Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gallery: Sandisk's Music-Preloaded MicroSD Card



To demonstrate one possibility for its preloaded microSD cards, Sandisk will send a compilation called "Sansa Sessions" to early buyers of the 8GB Sandisk Sansa Fuze -- part of the company's plan to distribute content on flash memory. The 512MB microSD card contains 50 unprotected MP3 songs from 30 different labels, playable on any audio device with a compatible slot.

We unboxed a "Sansa Sessions" microSD card and inserted it into a Fuze, which loaded and played the songs on the card without a hitch. These are DRM-free songs, so they should play on any music-capable cellphone with a microSD slot.


Will preloaded physical media survive the digital age by shrinking to fingernail size?

The Sandisk Sansa Fuze and many music-capable cellphones feature a microSD slot that can accept the Sansa Sessions card and future ones like it. The small size of this music format is slightly reminiscent of the tiny Beethoven microcassette played by Alex in in Clockwork Orange:

The Sansa Fuze refreshes content automatically upon insertion of the card:

Thenew music shows up in the Recently Added category. It'd be nice if you could also browse directly to the stuff on the memory card, but this is just about as good:

An MP3 by Architecture in Helsinki plays on the Sansa Fuze:

Intravenous Lamp Turns Your Home Into a Prescription Drug Den [Christian Maas]



The Lichtinfusion lamp from Christian Maas makes me think of the best insults you can lob at someone who spends too long in front of the mirror (it's too rude for the first para, I'm afraid). With the power cables disguised as the rubber tubes that would normally feed sick little puppies like me their daily dose of Pethidine, the lamp only lacks the wheels to enable your light to travel around the apartment with you. [Yanko]


U.S. Drinking Water Tainted by Drugs


AnAssociated Press investigation has found traces of prescription drugs in the water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas across the nation.

Among the substances found were antidepressants, heart medication, sex hormones and steroids -- a rainbow of chemicals that leave our bodies, pass unscathed through water treatment facilities and accumulate in the environment.

The chemicals ultimately end up in our drinking water, as the AP's reporting makes clear -- but the consequences of this, says the pharmaceutical industry, are unclear.

"Based on what we now know, I would say we find there's little or noriskfrom pharmaceuticals in the environment to human health," said microbiologist Thomas White, a consultant for the PharmaceuticalResearchand Manufacturers of America.

That's true, to a point. Rigorous epidemiological studies on the healtheffectsof long-term environmental exposures to the drugs found by the AP haven't been conducted. They might be too complicated to everconduct.It's not ethical to intentionally expose people to potentially harmful chemicals, and separating the effect of one chemical from themanyin our water will be difficult.

Butthere is extensive non-epidemiological pointing to the risks of these drugs, especially endocrine disruptors, which have recently beendocumentedturning entire male fish populations hermaphroditic. As the AP notes, many of the drugs disrupt human cells -- making them grow toofast,or too slow -- when tested in the lab.

TheEPA is still focused on detecting the chemicals, and has drawn criticism for not doing enough work on their health effects. But thereareenough warning signs to consider taking precautionary action by finding ways to neutralize the chemicals, which can be done now but is extremely expensive.

What else can be done? More soon....

Image: Fay Celestial

WiSci 2.0: Brandon Keim's Twitter and feeds; Wired Science on Facebook.

Space Shuttle Takes Off Last Night With Cheers and A Japanese Lab Module



Those who stayed up till 2:28 am EDT last night were rewarded with a rare night time shuttle launch. The crowd at Spaceview Park let out a collective cheer as the Space Shuttle Endeavour beat the odds and launched on schedule and without a hitch, clearing the tower in a spectacular display of light and power.

That was followed by a collective moan when the Shuttle entered a layer of low lying clouds which obscured the view of the solid rocket boosters separating. The mission is bringing a new Japanese laboratory module to the International Space Station, it's like getting a new addition on your house.

