Terrabyte Discs lurking near the horizon

Terrabyte Storage Even before Blu-Ray and HD-DVD have fought the final battle to take control of your average home, another gigantic threat has cast its dark shadow over them.

With hordes of fancy, futuristic storage concepts being born every other day, the death of optical media has been a topic of prolonged discussions. Realistically speaking, the cost vs. storage & speed ratio of optical media has so far given it an unbeatable stand. Instead of engaging in such fruitless discussions, the Israeli firm Mempile decided to take it one step further. They have extended the existent CD / DVD technology to offer 1 TerraByte (1,000 GigaByte) of storage on a single removable (inexpensive) disc.

The TeraDisc contains light sensitive molecules called chromophores (capable of switching between two distinct states upon the application of light ) which are arranged in three-dimensional hologram like matrices and give the disc is characteristic terrabyte storage capacity. That is when a Red Laser is used for reading and writing. According to Mempile, usage of Blue Lasers can eventually boost the capacity upto 5 TerraBytes.

3D TeraDisc from Mempile

However, it’s going to take at least 18 months for the first prototypes to be tested by Mempile and yet another year before this incredible disc goes into active production.

Source: Engadget, Mempile’s TeraDisc fits 1TB on a single optical disc

Thoof: A brand new Web 2.0 powered social media site

Thoof LogoThis might sound like another Digg clone, but trust me when I say it’s far removed from it. While it is a debutante in the whole social media and personalized news services, it’s steadily gaining ground. First and foremost it’s AJAX supercharged as a result of which the whole interface has this really crisp & snazzy appearance. Sign-up is a 3 step process (enter e-mail, click on validation link and then enter your username and password) that happens without requiring you to fill-up any lengthy forms, thus leaving you to enjoy the Thoof experience right away.

The stories (excerpts) keep appearing on a single page – i.e. the landing page of Thoof. Once you’ve finished reading them, you don’t need to click on paginated links that look like: << Previous 1..2..3 Next >>

Thoof interface screenshot

All you do is scroll down the page and new stories keep appearing out of thin air. If you’ve recently used the Live Image Search, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Among the stories displayed are current news, various popular websites and videos – and all of these are based on your own likes & dislikes, which Thoof keeps constantly learning from you. Here’s how…

  • You don’t like a story, no problem. You can always mark it as not interesting or hide and it won’t ever be shown to you again. Not just that – Thoof wont display any similar or related stories to you.
  • You like the story, but you believe you’ve got something to add to it. Go right ahead and do so with the edit link.
  • And if you believe a story hasn’t been categorized properly, you can always add your own relevant tags to it. This makes it possible for others to easily locate the story.

The last feature is something I’ve long sought in Digg, which doesn’t give you much room in way of proper categorisation. It’s either their prefixed categories or none at all. Of course these features (except for hiding) are backed up by active voting from the community and only then the changes are committed.

To measure the success of a story, Thoof employs a scoring system called ThoofRank. According to Thoof…

ThoofRank Screenshot the ThoofRank is a fair measurement of how interesting a story is to readers with interests in common with the story. It is expressed as a percentage relative to other Thoof stories, so a ThoofRank above 50% indicates that a story is of above average interest to those readers. When a story has just been submitted it will start out with a low ThoofRank, but this will increase as more people see it, so please be patient.

Sounds great to me. Thoof claims that their ranking system will give every story a fair and reasonable chance to prove itself as compared to many other social bookmarking websites where it is critical for a story to achieve a significant number of votes in the earliest post-submission stages. This is often misused and abused by net-wise bloggers. Thoof further states that even niche stories can attain a high ThoofRank as the measurement system takes into consideration the vote of confidence expressed by readers who’re interested in related subjects. Thoof’s modus operandi definitely sets it a class apart from the likes of Digg.

Thoof prevents the “angry mob” from determining relevance and controlling the distribution of news. Thoof tries to serve the individual interests of each user, rather than assuming that everyone is interested in the same topics.

They’ve even got a cool screencast that explains all the features and the inner workings of the Thoof system. This one is worth seeing.

From what I’ve read of and experienced about Thoof (first-hand) I can conclude that it’s definitely a tool that even Digg has to contend with. It probably won’t be an exaggeration to refer to it as, Digg on Web 2.0 Steroids.

