Wednesday, July 9, 2008
When it comes to the awesome combination of beauty and braun, women tennis players take the hot-athlete cake. So since Wimbledon 2008 starts today, we’ve decided to celebrate the parade of racket-weilding hotties by serving you COED’s quintessential list: ‘The Babes of Wimbledon 2008.’ You’re just going to love it…
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 3:46 PM
Posted by gjblass at 3:46 PM
Once I bought my 360, however, I've been able to get rid of my home theater PC, my DVD player, and even my cable box, so that my entire entertainment system runs through my Xbox 360. It's convergence at its best. The 360 is not perfect by any means, but it's the best multimedia device I've ever used.
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 3:44 PM
Germany's transport minister, Wolfgang Tiefensee, announced this weekend that his country plans to build up to 30 off-shore wind farms to meet the country's renewable energy targets, reports Der Spiegel. Tiefensee said he hopes to see some 2,000 windmills in the North and Baltic Seas, to provide 11,000 megawatts of electricity.
Berlin reportedly wants to source 25,000 megawatts of energy from wind farms by 2030. The country had recently passed a law designed to raise the percentage of renewable energy from the current 14 percent to 30 percent by 2020. New off-shore projects are expected to cost roughly €1 billion ($1.56 billion) each, and the first one is expected to be off Borkum Island in the North Sea next year.
Wind farms have met with much less NIMBY resistance and less arguments in Europe, perhaps because the continent has a long history of reliance on, and appreciation for, windmills, especially in northern countries. Plus, Europeans are well known for earlier adoption of measures to combat climate change and boost sustainability.
Meanwhile, in China, experts have estimated wind capacity could surge by 1,667% by 2020.
Not only is the U.S. famously addicted to oil, but Congress has continued to play bait and switch with invaluable renewable energy tax credits, the latest round of which are set to expire by the end of this year. The good news is the U.S. installed 5,244 megawatts of wind capacity in 2007, the biggest yet, and the Department of Energy has pointed out we could meet 20% of our needs with turbines by 2030.
Given the political realities and resistance, whether this will actually happen remain to be seen. One can only hope that widespread anxiety over high gas (and other fossil fuel) prices will jar the American public into taking more serious looks at renewable energy and conservation.
Posted by gjblass at 3:41 PM
— A Full National Theater Listing —
Posted by Neil Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org) on July 7, 2008
If there is one thing that you should be doing in preparation for the release of The Dark Knight on July 18th, you should be looking for the nearest IMAX theater in which you can experience the film’s truly epic scale. Thankfully, we have this very handy list of locations across the United States that will be playing the upcoming Batman flick:
Huntsville — Spacedome IMAX at US Space and Rocket Center
Mesa — Gateway 12 IMAX Theatre
Phoenix — AMC Deer Valley 30 with IMAX
Little Rock — Promenade at Chenal
Anaheim — The Movie Experience at Anaheim Gardenwalk
Cathedral City — Desert IMAX Theatre
Dublin — Regal Hacienda Crossings IMAX
Fresno — Fresno Stadium Cinema & IMAX
Irvine — Edwards Irvine Spectrum IMAX
Los Angeles — Universal CityWalk IMAX
Los Angeles — IMAX Theatre at The Bridge: Cinema de Lux
Ontario — Edwards Ontario Palace IMAX
San Diego — San Diego IMAX at Mira Mesa 18
San Francisco — AMC Loews IMAX Theatre at Metreon
Colorado Springs — Cinemark IMAX Theatre at Cinemark Carefree Circle
Denver — UA Colorado Center IMAX
Manchester — IMAX Theatre at Showcase Cinemas Buckland Hills
Fort Lauderdale — AutoNation IMAX Theater at Museum of Discovery and Science
Jacksonville — World GOlf Hall of Fame IMAX Theatre
Orlando — Pointe Orlando 20 & IMAX
St. Petersburg — Muvico BayWalk 20 & IMAX
Tampa — Channelside Cinemas IMAX
Tampa — IMAX Dome Theatre at MOSI
West Palm Beach — Parisian 20 & IMAX
Buford — Regal Mall of Georgia IMAX
Boise — Edwards Boise Stadium IMAX
Batavia — Randall 15 IMAX
Chicago — Navy Pier IMAX Theatre
Lincolnshire — Regal Lincolnshire IMAX
Woodridge — Cinemark IMAX Theatre at Seven Bridges
Evansville — Showplace Cinemas IMAX Theatre
Indianapolis — Showplace 16 IMAX Theatre
Noblesville — Hamilton Towne Center 16+ IMAX
Portage — Portage 16 IMAX
Council Bluffs — Star Cinemas Council Bluffs
Davenport — Putnam Museum and IMAX Theatre
Des Moines — Science Center of Iowa & Blank IMAX Dome Theater
Olathe — IMAX Theatre at AMC Studio 30
Cinema de Lux 20: Stonybrook IMAX Theatre
Natick — Verizon IMAX 3D Theater at Jordon’s Furniture - Natick
Reading — Verizon IMAX 3D Theater at Jordon’s Furniture - Reading
Dearborn — The Henry Ford IMAX Theatre
Grand Blanc — NGC Trillium IMAX Theatre
Grand Rapids — IMAX Theatre at Celebration! Cinema
Lansing — IMAX Theatre at Celebration! Cinema
Sterling Heights — IMAX Theatre at AMC Forum 30
Ypsilanti — Showcase Cinemas Ann Arbor
Apple Valley — Great Clips IMAX Theatre
St. Michael — CineMagic Metropolitan IMAX Theatre
St. Louis — Ronnies 20 Cine IMAX
Las Vegas — Brenden Theatres and IMAX at the Palms Casino Resort
Las Vegas — Red Rock Stadium 16 & IMAX
Hooksett — Cinemagic IMAX Theatre
Garden City — Leroy R. and Rose W. Grumman IMAX Dome Theater
New York City — AMC Leows IMAX Theatre, Lincoln Square
