Monday, September 8, 2008
DETROIT — No longer the best kept secret in town, photos of the highly anticipated 2011 Chevrolet Volt have been released on the Web.
The future plug-in electric car is expected to be the centerpiece of GM's 100th anniversary celebration next week. The official photos show GM executives and members of the development team posing with the car that GM says will be a game-changer for the industry.
First revealed at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show, excitement surrounding the Chevy Volt began escalating again last week, after what appeared to be a production version of the Volt was spied on the set of Transformers 2 during filming in Long Beach, California. Further investigation determined that the Volt seen running with the future Autobots and Decepticons was a fiberglass shell riding on a Chevy Malibu platform.
Unlike current hybrids like the Toyota Prius, the Chevrolet Volt runs purely on electric power. The onboard gasoline engine is used only to recharge the batteries. GM says to expect about 40 miles of pure electric range from the Chevrolet Volt when it goes on sale in the fall of 2010.
What this means to you: The Volt was previously scheduled to make its production debut next week, so expect to learn more soon.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 8:36 PM
Photograph courtesy NASA
Here are mirrors to the wallpapers on 3 sizes
http://www.mybloop.com/photo/fullsize/nVKL5c (800 x 600 pixels—best for smaller monitors )
http://www.mybloop.com/photo/fullsize/jh50h8 (1024 x 768 pixels—best for medium-size monitors )
http://www.mybloop.com/photo/fullsize/C6r8lF (1280 x 1024 pixels—best for larger/widescreen monitors)
Posted by gjblass at 5:19 PM
Returning from a long layoff, UFC star Chuck Liddell had the crowd. He had the momentum, chasing Rashad Evans around the Octagon on Saturday.With one punch, Evans changed all that, landing an overhand right that instantly dropped Liddell. Referee Herb Dean rushed to stop the fight, and doctors immediately jumped in the ring to tend to Liddell.
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 5:16 PM
by Lee Mathews
Grab your browser, and get ready for some classic, low-fi action!
Neave Games specializes in making flash remakes of classic games, and has a few tasty selections for you. Among them are Frogger, Space Invaders, Tetris, and the old Nokia cellphone game Snake (pictured). Rad.
c64s.com is dedicated to my first computer and gaming system, the Commodore 64. It's been on DS before, but they've added a lot of great new games over the years. Packacuda, Wizard's Lair, Crystal Castles. It's hard to believe how good some of the games were for the trusty old c64.
Nethack made the roundup last time, but it was a downloadable version. If you're not familiar with it, it's a dungeon exploration game with pure ASCII graphics, and it's weirdly addictive. The folks over at alt.org have a live server that you can sign onto via telnet, using alt.org's Java-based client.
Before you jump in, you can choose to watch a game in progress and see what other intrepid adventurers are up to.
Virtual Apple gives you browser-based access to my favorite Apple product ever, the Apple ][. So many awesome low-color games to play, but I can't tear myself away from Lemonade Stand and Oregon Trail. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got bears to shoot and party members to drown in a river crossing.
Posted by gjblass at 5:05 PM
Below we present over 35 beautiful examples of rain photography. This post is supposed to provide you with some inspiration for rainy motifs and is not supposed to be the ultimate collection of best photographs. There are definitely thousands of beautiful “rainy” photos &ndsash; feel free to share links to them in comments to this post!
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 4:31 PM
ATLANTA -- Falcons rookie quarterback Matt Ryan threw for a 62-yard touchdown with his first NFL pass Sunday.
AP Photo/John Bazemore
Matt Ryan started his NFL career with a 62-yard touchdown pass on his first attempt.
After two runs by Michael Turner, Ryan hit Jenkins on a slant down the left side. The receiver beat cornerback Travis Fisher, hauled in the ball at the Detroit 45 and raced to the end zone without being touched. Jenkins also pulled away from safety Gerald Alexander, who got over too late to help.
Ryan took off down the field to celebrate, actually knocking over center Todd McClure as he raced toward Jenkins.
Ryan was the first quarterback to throw a TD pass on his initial NFL attempt since Michael Bishop for New England against Indianpolis on Oct. 8, 2000, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
Posted by gjblass at 4:29 PM
Posted by gjblass at 4:12 PM
If you’re trying to simplify your life, it’s best to follow the four simple steps I’ve outlined before — it’s just the simplest method.
But sometimes life gets in the way, and you need a workaround, some way to get past your usual obstacles and to trick yourself into keeping things simple.
I use these “hacks” myself (in this case, “hacks” refers to workarounds or tricks to reach your goal), and I’ve found them to be effective in many cases. Please note that you might have read some of these once or twice (or thrice) on this blog before, but I thought it would be a useful resource to gather them all into one post.
Also, don’t try to implement all of them — that would be far from simple. Not all of them will apply to your life anyway. Pick one or two and try them out.
Simple tricks to simplify your life:
- Three-box decluttering. If you’re trying to declutter a room, drawer, shelf, desk … use three boxes to quickly sort everything. Just quickly go through each shelf or drawer or flat surface at once, putting things into three separate boxes: Trash, Donate, Maybe. The first two boxes are obvious … the Maybe box is for stuff you’re not too sure about — you can put this in storage for a few months and decide later. Put everything else — the stuff you love and use — back neatly.
- Create a no-distractions zone. This is great for when you want to do some focused work — which is just about every day for most of us. Create a zone with no distractions — no phones, no email, no co-workers or kids or spouses, nothing on the walls, no IM or Twitter, no web surfing. Just the tools you need to do your work and nothing else. You could also create a time within your schedule for this distraction-free zone — say 8-10 a.m., for example. No distractions within that block of time. You can do email and phone calls before and after, but not during. I like this hack for when I need to do some writing but have a hard time concentrating.
