Weird Science 12-18-8 PT 2
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Editor, The Konformist
Survey: Keyboards, DRM to become scarce in 2012
Posted on Sun Dec 14, 2008
Step aside, keyboards, laptops, and 9-to-5 jobs. A survey of more
than 1,000 Internet activists, journalists, and technologists
released Sunday speculates that by 2012, those quaint relics of 20th
century life will fade away.
It's not a formal survey of the sort that, say, political pollsters
use. Nor are computer journalists especially known for their
prognosticative abilities. Still, the Pew Internet and American Life
Project hopes the effort will provide a glimpse of the best current
thinking about how online life will evolve in the next decade or so.
Lee Rainie and the other Pew researchers asked their survey
respondents to respond to a series of questions about 2020 future
scenarios, including whether the mobile phone will be the "primary"
Internet connection (most agreed), whether copy protection will
flourish (most disagreed), and whether transparency "heightens
individual integrity and forgiveness (evenly split).
The rough consensus was that "few lines divide professional time from
personal time," and that professionals are happy with the way work
and play are "seamlessly integrated in most of these workers' lives."
Another, which also met with broad agreement: "Talk and touch are
common technology interfaces. People have adjusted to hearing
individuals dictating information in public to their computing
devices. In addition 'haptic' technologies based on touch feedback
have been fully developed, so, for instance, a small handheld
Internet appliance allows you to display and use a full-size virtual
keyboard on any flat surface for those moments when you would prefer
not to talk aloud to your networked computer."
One respondent was Google chief economist Hal Varian, who said: "The
big problem with the cell phone is the (user interface), particularly
on the data side. We are waiting for a breakthrough."
Unexpected tech trends and predictions for 2009
Christopher Null: The Working Guy
Sun Dec 14, 2008
People will buy iPhones. Intel will introduce more powerful
microchips. Video games will continue to be popular.
Predicting what will happen in the tech world in 2009 isn't all that
tough: The big trends are plain as day, and it doesn't take a psychic
to forecast some of the more mundane happenings.
But what about some of the less obvious developments that tech 2009
will bring? I put on my Carnac hat this weekend with the hopes of
offering some insight into the unexpected, less hype-fueled, and more
obscure happenings we're likely to see in the year ahead, technology-
wise. Weigh in in the comments section to let me know if you agree or
GPS Everywhere - With the exception of super-cheap gear, GPS is going
to explode in 2009. Cell phones won't just incorporate GPS nearly
universally, you'll see GPS move into more and more other gadgets,
including cameras and even hybrid MP3 player and other devices. And
applications that make use of GPS technology -- as we're seeing the
start of with the iPhone and Android -- are going to grow rapidly.
But fundamentally, people will ask in droves: Why buy a standalone
GPS unit when your phone does the job just as well?
Blu-ray Ascending - It pains me to predict this, but I believe Blu-
ray is going to grow in popularity and market share vs. DVD. Why?
Manufacturers are likely to aggressively cut prices on hardware and
discs, which is about the only thing that will get consumers to buy
this stuff. They have to: Otherwise Blu-ray risks fading away
altogether. That said, the overall market for packaged media will
likely shrink in '09, with DVD taking the bulk of the hit.
Video on the Go - Watching TV on your cell phone has been huge in
Asia for years. Now it's time for mobile video to really make its
mark in the U.S., as broadcasters are becoming down-right desperate
for new markets to tap into.
It's All About Windows 7 - Windows Vista is functionally dead
already. No one will willingly upgrade to Vista now that Windows 7 is
just a year away. And when it finally arrives (some predict December
2009 for a release date... but that's speculation), expect a flood of
software to be Win7-ready at launch, unlike the pathetic trickle that
accompanied Vista. PC manufacturers are down-right drooling for this
release to lift them out of their current, Vista-driven agony.
Green Tech Hits the Mainstream - There's a ton of "green" hardware on
the market these days -- from bamboo hard drives to solar gadget
chargers -- but 2009 should see a substantial focus on
environmentalism across the mainstream industry, from decreasing
reliance on heavy metals and hazardous chemicals to broader recycling
4G Remains a Niche at Best - WiMax hasn't made much of an impact to
date, and it's unlikely that will change in 2009: It's just not fast
enough nor does it have a large enough footprint to merit switching
carriers and/or investing in new hardware. I can't imagine the major
WiMax backer, the troubled Sprint, will find funds to invest in the
massive amount of infrastructure it will take to get 4G going in
earnest, at least not in '09. Competing technologies have an even
grimmer outlook and are certain to be no-shows until 2010 or later.
