Friday, April 18, 2008
Posted by gjblass at 12:55 PM
by Peter Mychalcewycz, posted Mar 20th 2008 at 1:02PM
The Allen-owned land rocket is a an absolute peach of a ride. It is Silverstone green, a unique color that looks blue and has a hint of green when hit by the sun. The interior is supple tan leather top to bottom and features a lightning fast manual six speed transmission. It has a top speed of 186 mph and reaches 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. At press time, the bidding was up to $41,100.
Now that the boring technical aspect of the car's description is out the way, we can get down to what really matters. This car was driven by frickin' Paul Allen. If you are even remotely interested in utilizing a car as a status symbol, there is no ignoring this particular automobile. The opportunity to live the mogul life may never present itself. The chance to drive like a mogul, however, is a just a mouse click away.
From Celebrity Car Parade
Posted by berniesred at 12:50 PM
Darrell Anderson always knew that running a bath required more electricity and water than taking a shower, but he's an engineer at Google, so he decided to quantify that difference. His tool of choice? A new resource monitoring system designed by some ex-NASA engineers called Agilewaves with a price tag north of $10,000.
The company's high-end systems provide granular data on a home's electricity, water, and gas consumption, and can compute carbon dioxide emissions from that information. Their system, part of which you can see above, can hook up to 100 types of sensors, and even allows Anderson to measure the pull from individual circuits.
While the company's standard package provides visualization options, Anderson decided to take the analysis into this own hands, logging the raw data and running it through GoogleCharts. That let him see that 25 percent of his home's energy bill was going to watering the lawn. And he got to answer the bath question.
Now, Anderson can say with confidence, "Taking a bath is roughly three times as expensive as taking a shower."
Energy usage monitoring systems are growing in popularity, or least the number of businesses trying to sell them is. (Examples: Onzo, GE) The idea is that if a product makes invisible power usage visible, consumers will respond by reducing the amount of energy they consume. The energy savings immediately translate into money savings, and you help save the world while saving yourself cash.
Companies like FatSpaniel already have dozens of systems installed, but most of them are high-end set-ups geared towards dedicated environmental thinkers who have installed solar power systems. On a broader scale, the California utility PG&E has promised to install lower-resolution energy monitors called smart meters in all its customers homes, but that's not happening in all of its homes until 2011.
The latter initiative is important because energy solutions need to be within reach of mainstream consumers, "cost-competitive," as the industry lingo goes. After all, that's why Google's green initiative, RE < C, is dedicated to making renewable energy cost less than coal.
As the prices of energy monitors fall, more and more consumers will be able to know their own energy profiles as well as Anderson does, allowing them to reduce their energy consumption as painlessly as possible.
Posted by berniesred at 12:32 PM
Luxurious Tree Houses Have Adults Never Wanting To Grow Up
Tree Houses Offer Cathedral Ceilings, Sliding Doors, Decks
It's hard to deny the inner-child when climbing 20-feet up into a tree house that looks like it was built for Peter Pan.
Tree house designer Pete Nelson said he finds the trees first before coming up with a design.
"The trees dictate the design," Nelson said.
Nelson has been making "big kids" dreams come true and "little kids" back yards into fairytale lands with his custom, luxury tree houses for 20 years.
"It's so fun to see people's faces when they come to a tree house. It just puts a smile on everybody's face. It's a beautiful thing," Nelson said.
The tree house that you only imagined when you were a child is coming to life next Friday at Longwood Gardens.
NBC 10 got a sneak peak Thursday of the three tree houses that will be on display. One is called the birdhouse, one is designed after a Norwegian church and one that is almost like a tree house gazebo was built to be wheelchair accessible.
"I always say there's a universal age in a tree house. Older people act younger," Nelson said.
Longwood Gardens calls the latest exhibit "Nature's Castles.
"Like something out of the "Swiss Family Robinson" and made from all types of wood, the trio of tree houses is luxurious compared to that tree fort you tried to make as a child.
These tree houses have cathedral ceilings, sliding doors and decks perched high amongst nature. There is no secret knock needed to get in, just bring your imagination."
I haven't grown up yet I don't want to," Nelson said.