- Create a short-list. This is for the big-picture simplifying. If you’re having a hard time getting your life to something truly simple, create a short list of things you love doing most. This should be 4-5 things. For me, that’s writing, reading, running and spending time with my family. Your short list will be different. Then, try to eliminate everything in your life that’s not on the short list, to make room for the things you love.
- Deflect all requests for a week. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, make the decision that you will not say “yes” to any new requests this week. If you get a new request, politely decline. If it’s a request you can’t decline, tell them you’ll get to it next week because you have some projects you need to finish this week. Then pick one or two or even three projects (depending on their sizes) and focus on finishing them this week. You can worry about new stuff next week. Repeat this hack when needed.
- Go schedule-less. This works well if you’ve been over-packing your schedule. Try this: set a policy that you won’t schedule any appointments. This won’t work for some people who have mandatory meetings, but if you control your schedule, you can tell people, “I’m sorry, I don’t make appointments anymore. Call me on that day and we’ll see how things are going.” Leave your day wide open. At the beginning of the day, pick a few things to focus on and try to get them done. If you need to meet with someone, call them and meet.
- Single-task. This is good for those who tend to be all over the place. I’ve talked about it many times before: don’t allow yourself to switch between tasks. When you’re working on a report or writing an article, don’t do anything else. When you’re processing email, get to empty and do nothing else. One task at a time … finish the task … move on to the next. Try this for one day, focusing on it completely for that day. If it works for you, try it again the next day.
- Start your day with peace. I love this one, because it’s so easy to implement and yet it can have such a powerful effect on your day. When you first rise, do something that is calming and peaceful. That might be running or walking, having a quiet cup of coffee with a book, watching the sunrise, meditating or yoga … whatever works well for you. It can be 10 minutes or an hour, but find some peace in the morning and use it to calm you throughout your entire day. Read more.
- Eat only 7 things. If you’re trying to be healthful, but are having a hard time navigating complicated diets, try this hack to simplify things. Limit yourself to non-packaged foods. Eat only seven things: fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, lean calcium, beans, nuts, good fats. Nothing from a box. This will require that you cook your food, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Read more.
- Go paperless. This works great for certain types of jobs — mine, for example. It won’t work for other jobs. But if you can do it, you can save time filing, save time searching for stuff, save space, simplify your office, and save a few trees to boot. First, insist that everything be sent via email or through online documents. Then create a filing system that works for you. Personally, I like to keep things online, and just archive and search rather than creating a complicated hierarchy of folders, but you might prefer a more traditional system on your hard drive. Do what works best for you. For those things that can only be sent via paper, scan and toss. Try to limit the scanning, and request that things be sent electronically.
- Go media free. If your life is filled with information overload, and you find little time to do the things you love to do, consider eliminating media from your life, at least temporarily. This includes cable TV, DVDs, newspapers and magazines, Internet news and the like. Now, I’m not saying you should eliminate the things you love. For myself, I would never eliminate reading books, for example. You might love a certain TV show — in that case, eliminate everything else. You can go media free for a week to see if it improves your life, and then consider extending it for longer. This hack won’t work for everyone, but I enjoy it.
- Limit yourself to 3 tasks. If your to-do list is long and overwhelming, pick three tasks you want to do today — important tasks that aren’t just urgent but actually have a long-lasting impact on your life. Focus on getting these three tasks done before anything else. If you finish early, you can either call it a day or get some bonus tasks done. Read more.
- Limit yourself to one project. How many projects are you juggling right now? If there are too many, you might be limiting your effectiveness. Instead, focus on one project right now, and put the others on the back-burner. Try to get that one project done as quickly as possible, and then work on the next one. Read more.
- 5-sentence emails. This works well if you spend too much time writing emails. I got the idea from Mike Davidson, who advocates limiting each email to five sentences or fewer. This forces you to keep your emails brief and to the point. It limits the amount of time you use doing email. And it forces you to decide what’s important in each email. I generally follow this rule (though I break it from time to time) … and if you get short emails from me, you now understand why.
- 30-day rule. This is a fantastic hack for those (like me) who have trouble with impulse buying — that great enemy of simplifying. The rule is that if you want to buy something, you have to write it on your 30-day list, with the date that it was added to the list. After 30 days, if you still want it, you can buy it. This doesn’t apply to necessities such as groceries … which helps you distinguish between wants and needs, a great skill for simplifying.
- Only wear a few colors. I actually do this, and it helps me simplify my wardrobe. I basically wear only black, blue, grey and green, with some browns thrown in now and then. This means that it’s very easy for me to match my clothes, and I don’t need a lot of clothes. You’ll have other colors you love to wear — build your wardrobe around them. This won’t work for people who love having lots of clothes in a wide range of colors, but for myself, it keeps things nice and simple — and I don’t like thinking about clothes anyway.
- One in, two out. When you bring something into your house, you have to get rid of two things. The normal rule is one in, one out, but somehow that never seems to work — things still accumulate. Instead, get rid of two things and things will stay simple.
- Work four days a week. Of course not everyone can set their own schedule, but if you have that luxury, limit yourself to four days a week — 8 hours or less. You might even set it to 6 hours if you can manage that. And then make it three days. But how can you work only four days if you currently work 5 and are overloaded as it is? It’s funny, but you can somehow make it work. It’s a well-known law that our work expands to fit the time we give it … and the flip side of that is if you shrink the time, you will shrink the work to fit the time. If you only have four days in a work week, you will pick the most important tasks. You will get the work done that needs to be done, and you’ll naturally eliminate the rest. You’ll set a schedule that works. You’ll delegate and outsource and automate and eliminate. And you’ll have an extra day off. Try it and see — I bet you can manage it.
