharing housework can lead to divorce.
Research has suggested that the more chores a man does, the more likely the couple will split.
The survey of couples found that while most were happy to share childcare, the women still did the lion’s share of the housework most of the time.
And in 11 per cent of cases, the women did almost all of it.
When the man finally did do his bit, things seemed to go wrong.
The divorce rate among those who shared chores equally was about 50 per cent higher than among those where the woman did most of it, the study by the Norwegian government found.
Co-author Thomas Hansen, said: ‘One would think that break-ups would occur more often in families with less equality at home but our statistics show the opposite.
‘You can easily get into squabbles if both have the same roles and one has the feeling that the other is not pulling their weight.’
However, the reason for survey’s results could lie in modern attitudes towards marriage.
Sociologist Dr Frank Furedi said chore-sharing tends to take place among professional couples, where divorce rates are high.
Their more formal, ‘contractual’-style attitude towards marriage can make for a fraught relationship, he added.
But Relate counsellor Paula Hall said the results contradict other research. She added: ‘It is important couples feel they are making an equal contribution.
‘That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to share the ironing, doing one sleeve of the shirt each – that’s just daft. Instead, it is about playing to your strengths.
‘In my experience, arguments about housework are not about labour. They are about care and respect.’
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Across mobile phones in the US during August, Instagram received an average of 7.3 million daily visitors, while Twitter attracted 6.9 million users, a new report by ComScore said.
It also found users spent more time on the photo-sharing site than those who visited Twitter.
Instagram visitors spent an average of 257 minutes on the site via mobile phones in August, while those logging on to Twitter spent an average of 170 minutes viewing the site.
The news is likely to be warmly received Facebook, which increasingly competing with twitter for the lucrative mobile market.
Mark Zuckerberg's firm recently bought the social network for $715 million, sparking accusations of an 'app bubble' in Silicon Valley.
It is the first time that Instagram has pulled ahead of rival Twitter.
Mike Isaac of AllThingsD said the deal is a big step for Instagram.
'For a number of reasons, this is a pretty big deal,' he wrote.
'That the barely two-year-old Instagram could rocket up in user engagement and retention in such a short amount of time, eventually surpassing Twitter in the process, speaks to the sheer momentum of the photo-sharing product.'
However, the number of unique visitors to Twitter across the whole of August was higher than for Instagram, with Twitter recording 29 million unique visitors to the site, compared to Instagram who received almost 22 million.
Earlier this month Facebook finalised the purchase of Instagram, according to the photo-sharing website's founder.
The social networking site bid $1bn (£628m) for Instagram in April, and was given the green light for the deal from US regulators at the end of August.
But, after the sharp fall in Facebook shares since the firm went public in May, the cash plus share offer ended up being worth nearer $700m.
'Very excited to announce that we're now officially joining the Facebook family," Instagram founder Kevin Systrom wrote in a Facebook post at the time.
'Instagram has continued to grow and succeed beyond what we ever imagined, and we're so proud of all the team has accomplished.
'I'm psyched for the next chapter of this long journey. 
'I want to personally thank everyone in the Instagram community for the last two years of inspiration.'
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Until we get the ability to accurately control devices with the power of our brains, it seems like the touchscreen display will be the interface of choice for gadget-makers. Touchscreens continue to be added to devices which have previously made do with humble physical buttons, like the external flash, which recently joined the touchscreen fold with the launch of the Metz 52 AF-1.
The standout feature of the Metz mecablitz 52 AF-1 is unquestionably the square touchscreen display on the rear which allows users to control settings in a manner more like that which they've become accustomed to in the age of smartphones and tablets. A grid layout menu makes it easy to switch modes or change settings, and the screen is illuminated for use in darker situations.
While the touchscreen is no high-resolution color display, it does have a couple of nice features, like rotating menus 90° when attached to a camera held in portrait orientation – meaning they are still easy to read. However, whether photographers will find this easier than physical buttons (which can be felt without having to move your head away from the viewfinder) is yet to be seen.
In terms of the more traditional external flash features, the Metz 52 AF-1 boasts a bounce/swivel head which can move 90° upwards and swivel 300°, it also has a flip-out reflector card and a diffuser. A USB interface also means that firmware updates can be downloaded from the internet and installed on the flash.
Flash output has a guide number of 52 meters (170 ft) at ISO 100 and with the zoom head at the 105mm position. The Metz 52 AF-1 is also said to be good for 240 full flashes (with 4 x AA NiMH rechargeable batteries) and have a flash delay of 0.1 – 3.5 seconds. Manual flash mode offers 22 partial lighting levels while there's also modeling light for checking shadows.
As is typical with Metz, there are various versions which support the flash lighting technology from different camera manufacturers, and the 52 AF-1 digital offers E-TTL and E-TTL II flash mode for Canon, i-TTL/i-TTL-BL flash mode for Nikon, P-TTL for Pentax, four thirds TTL mode for Olympus/Panasonic/Leica and ADI flash mode for Sony.
Pricing and availability has not yet been announced.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