Android Becomes Competitive - The first "Google phone" was met with
an emphatic and resounding sigh, but the beauty of the Android OS is
that innovation keeps rolling along quite handily. I expect to see
some great strides in the software and the hardware that runs it (the
homely T-Mobile G1 isn't making many fans) such that by the end of
2009, Android could actually be competitive with the iPhone.
Discounts Get Silly - Black Friday wasn't the end of absurd deals on
tech. I'm predicting hefty price cuts throughout the tech industry to
be sustained -- or deepened -- as the year wears on and manufacturers
and retailers alike attempt to jump-start their business in the hopes
of getting an economic recovery started.
Kool Japanese Koncept Kars
2009 Toyota iQ
The Toyota iQ brings city cars to a whole new level.
By Mike Monticello
The Toyota iQ will radically change the way people look at city cars,
or so says Toyota. Measuring less than 3 meters (that's less than 118
in. to we Americans), the Japanese giant is calling the iQ "the
world's smallest premium 4-seater ever built." Truth be told, the iQ
is not really a 4-seater, as the car is more suited to carrying three
adults and a child, although there's no denying the car's innovative
interior packaging considering its diminutive size.
The iQ promises to bring a whole new dimension of excitement to the
city-car class, capable of exceeding speeds of 105 mph. Among the
latest in active and passive safety features, is the world's first
rear window curtain shield airbags.
Toyota says "a major milestone" in the company's continuous efforts
to develop technologies that reduce emissions to much lower levels."
There are currently no plans to bring the iQ to the U.S.
Honda FC Sport Concept
A look at what a future fuel cell-powered three-seat sports car may
By Matt DeLorenzo
Designed to show that high performance and green concerns can go hand-
in-hand, the Honda FC Sport Concept is a look at what a future fuel
cell-powered 3-seat sports car would look like.
The FC Sport incorporates the same V Flow fuel-cell technology that
Honda has developed for the limited-production FCX Clarity sedan.
This new concept has a lightweight cab-forward body housing the fuel-
cell propulsion system located between the rear two seats. The
battery pack and electric motor mounted low in the chassis ahead of
the rear axle give the car a low center of gravity and help ensure
an ideal fore/aft weight distribution.
While the drivetrain is mounted low in the vehicle, the vehicle's
hydrogen tanks are visible through the rear deck glass as a way to
showcase the car's fuel-cell pedigree.
The driver sits in a racecar-like center position with the passengers
flanking the driver to the rear. The car's sleek body sweeps rearward
and tapers into a geometric hex form, which houses the fuel cell's
coolers. At the front, Formula 1-style barge boards enhance high
speed stability and provide a visual link to Honda's Grand Prix
Cabin ingress and egress is afforded through the rear-hinged canopy,
which swings upward. In addition to maximizing the potential of the
fuel-cell drivetrain, the FC Sport Concept is designed to employ
green construction techniques that reduce its overall carbon
footprint. For instance, the car's composite exterior panels are
intended to use plant-derived bio-plastics.
Honda has no performance data for this concept, which is purely a
design exercise at this point.
Nissan Nuvu Concept
The Nissan Nuvu gives a 'new view' for city cars.print send e-mail
IM this page
By Mike Monticello
Nissan's Nuvu concept (think "New View") is Nissan's vision for the
type of car we'll be driving in cities by the middle of next decade.
Although it is an electric car, Nissan says the Nuvu is not the
electric car the company recently announced it will sell in the U.S.
and Japan in 2010. The Nuvu does carry some technology destined for
the production vehicle.
As befitting a proper city car, the Nuvu is small: about a foot
longer than a Smart Fortwo. A unique 2+1 seating arrangement allows
for a third passenger when needed, or the seat can be folded down.
Unlike many city cars, the Nuvu has enough luggage capacity for a
proper supermarket run.
Of note, the Nuvu's roof has 12 small leaf-shaped solar panels, which
charge the battery via a "tree-trunk" within the car. And to further
emphasize the Nuvu's "green-ness," the cabin makes use of natural,
organic and recycled materials.
"Nuvu is a concept car, for sure, but it is an entirely credible
vehicle," says Francois Bancon, the general manager of Nissan's
Exploratory and Advanced Planning Department.
December 15, 2008
Rumor has Apple updating Mac Mini
Posted by Steven Musil
Apple will announce an upgraded Mac Mini, according to a rumor
reported by Wired.com.
Apple will announce a long-overdue upgrade to its Mac Mini during the
Macworld Expo next month, according to a Wired.com report.