- Retire early. This is a radical hack, but it can work for some people. In fact, it’s worked for many. Simply set an early retirement date (maybe even next year!) and force yourself to save up the money you need. Take a mini-retirement if necessary. Then go back to work and save up for your next mini-retirement. Or set your early retirement in five or 10 years, and then never go back to work. It sounds unrealistic, but if you look at it this way, you can save the money you need to retire. It means forcing yourself to make choices — do you want to spend impulsively now, or retire early? If you cut back on spending you can save more. Live simply and frugally and invest the difference. Make more money in the short term so you don’t need to work as much later.
- Limit storage space. Do you tend to save everything? Have tons of stuff in storage, in closets or attics or garages or cupboards? The less storage you have, the less stuff you’ll save — which will save you the stress of having to go through all that storage to find stuff, to organize stuff, to maintain stuff, to get rid of old stuff. A good example is my desk — I work on a table with no drawers. This means I don’t have all the usual stuff in a desk, and forces me to keep things simple. You can apply this to all areas of life if you like.
- Staunch your information flow. Similar to the media fast, you can cut back on the amount of information coming into your life. Do you currently have tons of emails coming in? Find ways to reduce them — unsubscribe to mailing lists, ask people to stop sending you joke or chain emails (or block them from your inbox), automatically filter things you don’t really need to read, pre-empt common questions with an FAQ. Do you read a lot of blog feeds? Unsubscribe to those that don’t give you value. Do you read a lot of news? Pick one news source instead of five.
- Send only five emails a day. I did this for a little while and loved it. I would pick five important emails to respond to, and that was it. The rest would be delayed or deleted. I ended up prioritizing, and while some people didn’t get a response, I also didn’t spend all my time in email. It freed me, and made me realize that I don’t have to respond to every email — people will make do.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 4:10 PM
Extend the way you use your Mac
Get more from your Mac with our pick of 12 life-enhancing programs
Since computer technology became an integral part of our lives it has gone from being purely a functional tool to something we use for social interaction, leisure and personal pursuits. Social networking is the most obvious example, with sites like MySpace, Facebook and Bebo enjoying huge popularity.
Tools for blogging, tracing your family line or sharing pictures, videos and diaries online are also commonplace. There are many other small applications for the Mac with specialist aims, too, including improving your sleep, tracking travel news or streaming webcam images to your Desktop. You'll find almost all the programs mentioned here on your DVD, plus links to the developers' web pages.
$15, Mac OS X 10.3.9+
Managing passwords and numbers can be tiresome. Enter Wallet, an elegant manager for sensitive data such as passwords, serial numbers and credit card numbers. Using 448-bit Blowfish encryption, Wallet integrates with .Mac, Backup and iPods, as well as featuring a password generator and Dashboard widget for access.
$30, Mac OS X 10.4+
Here's an app for insomniacs! Pzizz is an intriguing little program that uses a mixture of randomly generated and chosen sound effects, textures, and soothing, recorded speech to aid restful sleep. Choose whether you want to be energised or relaxed and the software will create a suitable soundtrack accordingly. Soundtracks can be exported to iTunes. It's an interesting solution for those having sleep or energy problems.
Freeware, Mac OS X 10.3+
Miro is a free video player and online streaming program. As well as being able to open video files locally on your Mac, it's able to search and play videos from YouTube, Google, Yahoo and many more. It also supports video RSS feeds so that you can subscribe to online channels, auto download and deletion after a set period, watch folders, and full-screen display of practically all major video formats.
Freeware, Mac OS X 10.3.9+
Like Skype, Gizmo is a cross-platform internet telephone solution that uses your mic, speaker and broadband connection to make calls to other computers running Gizmo. Calls to computers are completely free, or you can make or receive calls to regular phones at competitive international rates. The software can also record conversations, transfer files, instant message, show users on a map and group chat! So, what are you waiting for?
$49, Mac OS X 10.3.9+
Mapping your family history traditionally involved taping together huge amounts of paper on a large table. MacFamilyTree is based on the Gedcom Standard for the international exchange of genealogical data, and lets you add photos, video and sound, and upload family trees to the web. Specially designed to deal with family data like relatives, places and dates of births and deaths, it's an elegant solution.
$24, Mac OS X 10.4+
EarthDesk replaces your Desktop picture with a real-time image of the Earth's surface, including sun, moon and cloud cover. It supports multiple monitors and 11 types of view, with political and satellite images. With a broadband connection, EarthDesk hooks into data sources across the world, ensuring what you see is accurate.
FlickrExport for iPhoto
£12, Mac OS X 10.3+
We all know only too well that saving photos out of iPhoto to a folder, and then uploading them one by one to Flickr is a tedious process. Luckily, there's FlickrExport, a plug-in which, once installed, appears as an option on export from iPhoto, and can send pictures straight to Flickr. What's more, it supports batch-setting of titles and tags, automatic resizing and automatic assigning to a collection. Overall, this app could prove to be a huge timesaver.
$15, Mac OS X 10.4+
Most new Macs come with an Apple Remote Control. By default, its functionality is rather limited, so how can you extend it? By using Sofa Control, which lets you control a wider range of applications including Keynote, PowerPoint, Safari, Preview, VLC and more. It's fully customisable, and supports other system functions too, such as the volume, sleep time, zoom and display settings. Combine this tool with the Remote and you'll have more control than ever.
Last.fm Radio Player
Freeware, Mac OS X 10.4+
Last.fm is a website designed to help you discover new music online and interact with others who share your tastes. You can search for and stream music online, but the most interesting feature is the Radio Player, a free download that streams music, pictures and artist information over the net to you, either on demand or based on your listening habits. It's a great way to discover new music.
Our favourite everyday tools
£40, Mac OS X 10.3+
Delicious Library is a cool cataloguing tool that lets you index books, CDs, DVDs and games. Connect a webcam and the program scans its barcode, then retrieves all the relevant info about that product from the internet. With support for voice and Spotlight searching, iPod sync and even library-style checkout functions for lending items to friends, it's a powerhouse.