The McLaren P1 has arrived ... almost. We've already had a glimpse of the company's brand-new halo supercar but as it's still at design study stage, specs have yet to be finalized – and McLaren isn't providing any official clues on a few things that folks are more than a little curious about. Still, we now have some more details (and more pictures to drool over) than we had before.
Like Jaguar and its F-Type, McLaren was content to hand us a fancy hors d'oeuvre in the afternoon and leave us starving until dinner. Unlike Jaguar and its F-Type, McLaren is saving plenty of room for dessert, because it isn't quite ready to publicize things like powertrain and performance specs.
Of course, McLaren wouldn't show up to its first-ever international motor show empty handed, and it definitely has a story to tell. The story begins with a simple name: P1. That name may just sound like a random number and letter thrown together, but it has deeper meaning, both internally at McLaren and in the greater racing world. "P1" is a designation for first place in Grand Prix racing. It is also short for Project 1, internal code McLaren used when developing the F1, its original supercar.
From the name, unravels an intriguing plot of race-inspired performance and function-focused design.
"At the very beginning, we sought to develop a car that you could drive to a racing circuit, then press a button and race it," explains chief design engineer Dan Parry-Williams. "Maximum speed was never a priority. It’s much more technically challenging, and more meaningful, to develop a car that seeks to be the fastest-ever series production car on a racing circuit. The priority was high speed performance matched with tremendous composure, which would come mostly from the state-of-the-art aerodynamics. We wanted a car that was benign and predictable at any speed."
Essentially, McLaren set its sights on working the performance and technology of its latest race cars into a prettier package with a street-friendly disposition. Key to that goal is superior downforce that increases handling and ride at both high and low speeds. With no small amount of help from its huge rear diffuser and active rear wing, the P1 boasts higher levels of downforce than any current road car on the planet, according to McLaren. To prove it's not just putting down the competition, it says that downforce is five times greater than its own MP4-12C and more comparable to the 12C GT3.
With the help of several pieces of equipment, downforce actively adjusts during driving. The F1-inspired rear wing expands rearwards up to 300 mm (11 inches) and tilts 29 degrees. Two active aerodynamic flaps on the front of the underside also adjust on the fly. The car's straight line performance, handling and braking are optimized, giving the driver more control and confidence.
Downforce is up, and weight is down. McLaren all but dunks the mid-engined coupe in carbon fiber to keep weight as minimal as possible (it hasn't listed a weight just yet). Like the MP4-12C, the P1 sits on a carbon fiber monocoque. Unlike the MP4-12C, it also uses a MonoCage safety cage in the roof, a derivative of its MonoCell design.
The P1 also gets a full carbon body. The body panels save weight by virtue of their carbon build, but McLaren also uses fewer of them – clamshell single-moulded front and rear panels attached to the central carbon MonoCage, two small access flaps in the rear, the hood, and the doors. In addition to slicing weight, the limited number of panels provides a cleaner, more organic look.
As we opined when we first saw it, the P1 definitely has commanding, aggressive look to it. Design director Frank Stephenson explains that he wanted the car to be "striking but also functional, a real statement of intent, a genuinely beautiful and dramatically honest supersports car, in keeping with McLaren’s heritage but also at the forefront of automotive design."
The orange body of the P1 appears almost like a protective case that can snap off, leaving carbon skeleton underneath completely naked, a design that betrays a grand emphasis on aerodynamics and cooling. The gaping mouth and large door ducts help to push a windstorm worth of air back toward the engine. The curvaceous glasshouse allows air to flow smoothly over top, save for the molecules that are sucked up by the roof scoop. The thin taillights, meanwhile, frame what Stephenson calls the "most aggressive rear diffuser ever seen on a road car" and allow hot air to rush the mesh back. 
After all the lightweight, active aerodynamics and advanced cooling talk, it sure would be nice to know what engine sits amidships, wouldn't it? That's where McLaren keeps us guessing. It promises an "immensely powerful engine" and 600-hp per tonne, but it does not tell us a whisper more. So there is no confirmation of the 800-hp V-8 engine with KERS system that has been rumored. Not yet, anyway – McLaren will reveal those types of details early next year. It plans to get the car to market by late 2013. 
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The beast you see here is a GT3 racing concept car that Bentley brought to the 2012 Paris Motor Show. Based on the recently launched Contental GT Speed the machine is part of an FIA-sanctioned development process to get Bentley back into competitive motorsport after a break of 10 years. With rear-wheel drive, stripped interior and some extensive aero the vehicle abandons luxury and refinement for some serious attitude. 
"The clear message from our customers is that Bentley belongs on the racetrack, and the Continental GT3 is the realization of a dream we've had ever since the launch of the Continental GT," said Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, Bentley's Chairman and Chief Executive. "The new GT Speed is the perfect car for us to develop into a racer, and our work so far has shown huge potential. The Continental GT3 is set to show the world what the Continental GT is capable of in its most extreme form, and establishes a solid foundation for Bentley's long-term motorsport plans." 
The car is still a concept for the moment as Bentley has to decide which motor to drop in the nose depending on which race series it intends to enter – the 4.0 liter V8 or the 6.0 liter W12. Either way, one can only imagine the eventual noise erupting from the side-mounted exhausts as the car barrels down a straight.
Bentley suggests that there will no road-going version but you just know that after seeing this monster in the metal, certain individuals will be throwing money at it to produce precisely that.
Development of the Continental GT3 will continue over the coming months in the build-up to the start of a test program in 2013 and a return to racing at the end of the year.
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Monday, 24 September 2012

There must be a kazillion mini tripods for smartphones out there, and probably about half as many ergonomic hand grips designed to minimize shaky video. WOXOM’s SlingShot device, however, combines the two – it’s a smartphone hand grip that can be converted into a table top tripod.
Although the SlingShot’s rubber-padded polymer cradle is designed specifically to accommodate the iPhone, it will reportedly work with any make or model of smartphone – with or without a case, and even when held upside down.
A ball-and-socket joint connects the cradle to the grip. For hand-held shots, the angle between the two sections can be adjusted to the user’s liking, then tightened down. While the use of such a grip is indeed likely to result in less shakes, it should be noted that the SlingShot is not the same sort of device as the SteadiCam Smoothee or the SteadeeGo, in which the phone sort of “floats” semi-independently of the grip.
When a steady shot is really important, however, two folding legs can be extended out of the grip’s main body, turning it into a mini tripod. Additionally, the phone cradle (which can be detached from the grip) has a threaded hole in the bottom, so it can be mounted on a standard tripod if desired.