New Rochelle — Regal New Roc City IMAX
Rochester — Cinemark IMAX Theatre at Tinseltown USA
West Nyack — IMAX Theatre at Palisades Center
White Plains — IMAX Theatre at City Center: Cinema de lux
Williamsville — Regal Transit Center IMAX
Charlotte — Charlotte Observer IMAX Dome Theatre, Discovery Place
Raleigh — Wachovia IMAX Theatre at Marbles Kids Museum
Cincinnati - Cinema De Lux 18: Springdale IMAX Theatre
Columbus - IMAX Theatre at AMC Easton Town Center 30
Tulsa — Cinemark IMAX Theatre at The Tulsa
Tigard — Portland IMAX at Bridgeport Village Stadium
Harrisburg — Select Medical IMAX Theatre at The Whitaker Center
King of Prussia — UA King of Prussia IMAX
Philadelphia — Tuttleman IMAX Theatre, Franklin Institute
Tarentum — Cinemark IMAX Theatre at the Galleria Pittsburgh Mills
Providence — Feinstein IMAX Theatre Providence Place
Knoxville — Pinnacle 18 Complex at Turkey Creek
Nashville — Regal Opry Mills IMAX
Austin — The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum IMAX Theatre
Dallas — Cinemark IMAX Theatre at Cinemark 17
Houston — Edwards Marq*E IMAX
Houston — Silverado Station 18 IMAX
San Antonio — Palladium IMAX Theatre
Sandy — Megaplex 17 IMAC at Jordan Commons
Chantilly — Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center IMAX Theatre
Hampton — Riverside 3D IMAX Theater at the Virginia Air & Space Center
Virginia Beach — The Virginia Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater
Seattle — Pacific Science Center Boeing IMAX Theater
Spokane — Riverfront Park IMAX Theatre
Fichtburg — Star Cinema IMAX
Calgrary — Scotiabank Theatre Chinook
Edmonton — Scotiabank Theatre West Edmonton Mall
Langley — Cineplex IMAX Theatre, Colossus Langley
Richmond — Cineplex IMAX Theatre, SilverCity Riverport
Halifax — The Empire IMAX in Bayers Lake
Mississauga — Cineplex IMAX Theatre, Coliseum Mississauga
Ottawa — Cineplex Entertainment IMAX Theatre, SilverCity Gloucester IMAX Theater
Toronto — Cineplex IMAX Theatre, Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
Woodbridge — Cineplex Entertainment IMAX Theatre, Colossus Woodbridge
Montreal — Cineplex Entertainment IMAX Theatre, Scotiabank Theatre Montreal
So there you have it, the entire IMAX theater listing for The Dark Knight in the United States and Canada. I know that it may seem like overkill for me to have typed this entire list out for you (and yes, I did type it all out), but I can’t even begin to stress enough how amazing this film is when seen in IMAX. With almost 20-30 minutes of footage shot in IMAX, including a lot of action sequences, The Dark Knight is one of the first major studio releases to really embrace IMAX and harness its potential. If you have the choice, see it in IMAX. You may also want to move fast, as many of the opening night shows have already begun to sell out. Behold, the Summer’s first really huge blockbuster… And its still two weeks away.
The Dark Knight hits theaters on July 18th. For more, check out www.thedarkknight.com.
Posted by gjblass at 3:39 PM
The upcoming "Journey to the Center of the Earth" is the first full-length feature film to be shot in digital 3D, because the studio wanted it that way. This presents an interesting idea: What if the studios had mandated that certain other projects be 3D? So we cam with 10 films that could’ve, nay, should’ve been made in vivid 3D
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 3:35 PM
Posted by gjblass at 3:13 PM
McDonald’s best-known burger turns 40 this year. And since professional ethics prevent us from revealing the ingredients of the Special Sauce, we’ll try to make up for that by sharing a few other “secrets” behind those two all-beef patties and their signature accoutrements.
1. The Genius behind the ‘Mac
Back when Michael James “MJ” Delligatti became interested in opening his own restaurant in the mid-1950s, he visited a restaurant show in Chicago. When he happened by the McDonald’s booth, the McRepresentative invited Delligatti to visit a newly opened McDonald’s francise nearby. After doing some research, MJ realized that if he opened a Mickey D’s, the money he’d save on buying paper goods through the company would pay his franchise fee. He opened a McDonald’s in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in 1957 and did very well. Yet, he felt something was missing from the menu. Parents bought burgers for their youngsters, but MJ believed that a larger, more “adult” sandwich would encourage Mom and Dad to dine along with the kids. Before adding anything to his menu, however, he had to get approval from Headquarters. The Corporate office finally agreed to let him try a new burger with the proviso that he only use ingredients already on hand. He christened his creation the “Big Mac” and sold it for 49 cents. Sales spiked so much that Corporate couldn’t help but notice and add the Big Mac to their national menu in 1968.
2. The Slim Man who Eats Nothing but Big Macs
Those stodgy ol’ spoilsport nutritionists can drone on and on about how dangerous Big Macs are…saturated fat…blah blah…cholesterol…blah blah…heart disease… But we have only to look at Don Gorske of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, for McReassurance. He has been eating at least two Big Macs per day since 1972, and has since consumed over 20,000 of the double-decker burgers. Yet at six feet tall he maintains a weight of about 180 lbs. and an admirable cholesterol count of 140. Gorske admits that he never eats fries, just Big Macs, so perhaps that’s the secret.