Blogger widget for OS X
Freeware, Mac OS X 10.4+
Blogging is well-established, but the act of logging into Blogger and reaching the compose page is tedious. Use the Blogger widget instead: just type or paste your text into it and post directly to your blog without opening a browser! It supports HTML tags and saving as draft for later editing. Download it here.
Facebook exporter for iPhoto
Freeware, Mac OS X 10.4+
Editing, tagging and exporting images before uploading to Facebook can be a drawn-out process. This plug-in appears in iPhoto's Export panel, and lets you select multiple images, pick or create a new Facebook album and add captions to the images prior to upload. You can also tag friends so the pictures arrive at your Facebook account already formatted.
Posted by gjblass at 4:00 PM
Lesbians rate Rachel Weisz as their top sexual fantasy, a new poll has revealed. The British actress took the number one spot in the 'Women We’d Love To Love' poll of 4,000 gay women.
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 3:57 PM
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 3:46 PM
By ASHLEY MACKIN
The Eureka Reporter
A loophole in the first-ever medicinal marijuana guidelines issued by California Attorney General Jerry Brown last month opens the door for patients using medicinal marijuana to extend their doctor’s recommendation without the doctor knowing it.
A physician’s recommendation will grant a patient access to medicinal marijuana, as will a state-issued card. However, the guidelines do not
specify that the two must be issued at the same time.
This could pose a problem for medical marijuana dispensaries trying to act in accordance with the guidelines and the law.
“The way I see it, someone could get a doctor’s recommendation for 12 months in January, and get the card for 12 months that December,” said Mariellen Jurkovich, director of the Humboldt Patient Resource Center. “The card should be issued along with the recommendation, and it’s a quirk in the system.”
Jurkovich added that she was reluctant to accept state cards, knowing they could be valid after the physician’s recommendation expires. “If the card is valid one day after the recommendation expires, then I’m acting outside the law, and I don’t want to do that.”
In order to obtain a state-issued card, a person must have their physician make a recommendation (which by itself is enough proof at a dispensary) and then take that recommendation to the county department of health. From there, the county has 30 days to verify the information about the patient with the physician. That information goes to the state Health Department, which then issues the card and sends it to the county department.
With a recommendation, a patient may go to a medical marijuana dispensary or cooperative to receive medicinal marijuana.
The physician decides how long the recommendation will last, which dictates the amount of a time a person may purchase medicinal marijuana.
To avoid arrest or legal ramifications from possessing medicinal marijuana, Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services recommends patients using medicinal marijuana carry a state-issued card as proof.
The card is valid for one year from the date it’s issued, according to Proposition 420, and shows a doctor’s recommendation was given. This applies to law enforcement and at dispensaries. However, a patient does not have to apply for the card when they get their doctor’s recommendation.
This has raised concerns for people like Jurkovich, who said she does not want to give someone the medicinal marijuana unless they have a legitimate doctor’s recommendation, and because of this system, she said she feels the card does not necessarily prove that.
The Attorney General’s Office, which issued these guidelines, acknowledged that it is possible to apply for the card any time in the window of a doctor’s recommendation, “but we don’t recommend that,” said Christine Gasparac, of the Attorney General’s Office.
She said if a staff member saw that, they would follow up to make sure the person gets their physician to extend the recommendation.
Lea Brooks, spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health, said no one has control over whether someone applies for the card in a timely manner.
While acknowledging that there is probably a good reason why the guidelines are the way they are, Jurkovich said she has some suggestions on how to improve the system.
She suggested developing a system in which doctors could issue the cards directly, with a unified system or seal to put on the card, so it would coincide with the time of the recommendation.
Her other suggestion is to make sure that the card matches the length of the prescription, however long it is. If someone decides to get the card after they get the prescription, the state health department could prorate the cost to accommodate the number of months.
“(The state card and doctor’s recommendation) not matching is the only part I’m not comfortable with,” Jurkovich said about the guidelines in general. “I would just really like for the state card to go along with the recommendation.”
(Ashley Mackin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-269-7436.)
In order to qualify for medicinal marijuana, a patient must have a “serious medical condition.” According to the California Health and Safety Code, the following are serious medical conditions:
+ Chronic pain
+ Persistent muscle spasms, such as those associated with seizures
+ Severe nausea
+ Any other condition that limits a person’s ability to conduct major activities
Posted by gjblass at 2:47 PM
Posted by gjblass at 2:43 PM
This set was taken near Newport Station on the Melbourne-Geelong line (AU). This set features a huge wall feature by MOLOTOW - AFPREMIUM. The feature wall is untouched by taggers.
click here for pics | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 2:41 PM
BALTIMORE (AP)—Chad Johnson has changed his name, but his jersey remained the same Sunday.
“While the NFL has recognized the legal name change of Chad Johnson to Chad Ocho Cinco, the league informed the Bengals today that certain issues remain to be resolved before Ocho Cinco will be permitted to wear his new surname on his jersey,” the league said in a statement.
“He will wear the name Johnson on his jersey today and will be referred to as Chad Johnson on the official play-by-play sheet,” the statement said. “Further questions should be directed to the league office.”
Contacted Sunday by The Associated Press, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, “He has a financial obligation to Reebok, which produces the jerseys available to fans. That has to be resolved before the on-field jersey can be changed.
“The same obligation exists for any player that changes his number or name.”
Before watching the Indianapolis Colts play their first regular-season game at Lucas Oil Stadium, commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters that the name change on the jersey would likely occur soon.
“He’s legally changed his name, so we’re willing to recognize that,” Goodell said. “There’s what I call a more administrative issue that has to be dealt with. There’s a large inventory of jerseys that are out there with 85 Johnson. Any player that changes a number or changes his name has to address that so that our licensing is not stuck with a large inventory. That’s just something we’re dealing with. As far as we’re concerned, if he changes his name legally, that’s fine with us.”
After the Bengals’ 17-10 loss to Baltimore, Ocho Cinco refused to address the NFL’s ruling.