Saturday, 22 September 2012


The release of a new iPhone means two things. The first is obviously the new phone; but that hardware is also accompanied by a new version of iOS. Apple's mobile operating system has evolved from a relatively simple interface for using a few stock Apple apps (on 2007's debut iPhone) to an advanced system that is creeping ever closer to OS X. The annual iOS refresh is now an event in itself.

The last two iterations of iOS brought significant upgrades. 2010's iOS 4 saw multitasking, folders, and home screen wallpaper; last year's iOS 5 featured revamped notifications, iCloud, and Twitter integration. With the most obvious holes already filled, many questioned what direction Apple would take this year with iOS 6.

Let's take a look at the decisions – and execution – that Apple ultimately took with this year's update:
Maps

Apple opted to highlight its update to Maps as the marquee feature of iOS 6. That may come back to haunt Tim Cook and Co., as customers and critics have been up in arms over this initial version of Apple Maps.
The first five editions of iOS used Google Maps on the backend, with an iOS skin on the front end. However, for undisclosed reasons (hmm, the bitter rivalry between Google and Apple, perhaps?), the contract wasn't renewed and Apple created its own backend to Maps.
The sexiest new feature is called Flyover. It's an attractive bird's-eye view that lets you pan around select cities to see 3D versions of buildings, landscapes, and landmarks. Think Google Earth in a pop-up book.
Flyover is great eye candy, but doesn't necessarily serve a practical purpose. That base, however, is covered by the new turn-by-turn navigation. Android's Google Maps Navigation has been a feather in its cap for several years; now iOS has its own answer. As a nice perk, Apple's navigation is integrated with Siri ("take me to the zoo" will now provide voiced navigation, rather than a silent list of directions). It also uses live traffic data to optimize your routes.
Apple's Maps is a great start for a company that has never released mapping software … but customers have come to expect more from Apple. Steve Jobs' perfectionism is legendary, firmly ingrained in the company's DNA. So to see "updated" software that is, in many ways, a step (or three) back from the previous version raises an alarm.
Complaints about Maps have ranged from misplaced landmarks to missing towns and melted bridges. To make matters worse, mass transit directions are kaput, with the app directing users to third-party App Store apps.
To be fair, mapping data needs to be used to improve. With data from TomTom and Waze as a start, this may be the best Apple could have done from the get-go, and it should improve in time. To other companies, this would be an understandable rocky start; but Apple isn't known for releasing half-baked software (though some Siri critics would vehemently disagree).
It will be interesting to see what Apple decides to do with the dedicated Google Maps app that 9to5 Mac reports is currently awaiting approval from Apple. With many dissatisfied with Apple Maps as it stands, the company might attarct a fair bit of criticism if it rejects it on the grounds that Google's app “competes with existing functionality.”
Those looking to get Google Maps on their iOS 6 device can add an icon to their home screen by opening Safari, heading to maps.google.com, hitting the action button from the bottom toolbar (the one in the middle) and selecting "Add to Home Screen."
Still, if you don't rely on public transit, and you don't mind the occasional hiccup, Apple's Maps is a solid initial release with two exciting new features.
Facebook
When iOS 5 launched with Twitter integration, many scratched their heads, wondering what happened to Facebook. Having long been rumored to partner with Apple, pundits speculated about a feud between the two companies. Some even thought the Twitter partnership was a direct jab at Mark Zuckerberg and company. If there was any bad blood, though, that hatchet has apparently been buried, as iOS 6 brings the long-anticipated integration with Facebook.
This feature is essentially identical to the existing Twitter integration: easy sharing to Facebook from most apps, the ability to post to your wall from Notification Center, and easy login to apps with Facebook permissions. You can also create Facebook posts using Siri …
Siri

Speaking of Apple's intelligent assistant, Siri was also (incrementally) updated for iOS 6. "She" can now give you sports scores, show movie times, and even make restaurant reservations (via OpenTable).
Siri can also launch apps ("open Angry Birds"). Jailbreakers will point out that they've been doing this for the better part of a year.
Passbook

Many thought Near Field Communication (NFC) was a sure bet for the iPhone 5. Apple opted to skip the budding hardware technology (for now), but still created its own payment system. The result is Passbook, another service that has plenty of room to grow.
Companies who partner with Apple will integrate their apps with the Passbook app, providing an easy way to store tickets, boarding passes, and shopping cards. You can then open the app, show a barcode, and be on your way. It achieves some of the same results that NFC would, but is easier to integrate because it uses already-deployed technology.
Passbook partners at launch (list via Gizmodo) include - among others - Fandango, Major League Baseball, Ticketmaster, Target, United Airlines, American Airlines, and Walgreens. Companies planning on releasing Passbook-friendly updates soon include Delta Airlines, Amtrak, and Starbucks.
New App Store
The App Store (as well as iTunes and iBooks) has also gotten a facelift. More apps are featured on the front page in an attractive new interface. Search results also show more information about each app, and you can install or update an app without being booted back to the home screen.
Shared Photo Streams
Photo Stream, the photo branch of iCloud, also received an update. Now you can select images from your own photo stream to instantly share with friends. They can then collaborate on the cloud-based album, and like or comment on individual photos.
FaceTime over 3G/4G