Need to share data between your cell, the web and your IM? Send a GAD.

MyGADs LogoIf only I had a penny every time I wished that I could grab some piece of necessary info. (phone numbers, appointments etc.) off the web and have it readily available in my cell or instant messenger… or simply post some SMS that came on my mobile and acess it through my browser later on… I’d probably get as close to a billionaire as one can get 😀

The current technological trend suggests that we’re heading towards a major convergence of software and services for both mobiles & desktop systems. And following up on that most of the major software houses along with the new-born ones are scurrying to launch unified services that offer the best of both worlds.

SychroniseWith the dawn of the Web 2.0 phenomena, specialised services like IMified, ZYB (shouldn’t forget Twitter) etc. have been mushrooming all over the net. But at their best these services address only specific needs. IMified gives you the ability to post to your blog, maintain notes & schedules directly from your favourite Instant Messenger. ZYB on the other hand, acts as a remote synchronisation utility for your mobile phone, helping you back-up your entire contact list on the web for viewing/editing/sharing and easier transfer between other phones. The biggest drawback of these services is that the data you interchange with them have to adhere to specific formats and thus reduces the scope of interoperability.

In comes MyGADs, a brand new offering by Teragram Corp. that is a …

new and very easy way for anybody to create, access and share your personalized information through a Website, text message over a cell phone, or through IM chat.

A GAD is a collection of personalized information. For example, family members can create a GAD with information to share within the family members to store and retrieve personal information such as people birthdays, phone numbers, contact information of the pediatrician, phone number of the neighbors, emergency contact information, license plate numbers, and even a calendar you can share within the family.

The coolest part about this service is that neither of the data you store nor the commands you use have to follow any specific format. MyGADs sports a chat-window like interface, into which you type in your data & queries in a fashion that’s very similar to using natural language queries on search engines. For an example see the picture below…

 

MyGADs Demo

 

Once you’ve registered for an account with MyGADs, you can create as many GADs you like and share them with private groups like family, friends etc or even publicly. Where MyGADs beats most other services hands down is Information Accessibility. The information you store in a GAD is available on the web, on your cell-phone as well as through an Instant Messenger that’s compatible with the Jabber protocol (e.g. GTalk).

MyGADs was launched just yesterday (27th March, 2007) and though it’s still in it’s infancy, it has been described in the Today@PC World blog as “one of the more interesting and potentially useful new services I’ve seen at CTIA Wireless 2007.” The service is going to be in free public beta phase till the middle of this year, following which it’ll become an ad supported service.

I can see immense potential in this service, if developed properly. Try it out for yourself… head over to MyGADs and register for a free account.

Found via: Today @ PC World blog

Intel to roll out a Teraflops Chip that’ll break all boundaries of desktop computing

Intel Terra XXLIntel, the world’s largest chip-manufacturer is all out to set a ground-breaking record that’ll far surpass all it’s prior achievements. The brand new introduction is going to be an 80-core chip that crunches numbers at the rate of 1 trillion floating-point operations/second. That too running at a 3.2-GHz clock speed with a total power consumption of 62 watts, to yield a record 16 Gflops/watt. If these figures don’t mean much to you, imagine a raw power of a large mainframe computer on a single chip or the “equivalent of 80 blade processors plugged into a high-speed backplane.” If you still can’t imagine the horsepower, think of 80 separate computers using a high-speed hardware interconnect – all on a single chip silently powering you desktop.

While all other big players like AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) and even startups like Ambric Inc. are cracking their brains over massively parallel multicore chips, Intel has managed to outsmart everyone by taking a giant leap in a completely different direction. Am sure you’ve heard of the concept called “routing” that makes the internet tick. Every single computer hooked to the internet manages to find each other through an intelligent process called routing or route mapping. If one particular route fails for some reason (intermediate servers go down, for example), alternate routes can always be discovered so as to not hamper the flow of data. The Teraflops Research Chip employs a similar technology that allows it to effectively bypass a core that has been damaged due to some reason and still continue processing smoothly without letting off an inkling to the software running on it.