The report was attributed to an alleged corporate employee at Apple
who wished to remain anonymous--"to keep his job," Wired noted. While
he was apparently comfortable disclosing that a new desktop would be
announced in January, he balked at disclosing any other details.
Rumors have been circulating for more than a year that Apple was
getting ready to kill the little cube, and Gizmodo speculated that
the end was near when it reported in October that two European
retailers were told they can no longer order the $599 box from Apple.
However, it's possible Apple was simply gearing up to update the
internal hardware in the Mac Mini, which has languished for quite a
while with outdated chips.
The Mac Mini was an experiment in affordability and minimalism on
Apple's part back in 2005. The small desktop was initially a hit with
critics and consumers, but as the world's PC preferences tilted
strongly in favor of notebooks over the last several years, Apple
spent more time updating and promoting the MacBook and iMac all-in-
one desktops than the cute little cube.
The Mini could desperately use a hardware boost, but Apple has made
clear that it considers mobile computing the future of its business,
and the Mac Mini simply doesn't fit in to that strategy.
CNET News' Tom Krazit contributed to this report.
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. Before joining
CNET News in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area
Study Suggests Sugar May Be Addictive
Finding might yield new insights into eating disorders, experts say
Posted December 10, 2008
By Amanda Gardner
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Science is verifying what many
overeaters have suspected for a long time: sugar can be addictive.
In fact, the sweetener seems to prompt the same chemical changes in
the brain seen in people who abuse drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
The findings were to be presented Wednesday at the American College
of Neuropsychopharmacology's annual meeting, in Nashville.
"Our evidence from an animal model suggests that bingeing on sugar
can act in the brain in ways very similar to drugs of abuse," lead
researcher Bart Hoebel, a professor of psychology at Princeton
University, said during a Dec. 4 teleconference.
"Drinking large amounts of sugar water when hungry can cause
behavioral changes and even neurochemical changes in the brain which
resemble changes that are produced when animals or people take
substances of abuse. These animals show signs of withdrawal and even
long-lasting effects that might resemble craving," he said.
Dr. Louis Aronne, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control
Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical
Center in New York City, added: "The big question has been whether
it's just a behavioral thing or is it a metabolic chemical thing, and
evidence like this supports the idea that something chemical is going
A "sugar addiction" may even act as a "gateway" to later abuse of
drugs such as alcohol, Hoebel said.
The stages of addiction, as defined by the American Psychiatric
Association, include bingeing, withdrawal and craving.
For the new research, rats were denied food for 12 hours a day, then
were given access to food and sugar (25 percent glucose and 10
percent sucrose, similar to a soft drink) for 12 hours a day, for
three to four weeks.
The bingeing released a surge of the neurotransmitter dopamine each
time in the part of the brain involved in reward, the nucleus
accumbens. "It's been known that drugs of abuse release or increase
the levels of dopamine in that part of the brain," Hoebel said.
But it wasn't only the sugar that caused this effect, Hoebel
explained -- it was the sugar combined with the alternating schedule
of deprivation and largesse. After three weeks, the rats showed signs
of withdrawal similar to those seen when people stop smoking or
drinking alcohol or using morphine.
The scientists next blocked the animals' brain endorphins and found
withdrawal symptoms, anxiety, behavioral depression and a drop in
dopamine levels. In other words, they confirmed a neurochemical link
with the rats' behavior.
But longer periods of abstinence didn't "cure" the rats. Instead,
there were long-lasting effects with the animals: They ingested more
sugar than before, as if they were craving the substance and, without
sugar, they drank more alcohol.
The researchers speculated that some of these brain changes may also
occur in people with eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia,
although more research needs to be done to confirm the effects in
"Some say it's easy to lose weight -- you just have to shut your
mouth, stop eating so much," Aronne said. "I tell them a good way to
overcome global warming is if people made less carbon dioxide by
breathing less. Obviously, that's absurd. You can't do it because you
"The same thing is true of eating," he added. "Fattening food has an
impact on the regulating mechanism that breaks down your sense of
fullness, makes you feel an urge to go back and get that blast of
sugar and this creates the vicious cycle of weight gain that we're
Mon December 15, 2008
Survey: Many would take Internet over sex
Survey: Nearly half of women would forgo sex rather than give up
More women than men would be willing to give up sex, the survey found
The survey, commissioned by Intel, queried 2,119 adults in the U.S.
Most adults also would forgo two weeks of TV over one week of
By Dawn Kawamoto
(CNET) -- Just how reliant are you on the Internet?
More women would give up sex rather than go without Internet access,
according to a new survey.