“I ain’t worried about the name, man. We just lost the game,” he said. “I ain’t worried about that.”
AP Sports Writer Michael Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this report.
Posted by gjblass at 2:36 PM
College girls: because they can pee standing up just like the guys.
Posted by gjblass at 2:33 PM
From The Economist print edition
Military technology: Advances in camouflage, concealment and deception are revolutionising an age-old art of warfare
AS A special-forces agent in the French Navy, Michel Malalo has clandestinely entered several African countries by sea to extract endangered French nationals. Almost all the enemy fighters he encountered carried the AK-47, a widely used assault rifle renowned for its rugged reliability. But the AK-47 has a serious drawback: glint, which gave Mr Malalo an advantage in firefights. Made with steel, the AK-47 reflects light. “It’s flashy—and from afar,” says Mr Malalo, who took advantage of glint giveaways when shooting at the enemy. Mr Malalo, who left the special forces uninjured six years ago, says the French assault rifle, the Famas, is superbly non-reflective even in bright light.
Developing new metal alloys to reduce rifle glint is just one facet of the effort to develop better camouflage, concealment and deception technologies that is under way at defence contractors, military research bodies and university laboratories. Most of this research is being conducted in America and Europe. Much is classified. The results are often remarkable.
Some camouflage designers, including those at America’s Army Research Laboratory, also study the reflective and light-absorbing properties of materials common to an area, such as sand, cement and foliage. As well as being used by the camouflage-generation software, this information is used to manufacture fabric inks with the desired optical properties. Similar software optimises colours and patterns for vehicles and aircraft. The ability to customise camouflage for particular theatres has increased the use of temporary camouflage, which is painted on hardware before missions and washed off afterwards.
For decades most fatigues, now referred to as battledress uniforms, incorporated wiggly patterns of solid colours known as tiger stripes. But research in the field of “clutter metrics”—the study of how well observers locate and identify objects—has recently discredited tiger stripes. With the help of eye-tracking devices that follow iris movements to determine where subjects are looking, researchers have determined that fabrics with small squares of colour, known as pixels, are harder to see. These new pixel patterns are now worn by many Western armies, including those of the United States, Britain, Canada, France and Germany. Canada has improved its camouflage so much in recent years that to spot soldiers in some conditions, observers must be 40% closer than they would have to have been in 2000.
“Adaptive” camouflage that changes rapidly in response to the environment is also in the works. TNO, a Dutch defence contractor based in Soesterberg, is using thin, textile-like plastic sheets embedded with light-emitting diodes (LEDs). A small camera scans the environment, and the colours and patterns displayed on the sheet are changed accordingly. The material is not yet flexible enough to be worn comfortably by soldiers, but it is being tested in Afghanistan with Saab Barracuda, a Swedish maker of camouflage equipment.
Pieter Jacobs, TNO’s chief technologist, says the defence ministries of Canada, Germany and the Netherlands, which have funded the development of the technology, consider such “chameleon” sheeting to be an urgent requirement. Maarten Hogervorst, a vision neuroscientist at TNO, says its performance is formidable. A tank draped with the sheeting and parked in front of a grassy slope displays an image of grass on its exposed side, for example.
Another kind of adaptive camouflage is based on flexible plastic decals. A small camera, powered by a solar cell, senses the colours and patterns of the surroundings. The surface of the decal is a crude computer display which then replicates these colours and patterns. The US Army wants to use this approach to wrap artillery and munitions containers. Daniel Watts, who leads the project at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), says it works well but is still too expensive for battlefield use.
Some like it hot
Concealing things on the battlefield does not just mean hiding them visually. A lot of research is also being done to reduce thermal signatures, too. Infra-red and thermal-vision equipment can reveal a soldier’s heat signature at a large distance. Such equipment is becoming less expensive and is now so readily available that the Taliban in Afghanistan are well equipped with it—unlike a few years ago, says Hans Kariis, a senior technologist at the Swedish Defence Research Agency, a government body in Stockholm.
Fabrics designed to block human heat-signatures are improving rapidly. John Roos, a retired US Army colonel in Newport News, Virginia, recently observed a night-time test of an infra-red “stealth” poncho developed by AAE, a small defence contractor based in Fullerton, California. It was the most impressive infra-red protection he had seen. The man disappeared like “a black void”, Mr Roos says. (The head of AAE, Rashid Zeineh, declined to discuss the fabric’s composition.)
America’s existing heat-blocking garments already provide a remarkable combat advantage, says Mr Roos. They are similar, but inferior, to the AAE stealth poncho, he says. During some night operations, American soldiers may be heard approaching while remaining concealed in the dark. “You can imagine what that would do to enemy morale,” Mr Roos says.
One way to block body-heat signatures is to use particles called cenospheres—tiny hollow spheres of aluminium and silica that can be woven into fabrics. A leader in the field, Ceno Technologies, in Buffalo, New York, is developing a cenosphere body-paint for the face and hands which does not block necessary perspiration. Britain’s Ministry of Defence is testing it.
Researchers at the NJIT, meanwhile, have developed insulating decals that can be applied to hot objects—even firing artillery cannons—to mask their heat signatures. Even if the heat signature cannot be concealed entirely, decals can be placed so that they alter the signature’s shape. Mr Watts says his team has been successful in partially insulating tanks so that observers with night vision see the shape of a car.
This is a useful trick, because entirely eliminating a vehicle’s heat-signature can be extremely difficult. Intermat, a Greek supplier of concealment materials to defence contractors including British Aerospace, Lockheed Martin and Thales, produces a foam coating that also smothers heat signatures. Bill Filis of Intermat says that selectively applying a one-centimetre layer of heat-insulating foam can make an armoured personnel-carrier resemble a motorcycle when viewed through thermal-vision goggles. “Make him wonder, and this buys you time,” Mr Filis says.