 

Cyborg - Is this our future?The possibilities of such processing power are limitless. For example, artificial intelligence, instant video communications, photo-realistic games, multimedia data mining and real-time speech recognition – all of which, once deemed as far-fetched science fiction as portrayed in ‘Star Trek’ shows – could become everyday realities. Fields like realtime weather prediction & financial modelling – which are severely gagged by the lack of adequate processing power could gain tremendous benefits out of such a technology.

While the chip is just a prototype that is going to be demonstrated at the Integrated Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco and is far from being mass-produced, it definitely gives us a vivid glimpse into what the future has in store for us.

Source: InformationWeek

SkyKap: For all avid golfers, here’s a glimpse into the future of hi-tech Golfing

Golf BallAre you one of those fanatics who hit the fairway even before the first rays of dawn? Do you really take your game seriously and are continuously striving to improve your gameplay? SkyKap LLC brings you an all new and unique cool-tool which might help you do just so. The product – a GPS accessorised golf-cap called Advisor and was recently showcased at the PGA Merchandise Show, the largest golf exhibition in the world.

This might get you thinking – “so it’s just a golf-cap with inbuilt GPS. Whats the big deal about it?” Hold your horses for a while. This isn’t merely any GPS enabled golf-cap. To an outsider it appears to be a perfectly ordinary golf-cap – except that it’s not quite so “ordinary“. Built in to the brim of the golf cap or visor is a set of ultra-sophisticated electronics components that work harmoniously to function as a complete Golfing Information System.

The device is completely hands-free and operates through voice commands directed at it through a Speaker Independent Voice Recognition system. The commands are channelised through a small but powerful microphone placed inside the head band. The mic is of a quality parallel to the ones used by US. special forces personnel for field communications. What more – if you’re scared that such a powerful mic can misinterpret ambient noises like wind rustling through the trees or co-players’ chatter, be assured that there isn’t any reason to worry, at all. The audio isn’t picked up through conventional means. Rather a technique known as “bone conduction” has been employed here making the Advisor completely unsusceptible to wind noise and side chatter. In short, it only “hears” the wearer.

 

SkyKap Hat Details

The core functionality of the Advisor revolves around providing you with accurate data on yardage, track scores, pace of play, timing etc during a game. The mode of operation is quite simple. Whenever you require the services of the Advisor, you spell out a command prefixed with the word “Advisor“. For example, if you say, “Advisor Distance” a pleasant voice responds with yardage information or other related helpful details.

Since Advisor employs a state of the art GPS, positioning data is collected in real time and continually tracked against a detailed map of the users selected golf course and distances to green leading/center/trailing, water bunkers and fairway boundaries are calculated on the fly. This data is then whispered into your head as and when required by you. An easy to learn set of voice commands allows you to list anything from simple green distance to a full explanation of all the features in the range.

 

SkyKap Golf Course Mapping System

What more is that you can use this device virtually on any golf course in the world by simply plugging it into your computer through USB port and downloading the appropriate course data from the SkyKap Course Access Website. You can even upload course data for an unmapped course and earn credits as a reward. These credits allow you to download maps for any other courses you require.

Apart from that users are to review the entire history of their recorded play on the course from any saved game, and see every hit and recorded distances and use that information to improve their game. Though this can never replace your real-life golf-tutor, it can easily prove to be an indispensible companion by making you aware of every single factor that you need to consider at a particular step in the game.

SkyKap is all set to make you one hi-tech golfer. However, as of now the product is far from hitting the shelves. What was shown in PGA Expo was just a preview. Looking at there web-site one might conclude that the device still hasn’t gone into full-scale production and neither is the Course Access website fully functional. No pricing information is available yet. All said and done, this is one hell of a product to watch out for.

Visit SkyKap for more details…

P.S. This post is dedicated to my dad who’s one of the most avid golfers I’ve ever seen and loves the game to death. He’s happens to be the kind of player I described in the opening of this article.

Found via: GPSGazette

Need to build a concrete reputation online? Try Venyo…

Venyo LogoThe lack of trust has always been a big issue on the Internet and with the emergence of new collaborative services revolving around Web 2.0 it has only taken a hike for the worse. With every dawning days more and more people / concerns are stepping into the world of blogging, sharing, publishing or selling online – but there’s virtually no existing mechanism to guarantee the quality and the reliability of the published material and to safeguard the interests of the buyers.