3. More Memorable than the Commandments
It was a fated affair: McDonald’s was looking for a new ad agency in 1970, and Keith Reinhard, a creative director at Needham, Harper & Steers, had done his homework. He’d posted himself outside of several different McDonald’s outlets and polled customers as they exited on what they liked best. His research determined that Mom loved not having to cook, and Mickey D’s was quick and affordable (unlike most family-style sit-down restaurants). He came up with the slogan “You deserve a break today” and landed the prestigious McDonald’s account for his company. Not long after that, he coined what seemed like a hopelessly awkward jingle for the Big Mac: “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a bun.” However, a clever “man on the street” commercial campaign showing ordinary citizens trying to recite the phrase ingrained the run-on burger description in everyone’s mind and became a classic. A 2007 survey by Kelton Research found that of 1,000 Americans who identified themselves as Christians, 80% could accurately recite the Big Mac ingredients jingle, while only 60% could name all of the Ten Commandments.
4. Big Mac Mania
Big Macs are sold in over 100 countries today, with the United States leading the pack at 550 million consumed annually. Japan is next, followed by Europe (specifically the combination of the U.K., Germany and France) and then Canada. So how much of a commission does MJ Delligatti get from every Big Mac sold? Nada. The Corporate office did issue him a very nice plaque, however.
Posted by gjblass at 2:21 PM
Whether single events or processes that take weeks, months, or years, these experiences remind us that the world remains a magical place.
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 12:48 PM
If you're like most travelers, you've probably never considered shipping your luggage ahead of you instead of carrying it with you on a trip. But is this still the case? Most major airlines are now charging travelers to check a first or second bag on domestic flights — even as they continue to mishandle luggage in record numbers.
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 12:42 PM
Posted by Chismillionaire at 12:28 PM
Tesla Motors has hired one of Detroit's sharpest engineers to spearhead development of the four-door electric sedan it says will be rolling off an assembly line by the end of 2010.
The Northern California-based automotive upstart has found in Mike Donoughe a seasoned hand who knows how to build cars, and by naming him VP of manufacturing and engineering, shows that it wants to dominate the emerging premium-EV market. Donoughe, 49, has spent the past 24 years at Chrysler, where among other things he led the top-secret "Project D" charged with creating a car that might save the troubled company. Analysts said his depth of experience and contacts within the industry will be invaluable to Tesla as it develops the $70,000 sedan it's calling "Model S."
"He’s got intimate knowledge of vehicle design, planning and manufacturing" Aaron Bragman, an industry analyst with Global Insight, told Wired.com. "He has tremendous contacts among suppliers and others in the industry. They're likely to end up with a better product than they would have otherwise."
Donoughe was among Chrysler's most talented engineers. His résumé includes working on its best-selling minivans and two years leading passenger-car development at Mercedes-Benz. Chrysler tapped him earlier this year to head a top-secret program to replace the Sebring and Avenger models. He quit in March in one of several high-profile departures that came after private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management took over last year.
"He could have gotten a job at any of the automakers," Bragman says. "For him to end up at Tesla is surprising."
Donoughe will lead all aspects of Tesla's vehicle engineering and manufacturing except the electric drivetrain and oversee more than 100 people. He said in a statement that he took the job "because I am enthusiastic about Tesla's objective to integrate their disruptive EV technology into mainstream automobiles." Tesla's CEO, Ze'ev Drori, said Donoughe's "immediate priorities are to ensure that production of the Tesla Roadster runs smoothly and efficiently and to drive the continued development of our next car."
Tesla started building Roadsters in March. Darryl Siry, the company's VP of marketing, sales and service, tells Wired.com about two dozen have been built and almost half that many delivered to customers. The company is still working on an improved transmission that will be retrofitted into earlier cars once it's introduced later this year. The goal is to have 40 Roadsters rolling off the assembly line each week by the beginning of next year. Siry says the company plans to fill several more executive positions and could name a CFO within days.
As The Wall Street Journal notes, Donoughe's move to Tesla is another example of a big-name auto executive jumping ship to join a start-up. Murat Guenak, former head of design for Volkswagen AG, joined Mindset AG last year; the company is working on a plug-in hybrid it hopes to launch next year. Gordon Murray, the renowned Formula 1 designer behind the McLaren F1 and Caparo T1 supercars, has launched Gordon Murray Design Ltd. to create the T25 city car.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 12:25 PM
| Pico power: This tiny processor, called the Phoenix, uses 90 percent less energy than the most efficient chip on the market today. It could enable implantable medical sensors powered by tiny batteries. |
Credit: University of Michigan
Before long, sensors may be implanted in our bodies to do things like measure blood-glucose levels in diabetics or retinal pressure in glaucoma patients. But to be practical, they'll have to both be very small--as tiny as a grain of sand--and use long-lasting batteries of similarly small size, a combination not commercially available today.
Now researchers at the University of Michigan have made a processor that takes up just one millimeter square and whose power consumption is so low that emerging thin-film batteries of the same size could power it for 10 years or more, says David Blaauw, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Michigan and lead researcher on the project.
But when this processor, dubbed the Phoenix, is coupled with a battery, the whole package would only be a cubic millimeter in volume. At this scale, Blaauw says, it could be feasible to build the chip into a thick contact lens and use it to monitor pressure in the eye, which would be useful for glaucoma detection. It could also be implanted under the skin to sense glucose levels in subcutaneous fluid. More broadly, this low-power approach to processor design could be used in environmental sensors that monitor pollution, or structural health sensors, for instance.