If I had been to the Space Station before, I would certainly want to go back and check it out again now. Spaceflight participant Richard Garriott is reportedly paying more then previous private spaceflight participants for his flight, but then again there will be a lot more Space Station to explore by the time he gets there this fall.

With a new European lab last month, and a new Japanese lab this month, this Space Station is truly becoming more International then ever. No wonder the South Koreans are bringing a United Nations flag with them in April.

This Shuttle mission includes an Japanese astronaut, Takao Doi, who will help install the new module. The mission will also serve to swap out European astronaut, Leopold Eyharts, who was left on orbit in February by STS-122, for a fresh European astronaut, Garrett Reisman, who will take Eyharts place on the International Space Station.

Reisman will get to watch the European Space Agency's new Automated Transfer Vehicle test itself out over the next few weeks before docking to the Space Station to bring new supplies and prove out a new Space Station resupply vehicle capability (with all these new modules, we will need more resupply ships...) on April 3, 2008. (Just a week before Yi So-yeon, South Korea's government sponsored female spaceflight participant is scheduled to arrive).

Sure is getting busy up there. Years of planning, designing, testing, building and waiting are all starting to pay off.

Endeavour Soars Into Space [NASA]

Image: NASA STS-123 Launch

Hubble Detects First Organic Molecule Around Exoplanet


Hubble detected the organic molecule methane within the atmosphere of a large Jupiter-like planet 63 light years away. Although the planet, HD 189744b, is too hot to support life (1260 degrees), it is a breakthrough in that the discovery demonstrates the ability to detect organic molecules on exoplanets spectroscopically.

In the future this method could be used to take measurements of Earth-like planets orbiting within the habitable zones of other stars to look for organic molecules that will help in the search for life.

The space-based telescope was used during five orbits last May to look at the atmosphere of HD 189744b with its Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer. NASA has scheduled a full press conference this Wednesday, the day before the results are due to be published in Nature.

Images will be posted at the start of the press conference Wednesday at (unlike the artists impression of a completely unrelated Jupiter-like planet above.)

Scientists Mark R. Swain and Gautam Vasisht, of the Jet PropulsionLaboratoryand U.K. astronomer Giovanna Tinetti, of the Department ofPhysicsand Astronomy at the University College, London, are the authors of the paper.

Hubble Detects Organic Molecule on an Extrasolar Planet [PR Newswire]
NASA's Hubble finds first organic molecule on exoplanet [iTWire]

Image: JPL/NASA artist depiction of Gliese planetary system

Top 10 Outdoor Survival Tools


Many outdoor enthusiasts love to agonize over what belongs in their survival kit. Here are the supplies that we think belong in a small pack for quick trips into the wilderness. Of course, a GPS unit and a satellite phone would be handy, but this collection is meant to be a cheap backup for times when those items are damaged or inaccessible.

10. High-Calorie Protein Bars

Hunting and fishing may be more trouble than they are worth. You may burn more calories in search of prey than you would gain from eating their flesh. Save yourself from some agony by packing a few snacks.

9. Flashlight

Flashlights can be seen by search and rescue teams from a great distance. They are a great way to attract attention to yourself and could come in handy if you have trouble making a fire.

8. Whistle

When you are lost in the woods, signaling for help should be a high priority. Blowing a whistle periodically requires much less energy than yelling and the high pitch sound may travel further.

7. Backpacker Hammock

In extremely hot or cold environments, protecting yourself from the elements is half the battle. You can always disassemble it to construct a more elaborate shelter.

6. Water Purification Supplies

Drinking brackish water can do more harm than good. By properly filtering and decontaminating your beverages, you can avoid getting in even more trouble.

5. Plastic Trash Bag

Thin and light, they are worth their weight in gold and have a plethora of uses. Use them to catch rain, cut three holes to improvise a rain poncho, or windproof your shelter. Bring several of them. Trash compactor bags are the sturdiest.

