Archive for October, 2009

Toshiba Dynario fuel-cell: the battery revolution

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I must have missed the initial announcement of this technology so I actually did a bit of a double take and few searches to make sure that someone wasn’t trying to pull a fast one.

It’s legit. Basically you can recharge any device that makes use of USB for that function. I guess you could power it directly as well.

When your cell (we call them batteries) starts running low, just whip out a little bottle of concentrated methanol and fill the 14ml fuel tank to keep on going. Basically like refueling your car, just a little smaller.

This is first generation stuff, just imagine what this technology will be like in a few years ! Assuming anyone actually buys it.

Never again will you need to search for an electrical socket when you are out in the wilderness trying to be one with nature…

We can hardly believe it but the day has finally arrived: Toshiba just launched the first Dynario fuel-cell for portable consumer electronics. That’s right, the long promised and highly anticipated direct methanol fuel-cell (DMFC) with dedicated fuel cartridge for on-the-go refueling will go on sale October 29th in Japan for ¥29,800 (about $328) plus another ¥3,150 (about $34) for a set of five, 50ml fuel cartridges. Dynario takes about 20 seconds to fill its 14ml fuel tank with an injection of a concentrated methanol solution at which point its ready to charge USB-connected devices. Dynarios hybrid structure uses a lithium-ion battery to store enough electricity to charge two typical cellphones, according to Tosh. That works out to be about $1 per recharge, if our calculations are correct, based on the fuel costs alone. We assume the battery can be charged via wall socket power too but this isnt explicitly stated in the press release. The first run consists of only 3,000 units after which Toshiba will gauge consumer reaction before extending the launch outside of Japan. Boy oh boy, a new age in portability has begun.

(Via Engadget.)

QOTD: Steve Ballmer (Microsoft) <- this ones a doozy

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Steve Ballmer: “Let’s face it, the Internet was designed for the PC. The Internet is not designed for the iPhone. That’s why they’ve got 75,000 applications – they’re all trying to make the Internet look decent on the iPhone.”

Wow ! Let’s not even begin to discuss IE6 and the fact that without ActiveX and Silverlight I doubt a single website would look half decent in any version of IE.

Any website that conforms to HTML and CSS standards looks just find uncle Ballmer. Idiot.

[techjunkie] to get a new look

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Later today [techjunkie] will start making using of a new theme. As much as I enjoy the current theme, I’m running into a few limitations that appear to be taken care of automatically in other themes.

Please let me know if you don’t like the new theme once it’s up. If you love it, feel free to let me know as well.

So don’t be surprised the next time you visit the site.

Google maps now has SA direction information

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Anyone that regularly uses Google Maps or Google Earth would have noticed that the level of detail and the correctness of the detail for South Africa has been improving significantly over the past few months.

The first thing I noticed in Google Earth was the addition of some 3D buildings to the Cape Town CBD area. Shortly afterwards there was a marked improvement on the amount of street level data that was available.

I’ve also seen the Google Streetview car driving around Cape Town a number of times. I assume all the fuss is to provide tourists with decent mapping information when they arrive in their droves for the World Cup next year.

streetview-prius.jpg

Today I caught a tweet (thanks @kishyr) saying that direction information is also working in Google maps. I quickly tried it out myself and I’m happy to announce that it is working and appears to work pretty darn well. It even sensibly calculates different directions based on whether you are in a motor vehicle or on foot. The transit direction information doesn’t work yet, but then again neither does our public transport system.

google-map.png google-list.png

Above are screenshots from my iPhone 3GS detailing directions from the Cape Town CBD (my current location) to Hout Bay for a motor vehicle. When I change to “on foot”, it redirects you along Victoria road all along the coast.

Good work Google ! But remember, don’t be evil.

Enabling click-to-dial on Snow Leopard

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As a follow up on my Dialectic article, I thought it may be necessary to post some information on how to enable click-to-dial in Snow Leopard.

The problem is that Mac OS X 10.6 no longer supports contextual menu plug-ins, so any plug-ins that you had will stop working after you upgrade to Snow Leopard.

Replacing this functionality is a much improved Services support and this can be used to dial selected phone numbers from most applications.

