Archive for September, 2011

All of your music, All the time

I am probably one of the last people on the planet without a smart phone; at least it feels that way.  I have put off upgrading from a ‘dumb phone’ for a while, mostly because I don’t want to become one of those people who never put their phone down.  However, with each and every advanced feature or convenient app that gets released, a smart phone is slowly climbing up my list of things I ‘need’.

Audiogalaxy is the app that pretty much opened my eyes to the freakish capabilities of smart phones.  If you have never heard of it, Audiogalaxy is a free app for your phone that allows you to stream your entire music library from your own computer directly to your smart phone or to another computer.  It also lets users create playlists as well as having an advanced feature called Genie that analyzes your music collection and listening history to create playlists automatically.

Audiogalaxy Client

Have you ever been annoyed when you notice you have songs in your library just called Track 1 or Track 2 written by Unknown Artist? Audiogalaxy has a feature called Automagical Metadata repair which analyzes each audio file and acquires the correct info so you always know what song you are selecting.

Other apps exist, like Music Beta by Google or SubSonic.  Music Beta allows for up to 20,000 songs to be uploaded and stored on Google’s servers for free, which is more practical and perhaps easier to set up for a user with limited technical knowledge.  Subsonic is similar in features to Audiogalaxy, but requires about a $15 fee to register a server to be used by other devices.  For a music dork like me with a collection well upwards of 100,000 songs, Audiogalaxy is perfect.  The thought of being able to carry around thousands of gigabytes of music in my pocket for the cost of a data plan is enough motivation in itself to upgrade to a smart phone.

It is impossible to say what the state of smart phones will be in a couple years, but we can only assume that the growth of the market, the increase in research, and development of more advanced hardware will lead to limitless possibilities.

I hope you enjoyed the article. Now head over to blackboard and take the quiz!

-Luke

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September 29, 2011 at 6:36 am Leave a comment

Could Your Next Laptop Run Off Solar Power?

Right now most of you will probably be reading this blog post from a laptop.  You are either plugged into the outlet or using your battery.  The best batteries nowadays only last at most maybe 8 hours or so.  Well that could soon change in the future.  Researchers at Intel (Intel makes the processor chips that is in many laptops and desktop computers) recently debuted an experiemental processor.  This chip could lead to devices that use significantly lower energy consumption; so low in fact that the entire laptop could be powered from solar power.

The chip, which was codenamed “Claremont” is known by the researchers as a near-threshold voltage processor.  This type of processor allows transistors to operate at a near “threshold” voltages which increases efficiency and decreases energy consumption.  In non techy words, this processor uses very little power to operate, and uses that power very efficiently.

The researchers at Intel demoed the experimental processor on a PC running Linux OS and the PC was only powered off a solar cell the size of a postage stamp.  According to an Intel spokeswoman Connie Brown, “We used a solar cell in the demo to show how little power was required.  But it could run on anything that has power.” Since it uses very little power, the device would be able to stay on at times uses very little power to preserve open applications.  It could very well turn into a “always on” device.

This new processor could really change things for Intel.  Right now, according to the article, most mobile devices use ARM (a competitor of Intel) processors because those processors already don’t require a lot of power to operate.  If Intel can really build a processor that users less power than ARM, maybe they could dominate the market of mobile devices.  It could also really change the game for applications on laptops and PCS.  The future seems to be very exciting in the tech world.

I hope you enjoyed my blog post!  Feel free to comment and make sure to take the BlackBoard quiz!  If you wish to read the article this post was based on, it is located HERE

Thanks!

-Mike J.

September 26, 2011 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Wanted: Space Taxi Service

While the International Space Station is still used by both Russia and the US as a center from research beyond our planet’s atmosphere, the way in which individuals travel to the station has changed significantly. International Space StationSince the last Space Shuttle launch of Atlantis earlier this year in July, the United States has depended on the Russian space program to continue to bring supplies and individuals to and from the station. After a recent unmanned Russian supply spacecraft experienced engine trouble and crashed back to earth, NASA has put up an ad looking for a commercial solution to space transport. For those interested in starting a space program, NASA is willing to pay a cool $1.6 billion. A disclaimer on the offer is the NASA wants an entire transport package from mission control to launch operations to the spacecraft itself. In a sense NASA is simply looking for a taxi service to allow it to easily transport people and supplies to and from the space station.