4. First-Aid Kit

Medical emergencies are an even bigger deal than being lost. Your kit should contain items to deal with serious injuries -- not just cuts and scrapes. Pack some Quick Clot or Celox to deal with serious bleeding, tweezers, a needle and thread, antibiotic cream, a bit of sunblock, and any special medications that you may need.

3. Metal Cup or Can

Staying hydrated is far more important than finding food. With a metal container, you have the option of boiling the water to kill nasty microbes.

2. Butane Lighter and Tinder

Starting fires with a mischmetal flint in a dry climate is easy, but in wet weather, you may need a cigarette lighter and some flammable helpers to get your fire going. Cotton balls covered in wax, solid backpacking stove tablets, or a flask of Bacardi 151 are all viable options.

1. Knife

Never leave home without one. A sturdy blade is essential for building shelters, preparing food, making campfires and countless other tasks.

Honorable Mention

Doyou disagree with us? Now is your chance to speak up. What do you think belongs in a survival kit? Vote for each item that you agree with by clicking on the up arrows or submit items that we have overlooked.

Showequipment that is: hot | new | top-rated or submit your own prediction

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Image: The SOL Survival Pak by Adventure Medical Products. We think that SOL stands for something other than Survive Outdoors Longer.

Photo:Simon Ashdown / Adventure Medical Kits

Universal Picks a Dark Horse for Comics Deal


Universal Studios and Dark Horse Comics announced a deal Friday giving the movie studio access to every one of the publisher's original comics franchises.

The partnership gives Universal the green light to develop titles like Grendel, End League, Dead Rider and Goon into movies.

But, Dark Horse's franchise pacts with other major titles (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Conan) are off limits, as the rites obviously stick with the original creators.

There's no word yet on which Dark Horse title will be first to reach the big screen.

Artwork courtesy of Dark Horse Comics


Arthur C. Clarke: The Wired Words



Arthur C. Clarke, the award-winning sci-fi writer and futurist most famous for his novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, died Wednesday in Sri Lanka. He was 90.

His writing, both fiction and nonfiction, established Clarke as a visionary during the last half of the 20th century. In a paper titled "Extra-Terrestrial Relays: Can Rocket Stations Give Worldwide Radio Coverage?" published in 1945, Clarke floated the idea of using geosynchronous satellites for communications long before such technology changed our world. (Geostationary orbit is now sometimes known as the Clarke orbit.)

That's just one of the many innovative concepts Clark is credited with unleashing. From the electrosecretary transcription machine to the space elevator, Clarke laid out his visionary ideas in more than 100 fiction and nonfiction books.

Despite his track record as a futurist, Clarke remained humble about his work when he was interviewed for a 1993 Q&A with Wired magazine. Over the years, the writer and his bold ideas were featured several times in the publication.

"I've never predicted the future," Clarke said in that first interview. "Or hardly ever. I extrapolate. Look, I've written six stories about the end of the Earth; they can't all be true!"

Clarke picked his book The Songs of Distant Earth as his most memorable piece of writing, saying, "It's got everything in it that I ever wanted to say."

In one of the writer's last published works, a submission to Wired magazine's six-word story project in 2006, Clarke bent the rules a bit and refused to trim his 10-word piece ("God said, 'Cancel Program GENESIS.' The universe ceased to exist.")

Clarke's writing won him Nebula and Hugo awards, and in 1986 he was named a Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America.

When asked by Wired in 1993 if he had put any thought into what he would want on his epitaph, Clarke said he had.

"Oh, yes," he said. "I've often quoted it: 'He never grew up; but he never stopped growing.'"

Photo: Arthur C. Clarke holds a copy of his book Exploration of Space at a home in Washington, D.C., in this 1952 AP file photo.