The processer uses only about 30 picowatts (a picowatt is one-millionth of one-millionth of a watt) of power when idle. When active, the processor consumes only 2.8 picojoules of energy per computing cycle. That amount is about a tenth of the energy used by the most energy-efficient chips on the market, says Jan Rabaey, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the research.
The Michigan researchers' main idea is to design a chip that runs at an extremely low voltage. While microprocessors for personal computers may require two volts of electricity per operation, the Phoenix only needs 500 millivolts, or 75 percent less.
At this voltage, parts of the chip don't operate well, explains Blaauw, so his team redesigned the chip's memory, which is smaller than most processor memory, and its internal clock so that it could operate with minimal electrical input. The chip's clock--the timepiece that synchronizes number-crunching operations--has been reduced to an extremely slow rate of 100 kilohertz, as opposed to the gigahertz rates of personal computers. This approach makes sense for sensors, says Blaauw. "If we wanted to monitor pressure in the eye . . . we only need to take readings every few minutes," he says.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 12:17 PM
| Laser killer: Adela Ben-Yakar (top), inventor of a new high-resolution laser microprobe, at work in her laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin. An image taken with the microprobe shows a breast-cancer cell embedded in collagen, before (middle) and after (bottom) it is destroyed by the probe. |
Credit: University of Texas Engineering Public Affairs (top); Adela Ben-Yakar Group (middle and bottom)
Engineers at the University of Texas at Austin have patented a laser microscalpel that allows a surgeon to operate on tissue one cell at a time, precisely targeting disease while leaving healthy surrounding cells alive.
The device combines two technologies--a femtosecond laser and two-photon fluorescence microscopy--into a single miniaturized, flexible probe. The probe can target single cells in three-dimensional space, penetrating up to 250 micrometers into tissue.
The probe could be a significant advance for endoscopic surgery that requires high precision, such as destroying cancer cells scattered throughout brain tissue or operating on delicate tissue like vocal cords without damaging them, says Adela Ben-Yakar, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. Ben-Yakar developed the microprobe along with Stanford University associate professor Olav Solgaard and with Chris Hoy, a graduate student in Ben-Yakar's lab. The research was published in the June 23 issue of Optics Express.
Small, flexible laser tools are often used in endoscopic surgery to vaporize unwanted tissue. But although they offer greater precision than conventional scalpels, the existing laser tools tend to generate a lot of heat, causing damage in the areas surrounding the targeted tissue. "Current technology is really blasting everything around, causing extensive damage," says Ben-Yakar.
In contrast, femtosecond lasers use less energy than conventional laser-surgical tools, and thus generate less heat in surrounding tissue. Because they are able to destroy targeted cells without causing damage outside the target area, they are beginning to be used for surgery that requires great precision: since 2003, ophthalmologists have used femtosecond laser microscope tools to perform eye surgery. But the tabletop lasers currently in medical use are bulky, so their use is restricted to surface areas of the body, such as the skin or eye.
Likewise, two-photon fluorescence microscopy has also found applications in medicine and biomedical imaging as a way to get three-dimensional images of small structures. But until now, no one has combined it with a femtosecond laser in a device small and flexible enough for endoscopic surgery.
Ben-Yakar and her colleagues were able to combine the two in a handheld probe by using flexible hollow optical fibers to transmit the laser light, potentially allowing surgeons to bring the benefits of femtosecond laser surgery to structures deep inside the body. "You can do surgery on single cells without harming the surrounding healthy cells," she says. "The healing will be much faster, and the removal of tissue will be more precise."
Since the same probe is used to both image cells and destroy them, it is possible to simultaneously identify and treat diseased tissue. The microprobe is controlled by imaging software, allowing surgeons to either target individual cells or use algorithms that can detect diseased cells on the fly and destroy them automatically. Currently, the laser microprobe is still an experimental tool. Its inventors have used it to perform surgery on cancer cells grown in bioengineered tissue in the laboratory, but the device has not yet been used on animals or humans.
A problem that remains to be solved before the device can be used on patients is shrinking the width of the probe from 15 to 5 millimeters--the size of the standard tools used in endoscopic surgery--so that it will be compatible with existing surgical technology. "If you want to be compatible with the existing systems, you have to reduce the size," Ben-Yakar says. "But when you make it smaller, the probe, the optics will be more difficult. It will be hard to keep the current resolution. That's the next step."
Rox Anderson, a professor of dermatology and the director of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, calls the development of the microprobe "an important step . . . toward the broad opportunity of integrating diagnostic and therapeutic options in biomedicine."
Posted by Chismillionaire at 12:14 PM
First come the blasts: The thunderous sounds of more than 100 tons of explosives ripping through tightly packed soil.
Then, the water — more than 2,500 acres flooded in less than an hour.
This isn't a scene from a Hollywood blockbuster. It's the latest step in The Nature Conservancy's efforts to restore wetlands on its Williamston River Delta Preserve in southern Oregon.
Learn more at http://www.nature.org/wherewework/nor...
Posted by gjblass at 11:38 AM
The first iPhone 3G reviews have just hit, from Walt Mossberg of the WSJ and All Things D, Ed Baig from USA Today and David Pogue from the NYTimes. No one goes deep into the app store but here's what they think:
Walt Mossberg of the WSJ has been testing it "for a couple of weeks" and sees that surfing on the faster 3G is between three and five times the speed of the original iPhone. However, Moss found that browsing on the 3G network drained his battery much faster than browsing on the original. Externally, he says the speaker was "much louder" (YES!) for both music and speakerphone, but otherwise pretty much the same as the original. One bug/feature he ran into was that you can only sync your calendar and contacts with either Exchange or your personal accounts, not both.