Some thermal coatings are as thin as a coat of paint, so they can be applied to aircraft. But warplanes present an additional problem. When flying high to avoid anti-aircraft fire, white condensation trails, or “contrails”, can form “a giant arrow in the sky pointing to where the plane is,” says Charles Kolb, chief executive of Aerodyne Research in Billerica, Massachusetts. Researchers at the firm, which is a contractor to America’s air force, are examining the thermodynamic processes that lead to the formation of contrails, in the hope of reducing them using chemical additives.
Even as people, weapons and vehicles become harder to spot, however, new detection technologies are also being developed. In the spring of 1999 NATO warplanes flew more than 38,000 sorties over Serbia, in a bombing campaign that succeeded in pushing Serbian forces out of Kosovo. But surprisingly little damage was done to Serbian materiel. Duped NATO pilots had destroyed dummy tanks, artillery and other items of military hardware made out of wood and tarpaulins. Much of Serbia’s real military kit was hidden safely under foliage, which interferes with standard radar.
Engineers at Lockheed Martin, a large American defence contractor, have designed a radar system called FOPEN, short for foliage penetration. It became operational in 2005, but still requires further development and is deployed on just one active American warplane so far. But Lockheed Martin’s FOPEN programme manager, Robert Robertson, says the radar “will see whatever man made” under a leafy triple canopy, or under netting designed to foil conventional radar systems.
“Stealth” aircraft, designed to avoid detection by radar, have been around since the 1970s. Radar systems illuminate the target with radio waves and then look for reflections, so absorbing incoming radiation, or deflecting it in a totally different direction, can shrink an aircraft’s radar signature dramatically. Half a dozen countries now build stealth aircraft, at great expense.
A new type of radar system, however, is capable of spotting such aircraft. It relies on the proliferation of mobile-phone signals. When a plane flies through an environment filled with such signals, the “aircraft shadow in this chatter” becomes visible, says John Pendry, a radar expert at Imperial College in London. Mike Burns, the president of MSE, a small defence contractor in Billerica, Massachusetts, says stealth bombers have indeed been detected against backgrounds of mobile-phone radiation because “a hole” appears in the constant chatter of signals.
This technique can be used only in populated areas, with lots of mobile phones. But it has an edge over standard radar, in addition to being able to spot previously invisible aircraft. It is “passive”, because it uses ambient radiation to illuminate the target. This means the target aircraft cannot tell that it is being watched (whereas it can with traditional radar). In short, it is the radar-detection system, rather than the aircraft, that has become invisible. It is just the latest example of the arms race between concealment and detection.
Posted by gjblass at 2:29 PM
Posted by Chismillionaire at 2:28 PM
What if Babbage's Difference Engine spawned a "laptop"?It's hard to find a more desirable and satisfying (in a tactile sort of way) mechanical fetish item from the age of early computing...
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 2:24 PM
TORRANCE, California — The 2009 Lexus IS F is getting a slight bump in price, to $57,435. That's an increase of $610, or 1.1 percent, since the high-performance sedan was launched earlier this year.
For model year 2009, the IS F gets a handful of changes, including a revised instrument cluster, lighted mirror controls and, on vehicles equipped with a navigation system, a piano-black center cluster finish. Also new for '09 is a two-tone black-and-terra-cotta interior treatment.
The standard IS sedans receive a revised grille and bumpers, new wheels and a redesigned center cluster. Suspension and steering have been upgraded. Prices have risen $300 and start at $31,980 for the IS 250 with manual gearbox.
Prices include an $825 shipping charge.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 2:22 PM
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Posted by gjblass at 12:57 PM
On this first weekend with college football and the NFL back-to-back a popular debate is likely to arise. Which type of football is better, college football or the NFL?
We agree it's a good discussion, but we prefer to address more perky, er, pertinent matters. Which cheerleaders are better?
The California Girls: Song Girls vs ... Does it matter?
They're the number one seed in college football and without any competition, not even in the NFL. Advantage: NCAA
The Sunshine State: Florida Gators vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I'm... I'm... if I were to pick a winner here, that means the other would be a loser and that's simply not the case. We'll call this a draw and revisit later if necessary. We can be sure the panhandle is a too hot to handle.
Lone Star Ladies: Texas Longhorns vs Dallas Cowboys
The Longhorn girls are one of college football's finest, but there's very little competition for the tradition and, uh, impact of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Just to make sure this NFL advantage is solidified, we'll bring in the closers -- Houston Texans:
Over. Advantage: NFL
Mid-Atlantic Maidens: North Carolina vs Washington Redskins
Cute, but there's really no competition here. Carolina is simply out of their league in every aspect. Advantage: NFL
Underrated Sleepers: Oregon Ducks vs Indianapolis Colts
Hey, the Midwest had to be represented somehow. And while the Colts girls hold their own, they can't compare to the hottest cheerleaders that aren't regularly featured on national television every week. Quack! Quack! Advantage: NCAA
Conclusion: I'd hate to leave you hanging here, but I'd be surprised if you've read any words anyway. The answer here follows the same line of thinking as which sport you prefer. If you ask me the question on Saturday, then the college co-eds are without a doubt my favorite. If you ask me the same question on Sunday, and the Buccaneers happen to be playing the Redskins on national television, well then, the NFL is in a league of their own.
Let's face it, we all win this time of the year.
Posted by gjblass at 12:46 PM
As a test, MSN Money puts a household's food budget on a strict diet. The experiment has its downsides (no more rice, please!) but shows how to take a bite out of grocery bills.
Feed a family of four for $100 a week -- no coupons, no backyard garden or mystery meat.
That was the challenge MSN Money gave me (and, indirectly, my husband and two children).
I knew it wouldn't be easy. Even a food stamp allowance for a family of four is $117. With gas and corn prices surging, the retail costs of basic items such as milk, apples, pork chops and potatoes have gone up 8.5% in the past year, according to the most recent American Farm Bureau Federation's Marketbasket Survey.