Nearly half of the women questioned by Harris Interactive said they'd
be willing to forgo sex for two weeks, rather than give up their
Internet access, according to a study released Monday by Intel, which
commissioned the survey.
While 46 percent of the women surveyed were willing to engage in
abstinence versus losing their Internet, only 30 percent of the men
surveyed were willing to do likewise.
The U.S. survey, which queried 2,119 adults last month, found that
the gap grew even wider for both men and woman who were 18 to 34
years old. For woman, the percentage of those willing to skip the
sheets in favor of the Web rose to 49 percent, while it climbed to 39
percent for men.
And for women 35 to 44 years old, the figure jumped to 52 percent.
These figures were just some of the tidbits that came out of the
Intel's broader commissioned study on Americans' reliance on the
Internet in today's economy.
Though not as sexy but equally interesting, the survey also found
that 87 percent of respondents said the Internet saves them money.
Specifically, 84 percent of those surveyed found the Internet saved
them money by comparing prices online and searching out the best
deals, while 65 percent said it aided them in finding coupons,
discounts, and special promotions.
And TV, which has been losing its share of eyeball time to the
Internet over the years, found that the majority of adults would be
willing to forgo two weeks of watching TV versus losing one week on
Of course when it comes to TV, perhaps size matters, at least
according to a different survey earlier this year of Britons
conducted by electronics retailer Comet. Almost half of the men
polled said they would give up sex for six months in return for a 50-
inch plasma TV, according to Reuters.
That compared with just over a third of women who were willing to
make the same sacrifice for the big-screen television.
The Internet of 2020: more cellphones, intolerance; less DRM
By Jacqui Cheng
December 15, 2008
The mobile phone will become the primary means of Internet access
across the globe, and DRM will be well on its way out the door by
2020, according to a survey of Internet leaders, activists, and
analysts. Those are just two of the trends predicted by a panel of
experts surveyed by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in order
to get a feeling for where key influencers feel technology is going
over the next decade or so. In addition to DRM and mobile phones,
these experts also believe that we will be more hyperconnected than
ever and that people will become more transparent, but that social
tolerance will likely get worse.
Pew asked 578 Internet "activists, builders, and commentators" their
opinions on social, political, and economic life in the year 2020, in
addition to 618 stakeholders, for a total of 1,196 participants. More
than three-quarters of experts and 81 percent of overall respondents
agreed that the mobile phone would be the primary Internet connection
tool in 2020, largely due to the "bottom" of the world's population
relying on mobile communications to get online. And, although more
than half of experts and stakeholders feel that copyright protection
technology will no longer be widely available as of 2020, they do
feel as if the arms race between content owners and crackers will
continue, as the remains of DRM are beaten to death.
That's not all that will change over the next 11 to 12 years, though.
57 percent of total respondents believe that the demarcation between
work and personal time will disappear thanks to the Internet and
technology that keeps us constantly connected. Not everyone is
excited about this possibility. "While some people are hopeful about
a hyperconnected future with more freedom, flexibility, and life
enhancements, others express fears that mobility and ubiquity of
networked computing devices will be harmful for most people by adding
to stress and challenging family life and social life," reads the
report. Can someone put us down for a little bit of both, but heavy
on the "more work" side?
The panels were evenly split on the issue of personal and corporate
transparency online, however, and whether it will actually affect the
general public in any meaningful way. Although they generally believe
that transparency will increase thanks to the increased threat of
being outed for past indiscretions, respondents were unsure of
whether such a change in behavior would spur more public forgiveness
or social acceptance. In fact, social tolerance in general was a
topic that those surveyed were particularly pessimistic on. Only 33
percent of total respondents felt that social tolerance on the
Internet would advance by 2020, with the experts pointing out that
the expansion of the Internet would also expand the potential for
hate, bigotry, and terrorism.
"Tribes will be defined by social enclaves on the Internet, rather
than by geography or kinship, but the world will be more fragmented
and less tolerant, since one's real-world surroundings will not have
the homogeneity of one's online clan," SPARTA's chief scientist for
information security Jim Horning was quoted saying in the report.
Finally, the large majority of experts and stakeholders believe that
the Internet's architecture will continue to be improved, but won't
be replaced by a new system by 2020. They also feel that voice and
touch are overtaking the traditional keyboard when it comes to common
input devices, and that haptic feedback is allowing on-screen
keyboards to provide the kind of feedback people desire when dealing
with a touchscreen. Whether all these predictions will actually come
true by 2020 will be another story, but it certainly seems as if the
Internet-using public has a good grasp of how things can
realistically evolve in that time. Now, let's just hope that DRM's
demise is a little closer than the year 2020.