Copyright 2008 by NBC10.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Posted by gjblass at 12:31 PM
Zodiac denotes an annual cycle of twelve stations along the ecliptic, the apparent path of the sun across the heavens through the constellations that divide the ecliptic into twelve equal zones of celestial longitude. The zodiac is recognized as the first known celestial coordinate system. There are two independently-created zodiacs from which.....
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 12:23 PM
Posted by berniesred at 12:20 PM
From the folks who brought you 'Super Troopers' and 'Club Dread'....
Posted by berniesred at 12:12 PM
Posted by gjblass at 12:05 PM
Hi-tech appliances are using smart technology to revolutionize the way we do things in our homes. Smart appliances tell you what ingredients you have, help you decide what to eat and will prepare your food to perfection. No more writing out grocery lists by hand. Your refrigerator can create the lists for you. Some smart appliances can even let you know when something is broken and will tell you exactly which appliance parts are needed to repair your appliance.
a built-in 15” HD-ready LCD
screen and message center.
Watch TV or surf the Internet for
your favorite recipes, right in your kitchen.
and wall calendars. The LCD
screen also functions as a digital
tablet, enabling you to leave
hand-written messages for your
family or set reminders for
yourself. Some models even give
you the option to leave voice
model you choose, the
refrigerator will inventory what’s
inside, and based on what you
normally stock, create a grocery
list for you and send it to the grocery store.
Posted by gjblass at 12:02 PM
I panned and zoomed around coverage maps easily, best when I relaxed my touch, as pressing too hard made the table less responsive. Placing a specially-tagged phone on the Surface brought up information about it, including service plans, accessories, and the ability to see it in different colors. When two phones are placed on the table, a side-by-side comparison chart appears. The actions available on the AT&T Store table include flick, zoom in/out, flip, drag and the object-sensing ability.
My favorite part of the Surface is that it has lots of touch points; one person can zoom in on an object while another person flicks a different object. At one point, we had 30 fingers on the table, and they were all registering. The ability to collaborate in a physical way (group painting or photo sharing come to mind) will definitely be a big draw. Inevitable comparisons to the iPhone—curiously unavailable to place on the table—are warranted: It's basically the same feel, but 10x bigger.
Don't expect this to replace AT&T reps just yet, as purchasing still can't be done directly on the Surface. Still, it's definitely one cool tool that we look forward to seeing in other arenas. It's at five AT&T locations starting today (two in NYC, one each in San Fransisco, San Antonio, and Atlanta), and it will be in 12 stores by next month. [Microsoft Surface]
Posted by gjblass at 11:10 AM
Photos taken by great outdoors-explorer photog, George Steinmetz. Gallery contains some nudity [but nothing prurient, etc.] Really an awesome look into largely unknown culture & people who, when pics were shot, had basically never had contact with "civilization" before. Some of the pics are truly fantastic.
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 11:06 AM
On Tuesday we asked you to share your favorite DVD ripping tools; today we've sifted through hundreds of comments to bring you the five most popular answers. Hit the jump for a closer look at five of the best and most popular DVD ripping tools, then cast your vote to determine the best ripper of the bunch.
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 10:19 AM
By David Axe April 18, 2008 | 8:15:00 AM
In my side career as a graphic novelist, I'll be attending the New York Comic Con today and tomorrow to hype my forthcoming book LOVE & TERROR, drawn by the inestimable Adam Rosenlund. The book, due later this year, is about the intersection of sex, war and terrorism in Iraq, London and Washington, D.C. (that's a preview page on the right).
Drop by the NBM booth between 2:30 and 4:00 today or 5:00 and 6:30 tomorrow to see your fourth-favorite DANGER ROOM writer ... and also this cartoonist/war correspondent/miscreant. And for anyone willing to stick around, there might just be a war-themed night of drinking and carousing.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 10:14 AM
VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- The world has never been more connected, but in some corners, it's developing a real hang-up over the ubiquitous cell phone.
Taking a cue from France's national railway, which offers phone-free "zen zones" on high-speed trains, Austria's second-largest city this week began ordering public transit commuters to keep their phones on silent mode.