- Talk back: How do you cut your grocery bill?
But with a little planning and the help of a couple of nutritionists, I figured out what to buy and what to leave on the shelf. And no, we didn't eat beans or pasta every night. The rules:
- All of the food had to come from a major national grocery chain. No low-priced ethnic markets or bag-your-own-groceries warehouse stores. I could have saved even more, but this had to be something everyone could do.
- No coupons. I'm not a big coupon user anyway, and besides, many of these are for things that are too fattening or just too expensive to begin with.
- No cleaning products or paper goods. There wasn't enough room in the budget.
- The meals I served had to be relatively healthful. Otherwise, what's the point?
Did we make it?First, let's say that any reduction in my grocery bill was welcome, as most weeks we spend nearly $250 at a grocery store. That's well above the $182 budget the U.S. government considers "moderate" for a family of our size and ages.
Spending less than half what we normally do was tough. A $100 budget gave us $1.19 a meal per person, obviously not enough for dinners or coffees out and barely enough to put decent meat on our plates.
Did we spend $100 or less? No.
I cheated twice, and both were on items I wasn't proud of.
The first time, I bought a sodium-packed $1.07 bean burrito at a fast-food place as I rushed off starving to an appointment for my son. The second time was at the end of the week, when I caved to several minutes of back-seat whining for soft-serve ice cream.
Those purchases brought my total expenditures for the week to $105.03, meaning I overspent by about 6 cents a meal per person.
The experts weigh inWith a $100 budget, there's no room for error. Every meal and snack has to be meticulously planned, and the whole family has to eat it. In my case, with two adults, a toddler and a 4-year-old, that's a pretty wide swing.
"That's a real challenge," says Elizabeth Somer, a registered dietitian and the author of "10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman's Diet." She told me to use meat sparingly. Instead of a steak, I should buy extra-lean beef stew meat and cook it in a soup or stew.
"Americans are obsessed with protein, but it's the one nutrient we actually get too much of," Somer said.
To shave off more money, I should also consider adding at least three bean-based meals to my week, whether it's a burrito, bean soup or rice and beans for dinner, she said.
My other expert, Cynthia Sass, a dietitian and the nutrition director of Prevention magazine, advised me to consider canned products, such as salmon, tuna, chicken and clams, when the butcher department got too expensive. These are fine in pasta and rice dishes, wraps and casseroles.
A crockpot, Sass said, would be a good way to tenderize inexpensive and often-tough cuts of meat.
But, most important, she said, was the planning.
"People tend to buy less food than what they really need," Sass said. And that means going out again, which often leads to greater spending (and impulse buying).
Most people could reap the biggest benefits from stockpiling a few weeks' worth of items in their pantry or freezer when they see a good sale. (MSN Money columnist Liz Pulliam Weston outlines this strategy in "The emergency fund you can eat.")
Smart shopping is the keyOn a Saturday morning, I sat down with the sales circular from my local store (something I had just tossed in the past) and started planning my attack. I looked to see which meat, fruit and vegetables were the cheapest and put those on my list, devising a rough menu in my head. I later cracked open a few cookbooks to make sure I had everything I needed.
I made a list of snacks my family would eat that are healthful and dirt-cheap, such as:
- Raisins (from the big generic canister).
- Popcorn (made on our stove popper, rather than in the microwave).
- Carrot sticks.
"The most inexpensive snacks are also some of the healthiest," says grocery expert Stephanie Nelson, better known as The Coupon Mom.
I checked Nelson's Web site for a list of unadvertised specials at my local store and found a few other items that would round out my meals for the week. It also lists advertised specials for each store and region, so shoppers can compile a grocery list from all of the discounted items.What was left off my grocery list were things packaged for convenience, like those 100-calorie snack packs or baby carrots, a lot of brand-name items (unless they were on sale) and processed foods such as cookies, crackers or waffles.
- Talk back: How do you cut your grocery bill?
At the store, I was surprised to find out how little fresh produce I could get for my money, even with most of my choices -- including broccoli, cabbage, nectarines, green beans, carrots, zucchini and corn -- selling for 99 cents a pound or less. So, I added some canned fruit and frozen vegetables, such as lima beans and peas, that Sass said are almost as nutritious.
Into my cart went the cheaper two-packs of milk jugs, a canister of quick-cooking oatmeal, a bag of inexpensive puffed rice cereal and some eggs, a cheap source of protein. I bought diced tomatoes, beans, corn tortillas, pasta, marinara sauce and luncheon meat.
In the butcher section, boneless pork shoulder, chicken breasts and round steak were on sale and on my menu. And I added canned salmon, rice, potatoes, bread and a few other items to fill up my pantry. I used the oil, flour, sugar and spices that were at my house but bought ketchup because we were running low.
I had brought along a calculator to keep track of what I was spending, but with a toddler in tow, my calculations quickly became estimates, so I just tried my best to stay under the total.
Ultimately, however, I walked out the door having paid $95.22. However, I did have to make another run at the end of the week for $6.62 of groceries, including more eggs, a small container of milk, another loaf of bread and a few bananas.
And now the hard partBy midweek, we were all a little sick of rice and potatoes. By the end of the week, I never wanted to see another raisin, carrot, pretzel or piece of puffed rice again.
Here's what we ate:
- Breakfasts were fairly easy, with most of my family eating the eggs, cereal, plain yogurt, oatmeal or homemade French toast I had planned. However, my son missed his waffles sorely.
- Lunches were a bit harder to scrape together. They consisted of dinner leftovers, bean and cheese burritos, or sandwiches of luncheon meat or peanut butter and jelly.