I believe the new offer from NASA shows a significant change in the future of the space industry. While US government run space operations have failed, commercial industries may be able to build a Spaceship Twosuccessful business exploring the final frontier. Indeed one such commercial operation already in existence is The Spaceship Company, a joint venture between Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites. The Spaceship Company recently opened a facility for the sole purpose of spaceship manufacturing, although many of these spaceships are intended to assist with Virgin Galactic’s mission to create a successful business model out of civilian astronauts. A mere two hundred thousand dollar will provide customers the opportunity for a flight into space. While The Spaceship Company focuses more on consumers, with the recent NASA proposal a space transport service it may be a great opportunity for the young company.

NASA currently depends on the Russian Soyuz and unmanned Progress spacecraft to bring essential supplies such as food and oxygen to the space station. On August 24, the unmanned Russian cargo spacecraft crash uncovered a startling reality to the NASA and the US. Currently, NASA is paying a major fee to essentially buy a seat on a Russian spacecraft for its astronauts. Also, Russia is NASA’s only line to bring supplies and astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The recent engine failure of the Russian spacecraft has moved NASA to put up the $1.6 billion dollar investment into the private space industry.

It is interesting to see how smaller private companies are able to enter fields once only dominated by huge government entities. The emergence of new technologies has enabled companies like The Spaceship Company to reasonably promote the idea of civilian space flight. In a recent press release from Virgin Galactic, they explained their plans to continue to improve the safety while reducing the costs. A vision of the president of Virgin Galactic is to enable affordable space travel to the masses. Such an idea could be a rather interesting future family vacation.

I hope you enjoyed the post!

Learn more at the following websites:

NASA’s Award for Space Taxis
Russian Spacecraft Crashes
The Spaceship Company
Virgin Galactic

Best Regards,

Paul

September 20, 2011 at 8:05 pm Leave a comment

YouTube Video Editor

How often have you watched a YouTube video where the camera was shaking at the beginning or the end? Or where the color was off, but there was no way to fix it? YouTube is collaborating with Piknik so issues like these can be fixed.

Although this video editor is not a stand alone product where you can splice multiple videos together, this video editor will make videos on YouTube much easier to the eye. Starting on September 14, 2011 (last week) YouTube is adding 14 new effects such as rotation, color adjustment, cropping, stabilization, brightening/darkening  and even changing it from color to black and white. Besides visuals YouTube is adding a part where you can take the audio out of your video and add  music from a selection of royalty-free music they have on their database. This way the music will not be edited out of your video for copy right purposes.

Google who owns YouTube further talked about how people can edit their video after it has already been viewed. As long as the video was not viewed over 1000 times the owner can edit it with out changing the view count or any comments the viewers have made.

Last but not least YouTube who is owned by Google has been talking to Piknik (also owned by Google) on making a editing software that you can use with a subscription. This would be similar to Piknik who has some free editing options but requires a  Premium membership if you interested in more.

If you are interested in watching a video on what the video editor can do you can watch it here: 

I hope this sparked some interest for you,  who knows perhaps you will use this one day!

~Lauren

September 18, 2011 at 12:01 pm Leave a comment

Mobile Payments: Accepting Credit Cards On Your SmartPhone

A new type of technology is happening in the tech world.  What is it?  It is simple but is helping out thousands of businesses.  Its being able to accept credit cards on your smart phone, without any credit card fees or monthly fees.  One new company is doing this.  The company is called Square.  The company was co-founded by Jim McKelvey and Jack Dorsey in 2009.  Jack Dorsey is also the founder of Twitter.  Square has developed a small “dongle” that hooks into your phones headphone jack.  This “dongle” is for swiping of the credit card.  It works with their iPhone, iPad and Android apps.

