Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fingerprint protected iPhone

The iPhone 3G S promises faster hardware, a better camera, and an unannounced feature: a multitouch screen that repels skin oil. We discovered this new feature while browsing the iPhone How To--Cleaning iPhone, which reads:

To clean iPhone, unplug all cables and turn off iPhone (press and hold the Sleep/Wake button, then slide the onscreen slider). Then use a soft, slightly damp, lint-free cloth. Avoid getting moisture in openings. Don't use window cleaners, household cleaners, aerosol sprays, solvents, alcohol, ammonia, or abrasives to clean the iPhone. If your iPhone has an oleophobic coating on the screen (iPhone 3G S only), simply wipe your iPhone's screen with a soft, lint-free cloth to remove oil left by your hands and face.

According to Wikipedia, "Oleophobic (from the Greek (oleo) "oil") refers to the physical property of a molecule that is repelled from oil. The most common lipophobic/oleophobic substance is water."

(Credit: Phone Fingers)

Fingerprints on iPhone screens have been a source of consumer complaints since the release of the first iPhone in 2007. This new feature probably doesn't prevent fingerprints, but it likely makes the grease easier to wipe off. (If easier cleaning doesn't satisfy your need for neatness, try Phone Fingers--pictured below--but you only have yourself to blame if no one loves you while you wear them.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Penguins vs Hurricanes

Both teams, who will square off in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series starting Monday night (7:30 p.m. ET) at Mellon Arena, made coaching changes during the regular season that helped spark a turnaround and avoid an early summer.

By the time the Stanley Cup playoffs began, Pittsburgh and Carolina were two of the hottest clubs entering the post-season.

The parallels don't end there.

The teams split the regular-season series 2-2. While the Penguins are known as a fast-break hockey squad, the Hurricanes have been applying the same up-tempo offence through the first two rounds.

And in Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, who shares the top playoff spot with 21 points, and Hurricanes centre Eric Staal (nine goals), this series features two players who can take over a game in an instant.

"You're going to see fast hockey," said Sidney Crosby, who also leads the NHL's playoffs with 12 goals.

"Both teams really play similar styles. I've watched them play. Their D is in the play, they're quick up front, they attack [and] they don't sit back. I think that's similar to the way we like to play as well."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Next generation of search engine

Even in the face of Wolfram Alpha, no one will deny that Google is a powerful research tool for our students. However, teasing out truly useful results can be challenging at best from the millions of pages returned by the average search. In response to this, Google revealed a new feature at their Searchology summit yesterday called Google Squared. To be released (not surprisingly) via Google Labs sometime close to the launch of Wolfram Alpha, squared adds an extra layer of semantic search to your Google research efforts.

As quoted in the Register, Google VP Marisa Mayer stated that

“One of the hardest problems in computer science is data abstraction - looking at the unstructured web and abstracting values and facts and information in a meaningful way in order to present it to users, building out some of these research spreadsheets in an automated way. But that’s no longer a hypothetical.”

The San Francisco Chronicle described the feature in a bit more detail:

compiles details from several Web pages and organizes them into a table on a single page, with multiple columns like a spread sheet. A search for “small dogs,” for instance, returns a list of breeds, an accompanying image and a brief description, plus the average height and weight of each breed.

Even Google acknowledged that this was still very much a “labs” feature that was imperfect at best. However, between Wolfram Alpha, Google’s efforts in semantic search, and a host of competitors that will be popping up in this field, we may very well be on the edge of Search 3.0. This is good news for our students, teachers, and library scientists struggling to help our students get the information they want from the billions of pages of junk (and millions of pages of interest) floating around the web.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Windows 7 release this year

Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) disclosed more details on its timetable for finishing up work on the Windows 7 operating system. An official at the software maker said the company hopes to release the OS to its manufacturing division by about mid-August.

"We expect to hit RTM in about 3 months or so," said Brandon LeBlanc, Microsoft's in-house Windows blogger, in a post Monday. LeBlanc said a mid-August release to manufacturing (RTM) would be contingent on Microsoft receiving feedback from Windows 7 Release Candidate users that "meets our expectations in terms of quality."