- Dinners were tasty but required a lot more preparation than I was used to. I prepared salmon patties, rice, corn and zucchini one night; barbecue chicken, green beans and rice another; as well as family favorites like spaghetti and meatballs; sloppy Joes; and a slow-cooker pork and cabbage meal (which my 4-year-old took just two bites of).
- With such a tiny budget, if I wanted dessert I had to make it myself, so I used the butter and flour I had at home with the milk, eggs, canned pineapple and bread I bought to make a quick pineapple bread pudding and poured juice into molds to make popsicles.
No family members were harmed in the writing of this story, but was it a healthful diet? Yes and no.
Most of the dinners were relatively healthful, with plenty of protein and a vegetable. But we padded out our meals with a lot of starches, including potatoes and rice. And I don't think grilled cheese night was a nutritional home run.
My family didn't eat as much fresh fruit, nuts and vegetables as we usually do. My toddler and I missed avocadoes a great deal. And we missed having at least one dinner out as a family.However, on the upside, we also ate smaller, more realistic portions without feeling like we were missing out too much.
Could we do this again? Probably. But I don't think we would. Saving money is like dieting: You can't cut back too much at once or you'll blow the plan completely. The next week I spent more than ever, to make up for feeling deprived.
But the week did teach me a lot about being more strategic with my shopping and my planning of meals around what was in season or on sale. With a little more wiggle room in the $100 weekly budget -- OK, at least $75 -- I could save as much as $300 a month, still get one dinner out and actually be satisfied with what I was eating.
Posted by gjblass at 12:24 PM
Posted by gjblass at 12:15 PM
By HENRY FOUNTAIN
Marijuana may be something of a wonder drug — though perhaps not in the way you might think.
Researchers in Italy and Britain have found that the main active ingredient in marijuana — tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — and related compounds show promise as antibacterial agents, particularly against microbial strains that are already resistant to several classes of drugs.
It has been known for decades that Cannabis sativa has antibacterial properties. Experiments in the 1950s tested various marijuana preparations against skin and other infections, but researchers at the time had little understanding of marijuana’s chemical makeup.
The current research, by Giovanni Appendino of the University of the Eastern Piedmont and colleagues and published in The Journal of Natural Products, looked at the antibacterial activity of the five most common cannabinoids. All were found effective against several common multi-resistant bacterial strains, although, perhaps understandably, the researchers suggested that the nonpsychotropic cannabinoids might prove more promising for eventual use.
The researchers say they don’t know how the cannabinoids work, and whether they would be effective as systemic antibiotics would require much more research and trials. But the compounds may prove useful sooner as a topical agent against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, to prevent the microbes from colonizing on the skin.
Posted by gjblass at 12:09 PM
John Moore, director of the Max Payne movie adaptation, is pissed. Moore has a bone to pick with the Motion Picture Association of America for slapping his movie with an R-rating, something he tells Das Gamer he didn't seek out; Payne was supposed to be PG-13.
Moore says that the MPAA hobbled his movie, financially, with an R because it's dark and "feels R," theorizing that the ratings body "gave The Dark Knight a PG-13 rating and basically sucked Warner Bros. cock."
The Dark Knight, Moore thinks, was "pretty gnarly for PG-13" and that his own film was going to get the same treatment. Not so, despite the film being "not yet rated" officially.
The Max Payne director says that Wahlberg intentionally avoided some salty language and that Moore "didn’t go cutting people’s heads off and ripping their eyeballs out just for the fun of it" to help nab the PG-13, something he's still lobbying for. Perhaps a reversal of MPAA and film studio roles could help, John? MPAA volunteers need blowjobs too.
Posted by gjblass at 11:53 AM
Riding a motorcycle while talking on the phone is just plain dumb. But if you really must take that call, Mr. President, please consider a Bluetooth helmet. Some connected headgear can even tie in to your GPS and MP3 player, pausing tunes for directions on long trips. Might we suggest "Freebird"?
Nolan N102 N-Com
Every new N102 works with Nolan's N-Com connection kits, so if you're not ready to ride into debt, you can get the base helmet for $350 and add Bluetooth when the next paycheck rolls through town. Modular models like this — where the entire front flips up to expose your face — are in vogue only with the AARP set, but as the demographic profile of the classic Cadillac owner proves, old men know how to live it up: This incredibly nerdy brain bucket is also incredibly comfortable and incredibly capable.
Wired: More hookups than JDate: Bluetooth, intercom, even a 3.5-mm jack for your iPod. Quick-release chin strap is mega-convenient. Flip-front easily accommodates bifocals. Volume control. Tough paint hides scratches well. Can I get this Geordi La Forge-style flip-down sunshade installed on my skull?
Tired: Noisy, but all modulars are. Microphone boom requires constant relocation when taking the helmet on and off — and apparently makes you sound like you're trying to eat it. Can't we get some Bluetooth stereo? Fulfills its destiny as the Winnebago of the helmet world by being one of the largest headpieces on the road.
Dainese Airstream Course D-Nect
The Airstream Course is Dainese's premier skull shield, sharing its shell with the models pro racers use; the D-Nect version adds Bluetooth. Despite it having fewer connectivity options than the Nolan, we found ourselves grabbing the Airstream more often. Why? It's simply better at its primary job: motorcycle helmet. It's lightweight, comfortable, and quiet. No, it won't jack into your MP3 player, and yes, the interface is maddening — but after a few hours in this composite sanctuary, we really didn't feel the need to call anyone to complain.
Wired: Gorgeous lines draw more compliments than a playoff ring. Outstanding ventilation and polystyrene foam liner keep your head cool — until someone cuts you off. Top-mounted spoiler stabilizes your noggin at speed. 1-900 operators reported excellent sound quality. Rear reflective patch makes up for the too-stealthy matte paint job.
Tired: Limited techno-functions: All it does is pair with your cell phone or GPS. One-button interface responds only to Dainese's Morse Code-ish tap-language. Available in any color you like, so long as it's black.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 11:48 AM