After installing Dialectic you can do the following to enable it:

  1. From the System Preferences application, select the Keyboard preference pane.
  2. In the Keyboard preference pane, select the “Keyboard Shortcuts” tab and scroll down to the “Services” item from the list box on the left side of the window.
  3. After selecting “Services”, scroll down to the “Text” Services group on the right and enable the “Dial Selection” Services item (see the screenshot below).
  4. Dial-Selection.png

    Works like a charm.

QOTD: Jean Cocteau

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Jean Cocteau: “‘We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don’t like?'”

(Via Quotes of the Day.)

Barnes & Noble Nook aims right between the eyes

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Talk about blowing the competition out of the water !

Looks like the Nook has all the features we’ve been begging for in the Kindle. I won’t go into detail about the features, Engadget sums it all up very nicely below.

My only questions are how large the book selection will be, what will the books cost and will it be available in South Africa ?

Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader leaks a bit early: $259, pre-orders are live (video): “

Looks like all those whispers were true — the ‘Android-based’ nook is alive and well, and it’s calling itself the planet’s ‘most advanced e-book reader.’ Measuring 7.7- x 4.9- x 0.5-inches and weighing 11.2 ounces, the device includes a top e-ink display from Vizplex and a color touchscreen (3.5-inches) below, which supports one-touch control and swipe-to-browse books with full-color covers. The rechargeable battery takes 3.5 hours to go from zero to full if using a wall outlet, and B&N claims that itll last for up to ten days if you flick the wireless to ‘off.’ Speaking of which, inbuilt WiFi (802.11b/g) and AT&T 3G is included, not to mention 2GB of internal storage, a microSD expansion slot, MP3 player, built-in mono speaker, 3.5 millimeter headphone jack, a micro USB port and support for EPUB, PDF and MP3. The nook also supports bookmarking, making notes, and highlighting passages, and the LendMe feature allows users to lend books for up to a fortnight at a time to other e-readers, cellphones or computers.

B&N also tells us that you can pick up where you left off (with markings and highlights in tact) on your iPhone or BlackBerry using its free eReader software, which just so happens to be the same app that allows sharing to iPhone, iPod touch, BlackBerry, PC or Mac. As expected, the company will also let you sample ebooks before you buy, and youll enjoy free WiFi each and every time you sashay into a Barnes & Noble retail location. Its available to pre-order as we speak for $259, with initial shipments expected to happen at the end of November. Introductory video is after the break, along with a few highlights about accessories and features.

Update: Aw snap, B&N just yanked everything related to nook from its website. Thankfully for you, everything youd ever need to know is right here.

Update 2: Looks like it’s back! Though, the landing page itself still seems down. Hurray for backdoors!

(Via Engadget.)

A word on migrating WordPress installations

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One of the reservations I had about migrating this blog from WordPress.com to a hosted WordPress installation was the difficulty I thought I would have migrating all my content over. I also wasn’t sure if the same themes and widgets would be available to me. The concern around themes and widgets was put to rest quickly after a few short searches for the stuff I wanted.

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I also read an article a few days prior about exporting the post content from the site using the export tool built into WordPress, so I figured that at least I wouldn’t have to retype or copy and paste all my articles back into the new blog.

After installing WordPress on my server (use bluehost.com for this, they are awesome) and doing some basic initial configuration of the admin user I headed over the import tool, also built into WordPress (smart guys, importing and exporting, who would have thought). I pointed the import tool at my exported .xml file and hoped for the best.

Now I’ve been around the block a few times when it comes to exporting data from once system and them importing it into another. There are always issues. Not only was I pleasantly surprised when all my post, tags, categories and comments were brought across (with the timestamp data in tact no less), I almost couldn’t believe it when it asked me if I wanted it to attempt to fetch all my attached content and media as well.

What the hell. I clicked “Yes” and hoped for the best. Well blow me down. I actually had to double check just to make sure that my browser was in fact pointed at the correct site. The transfer was so painless and so complete that I literally didn’t need to do anything other than put a post on the old site informing everyone that the blog had moved.

High fives for all the WordPress developers. I am truly impressed.

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