The crackdown in the southern city of Graz has triggered a noisy debate between advocates of free speech and people who say they're simply fed up with having to listen to annoying ring tones and intrusive cell phone chatter.
"I know I insulted the cell phone goddess a little," Graz Mayor Siegfried Nagl said.
"But people need to know they don't have the right to be on the telephone permanently and constantly," he told Austrian television. "It's just not healthy to never be able to get any peace and quiet."
Graz's response to the proliferation of cell phones reflects a growing backlash against their abuse around the world, where mobiles and other portable communication devices outnumber people by a margin of 2-to-1 in many countries:
- This week, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio filed pre-emptive legislation aimed at ensuring Americans won't be subjected to cell phone chitchat on airliners. DeFazio, D-Ore., introduced his bill after the European Union scrapped a longtime ban on the use of cell phones on flights and Air France-KLM launched trial on-board cellular service.
- Last month, police in New Jersey started slapping drivers with a $100 fine for talking on a hand-held device or sending a text message. Across the U.S. this year, at least 21 state legislatures are considering some kind of ban on texting while driving.
- France's SNCF rail company, determined to spare travelers cell phone cacophony, now operates "zen zones" in select compartments aboard intercity TGV bullet trains. The railway asks passengers seated in those areas to turn off their phones so everyone can "travel in a totally relaxing environment."
Denmark, Germany and Finland - home to mobile phone giant Nokia Corp. - offer similar "quiet compartment" sanctuaries on trains.
And aviation experts say the risk of in-flight cell phone use interfering with jetliner navigational equipment is minimized because the new systems won't connect in-flight phones directly to the ground. Instead, they'll use an onboard base station to link up to a satellite and then to ground networks.
But silencing chatterboxes isn't always easy.
Last May, Sweden's Stockholm Transport did away with "cell phone free zones" on subways, buses and commuter trains just 10 months after launching the spaces.
"It relied on people showing respect, but it didn't really work," spokesman Bjorn Holmberg said: Too many passengers wanted to use their commute to catch up on work calls, and some just felt safer with cell phones in hand.
In Graz, 120 miles south of Vienna, officials concede the new ban is purely voluntary, and say transit police won't be conducting inspections or handing out tickets.
Bus and streetcar commuters are still allowed to tap out cell phone text messages, or use their laptops to make wireless connections to the Internet.
Recent polls suggest two in three Austrians support the idea of getting cell phones under control in public places. Officials in Linz, the country's No. 3 city, are also considering transit restrictions, and some are even calling for a crackdown on personal cell phone use at the office.
"I don't really understand what all the fuss is about," said commuter Erich Matthes. "Who or what is so important that you can't stay off your cell phone for half an hour? Must one really be reachable everywhere at all times?"
Josef Kalina, a senior official with Austria's governing Social Democratic Party, dismissed the Graz ring tone ban as "a completely anachronistic idea."
"You really have to wonder what the politicians will think of next," he said. "How about a total ban on freedom of speech in the public transit system? Using the law to regulate communication between human beings should be rejected as absurd."
Posted by Chismillionaire at 10:11 AM
| Shoots and leaves: To facilitate the breakdown of cellulose into fermentable sugars for making ethanol, Mariam Sticklen of Michigan State University is genetically modifying corn with genes that produce cellulose-degrading enzymes in the plant’s stems and leaves. The enzymes are activated only after the corn is harvested, when the plant is ground up. |
Credit: Michigan State University
In an effort to help boost the nation's supply of biofuels, researchers have created three strains of genetically modified corn to manufacture enzymes that break down the plant's cellulose into sugars that can be fermented into ethanol. Incorporating such enzymes directly into the plants could reduce the cost of converting cellulose into biofuel.
Last year, new federal regulations called for production of renewable fuels to increase to 36 billion gallons annually--nearly five times current levels--by 2022. Today, nearly all fuel ethanol in the United States is produced from corn kernels. To meet the required increase, researchers are turning to other sources, such as cellulose, a complex carbohydrate found in all plants. Corn leaves and stems, prairie grasses, and wood chips are leading candidates for supplies of cellulose. Cellulosic ethanol has many advantages over that produced from corn kernels. Cellulose is not only extremely abundant and inexpensive; studies also suggest that the production and use of ethanol from cellulose could yield fewer greenhouse gases.