Microsoft Windows senior VP Bill Veghte on Monday confirmed what many in the computer industry have come to suspect -- that Microsoft intends to ship a final version of Windows 7 to stores and PC makers sometime later in 2009.

"With early RC testing and extensive partner feedback we've received, Windows 7 is tracking well for holiday availability," said Veghte, in a statement. The RTM process includes disc mastering and reproduction, as well as other manufacturing tasks, and generally takes about three months.

LeBlanc, in his blog, further emphasized that Microsoft won't take shortcuts in order to get Windows 7 out the door before the calendar turns. "I want to underscore that our top priority remains QUALITY. This guidance does not alter that principle," said LeBlanc.

Microsoft has good reason to be wary of shipping Windows 7 until it's ready for prime time. Windows Vista, the company's current OS, experienced a number of setbacks almost from the moment it debuted in January 2007. Problems included incompatible applications and device drivers, and user complaints about Vista's hefty hardware requirements and intrusive security measures that sought manual approval for even the most routine tasks.

Microsoft rival Apple wasted no time in lampooning Vista's foibles through a series of commercials, featuring the cool Mac guy and nerdy PC guy, that became instant classics in the ad and tech industries. Dissatisfaction with Vista also caused most major enterprises to shun the OS and hang on to predecessor Windows XP well past its intended shelf life.

Microsoft, which saw Windows sales fall 16% in the most recent quarter, is hoping Windows 7's early favorable reviews, as well as new features such as built-in touch screen support, will help it overcome the Vista debacle.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Diet tips for lower blood pressure

Hypertension, stroke, and heart disease are common in the United States and most other Western industrialized nations. Epidemiologists attribute much of their prevalence to diet. After decades of research, scientists have concluded that the typical American diet is a recipe for hypertension and cardiovascular disease: too much salt, too much saturated fat, too many calories, and not enough fruits and vegetables. But the good news is that you can take an active role in preventing and controlling high blood pressure by watching what you eat.

Consume less salt
Doctors first noticed a link between hypertension and sodium chloride — the most common form of dietary salt — in the early 1900s, when they found restricting salt in patients with kidney failure and severe hypertension brought their blood pressures down and improved kidney function.

Federal guidelines advise people to limit sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day — about the amount in 1 teaspoon of table salt. Yet Americans typically consume 1 to 3 teaspoons, or as much as 7,200 mg a day. This fact, coupled with the high prevalence of hypertension in the United States, led researchers to assume that salt overload was the culprit.

As it turns out, this may or may not be true. Nearly 50% of people who have hypertension are salt-sensitive, meaning eating too much sodium clearly elevates their blood pressure and puts them at risk for complications. In addition, people with diabetes, the obese, and older people seem more sensitive to the effects of salt than the general population. However, the question of whether high salt consumption also puts generally healthy people at risk for hypertension is the source of considerable debate. Regardless of whether high salt intake increases blood pressure, it does interfere with the blood pressure–lowering effects of antihypertensive medications.

Keep an eye on fat
A diet low in saturated fat can reduce cholesterol levels, but its effect on blood pressure is not well established. It’s important to remember, though, that not all fats are bad. Particularly heart-healthy are omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fish like mackerel and salmon, some oils such as canola oil, and some nuts and grains such as flaxseed. Large amounts of these fatty acids may help reduce high blood pressure, but their role in preventing hypertension is unclear. What is apparent is their effect on heart disease. A number of studies have linked modest levels of fish consumption with a reduced risk of heart attack and sudden death.

Boost your potassium intake
Consuming too little potassium can raise your blood pressure and your risk of stroke. Increasing dietary potassium may allow some people to reduce the dose of their blood pressure medication. In a study in Italy, 27 people with hypertension increased their potassium intake while another 27 followed their usual diets. After one year, 81% of people on the high-potassium diet were able to cut their medications by more than half, while only 29% of the people who followed their usual diets could cut back that far.

Before increasing your intake of potassium, check with your doctor. Some people — for example, those with kidney disease — may need to avoid both potassium and salt.