In Mossberg's own battery tests, he got 4 hours and 27 minutes (short of 5 hours) of talk time, which is three hours less than his test on the original iPhone. Using 3G, he got 5 hours and 49 minutes, which is slightly better than Apple's own claim. He couldn't test any apps on his iPhone 3G, but did on his old iPhone—they worked pretty much as advertised. He concludes with pretty much what we've all known: it's slightly more expensive on AT&T due to the higher price plan, but satisfies people who really need that 3G speed. What's weird is that Mossberg didn't test the GPS functionality at all, so we're left wondering how that is. [All Things D]
Ed Baig of USA Today also tested the iPhone 3G and claims both that it was worth the wait, but still not perfect. His complaints of the first one—no video capture, no Bluetooth stereo and no voice dialing—are still there. Also, AT&T's 3G coverage was nonexistent in his New Jersey home, which kinda negates the whole "iPhone 3G" thing. He notes that the new plastic backing helps reception, and the new flush headphone jack is "a welcome development." Unlike Mossberg, Baig does have something to note on the GPS. He says he was quite impressed by its accuracy when searching for pizza places while driving, and hopes that there will be a third-party add-on for turn-by-turn live directions.
Baig also says that the speaker is improved, but notes strangely that you can't directly charge the new iPhone 3G in some old accessories, such as a Bose SoundDock or a Belkin car kit. There's actually an adapter coming that will enable charging on those. Weird. He finishes up with his wishes for the next generation: Flash, Java and WMV support, removable battery and an expandable memory slot. All in all, a pretty positive review. [USA Today]
David Pogue of the NYT says that the audio quality is much improved, and notes that both incoming and outgoing sound is better than before. "In fact, few cellphones sound this good." The curved back makes the phone feel better in your hand, which is a definite plus. However, he says, the missing "standard cellphone features" from the first generation are also missing from this one. He hopes that the third-party Apps from the iPhone App Store will help fill in the gaps, but some of the ones we've seen—finding parking spots, free phone calls at Wi-Fi hotspots, random restaurant recommender, expense tracker, Etch-a-Sketch and tip calculator—don't exactly make up for the missing MMS, video recording and cut and paste features. Pogue also noticed the GPS does not support turn-by-turn navigation.
Pogue doesn't have much else in the way of benchmarks or impressions, but comes off seeming like he really likes the phone because of the iPhone 2.0 software; something old iPhone owners will be able to get for free. [NYT]
Notes: We have to say that Mossberg's review was the best in terms of completeness (save for the GPS omission). Normally, Newsweek would have a review up for the iPhone along with these three guys, but both they and Wired don't have an early review. This, we think, is because Steven Levy (the old Newsweek guy) at Wired, and Fake Steve Jobs (who hasn't quite started at Newsweek) didn't get the nod from Apple. We had our own hands on with the phone back at WWDC, which covers a lot of the exterior hardware elements as well as some of the software details.
Posted by gjblass at 11:37 AM
Posted by gjblass at 11:03 AM
Posted by gjblass at 10:47 AM
Pulled out of its secret workshop and displayed on the grounds of the Ferrari factory just for us, the 2009 Ferrari California stops us all in our tracks. We all just stand there. Mouths open. Like high-schoolers in the presence of bare breasts for the first time.
This is a gorgeous car. With Pininfarina bodywork created under the direction of Donato Coco, Ferrari's new design chief, the California is a real stunner, particularly with the roof up. Roof down it loses a trifle of that extraordinary well-balanced beauty, but only a trifle. Unlike other cars with a retractable hardtop, the proportions remain intact when the passengers expose themselves to the sun.
For instance, the fender vents are a welcome homage to the car from which the California takes its inspiration, the powerfully evocative Ferrari 250GT SWB Spyder California introduced at the 1960 Geneva auto show. And the long, hollow grooves in the sills have a function, as they direct air to ducts that cool the rear transaxle.
No question about it, the newest Ferrari is a looker. Full-figured, but a looker still the same.
Hard and Light
At 179.5 inches long, the 2009 Ferrari California is 2 inches longer than a Ferrari F430, and its 106.3-inch wheelbase is 4 inches longer. This makes the California larger on the inside than an F430 even though the front-engine car is an inch narrower than its midengine brother. The factory hasn't yet confirmed the new car's overall weight, but we expect it to be more than the 3,533-pound F430 Spider.
Ferrari's composers are also still working hard on the soundtrack for this car. We can hear a difference in exhaust sounds among various California test cars, as they drive by us regularly, still in camouflage. The car's volume control is set by butterfly valves in the exhausts, so the bark of the car's V8 engine at idle is explosively loud, beastly and titillating. But as soon as the wheels roll, it dies down in order to stay within legal limits.
The trunk has a capacity of 12.7 cubic feet when you drive the California with the hardtop roof in place and then shrinks only slightly to 9.2 cubic feet when the roof has been retracted into the trunk. This means the California should be an extraordinary practical sports car in which you can bring along more than in a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti — more than in a VW Golf, even. Quite an achievement, for the gang in Maranello had to find room in the rear of the car for not just a decent trunk and the folding hardtop but also the rear-mounted transaxle.
There's even a pair of simple backseats for a couple of extra bags. Yes, just bags. There's no way adults could sit there; there's simply not enough room. Behind the seats are two protective rollover bars that pop up into place if things go horribly wrong for you out there on the road.