However, the biggest obstacle to making cellulosic ethanol commercially feasible is the breakdown of cellulose. Enzymes that degrade cellulose, called cellulases, are typically produced by microbes grown inside large bioreactors, an expensive and energy-intensive process. "In order to make cellulosic ethanol really competitive, we really need to bring those costs down," says Michael J. Blaylock, vice president of system development at Edenspace, a crop biotechnology firm based in Manhattan, KS.
Mariam Sticklen, professor of crop and soil science at Michigan State University, in East Lansing, figured that she could eliminate the cost of manufacturing enzymes by engineering corn plants to produce the enzymes themselves. Instead of relying on the energy-intensive process of producing them in bioreactors, "the plants use the free energy of the sun to produce the enzymes," she says.
Typically, the breakdown of cellulose requires three different cellulases. Last year, Sticklen reported modifying corn with a gene for a cellulase that cuts the long cellulose chains into smaller pieces. The gene came from a microbe that lives in a hot spring. A month later, Sticklen inserted a gene derived from a soil fungus into the corn genome. That gene codes for an enzyme that breaks the smaller pieces of cellulose into pairs of glucose molecules. In this latest effort, Sticklen has modified corn to produce an enzyme that splits the glucose pairs into individual sugar molecules; the enzyme is naturally produced by a microbe that lives inside a cow's stomach. The final result: three strains of corn, each of which produces an enzyme essential to the complete breakdown of cellulose.
To avoid the possibility of transferring the genes to other crops or wild plants, the enzymes are only produced in the plant's leaves and stems, not in its seeds, roots, or pollen, says Sticklen. What's more, to prevent the corn from digesting itself, she engineered the plants so that the enzymes accumulate only in special storage compartments inside the cells, called vacuoles. The cellulases are released only after the plant is harvested, during processing. Sticklen described her modified crops last week at the American Chemical Society's national meeting in New Orleans.
Although it's possible to incorporate all three genes in a single plant, says Sticklen, using three different varieties of corn, each carrying a different gene, will allow her to control the conversion of cellulose into sugars. Preliminary studies show that the enzymes are just as efficient as commercially available enzymes when combined at a ratio of 1:4:1, she says. The results suggest that mixing the three different plants using the same ratios will provide the best outcome.
"I think the strategy of compartmentalizing the enzymes in the vacuoles is terrific," says Susan Leschine, a microbiologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. "The question I have is, do the enzymes work under conditions that are realistic?" For instance, different microbe species secrete their own cellulases that work synergistically to chip away at the cellulose fibers. It's unclear, Leschine says, how well an enzyme taken from a microbe that lives in a hot spring will work with an enzyme drawn from a soil fungus. "These different enzymes may not be active under the same conditions," she says.
Edenspace, which is currently developing Sticklen's technology, expects to begin field trials of her genetically modified corn within the year, with the goal of commercializing the technology within the next three years, says Blaylock. The company is not alone in pursuing this strategy: Agrivida, an agricultural biotech company based in Medford, MA, is also genetically modifying corn to simplify the production of cellulosic ethanol.
"This really is a worthwhile path to follow," says Michael Ladisch, professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Purdue University, in West Lafayette, IN. "However, at the end of the day, it's more complicated than it seems." The main obstacle is finding ways to ensure that the enzymes will survive the chemical and physical pretreatment needed to remove the lignin--the tough polymer in cell walls that provides plants with strength--from the cellulose fibers, says Ladisch, who is currently on leave from Purdue to serve as the chief technical officer at Mascoma, a biofuels company based in Brighton, MA.