Get enough calcium
Some research suggests a low calcium intake may contribute to high blood pressure, but calcium’s exact role in hypertension is unknown. One theory holds that a lack of calcium in the diet predisposes your body to retain sodium, which raises blood pressure. For this reason, it may be especially important that salt-sensitive people with hypertension get enough calcium.
While there’s evidence that consuming plenty of calcium-rich foods and beverages may help prevent hypertension, efforts to control blood pressure with calcium supplements have had mixed results. At this point, experts are reluctant to recommend calcium supplements solely to lower blood pressure. But since many Americans simply don’t get enough calcium in their diets, and calcium is vital for preventing osteoporosis, few would argue against the use of supplements to boost your calcium intake.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

DIY photo lighting

My friend told me he is working on his DIY softbox and light box for taking photo in his basement. That sounded like a good idea since photo lighting usually cost a lot, so I was looking to help him find something easier and affordable. The other day I saw some work light on sales at our local hardware store so I thought that might work, but after some study I found that the normal halogen light blub is too hot and color is not good for photography.

Then I came across this DIY online and it seems to work well, so hope others will find it useful. Link here...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The World's Billionaires

The world has become a wealth wasteland.

Like the rest of us, the richest people in the world have endured a financial disaster over the past year. Today there are 793 people on our list of the World's Billionaires, a 30 per cent decline from a year ago.

Of the 1,125 billionaires who made last year's ranking, 373 fell off the list--355 from declining fortunes and 18 who died. There are 38 newcomers, plus three moguls who returned to the list after regaining their 10-figure fortunes. It is the first time since 2003 that the world has had a net loss in the number of billionaires.

The world's richest are also a lot poorer. Their collective net worth is C$3 trillion (US$2.4 trillion), down C$2.5 trillion (US$2 trillion) from a year ago. Their average net worth fell 23 per cent to C$3.7 billion (US$3 billion). The last time the average was that low was in 2003.

Bill Gates lost C$22.3 billion (US$18 billion) but regained his title as the world's richest man. Warren Buffett, last year's No. 1, saw his fortune decline C$31.0 billion (US$25 billion) as shares of Berkshire Hathaway fell nearly 50 per cent in 12 months, but he still managed to slip just one spot to No. 2. Mexican telecom titan Carlos Slim Helú also lost C$31.0 billion (US$25 billion) and dropped one spot to No. 3.

It was hard to avoid the carnage, whether you were in stocks, commodities, real estate or technology. Even people running profitable businesses were hammered by frozen credit markets, weak consumer spending or declining currencies.

The biggest loser in the world this year, by dollars, was last year's biggest gainer. India's Anil Ambani lost C$39.7 billion (US$32 billion) -76 per cent of his fortune--as shares of his Reliance Communications, Reliance Power and Reliance Capital all collapsed.

Ambani is one of 24 Indian billionaires, all but one of whom are poorer than a year ago. Another 29 Indians lost their billionaire status entirely as India's stock market tumbled 44 per cent in the past year and the Indian rupee depreciated 18 per cent against the dollar. It is no longer the top spot in Asia for billionaires, ceding that title to China, which has 28.

Russia became the epicenter of the world's commodities bust, dropping 55 billionaires--two-thirds of its 2008 crop.

Among them: Dmitry Pumpyansky, an industrialist from the resource-rich Ural mountain region, who lost C$6.2 billion (US$5 billion) as shares of his pipe producer, TMK, sank 84 per cent. Also gone is Vasily Anisimov, father of Moscow's Paris Hilton, Anna Anisimova, who lost C$4 billion (US$3.2 billion) as the value of his Metalloinvest Holding, one of Russia's largest ore mining and processing firms, fell along with his real estate holdings.

Twelve months ago Moscow overtook New York as the billionaire capital of the world, with 74 tycoons to New York's 71. Today there are 27 in Moscow and 55 in New York.

After slipping in recent years, the U.S. is regaining its dominance as a repository of wealth. Americans account for 44 per cent of the money and 45 per cent of the list's slots, up seven and three percentage points from last year, respectively. Still, it has 110 fewer billionaires than a year ago.