When Apple introduced FaceTime video chat in 2010, it had the infamous requirement of being on a Wi-Fi network. Now that pesky limitation has finally been lifted … sort of.
The only catch is that AT&T is using this opportunity to convert customers to its new shared data plans. The carrier is only allowing cellular FaceTime for customers who switch from their old individual plans. Fortunately for US customers, they have a choice: both Verizon and Sprint are allowing 3G/4G FaceTime without restrictions.
Safari
Though Safari remains largely the same, Apple did add iCloud-synced tabs (you'll see what pages are open on other Apple devices, including Macs), an offline Reading List, and a full-screen mode for landscape use (excluding the iPad, as this feature was likely added mainly to maximize the iPhone 5's longer 16:9 display).
Mail
Apple's Mail app also saw a few additions, including a VIP inbox, the ability to insert images and videos directly into a mail composition, and pull-to-refresh.
Phone
A handy new feature gives you a couple of options when you can't take a call. Reply with a message (custom or canned), or set a reminder to return the call. There is also a universal Do Not Disturb option that turns off system-wide notifications and calls. 

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Some of the concept cars that turn up at motor shows seem a little bit mad, but the smart forstars scheduled to be unveiled at the 2012 Paris Motor Show (September 29 - October 14) is a car that seems to have developed a particularly serious identity disorder. On the one hand, it’s an electric SUC (Sports Utility Coupé). On the other hand, it’s a mobile video projector for staging impromptu cinema outings on any handy blank wall.
Designed as a city car for a hip, urban market, the smart forstars gets its name from its all-glass roof, which allows for a bit of stargazing. It also serves as a bit of wordplay regarding the video projector mounted in its front bonnet that can be used to display stars of the Hollywood variety. The projector is designed to be operated by a smartphone and is linked to a high-quality sound system with speakers in ventilation openings behind the doors.
According to smart boss Dr Annette Winkler, "with its powerful battery and integrated projector the smart forstars can transform any grey backyard into an animated open-air cinema." Provided, of course, you have a blank white wall to serve as a screen.
Described by the company as “agile and lively," the smart forstars is an all-electric vehicle that seats two, yet has an unusually ample storage compartment for a smart car. Its 60 kW (80 bhp) magneto-electric motor from the new smart BRABUS electric drive is an increase over production smart cars and provides 135 Nm (100 ft-lbs) of torque from the 17.6 kWh lithium ion battery. Top speed is reported as 130 kph (80 mph).
The forstars takes some of its cues from the smart for-us, such as an emphasis on curves and an oversized brand emblem on the grill. It retains the familiar smart silhouette with the wheels set at the extreme corners, though it has a longer wheelbase along with extremely short overhangs and a distinct ledge where the bodywork meets the windscreens.
The upper half looks almost like something off of an old Messerschmitt bubble car. However, unlike Messerschmitt bubble cars, the tail lights open. Behind one is the charging socket for the batteries and behind the other is space for storing a drink can, naturally.
Aside from the bubble top and the projector, the outside seems almost sensible. Open the door, however, and you can see where the designers stuffed all the madness. It’s pure concept with a color palette chosen for its visual impact. The interior color scheme is "alubeam rouge" – a deliberate attempt at a garish contrast to the matte titanium finish of the Tridion Safety Cell that forms the structure of smart's cars.
The seat shells are "covered with a soft fabric throw giving them a hammock-like seating feel," according to smart. "The graphic elements and different red tones of the covers indicate a progression and thus underline the dynamism and the very trendy aspect of the vehicle.” They’re also trimmed in white bag leather, which is another notch down on the practicality scale.
Meanwhile, the dashboard instruments in the driver’s cockpit look like they’re staring back at you. As a final touch, there’s no rearview mirror either. Instead the driver places his smartphone in a mount and watches the road behind by means of the car’s rearview camera. The docked smartphone is also used to control the car's projector. 
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Google has decided to discontinue all the Google Wallet cards from the next month due to continuous security issues. All the Google prepaid payment cards would be discontinued from the next month.
All the users of Google Wallet prepaid cards have been informed to spend all the remaining amount in their cards by next month.
Google officials said that the users would not be able to add any money in their cards from September 17, 2012. They also said that the prepaid cards would start to disappear from Google Wallet App from October 17, 2012. This means that the users would not be able to use their remaining balance on their cards. However, the company officials said that the users could request for refund amounts in case they have any fund left on their Google Wallet prepaid cards.
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We were checking apple store website (http://store.apple.com/) and we found that just few hours before the big event, the apple store is down.