The interior is magnificent, and the suspended bridge in the middle console and the superbly comfortable seats are a feast to the eye. These seats (built from carbon fiber and magnesium) sit you very low in the car, with just enough view over the rear deck to descry following vehicles. To park the Ferrari, you definitely need to have a good feeling for the dimensions of the car, or perhaps clairvoyance.
Just like the Ferrari F430, the California's steering wheel is graced with a distinctive manettino so you can calibrate the chassis stability control. There are three positions: Sport, Wet and DST Off. That's all you need in a carefree GT, or so they must be thinking at Ferrari.
Not a Maserati
The Ferrari executives emphasize that the California is a completely new car that doesn't share any main parts with other models. Though the first prototype mules appeared on the street disguised by Maserati bodywork, the California's all-aluminium frame apparently shares nothing with the 2009 Maserati GTS or Alfa Romeo 8C.
The Ferrari California's retractable hardtop certainly is unique. It weighs just 11 pounds; yes, that's even less than the fabric roof of the F430 Spider. The small hardtop retracts into the trunk in 14 seconds — a record in this segment, Ferrari claims.
Such a lightweight roof and operating mechanism means the car's weight distribution remains well balanced even when the top goes down, as only 51 percent of the car's weight rests on the rear wheels — ideal as far as Ferrari is concerned.
Ferrari applies a five-link rear suspension for the first time instead of its customary double-wishbone design. This design permits plenty of room for springs and plenty of wheel travel, ensuring ride comfort while making sure the suspension geometry stays exactly as it should be. Predictably the Pirelli P Zero Rosso tires are massive: 245/40R19s in front and 285/40R20s in the rear.
In Maranello they consider the California the technically most efficient Ferrari in a long time. The 0.32 Cd of the California's bodywork is a point of pride, representing the lowest coefficient of drag ever achieved by a Ferrari. Even so, the car still produces a useful 154 pounds of aerodynamic downforce at 124 mph.
Down to Business
Once you open the hood, you'll find that the V8 has been mounted completely behind the front axle. This 4.3-liter V8 is Ferrari's first direct-injection engine, which asked for some specific victories from the engineering department. Ferrari worked intensively with Bosch in order to get a throttle response quick enough to be worthy of a Ferrari. Also, some effort went into reducing the engine vibration that's a by-product of the taller compression ratio that direct injection permits.
The power peaks at 460 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and the California's rev counter won't turn red until 8,000 rpm. Thanks to direct injection, the engine only emits 310 grams of CO2 per kilometer, performance of which Ferrari is especially proud, since the 599 GTB produces 500 grams per kilometer in comparison.
The California will be available with a conventional six-speed manual transmission, but Ferrari expects most buyers to go for the brand-new, seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual that has been developed in cooperation with Getrag. As with every dual-clutch design, it combines the seamless acceleration of an automatic with the versatility of manual gear selection from paddles on the steering wheel, plus the Getrag design also incorporates launch control. Ferrari promises a sprint to 100 km/h (62 mph) in less than 4 seconds, which is quicker than the F430 Spider's 4.1-second capability.
Chief test driver Dario Benuzzi and his men haven't set a lap time on the Fiorano test track yet, simply because the total setup of the car has not been finalized. Unknown as yet are also top speed and braking distances. Since the speedometer reads up all the way to 340 km/h (200 mph) and huge carbon-ceramic brake rotors are available, we suspect impressive numbers will be in order.
Comfort and Speed
"When we got the opportunity to add a new model, we had a good look at how our customers use our cars and what their new wishes might be," says Massimo Fumarola, Ferrari's director of product marketing in his hypermodern office behind Ferrari's wind tunnel.
"On the one hand, we have customers who love motorsports and who buy a Ferrari especially to drive fast, on road or track. These people are Formula 1 fans, they visit track days and they want a car focused on these needs. It is for these people that we manufacture the 599 GTB Fiorano and the F430, with the 430 Scuderia being the most extreme model.
"On the other hand, we have a large group of customers with quite a different lifestyle. They do not drive to Grand Prix races, but instead to the best restaurants they can find. They greatly value a comfortable and easy-to-drive car, for they will, literally, go to great lengths to get where they are going. Typically, they don't want to attract attention in the streets and they want some room — for their golf bags, for instance.
"They don't want a focused Ferrari, as the first group does, but instead a versatile one."
The 2009 Ferrari California has been made for people who highly value the combination of driving comfort and speed. Its mission is to attract new clientele, the people who have been finding their way to Aston Martin, Bentley, Mercedes AMG or even Porsche.
Moreover, the Ferrari California has been designed to generate such a high degree of customer satisfaction that Ferrari's brand loyalty will improve. Right now, 50 percent of Ferrari buyers have previously owned a Ferrari, but in Maranello they think an increase in loyalty is feasible.
The exact price of the Ferrari California is unknown as yet, but it is clear that it will be nearer to the F430 than to the 599 GTB and 612 Scaglietti. Fumarola says, "Establishing the price is simple. The California has to cost less than the F430 Spider because the Spider has 490 horsepower and the California has 460. So count on a price very close to that of the F430 coupe."
Posted by Chismillionaire at 10:46 AM
Call us suckers for the word "sport." You could slap a "sport" badge on a pair of roller skates and our eyes would light up at the implied promise of higher cornering speeds around the Things Remembered kiosk at the local mall.
No sooner had we completed a test of the 2009 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV than we learned of another 2009 Nissan Maxima equipped with a Sport Package lurking in Nissan's garage.
There was that word again. How could we not test it?