See also:

  • Arthur C. Clarke on Life
  • Letter From Sri Lanka
  • 2001 Double Take: I Was a Teenage Centenarian
  • Clarke's Odyssey to 2036
  • The Intelligence Behind AI

Fincher to Animate Heavy Metal


It's a match made in bad-boy heaven: Fight Club's David Fincher has signed on to oversee an omnibus film drawn from stories from Heavy Metal, the blood-and-boobs sci-fi/fantasy magazine that has already spawned two films, according to Variety.

Fincher will direct one of eight or nine segments, with Heavy Metal publisher/editor Kevin Eastman and Tim Miller of CG master Blur Studio each doing another. Word on other directors to come.

Expect some fanboy grumbling: The original 1981 Heavy Metal film -- with voiceover work by John Candy, Eugene Levy and Harold Ramis, plus music by Devo, Cheap Trick, Blue Oyster Cult and Black Sabbath -- remains a quintessential cult film. (I remember the fifth- and seventh-generation VHS tapes being passed around during years of rights wrangling.)

But, if Fincher's films are any indication, this trip into the Heavy Metal world is more likely to match the often gruesome and erotic intensity of the magazine.


Futurama: The Definitive Time Line

         Got your mind in a twist trying to figure out what happens when in Futurama?

Thankfully, one of those obsessive fans we are eternally grateful for did our homework for us, giving us plenty of time to bone up on Futurama facts before the June 24 release of the franchise's next straight-to-DVD release, The Beast With a Billion Backs.

Sam512 at the priceless if at times inscrutable just re-watched the entire 72-hour Futurama oeuvre in a mad quest to establish the show's definitive time line.

Some highlights:

2008: Stop 'n' Drop becomes America's favorite suicide booth

2038: Petroleum reserves run dry.

2443: Second coming of Jesus.

2620: To end that stupid joke once and for all, Uranus is renamed.

See also:

  • The Original Futurama
  • Futurama Is Back! Grab a Can of Slurm and Settle In
  • Gallery: Behind the Scenes of Futurama

Useless But Awesome Cardboard Mini Arcade Holds Your PSP


Crackcardboard crafters Suck UK, who previously brought us the USB mix tape and the flatpack Mini Boombox have trumped themselves with the Cardboard Mini Arcade. $12.50 will buy you a pair of thoroughly 1980s-style replica arcade machine cabinets.

Thethe twist? They double as stands for the PlayStation Portable. Otherwise, the models are completely non-functional, although in a staggering piece of attention to detail, they do have "graffiti and discarded wrappers inside".

Product page [Suck UK]

Talking about Beer, With Benefits - MSN Health & Fitness - Nutrition


Beer, With Benefits - MSN Health & Fitness - Nutrition

Beer, With Benefits

The best brews pack more than a heady buzz — they improve your health, too

By Matt Allyn & Matt Bean, Men's Health

Beer makes you feel good. You knew that. But you don't realize just how good. Recent research has revealed bioactive compounds in beer that battle cancer, boost your metabolism, and more. And these benefits come on top of the oft-touted upsides of moderate alcohol intake: clot prevention, cleaner arteries, and reduced stress. Just in time for the summer, we set out with a stack of studies, a panel of parched testers, and a full fridge to find the best-tasting, healthiest brews available. Enjoy.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Talking about Coming soon: Movies on flash memory cards - Page1 - MSN Tech & Gadgets - News and Features

  Coming soon: Movies on flash memory cards - Page1 -  MSN Tech & Gadgets - News and Features

Coming soon: Movies on flash memory cards

By Michael Kanellos, Staff Writer, CNET
1 | 2 |  Next >

PortoMedia is probably the only start-up in the world inspired by the movie "Carlito's Way."