The message on the apple store site says “We’ll be back.”. It also says, “We’re busy updating the Apple Store for you and will be back soon.”
Apple is busy updating it’s store before the launch of iPhone 5. The actual event for the launch of iPhone 5 starts at 1 p.m. ET.
According to the rumors, Apple iPhone 5 is expected to hit the markets by 21st of September, though some of the devices might be available before that that as a result of pre-orders.
Today, Apple is likely to showcase other products as well except the iPhone 5 like refreshed and more improved iPods, iPads etc.
Just stay tuned, as we would be bringing you the updates from the big event today during the mega launch of Apple iPhone 5.
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Apple announced today that more than two million customers pre-ordered iPhone 5s in the first 24 hours after vendors opened up their order books on September 14. This is more than double the one million pre-orders received for the iPhone 4S in its first 24 hours last year.
The figure outstrips the first pre-order batch of iPhone 5s that will ship September 21, and though Apple claims the "majority" of pre-orders will be received on day one, a backlog already exists that will not be cleared until October.
Apple will be holding back additional stock for when its high street retail stores upon up their doors at 8 a.m. on Friday. Apple sold 4 million iPhone 4S handsets in the three days following its launch last year. Should iPhone 5 match that performance at retail, it will be well on course to match the widely-reported prediction of Piper Jaffray's wonderfully-named Gene Munster, that Apple will shift 10 million iPhone 5s in its first three weeks.
Only time will tell if the iPhone 5 will stand up to the more lofty, and also widely-reported, premonitions of Craig Berger at FBR Capital Markets, who reckons Apple could move a staggering 250 million iPhone 5s over the course of its lifetime—a figure which depends on unprecedented levels of upgrade-frenzy among existing Apple customers, as well as a launch in mainland China. To put that into perspective, that would be more iPhones (across all models) than Apple has sold internationally since 2007. It's even been suggested that iPhone 5 could eventually help to push Apple's share price into four figures, and have an appreciable impact on America's GDP.
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Apple has released the new iPhone 5, the gadget that we all have been waiting for eagerly. The new iPhone 5 has added many features and there has been upgradations to several existing features as well. Here we list down all the major changes that are there in iPhone 5.
The most remarkable feature of this new iPhone 5 is its screen. The screen is larger than the previous version of the iPhone. The iPhone 5 has a 4 inch screen with a resolution of 1136 x 640 pixels. The screen also has the feature of 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. The screen is taller and so it provides five rows of apps to be adjusted in a single screen.
The new iPhone 5 is also thinner and lighter than the older phone. It is just 0.3 of an inch in thickness and the weight of the new iPhone 5 is under 4 ounces. All this has made the iPhone 5 more sleek, stylish and beautiful.
The iPhone 5 has LTE connectivity meaning that it would be possible to use iPhone with networks such as AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and a whole lot of other networks throughout the world. Because of this, the model is divided into three models which are all different. Only one of these models supports CDMA networks. Due to all these approaches, the chip size of the iPhone has reduced. However, there was moving away from the world phone approach that was adapted by Apple.
There is also a new 30 pin dock connector in the new iPhone. The new connector is 80% smaller than the previous connectors placed on the device. Another advantage that this connector has is of being reversible, meaning now, you don’t have to worry about inserting the jack the right or the wrong (reverse) way. In whatever way you connect, you will always insert it the right way.
The new iPhone 5 has a new processor. The new processor is ARM-based Apple A6. This processor is two times as fast as the processor in iPhone 4S. It also has two times processing capability in terms of graphics performance.
The iPhone 5 has been designed in such a way as to save power while using iOS. The batteries last upto eight hours of talktime and upto 10 hours in terms of video playback.
There is also a new design in terms of earphones that comes along with the new iPhone 5. These are now called EarPods. It has been designed to fit deeper into the ear with a perfect fit. The device has been designed by taking samples of different kind of ears to fit them perfectly. The design is very comfortable on ears.
In terms of Camera, the iPhone 5 has updraded the front facing camera to an HD FaceTime camera. The rear camera is the same 8 megapixel camera but now it is 40% faster than the previous camera and performs better in low-light. There is also an improved stabilization of image for video. Another feature that has been upgraded in the rear camera is the panorama mode – in this mode, the camera can combine many pictures into a single 28 MP image. This feature is also available in iPhone 4S with the iOS 6.
There is also a much improved Siri. Siri has learned many things with iOS6. It can tweet and post Facebook updates as you command it to. It can also now launch apps. It has also developed a deep understanding of things such as sports scores.
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Sunday, 16 September 2012