Life Begins at SV
To recap, the 2009 Nissan Maxima is available in two trim levels: S and SV. The S is, relatively speaking, a stripped-down model that exists so that Nissan can say that the Maxima starts at under $30K — $29,950 with destination, to be exact.
Really, life begins with the uplevel Maxima SV, which starts at $32,650 and adds leather, a better sound system and a few doodads. The SV trim also grants you access to your choice of a Sport Package or a Premium Package, which share a slew of features and are separated by only a few key differences that are presumably intended to separate the sybarites from the enthusiasts.
Opt for the Sport Package and you trade away several of the frills found in the Premium for a metallic interior trim, sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels with 245/40R19 Goodyear RS-A all-season tires, and a spoiler on the deck lid.
Oh, and by choosing the $2,300 Sport Package you save more than a grand compared to the Premium Package. More go for less dough is the kind of value proposition that's right up our alley.
But does the Sport Package really provide more go? To find out, we fired up our RaceLogic VBOX logging equipment and took the Maxima to task.
Our test car was equipped with the Sport and Technology Packages and assorted mats, bringing the total to $37,380 with destination. The first 2009 Nissan Maxima we tested had been equipped with the Premium Package among other items. (Hereafter, we'll simply refer to said first Maxima as "Premium" and the subject of this test as "Sport.")
Get the Summer Tires
Before we get into the numbers, let it be said that the Sport is communicative and eager when it comes to handling the road. The impression is now of robust confidence, and if it is not the quite the spry Four-Door Sports Car that it was 20 years ago, it is far more engaging than more recent iterations of the model. Midcorner bumps do little to skew the Maxima's path away from the ideal arc, while the friction-free steering provides a level of precision not typically found in powerful, heavy front-wheel-drive cars. This 3,609-pounder moves with Germanic authority.
Unfortunately, we found that the Sport's all-season tires wave the white flag well before the fortified suspension underpinnings are ready to call it quits. Our first clue to this came at 128 feet, the braking distance from 60 mph, which is no better than the Premium. Tires are truly what deliver a short stop for a car (more so than brake hardware, really), and the ones on the Sport don't appear to stick to the pavement any better than the entry-level 18-inchers.
The Sport didn't show any improvement in our slalom and in the skid pad tests, either. The Sport's best slalom attempt was 65.2 mph, which trails the Premium we tested by 1.2 mph. The Sport likewise generated 0.80g of grip on the skid pad compared to the Premium's 0.83g result. Neither of these are bad results, but hey — this is the Sport Package, right?
Bridgestone Potenza RE050A summer-type performance tires are a no-cost option on Sport Package-equipped Maximae. We'll bet both of the dollars in our bank account that these are the tires for which the tauter Sport underpinnings have been tailored.
Feel the Burn
After the Maxima Sport's fifth run through our slalom testing, the transmission decided it couldn't take the heat and defaulted into failsafe mode. The car assumed command of the manual shift gate and refused to serve up revs higher than 4,100 rpm.
All functions returned to normal once the Max had a time out and things cooled off. Given a cool transmission and a few more attempts, it's possible that the Sport's slalom speed might have edged closer to the Premium's result.
With the same 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 under the hood of every Maxima, the acceleration runs promised to be interesting. The Sport found more traction than the Premium, hitting 60 mpg in 6.3 seconds (6 seconds with 1 foot of rollout as at a drag strip) and clicking off the quarter-mile in 14.5 seconds at 95.9 mph. For those keeping score at home, these results better those the Premium turned out by a few tenths of a second. Torque steer is remarkably absent, even though the 261 pound-feet of torque from the V6 is substantial.
Part of the Maxima's confident personality is due to its pairing of the powerful yet tractable V6 with a brilliant continuously variable transmission (CVT), with which Nissan has proven that it is possible to merge the benefits of both a manual and an automatic with only a few of the downsides of either. Whether you're snapping off "downshifts" for engine braking, plodding through traffic or making a quick getaway, the CVT makes everything so effortless that you wonder why other automakers bother with traditional automatics anymore.
We love the multiple personalities a vehicle can adopt thanks to a CVT, though this particular one's tendency to wilt in the heat suggests that the boys in the lab coats need to whip up a tranny cooler, stat.
4get About 4DSC
The 2009 Nissan Maxima SV is a sports tourer par excellence. The cabin itself doesn't put a patch of leather wrong, and its seats are sinfully cosseting while still providing the reassuring "don't worry, I've got you" support required for enthusiastic driving. And though its list of features is staggeringly long, the Maxima remains user-friendly and honest.
Some of the styling details are fussy, as if the designer's chair was kicked while they were being penned, though the sharp 19-inch wheels of the Sport Package give the 2009 Nissan Maxima a shot of presence.
Maybe that's the reason to tick the box for the Sport Package, then.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 10:42 AM
All those hundreds of TV channels may lead you that there’s a true diversity and variety in today’s television … but you’d be wrong. A handful of large companies control what you see, hear, and read every day.
Let’s take a look at who owns what on television - here are the TV channels owned by 6 of the largest companies in media, as depicted by their logos:
General Electric is a true behemoth: the conglomerate is the world’s third largest company with market capitalization of nearly $370 billion and annual revenue of $173 billion (2007). The company produces practically everything - from aircraft engine to locomotives to medical devices.
GE’s media holding includes television networks NBC and Telemundo, 27 television stations in the United States and many cable TV networks, including the History Channel, A&E, and Sci Fi Channel. It also owns the popular web-based TV website Hulu.
Time Warner is the world’s largest media and entertainment company - it owns major operations in film, TV, print, Internet, and telecommunications. Time Warner has an annual revenue of $50.5 billion (2008) - the equivalent of the entire GDP of Luxembourg.