Those with ties to Wall Street were particularly hard hit. Former head of AIG Maurice (Hank) Greenberg saw his C$2.4 billion (US$1.9 billion) fortune nearly wiped out after the insurance behemoth had to be bailed out by the U.S. government. Today Greenberg is worth less than C$124 million (US$100 million). Former Citigroup Chairman Sandy Weill also falls from the ranks.

Last year there were 39 American billionaire hedge fund managers; this year there are 28. Twelve American private equity tycoons dropped out of the billionaire ranks.

Blackstone Group's Stephen Schwarzman, who lost C$5 billion (US$4 billion), and Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts' Henry Kravis, who lost C$3.1 billion (US$2.5 billion), retain their billionaire status despite their weaker fortunes.

Worldwide, 80 of the 355 drop-offs from last year's list had fortunes derived from finance or investments.

While 656 billionaires lost money in the past year, 44 added to their fortunes. Those who made money did so by catering to budget-conscious consumers (discount retailer Uniqlo's Tadashi Yanai), predicting the crash (investor John Paulson) or cashing out in the nick of time (Cirque du Soleil's Guy Laliberte).

So is there anywhere one can still make a fortune these days? The 38 newcomers offer a few clues. Among the more notable new billionaires are Mexican Joaquín Guzmán Loera, one of the biggest suppliers of cocaine to the U.S.; Wang Chuanfu of China, whose BYD Co. began selling electric cars in December, and American John Paul Dejoria, who got the world clean with his Paul Mitchell shampoos and sloppy with his Patrón Tequila.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The math of a happy marriage

The eternal question: What makes a marriage last?

Now, thanks to a survey of 3,000 Brits, there's not just a pat schmaltzy answer, but a by-the-numbers recipe.

You need to say "I love you" daily, share two hobbies, and have sex three times a week.

And that's not all. You're supposed to communicate – phone, text or email – three times a day during work hours, enjoy two romantic meals a month and exchange four kisses and three cuddles daily.

In other words, you have to work at it.

Researchers interviewed people who had been happily married for 10 years or longer about their opinions and experiences. The survey was done for, a wedding website.

"People here are most surprised by the need for daily kisses and cuddles. Everyone seems amazed by that," says Confetti spokesperson Carol Richardson.

Brits need to relax that stiff upper lip? They're not smooching and snuggling enough?

"That's probably the case," says Richardson. "It's free, easy and we all should be doing it."

Researchers determined that the ideal couple in a good marriage likely met through friends and dated for three-and-a-half years before getting married. At the wedding, the groom was 31 and the bride was 29.

They waited two years and two months to have kids.

Somehow they manage to get away together three times a year for holidays and they spend three nights a week nestled together on the couch watching television. Presumably, to save time, this could be the same three nights a week they have sex.

But it's not all kissy-face. The ideal formula includes two separate outings a month – girls' nights and boys' nights.

"You need time apart to pursue your interests," says Richardson, "and bring something fresh back to the relationship."

by Nancy J. White

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Canadian scientists develop new "mind-reading" technology

Finally they come up with this machine that can read mind. All husband or boy friend should get one, or better yet all wives should get one for their spouse.

See Detail here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy 25th birthday to Macintosh

On January 24, 1984, Apple announced the Macintosh to it Board of Directors and to the world. And the computer world has never been the same.

A year earlier, Apple had unveiled the $10,000 Lisa, the first business computer with a graphical user interface and a mouse. The Lisa never caught on, but Apple was enamored of the concept.

It was an era of conformity. Although you could still buy an Apple II, TRS-80, Commodore, or CP/M computer, MS-DOS was the de facto standard.

Apple made a bold move, thinking different long before it became an ad slogan. And the rest, as they say, is history, a history Low End Mac examines in a series of articles, each covering one year in the life of the Macintosh.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

3 easy ways to tell if you’re overweight

Most of us have our private ways of assessing how fat we are. We feel our pants getting snug — or loose, if we’re lucky. We take a glance in the mirror or at our reflection in the shopfront window.