February 10, 2009 The Foiljet MR1 is a new personal watercraft concept that takes the best features of a motocross bike and jetski, throws in two hydrofoils plus a silent, energy efficient electric motor to create what would have to be a surefire recipe for outrageous fun. The design looks something like a motocross bike, but instead of wheels there are beams with small hydrofoil wings mounted at the ends that can be raised or lowered. The concept would use a 15 kW (20 hp) electric motor housed at the end of the rear beam with its instant electric torque lifting the craft out of the water to become "foil borne".
To cope with shallow water the beams can be raised at the flick of a switch. The electric motor runs off a 48V battery that should see three hours of full load running with the possibility of a theoretical 10 min recharge time.
While still at the purely concept stage Matt De Bellefeuille & Robert Vandenham have come up with an original design that most definitely deserves to reach the prototype stage.
The designers have selected a T-shaped fully submerged foil system which, while not affected by surface waves is not self stabilizing, so it needs constant adjustment of the angle of attack of the front foil to keep the craft level with the surface. Front foil angle adjustment on the Foiljet MR1 is made manually by what would conventionally be the clutch lever on a motorcycle. In larger applications this sea-keeping function is automated with a computer system that measure either surface height or pitch and roll to make constant fine adjustments to the front foil.
Hydrofoils produce relatively no wake and electric propulsion is near silent, so if the Foiljet MR1 makes it into production it may allow current laws against jetski’s on inland water ways to be relaxed around residential areas.
If money is no object to you, but environmental concerns are, then LUXURY's MIG 675 might be your kind of boat. The 22 x 8-foot (6.7 x 2.5-meter) cruiser seats three, has a top speed of 70 mph (113 km/h), and produces emissions consisting of nothing but water vapor - this sucker is hydrogen-powered. It's where that hydrogen reportedly comes from, however, that may really raise a few eyebrows. 
Unfortunately, the Quimperlé, France-based boat manufacturer still hasn't responded to our request for more detailed information, but here is what the company claims ...
Instead of carrying pressurized hydrogen tanks, the MIG 675 reportedly produces its own fuel, using an onboard generator that harvests hydrogen from the surrounding seawater. This powers its 500 HP supercharged engine, providing a cruising speed of 45 mph (72.5 km/h) and the previously-mentioned 70 mph top end.
The hydrogen generator also powers all the onboard electrical devices, which include an electric anchor roller, a 10-inch touchscreen controller, GPS, depth finder, rear-view camera, an Alpine audio system, a bar fridge with an electric retractable table, and an LED navigation lighting system.
Other features of the 2,866-pound (1,300-kg) aluminum-hulled watercraft include a shower, toilet, leather interior, sun deck, and teak floor. It also, so we're told, comes with its own set of dental forceps - perhaps there was a problem with the French-English translation, with that one.
The LUXURY website claims that the MIG 675 features "live [hydrogen] production during navigation," although one has to wonder ... does this mean that the boat could theoretically just keep running indefinitely, or does its hydrogen consumption exceed its hydrogen production? The first scenario sounds just a little too good to be true.
If you're interested in finding out what the case is, you can purchase a MIG 675 of your own as of next year, for a mere EUR250,000 (US$329,727).
When someone mentions drug running, most people probably picture a person coming through an airport carrying a suitcase with a false bottom or with balloons stuffed up their nether regions. We don’t usually imagine things like submarines. Unfortunately, the South American drug cartels not only imagine them, but they build and operate them. To help combat these underwater smugglers, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S and T) is operating their own drug-running submarine called PLUTO to develop and test a new generation of detection equipment.
Named after the hard to detect (former) planet, PLUTO reproduces the characteristics of what are commonly called “narco subs.” When rumors of their existence began to circulate in the 1990s, narco subs were dismissed as something out of a James Bond film and nicknamed “Bigfoot” because everyone in drug enforcement heard about them, but no one had seen one. Then one was captured in 2006 by the U.S. Coast Guard in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
Narco subs are not true submarines. Instead, they’re a form of semi-submersible or, to give them their official designation, self-propelled, semi-submersibles (SPSSs). They ride very low in the water with only about three inches (7.62 ) of freeboard above the waterline and are designed to give only a tiny radar profile. They also ride very rough and their crews of three or four have little to eat, bad air and no toilet facilities as well as sometimes having an armed guard as a supervisor.
The subs are also meant to be expendable at the end of a delivery "Drug-running is lucrative. It is cheaper to simply build another vessel than to run the risk of trying to get a vessel and its crew home," said Tom Tomaiko of S and T's Borders and Maritime Security Division.
PLUTO was built in 2008 and is home-ported at Eglin Air Force Base near Fort Walton Beach, Florida, where it is maintained by the Air Force's 46th Test Squadron, though it operates in the Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Forty-five feet (13.71 m) long and running at a maximum speed of ten knots (11.52 mph/18.52 kph), though it only cruises at four to eight knots (4.60 mph/7.4 kph to 9.20 mph/14.81 kph), PLUTO can carry up to four crew, but usually only operates with one due to safety.
It’s used by the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection/Air and Marine (CBP/OAM), U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and other national agencies as a target submarine capable of mimicking a narco sub for the purpose of testing detection systems from ships, planes and even satellites at various angles and under different sea conditions.
Customs and Border Protection used PLUTO to test its Dash 8 maritime surveillance aircraft’s SeaVue radar to determine detection distances and aspect angles for optimal mission performance and the U.S. Navy tested its P-3 aircraft’s maritime surveillance radar system against the pseudo narco-sub.
PLUTO is only one part of an escalating war between drug cartels and law enforcement agencies. Recently, the cartels have started using true submarines that travel submerged, which means that PLUTO may now be fighting yesterday’s war.
According to Admiral James Stavridis, former Joint Commander for all U.S. forces in the Caribbean, Central and South America, "criminals are never going to wait for law enforcement to catch up. They are always extending the boundaries of imagination, and likewise, we must strive to push forward technology and invest in systems designed specifically to counter the semi-submersible. We need to be able to rapidly detect and interdict this new type of threat, both for its current effects via the drug trade, and – more troublingly – for its potential as a weapon in the hands of terrorists."
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Saturday, 15 September 2012