Like cartoons? Time Warner’s got you covered with Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. Classic movies? Check (Turner Classic Movies). And who can forget CNN and Headline News? Both are Time Warner properties. (Note: CW is co-owned by Time Warner and CBS).
The Walt Disney Company
You may associate it with amusement parks, but The Walt Disney Company has grown to be one of the world’s largest media and entertainment corporation since its founding as an animation studio by brothers Walt and Roy Disney in 1923.
The Walt Disney Company owns the ABC television network, with more 200 affiliated stations reaching nearly 100% of all U.S. television market, as well as dozens of niche cable networks. True to its cartoon animation origin, Disney captures its viewers early - it counts millions of young children as its audience with kids channels like the Disney Channel.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is a behemoth: it is the largest media company in the world by market capitalization ($38 billion). For most people, the conservative news channel Fox comes foremost to mind when asked what they think of Murdoch’s media empire - but the company’s holding is far larger: it includes Asia’s Star TV Network, the National Geographic Channel and even the iconic TV Guide network.
Don’t watch TV? Even if you prefer to browse the Internet, most likely you’ve visited News Corp’s property, which include Hulu (owned in partnership with GE through its subsidiary NBC Universal) and the social networking giant MySpace.
CBS (which used to stand for the Columbia Broadcasting System) is not sometimes called the Tiffany Network for nothing: the company is known for its high programming quality. It is currently the most watched television network in the United States, and reached more than 103 million homes in the country.
Both CBS and Viacom (see below) are owned by multi-billionaire Sumner "content is king" Redstone, through his holding company National Amusements.
Viacom stands for "Video and Audio Communication" - and true to that name, the company owns a large number of cable and satellite television networks (the company was split from CBS Corporation in 2005, though both have the same majority owner).
In 2007, Viacom filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Google and YouTube for copyright infringement and recently a federal judge granted Viacom’s request for data of all YouTube users. The blogosphere has since called for a boycott of all Viacom properties - so that means no MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon or - gasp - Comedy Central for you!
Posted by Chismillionaire at 10:40 AM
Following the accident in Englishtown, NJ that took the life of driver Scott Kalitta, the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) announced on Wednesday that beginning with the Mopar Mile High Nationals in Denver, July 11, both Top Fuel and Funny Car classes will race to 1000 feet, rather than the traditional 1,320 feet (one-quarter mile).
Kalitta, 46, died after his Toyota Solara Funny Car burst into flames near the end of a qualifying run and his parachutes failed to fully deploy. The car, traveling at more than 300 mph, went off the end of the track into a catch net pole and then into a camera boom.
The NHRA has issued the change in collaboration with professional race teams on the circuit. “The board members of the Professional Racers Owners Organization (PRO) wholeheartedly and unanimously support this decision,” said its president Kenny Bernstein. “We want to thank NHRA for listening to our input and suggestions to incorporate these changes. It is not lost on any of us that this constitutes a change in our history of running a quarter-mile, but it’s the most immediate adjustment we can make in the interest of safety, which is foremost on everyone’s mind. This may be a temporary change and we recognize it is not the total answer. We will continue to work hand in hand with NHRA to evaluate other methods of making Top Fuel and Funny Car competition safer so that we might return to our quarter-mile racing standard.
The NHRA feels that the change will help in a dual manner—to allow time to analyze and implement changes in safety procedures, while still allowing fans to see the nitro-fueled cars race at near 300mph speeds.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 10:37 AM
Posted by gjblass at 10:34 AM
Last week I reported on a story that saw a new bill passed in Hawaii making it mandatory for every new home to have their hot water powered by solar panels. Signed in to law by Governor Linda Lingle, the bill will require all single-family homes built starting 2010 to have a solar panel powering the hot water system.
However Hawaii isn’t the trend setters we may have first thought them to be.
Over at MetaEfficient.com, they have an article pointing to the fact that 90% of Israeli homes already have solar water heaters. It began in the early 1950’s when the Israeli government encountered a fuel supply shortage, and restricted the times when water could be heated. In response, the people decided that they would start heating their own water using solar panels.
By 1983, 60% of the populated were using solar panels, and a law was eventually passed making what was already a common practice a law, regulating that all new houses be installed with a solar water heater.
Following in Israel’s step though, is Spain, who towards the end of 2004 saw their Industry Minister Jose Montilla, announce that starting the following year anyone who intended to build a new home would have to include solar panels in their plans.
Already Spain is the fourth largest manufacturer of solar power technology, exporting 80% of this to Germany. A country with more sunshine available than any other European country (try and work out how they figured that one), the Spanish government is committed to ensuring 12% of their primary energy is from renewable energy sources like solar by 2010.
For those wanting to see this in action, but don’t have the money to travel to Spain or Israel or even Hawaii, there are some simple tools to use from your own computer. A jump on to Google Earth will reveal a multitude of blurry out of focus shining squares on the tops of Jerusalem’s houses. And a visit to Flickr and searching for Jerusalem or Spain plus solar power, will reveal a veritable mass of photos showing solar panels atop houses.
In this way, from the smaller states and countries, let’s hope that in time, larger countries will follow.
Solar Water Heaters Soon to be Part of the Hawaiian Landscape
Hawaii Law Requires All New Homes Install Solar Hot Water Heaters
4 Things to Consider Before Going Solar
Clean Energy Intro: Top 10 Alternative Solar Uses
Water Heaters Get Energy Star Status and Reduce Bills, Emissions
Posted by gjblass at 10:32 AM