Of course, there are more objective ways of answering the question. Plain old weight is a good clue, but it’s a total that includes bones, muscles, organs, hair — not just fat. The tried-and-true way of measuring just fat involves getting weighed while fully submerged in water. The difference between your weight in water and your regular weight is used to calculate body density, and from that, the proportion of the body made up of fat. But few of us are going to subject ourselves to regular dunking.

There are other, easier tests: bioelectric impedance, skinfold testing with calipers, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (the same technology used to measure bone density). Gyms and fitness centers are beginning to offer some of these. They’ll satisfy the curious, but they’re neither necessary nor practical for routine use.

That leaves us with three more common options. By now, most people are familiar with the calculation known as body mass index. Waist circumference is a hot topic as it becomes clear that it’s the fat we carry inside our abdomens that’s most metabolically active and harmful. And waist-to-hip ratio is getting a second look because of research showing that the fat under our skin — subcutaneous fat — may have some benefits. Here is a guide of these three measures of our fatness, or adiposity.

Body mass index, or BMI, is computed by taking your weight in kilograms and dividing it by the square of your height in meters. The BMI is easy to calculate, and in most people, it correlates reasonably well with overall body fat. It’s also a good measure of health risk: as a rule, when BMIs go up, so do deaths, particularly from cardiovascular disease. But BMI doesn’t distinguish whether the pounds are from fat or from fat-free tissue like muscle and bone. BMI also doesn’t tell us about the type of fat we’re carrying—a significant shortcoming, as the type of fat that builds up in the abdomen is believed to be particularly unhealthful.

Cutoffs and categories are another problem. People with BMIs of 25 to 29.9 are classified as being overweight and those with BMIs of 30 or over as obese. But risk accrues more gradually than those sharp distinctions might suggest. There’s also a question whether the cutoffs ought to be different for some ethnic groups. Researchers have found, for example, that Asians develop cardiovascular risk factors at lower BMIs than whites, so the overweight category for Asians might start at a BMI of 23 instead of 25.

Waist measurement puts a different spin on obesity: it’s no longer about weight or total body fat, but about the metabolically active fat that collects around the organs in our abdomens. Waist circumference is a better predictor of diabetes than BMI and a good indicator of heart disease risk. Measuring it identifies the sizable group of people who pass muster when it comes to BMI but whose large waists put them at higher risk. Still, waist measurement hasn’t become part of routine medical practice for several reasons. For one thing, there’s some uncertainty about exactly where the waist should be measured, although navel-level is widely accepted. Moreover, the definition of too large a waist may need revision: some studies show that health risks start well before the current cutoffs of 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women. Finally, given all the other information that’s collected on patients—blood pressure, cholesterol levels, BMI—it’s not certain that adding a waist measurement to the mix would affect treatment decisions.

The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is a simple calculation: waist circumference divided by hip circumference. A small waist combined with big hips yields a smaller number than a big waist with small hips—and smaller is better when it comes to WHR. For women, the risk for heart disease, stroke, and other health problems starts to climb at a ratio of about 0.85, so that is often set as the cutoff for a “good” ratio. For men, the cutoff seems to be about 0.90. Waist circumference has eclipsed WHR, but the WHR may be ready for a comeback. Research shows that WHR is more strongly associated with heart disease than waist circumference alone.

It would be great if there were a magic bullet for instant weight loss. But, the truth is that watching what you eat, reducing calories, and exercising more is the only tried and true way to change your weight and reduce the health risks associated with abdominal obesity.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Wikipedia Love Story

In a classic case of mixing business with displeasure, Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales dumped his girlfriend, ex-Fox commentator babe Rachel Marsden, and posted the news on Wikipedia. In retaliation, Marsden put some of Wales's clothing (left at her apartment in New York) up for auction on eBay and said some snarky things about Wales in the process. Anyway, Valleywag, the tech industry's equivalent of the National Enquirer - broke the whole story and even unearthed some of the steamy IM conversations between Wales and Marsden.

Here's our favorite line from the Valleywag coverage: "Marsden subsequently told friends that Wales gave her feedback on her website design - is that what kids are calling it these days? - for 24 hours straight in a D.C. hotel." It took me about an hour to figure out what actually happened in the tragicomic affair, and I felt about 10 IQ points lighter afterward.