A team that has created a supersonic jet design resembling a flying shuriken has been awarded a US$100, 000 grant from NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program to continue development of the aircraft. Aside from looking suitably futuristic, the concept plane’s four-pointed star design serves a practical purpose. By rotating in mid air, the plane can transition between broad-wing subsonic and shorter wingspan supersonic configurations. 
Aircraft design is usually a compromise between subsonic and supersonic performance. At low speeds, broad wings provide more lift and help minimize takeoff distance, while swept back wings with a smaller profile enhance performance at high speeds. Variable-sweep wing (or swing wing) aircraft, such as the F-14 Tomcat and B-1 Lancer, get around this with wings that are spread broadly at takeoff and low speeds and can be swept back while in flight for improved performance at high speeds.
The supersonic bi-directional flying wing (SBiDir-FW) aircraft tackles the problem in a different way. It would take off in one orientation with broader wings, before rotating 90 degrees in flight to transition to high-speed mode with a shorter wing span.
“No matter how fast a supersonic plane can fly, it needs to take off and land at very low speed, which severely hurts the high-speed supersonic performance for a conventional airplane,” said Ge-Chen Zha, a professor in the University of Miami’s College of Engineering and principal investigator of the project. “The SBiDir-FW removes this performance conflict by rotating the airplane to fly in two different directions at subsonic and supersonic. Such rotation enables the SBiDir-FW to achieve superior performance at both supersonic and subsonic speeds.”
While conventional commercial aircraft consist of a tube-shaped fuselage attached to two wings that responsible for generating lift, as a flying wing, the entire surface of the SBiDir-FW is used to generate lift. Passengers and cargo would be contained within the wide span, thick, rounded airfoil used at low speeds, while the high-speed wing would have a shorter span and a thin-sharp-edged airfoil to reduce drag at supersonic speed.
The aircraft would rotate into supersonic configuration by folding winglets attached to the end of the wings in subsonic configuration. Folding them up again would see the aircraft rotate back again to subsonic orientation once again. The engine pod on the back of the aircraft would also be rotated when switching modes.
Zha hopes his SBiDir-FW will produce no sonic boom, have low supersonic wave drag, and low fuel consumption. A preliminary computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation for a SBiDir-FW business jet indicates that at speeds of Mach 1.6 to 2.0, there is no sonic boom.
“I am hoping to develop an environmentally friendly and economically viable airplane for supersonic civil transport in the next 20 to 30 years,” said Zha. “Imagine flying from New York to Tokyo in four hours instead of 15 hours.”
The $100,000 NIAC grant is intended to help the research team refine the aircraft design using CFD, examine the feasibility of the design, and conduct wind tunnel testing to verify the aircraft’s performance at supersonic speeds and its sonic boom signature. If all goes well, the team will be eligible for an addition $500,000 to continue development of the aircraft.
When they’re living aboard spacecraft, astronauts presently rely on mechanically-driven life support systems. Not only is there a danger of these systems breaking down, but maintenance can be challenging, as they’re always in use. While redundant duplicate systems could take over in such situations, they add to the expense and weight of a spacecraft, and also take up valuable space. Instead, NASA is exploring another possibility – the passive “Water Walls” system, which would use the principle of forward osmosis to perform tasks such as water filtration, air filtration, and even food growth.
As its name implies, Water Walls would be incorporated into the “structural matrix” of the spacecraft – its inner walls, in other words – and would consist of modules of linked and layered cells. These cells would take the form of bags or tanks, made from semi-permeable polyethylene membranes that would draw in water, while filtering out unwanted substances. Some mechanization would still be required, but only to pump waste water to the modules.
There would actually be four types of cells within each module, each one chemically and biologically unique, and each performing different functions. These would include filtering the urine and other contaminants from gray water; filtering solid waste from “black water”; removing carbon dioxide and revitalizing oxygen content in the air; and, growing green algae for food. All four types of cells would also shield the crew from radiation emanating from outside the spacecraft, and help maintain the interior temperature and humidity.
Prior to lift-off, each cell would be primed with water and starter ion solutions. When the waste water then reached the modules, it would pass through each cell in sequence, via a series of valves between them. Once a cell was “exhausted,” it could be easily replaced with a spare, by crew members.
NASA has already experimented with some aspects of the Water Walls system aboard the International Space Station, using a device known as theForward Osmosis Bag to convert astronaut's urine into a sports drink.
There's no denying that tablet computers have carved out quite a substantial niche over the past couple of years, but they're not exactly an ideal productivity solution for those of us who spend much of our lives tapping away on a keyboard. Lenovo generated a flutter of excitement at CES 2010 when the company revealed its intention to combine tablet convenience with the power of a notebook in the form of the U1. Sadly, this concept hasn't yet made it beyond prototyping, but ASUS actually delivered somewhat similar functionality with its Eee Pad Transformer series. Now, the company has revealed a new ultrabook that also has a multi-touch tablet on the outer face of the lid. Full specs for the TAICHI are a little thin at the moment, but here's what we do know. 
ASUS says that its TAICHI ultrabook/tablet will come in 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch form factors, although the pre-production prototype introduced by the company's Jonney Shih at Computex 2012 in Taipai, Taiwan earlier this month was of the former size. The lid of both models is home to dual FHD/IPS panels, each at 1920 x 1080 resolution, which are said to utilize the same hardware, but are independent of one another.
This effectively means that users will be able to mirror the notebook display on the multi-touch tablet panel on outer surface of TAICHI's lid, useful for cozy business presentations, sharing video chat sessions with friends or family, or showing of home videos and photos without having to squeeze in front of a screen. That glossy outer surface does look to be quite the fingerprint magnet, though, but that's perhaps a small price to pay for such functionality.
The tablet panel will support stylus input, which is thought to have been made possible courtesy of N-trig technology, a grid-based system which supports up to 256 pressure levels – although there's been nothing official on this from ASUS.
The ASUS TAICHI is reported to weigh about the same as an ASUS Zenbook Prime, is powered by 3rd generation Intel Core i7 processors, features SSD storage and DDR3 system memory, and comes with built-in dual-band 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI and DisplayPort connectivity.
There's a full-size, chiclet-style backlit QWERTY keyboard and trackpad, front and rear HD cameras and B&O ICEpower and ASUS SonicMaster audio. It's also been made NFC-capable, and has an e-compass and gyroscopic sensors.
Anyone in the market for one of Apple's new Thunderbolt-equipped 2011 MacBook Pros would be forgiven for thinking the machines only support up to 8GB (2 x 4GB) of RAM since that's what's listed on the tech specs and is the maximum build-to-order option available through Apple. However online store OWC says the new 2011 MacBook Pro models can actually support up to 16GB (2 x 8GB) and is selling the 8GB sticks you'll need to make it happen. The only catch is the price, which is more than the asking price for either of the two 2011 13-inch MacBook Pro models currently available.
All the 2011 MacBook Pro models come with 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 memory as standard, which should be fine for most applications. But if you're a power user dealing with video editing, high resolution images or the like, then shelling out an extra US$200 to bump the RAM up to 8GB can be a wise investment – and sourcing the RAM from someone other than Apple can bring the price down to almost half that.
But if at 8GB you're still thirsting for yet more speed, then OWC is happy to oblige with a 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3 1333MHz Memory Upgrade Kit that sells for US$1599.99, with the high price tag attributable to the scarcity of 8GB modules. However, at this price you'd have to do a serious cost/benefit analysis and ask yourself whether you actually need what, for most users, would probably amount to a minimal speed increase. For the slightly more budget conscious OWC also sells a 12GB (8GB + 4GB) Upgrade Kit for $879.99.
As computers become more sophisticated, they sometimes seem almost human – especially when they refuse to download a page when you’re in a hurry. At the Intel Developer’s Forum in San Francisco, Intel revealed that it is taking that a step further by giving their new line of Ultrabooks “human-like senses to perceive the user's intentions” thanks to a new generation of processors.
The new Ultrabooks will use low-power fourth generation Intel Core processors based on Haswell microarchitecture. According to Intel, these have an idle power 20 times that of the second generation processors. Scheduled to be introduced into Ultrabooks and other PCs in 2013, they promise longer battery life and increased processor, graphics and media performance.
Intel sees the new processors as not only the way to faster, lighter, thinner cooler and more secure Ultrabooks, but also as a means of opening the door to a raft of new mobile designs and interactive softwares. One idea that Intel is actively promoting is to make its Ultrabooks into highly interactive platforms with advanced senses that allow for more intuitive, natural interactions between computer and user.
As part of this effort, Intel will release its Intel Perceptual Computing Software Development Kit beta to developers early next year. The idea behind perceptual computing is to provide the Ultrabook with human-like senses to allow the computer to perceive the user's intentions. Key to this is Intel’s Creative camera, which is a screen-mounted system that includes a low-power HD 760p image sensor designed to work at close range, along with a 3D depth array and dual microphone array.