One solution is to engineer the plants so that they require only a mild pretreatment. For instance, Sticklen is working on reducing the amount of lignin contained in corn, as well as modifying the molecular configuration of lignin, which would make it easier to break down. Although her work is currently focused on modifying corn, Sticklen says that the technology could eventually be transferred to other crops as well, such as switchgrass.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 10:04 AM
| Prayer and a wing: A preproduction Boeing 787 was unveiled last year, but parts of its wing box (bottom)--the major structure of each wing--buckled in stress tests. The structure, made of composite materials, measures more than 15 meters by 5 meters and weighs 55,000 pounds, including testing hardware and instruments. The company is stiffening this version as it tweaks the design of future wing boxes. |
Boeing says that its 787 Dreamliner--a midsize, fuel-efficient passenger jet that is currently in development--will be the first commercial aircraft in which major structural elements are made of composite materials rather than aluminum alloys. The changes are expected to slash component weights 20 percent, significantly boosting fuel efficiency.
Such composite materials--layers of superstrong carbon fibers and epoxy--have long been used in military jets, where money is rarely an object, and in commercial jets for parts like luggage-rack frames. But Boeing is learning how hard composites can be to analyze effectively and build economically for commercial jet structures. The company has had to delay the 787's introduction because elements of the composite-made wing box--the major structure inside each wing--buckled in stress tests.
The wing box begins in roughly the middle of the plane and extends about two-thirds of the wingspan. This key component--more than 15 meters long and 5 meters wide--was designed and built by Boeing together with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Fuji Heavy Industries, in Japan. Pat Shanahan, vice president for the 787 program, said in a conference call last week that structural testing had "identified the need to stiffen elements within the center wing box."
The fix requires adding new brackets and other parts to wing boxes already built, as well as modifying the design of boxes not yet built. The retrofits of existing boxes will intrude into wiring pathways, compounding the problems. So Boeing is pushing back the 787's delivery date about six months, from the first quarter to the third quarter of 2009.
The issue with composites isn't that they aren't strong; it's that they are so internally complex. They consist of layers oriented in different directions; those layers, in turn, are made of individual fibers that may vary somewhat in composition. This makes it difficult for engineers to accurately mimic their performance in computer models for premanufacture testing."Composite materials are more difficult to analyze than simple homogenous metals," says John Hansman, director of the International Center for Air Transportation, at MIT. "You generally don't model every fiber in the structure, so you come up with models that have simplifications
What's more, he says, composites allow engineers to make custom shapes, but these custom shapes compound the already difficult modeling problem. "You have many more design options, which can be both a strength and a weakness. There are many more things I can do with composite materials--add strength in specific places, take it away--but then you have combinations of both the geometry and the particular layup of the composite materials" that are unique.
Boeing's mechanical stress tests start with representative pieces (known as coupons), then move on to progressively larger parts of the structure, and finally to the full structure. Boeing puts the structural parts into huge hydraulic machines that bend and twist them to mimic stresses that go far beyond worst-expected conditions in real flights. It was during such tests that problems emerged with structural spars in the wing box.
Shanahan said in last week's conference call that Boeing has traced the problem back to an error in earlier modeling analysis, but he did not explain the details. "We discovered it. We'll go back and correct it," he said. Shanahan added that Boeing has not lost faith in its decisions to more widely use composites; 95 percent of thousands of tests have yielded as-good or better-than-expected results. On one such test--of the composite-made fuselage "barrel"--engineers had to stop the test for fear of breaking the test equipment, he bragged.
David Roylance, a composites expert and associate professor in materials engineering at MIT, says that Boeing's experience with the 787 shows that the industry is still on a learning curve in using composites more widely in commercial planes. "There are a whole variety of things with composites that are engineerable, but are different than metals," he says. "So it takes time for people to feel comfortable with it."
