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January 21, 2010

Charlie Stross on why he uses Apple computers

More Flame Bait - Charlie's Diary
. . . The reason I choose to pay through the nose for my computers is very simple: unlike just about every other manufacturer in the business, Apple appreciate the importance of good industrial design. Most of the major computer vendors were started by salesmen or engineering executives. Over time, marketing took over as the main driving force. Design doesn't get much of a look in edgeways — with the intermittent exception of Sony's high-end kit, most PC vendors wouldn't know good industrial design if you hit them over the head with it. Apple, however, is different. There is a focus on industrial design at Apple that is ubiquitous in other business sectors but absent from the rest of the personal computing industry. Automobile marketing is almost entirely design- and fashion-driven these days, followed by technology in second place. The PC business isn't; what passes for design is a choice of differently-coloured injection-molded plastic cases stuffed full of badly-integrated cruft. There are wires everywhere, bad ergonomics (did I rant yet about the iniquities of far eastern keyboard designers and their contempt for the right-shift key?), and to cap it all there's Windows — a dog's dinner of an operating system — plus lashings of try-before-you-buy junkware. Sure you can get decently designed PCs, but you'll end up paying as much as you would for a Mac: and you still have to scrape the crud off them to get a halfway acceptable experience. . . .

Man trapped in Haiti rubble uses iPhone to survive

Man Buried in Haiti Rubble Uses iPhone to Treat Wounds, Survive | Gadget Lab | Wired.com
U.S. filmmaker Dan Woolley was shooting a documentary about the impact of poverty in Haiti when the earthquake struck. He could have died, but he ultimately survived with the help of an iPhone first-aid app that taught him to treat his wounds. After being crushed by a pile of rubble, Woolley used his digital SLR to illuminate his surroundings and snap photos of the wreckage in search of a safe place to dwell. He took refuge in an elevator shaft, where he followed instructions from an iPhone first-aid app to fashion a bandage and tourniquet for his leg and to stop the bleeding from his head wound, according to an MSNBC story. The app even warned Woolley not to fall asleep if he felt he was going into shock, so he set his cellphone’s alarm clock to go off every 20 minutes. Sixty-five hours later, a French rescue team saved him.

This is the coolest humidifier ever

collision detection: The zen humidifier
The first is that it uses no electricity: Instead, water is drawn up through the wood and evaporated into the air. According to the designers — the Japanese firm Okada — this process evaporates water six times faster than if you left in in a glass. At that pace, it’d be quite effective.

January 18, 2010

Hundreds of wireless microphones in 700 MHz band to go obsolete

Hundreds of wireless microphones in 700 MHz band to go obsolete | Wireless News - Betanews
Literally hundreds of different wireless public address systems that utilize the 700 MHz UHF band for microphones, intercoms, and in-ear monitors must now be replaced or reconfigured, and it's because of the great DTV shift that took place last year. In 2008, the FCC auctioned off the 700 MHz frequency band that formerly belonged to UHF channels 52-69, and a large chunk of the band went to AT&T, Verizon, Cox, and King Street Wireless, a holding company associated with US Cellular. Now that the DTV transition is complete and next-gen wireless services are being built around the spectrum that was freed, the FCC has prohibited the sale and distribution of 700 MHz consumer devices.

January 14, 2010

How to: Make Marmalade

Marmalade is way easier than it looks - Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories Noting for future reference.

January 11, 2010

How to: Turn old books into faux spellbooks

Harry Potter style Hogwarts Library Spellbooks

January 05, 2010

U.S. unveils more drones t be used for American border patrol, spying

U.S. Adds Drones to Fight Smuggling - NYTimes.com
PALMDALE, Calif. — To help spot and track smugglers, the Homeland Security Department is expanding its use of drones, the unmanned aircraft widely used in Iraq and other war zones, beyond the Mexican and Canadian borders to the Caribbean and possibly other seas. The department, through its Customs and Border Protection division, already operates five of the aircraft, known as the Predator B, along the Southwest border from a base in Arizona and the Canadian border from an installation in North Dakota. Like the drones used by the military, these drones can fly long ranges at high altitudes and are difficult to detect. But the drones that have been used at the border since 2005 are for surveillance and tracking and do not carry weapons. The department on Monday unveiled a new drone loaded with special radar, cameras and sensors. Built for $13.5 million by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems here, it is designed for maritime use. It features wide-range radar that gives a more sweeping view of the ocean than any of the government’s fleet of manned aircraft.