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Weird Science 12-18-8 PT 2

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 18, 2008
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      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
      look like.
      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
      this page
      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
      feel uncomfortable.

      "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
      going through."



      Mon December 15, 2008
      Survey: Many would take Internet over sex

      Story Highlights
      Survey: Nearly half of women would forgo sex rather than give up
      Internet access
      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.
      last month
      Most adults also would forgo two weeks of TV over one week of
      Internet use

      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
      the Internet.

      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.
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