The app is very easy to use and sign up.  You simply add a bank account to get verified, and you can start taking cards!  Now you may be asking, how does Square make money off this?  They charge only 2.75% of each transaction.  Most credit card Point of Sale systems charge a % per transaction and also a monthly fee.  Square does not charge a monthly fee.  Now you may ask, how do people sign for their payment?  They simply sign with their finger and can have their receipt emailed to them or via a text message.

Square’s iPad app offers the most features, since it is geared towards more permanent businesses that do not move around.  The app for the iPad lets you add preset items, tax and tip.

There are now other competitors such as Payware by Verifone, and MobilePay.  All of these companies really have opened a new industry and is definitely going to make the credit card payments industry a lot more interesting.  This new technology makes it so much easier for a business to take credit cards.  All they need is a bank account and a smart phone.  Square and the other competitors will all mail you their dongles for free!

I hope everyone found this post interesting!  Feel free to add comments and remember to take the BlackBoard quiz.

-Mike Jahn

September 12, 2011 at 9:00 am 4 comments

Li-Fi Solves all of Wi-Fi’s Flaws

In our world today we hear the buzz words interconnected and wireless communications quite frequently, but as we continue to exchange vast amounts of data between various devices the entire system which we currently use is almost doomed to collapse at some point.

In a recent episode of one of my favorite new age idea/technology websites, TED Talks, Harold Haas revealed an ultra sophisticated way to transmit data. In order to understand the true advantages the new data transmission technology provides, we must first understand the flaws of our current data communication practices.

Data is everywhere and part of almost everything we do in today’s world. Whether we are talking on the cell phone, Skyping a friend, or commenting on Facebook we are exchanging data. By Haas’s estimates, 600 terabytes of data are transmitted every month with cell phones alone. Currently the majority of our data is exchanged using radio waves. While the same wave that transmits our favorite radio station is not the same wave that will generate the important phone you have been waiting for, it is still in the radio wave spectrum. If we recall the electromagnetic spectrum, radio waves are only a small part of the entire spectrum. Many of these waves are all around in a variety of applications, x-rays in hospitals for example. It is hard to miss the most abundant wave which is light and light is what Haas has proposed we pursue as a new source of data exchange. The major reasons for this proposal are four factors that he outlines in his talk: capacity, availability, efficiency, and security.

20110906-075913.jpg

With regards to the issues Haas highlights several specific issues exist with each limitations. First, Haas states that the capacity of radio waves is very limited for a multitude of reasons. Devices that transmit radio waves are very expensive to manufacture, they have very limited range, and we have used up the majority of the entire radio wave spectrum already. Availability also causes issues and it is seen by the potential interference caused during flights and in hospitals. Another concern Haas raised related to the efficiency of radio devices. Typically radio transmitting devices are only about 5% efficient with the majority of energy used simply to cool the devices. Finally and maybe most importantly is security. Computers hackers have many sophisticated tools available these days which makes it very simple to hack into Wi-Fi networks and steal information from all devices connected to the network.

Haas’s solution is to use devices that the majority of us use on a daily basis: lightbulbs. As Haas shows in his demonstration, simply by attaching a microprocessor to an ordinary desk lamp with an LED bulb, he is able to transmit HD video to a receiver. He utilizes the power we use on a daily basis to send vast amount of secure data. For example, if you are in your dorm room receiving the data from your lamp light only you can receive that data. This differs from radio waves where many of your neighbors would have access to the same data. Light is also an extremely scalable. Most homes and businesses already have thousands of potential centers for what Haas refers to as Li-Fi.

What I enjoyed most about this video was that this idea was not merely a concept. The demo proves that the technology is already developed it is only a matter of integrating the technology into our devices to solve many of the common problems with our current dependance on radio waves.

To learn more about the great new technology check out the TED Talks video.

Thanks for reading and do not forget to take the quiz!

Regards,

Paul

September 6, 2011 at 8:26 pm Leave a comment


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