Company founder Chris Armstrong explains: Four years ago, he set out to his local DVD store to rent a movie. First, he stopped at the ATM to get cash. The store didn't have "Twelve Angry Men," the movie Armstrong wanted. He settled for "Carlito's Way" instead. He then waited in line, paid for his rental, and returned to his car

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Gigabyte M700 UMPC Has 2 GB RAM, 7-Inch Touchscreen [UMPCs]


Just unveiled at CeBit, Gigabyte's M700 UMPC comes with a surprising 2 GB RAM. In addition to its hefty memory and bright design, the M700 manages to pack in a 7-inch, 1024x600 touchscreen and a 1.2 GHz processor. It also has Windows Vista Home Premium. Details on pricing and release are hush hush at this point. [Ubergizmo]

Watching TV in Windows Vista with the ATI TV Wonder 600 USB


Windows Media Center makes it really easy to watch TV on Windows Vista (Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate) with a built in Guide that lets you browse TV shows and movies and schedule recordings of your favorite ones. Many PCs today come with TV functionality built in via TV cards. But not all Windows Vista PCs come equipped with TV capability. Unlike a few years ago - adding TV functionality to your PC is very easy. Let me share my experience in adding TV functionality to one of my PCs.

AMDbrings TV capability to your PC through their ATI TV Wonder products. Some of their products are PC cards that must be installed inside the actual PC - and others are USB devices that can simply be plugged in to a USB port. I picked up AMD's ATI TV Wonder 600 USB TV tuner - which is Certified for Windows Vista. This small USB device lets you plug in a coaxial cable for TV capability or use an antenna for free over-the-air television - including over-the-air HDTV.

TheATI TV Wonder 600 USB has the following features:

  • USB2.0
  • Hybrid TV Tuner Stick for:
    • Over-the-air Digital TV / HDTV1 (ATSC)
    • Over-the-air / Cable Analog TV (NTSC)
  • Remotecontrol
  • Telescopic antenna to receive free-to-air TV channels
  • Capturefrom VCRs, camcorders with the included audio/video input cable

I took some unboxing shots to share with you:

Settingup TV functionality in Windows Media Center is really easy. If you have not used Windows Media Center before, when you launch Windows Media Center for the first time it will take you through a series of steps to set everything up.

Ifyou have used Windows Media Center before and already did Windows Media Center's initial setup - to set up TV all you need to do is go to Settings and TV and click on "Set Up TV Signal". Windows Media Center will take you through a series of screens with options to set up everything you need for watching TV.

Pickingup the ATI TV Wonder 600 USB TV tuner allowed me to easily add TV functionality to my main desktop PC. I had TV functionality in a matter of just a few minutes. Since the ATI TV Wonder 600 is a USB device, I can pack the device up and take it with me and use it on my laptop as well.

Hauppaugealso offers products for bringing TV onto your PC and Windows Media Center.

Iplan to dive deeper in several upcoming posts in using Windows Media Center and TV functionality.

Superhero costumes, explained by Michael Chabon


Somewhere,William Shawn, John Hersey, and Rachel Carson are spinning in their graves, but I was delighted to read in the New Yorker this essay about superhero costumes, written by a guy who knows a thing or two about the topic, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay author Michael Chabon. Chabon's thesis is that the superhero costume is an impossible paradox, one that reveals the musculature of the body it means to disguise, advertises the secret history (the hero's origin story) it means to conceal, and divulges the secret it's designed to hide: that this flamboyant hero is someone with a secret identity that needs protecting, lest the hero's enemies find it out and use it against the hero. Also, don't tell Edna Mode, but the superhero costume is literally impossible, as anyone knows who's ever tried to wear one to a comics convention or squeezed into one on Halloween or dreamed he or she could fly like Superman just by tying a towel around his or her neck. The only places superhero costumes work is on the page and in the vivid imagination of the reader. Chabon manages to deconstruct the superhero costume without ripping it to shreds as an object of fantasy and wonder.

Tell us, PopWatchers: which comic book hero or heroine has the best costume, in terms of practicality, style, or fit? (By fit, I mean, of course, whose suit is least likely to bunch or ride up in a way that will create unsightly puckers and bulges?) And if you have superhero costume stories of your own to share, now's the time; don't worry, your secret identity is safe on our message boards.

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