Posted by Chismillionaire at 10:02 AM
*ON APPROVED CREDIT. Available only at participating authorized Maserati Dealers through April 30, 2008 to qualified lessees with approved credit through Maserati Financial Services. Delivery by April 30, 2008 required. Subject to availability, quantities are limited. Required dealer contribution could affect price. Dealer prices will vary and affect lessee cost. Actual lease price determined by your authorized Maserati Dealer. Payments will also vary based on length of lease and options selected. Payment shown based on a 39-month closed-end lease for a new 2008 model year Quattroporte Automatic with MSRP of $126,310.00. Total cash due at signing is $9,894.26, including capitalized cost reduction of $7,500.00, first month’s payment of $1,499.26 and $895 acquisition fee. No security deposit required. Total amount of monthly payments is $58,471.14. Purchase option at lease end for $58,593.00 plus taxes. Lessee is responsible for insurance, maintenance, repairs, $.60 per mile over 10,000 miles per year, excess wear and a $495 termination fee. Title, taxes, registration and dealer fees are extra. See your participating local authorized Maserati Dealer for details. Maserati urges you to obey all posted speed limits.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 9:53 AM
Posted by Chismillionaire at 9:49 AM
The first package on the M3 E92 bumps the 4.0-liter V8 engine to 435 horsepower (up from the standard M3's 414 hp) and also adds 18 pound-feet of torque. Hamann has removed the speed limiter, so the M3 now has a top speed of 187 mph.
The second tuning kit is called the Sportkit HM/M +35. It raises performance to 455 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque. The top speed with this package? Just a hair under 200 mph. Along with the improved engine, Hamann offers a sport suspension and a sport braking system that utilizes perforated and internally ventilated brake discs that work in conjunction with the six-piston system in the front and the four-piston in the back.
Another significant addition to the M3 is the sport exhaust system. It's made from non-corroding stainless steel and includes both a metal catalyzer and a middle-and-rear-section muffler that delivers a throaty sound and noticeable performance improvement.
Aside from the power upgrades, the Hamann M3 has an aerodynamic kit with front and rear spoilers, side skirts and a roof spoiler. It rides on 19-inch alloys with 20-inchers as an additional option, and the interior features carbon-fiber trim.
What this means to you: Whether you want a huge horsepower bump or just a little nudge, Hamann has the kit for your M3. — Paul Tassi, Correspondent
Posted by Chismillionaire at 9:40 AM
This is the Chismillionaire sedan. More performance than my current sedan favorite the Quattroporte with the looks to match. We'll have to see how the Porsche Panamera looks in final form(currently a bit of a wart if you ask me) since it will certainly be a juggernaut dynamically in comparison to the Rapide.
Caught weeks ago in the cold of the Arctic Circle, the 2010 Aston Martin Rapide is now undergoing high-speed tests on the Nürburgring test track in Germany. And like the previous prototypes, this Rapide test mule has only minimal camouflage.
The lack of a cover reveals an interesting new design twist — a roof that's nearly all glass. There are a few pieces of equipment attached to this particular prototype, but it's a relatively unobstructed design otherwise. A few other luxury sedans have similar setups, so this appears to be an emerging trend in the segment.
Like the current range of Aston Martin coupes, the Rapide sedan sounds as good as it looks. Not a surprise really, as the Rapide will use essentially the same 5,935cc V12 as the DB9. Output is expected to jump significantly, though, so expect to see the final number approaching 500 horsepower. The corporate ZF-built six-speed automatic transmission is the likely gearbox and it will send the power to the rear wheels.
Production of the 2010 Aston Martin Rapide is expected to start in Graz, Austria, in late 2009. Supplier Magna Steyr will build up to 2,000 Rapides a year under contract with Aston Martin.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 9:34 AM
SAN DIEGO Electric muscle cars may seem like the ultimate automotive oxymoron. But that isn't stopping a unique automotive partnership from rolling out the Tjaarda EVX Mustang and the HST Shelby Cobra EVX.
The two are set to appear at the 34th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach's "Green Power Prix-View," which takes place April 18-20.
Both feature 300-horsepower electric motors using lithium ion phosphate battery packs developed by K2 Energy Solutions. HST International brags that they deliver "1,000 lb-ft of torque at zero rpm and have the capability to do zero to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds and a range of over 100 miles." The Shelby Cobra EVX has a top speed of 150 mph and a range of 120 miles. The EVX Mustang has a top speed of 120 mph and a range of 110 miles between charges. Its creator said, "The exterior is a modern version of a muscle-car-era classic Mustang."
The Tjaarda EVX Mustang starts at $80,000, while the Cobra comes in at $125,000.
What this means to you: The long reach of the green movement extends even to some of your favorite muscle cars. — Anita Lienert, Correspondent
Posted by Chismillionaire at 9:27 AM