With the Creative camera, Intel hopes that software developers will come up with advanced applications to enhance user interactions. One area is speech recognition, which Intel wants to move beyond today’s "barking orders" stage to more natural functions, such as real-time language translation. Another is facial analysis for facial recognition, determining a user’s age and gender, facial tracking and even something as simple as knowing when the user is smiling or not.
Other uses for perceptual computing involve giving users a virtual interface. By providing the Ultrabook with close-range tracking, users can reach out and manipulate objects on screen or control applications by simple gestures. Related to this is 2D/3D tracking that will allow user images to blend into the action on the screen. As the computer tracks the user’s hands or facial features, it will be possible for users to go beyond manipulating objects to doing things like trying on glasses in a virtual environment.
These are still more wish list than reality, but if you should someday see someone in the coffee shop gesturing wildly at their laptop, keep in mind that they aren’t raving mad.

Friday, 14 September 2012

It's a bit like enzymes (if you know your chemistry): you fix onto a molecule or two, then twist or pull or push in a precise way until a chemical reaction happens right where you want it. This happens in a vacuum, so you don't have water molecules bumping around. It's a lot more controllable that way.
So, if you want to add an atom to a surface, you start with that atom bound to a molecule called a "tool tip" at the end of a mechanical manipulator. You move the atom to the point where you want it to end up. You move the atom next to the surface, and make sure that it has a weaker bond to the tool tip than to the surface. When you bring them close enough, the bond will transfer. This is ordinary chemistry: an atom moving from one molecule to another when they come close enough to each other, and when the movement is energetically favorable. What's different about mechanochemistry is that the tool tip molecule can be positioned by direct computer control, so you can do this one reaction at a wide variety of sites on the surface. Just a few reactions give you a lot of flexibility in what you make.
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It's a proposed new appliance, something that might sit on a countertop in your home. To build a personal nanofactory (PN), you need to start with a working fabricator, a nanoscaledevice that can combine individual molecules into useful shapes. A fabricator could build a very small nanofactory, which then could build another one twice as big, and so on. Within a period of weeks, you have a tabletop model. 
Products made by a PN will be assembled from nanoblocks, which will be fabricated within the nanofactory. Computer aided design (CAD) programs will make it possible to create state-of-the-art products simply by specifying a pattern of predesigned nanoblocks. The question of when we will see a flood of nano-built products boils down to the question of how quickly the first fabricator can be designed and built.
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