The problem is widely known in the Internet community and consequently a wide variety of methods have been adopted in order to instill sufficient trust in users by reassuring them of the quality of material or of proposed services. A couple of examples of such services would be the Merchant Rating service of eBay, Verisign, BIB (Better Internet Bureau) Certifications etc. However, none of the measures are sufficient to “prevent users from being drowned beneath waves of information, recommendations, suggestions and solutions whose relevance it is no longer easily possible to judge.

In comes Venyo with an objective to establish a free and universal online reputation management tool that would provide a unified and standardised measure of reputation of each active user online. The concept was first introduced at the third annual Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco (Oct 2006) and following up on that, today the first official public beta has been launched.

Venyo plans to achieve it’s objective by assigning a personal reliability index called the Vindexâ„¢, which is based on the evaluation of your web contributions like blog posts, pictures or videos by the community. It sort of acts like the eBay rating system – but spanning the whole web. Your Vindexâ„¢ signature is displayed on all your contributions to prove how reliable you are to the potential readers. The rating will appear in form of a button that looks like this:

Venyo Rating Button

Your readers will be able to vote and evaluate your web based publications. They can also use tags while voting to link you with subjects they find your content most relevant to. The resultant unique combination of quantitative and qualitative expressions of faith will then be analyzed by Venyo’s exclusive algorithm to calculate the global trust index expressed in percentage – the Vindexâ„¢. The rating will not only reveal the level of trust but also the evaluation related to the best tags, reflecting your specific skills.

Venyo Evaluation Module

According to Venyo, while somewhat similar localised systems are in existence – some paid and some for free, they can provide a much more far reaching service with the following benefits:

  1. User-centric – to be transportable on all Web 2.0 sites
  2. Universal – to record ratings for any kind of contributions
  3. Standard – to compare the reputation of any kind of contributors

Since this is in open public beta, you can sign-up for free and try it out yourself. The site uses plenty of AJAX – so make sure you’ve got JavaScript enabled in your browser and no Ad-Blocker blocking the scripts on the site before attempting to sign-up.

Incidentally, this is my Venyo Permalink.

Get Imified and Control Google Apps, Blogs & numerous web-apps etc. through your Instant Messenger

Imified LogoHow would you like to be able to create new events in your Google Calendar, write new posts on your blog hosted on Blogger, Typepad or WordPress or create reminders, to-do’s and notes without ever firing up your browser? That too all this through the familiar environment of you favourite Instant Messenger, be it Yahoo!, GTalk or MSN? Look no further cause Imified has brought to you a brand new service that enables you to do the same plus a whole lot more.

The service is in open beta now and unlike most such services, if you visit their home page you’ll be unable to find any sign-up link. Don’t let that confuse you. You don’t actually need to sign-up for their service as such. So how do you go about using their service? Simple! You just invite a certain email address / nickname provided by them to join you as a buddy on your favourite instant messenger. In other words you just add Imified as your buddy and all your works done! By successfully eliminating any daunting / tiring sign-up process the folks at Imified have rendered such a brilliant concept into a child’s play. Once your account is set up, any text message that you send to your new buddy gets automatically translated to a command that is performed on a relevant service like Blogger, BaseCamp, Remember the Milk, Google Calendar or 30 Boxes. Incidentally, the code that performs such services are generally called Instant Messenging Bots. IM bots aren’t really a novel concept, but getting them to perform such productive functions and control a wide variety of web applications is definitely unique. Imified is definitely the first of it’s kind.

Imified Monatage

The advantages of using this service are immediately apparent. First of all, it provides an easy all-rounder centralised control panel through which you can perform most of your daily tasks. By avoiding browser usage and consequently long page loading times, you’re causing a massive boost in your productivity as well as saving up on a lot of otherwise wasted time. Moreover, since most well-known IMs can be accessed through your mobile phone these days you can even use your mobile to do the same while you’re on the move. If you’re a serious blogger – you’d never miss out on a days post, even if you’re nowhere near a net connection.

If you’re paranoid about security of information passing through such a service, Imified assures you that all your data is kept secure by usage of industry standard encryption routines apart from being locked away in their secure data centers in the Rocky Mountains.

As of now the service is completely free though there are plans to introduce premium paid versions with more features later on. The supported messengers are:

Get Imified, today !

Multi-touch driven touch-screen technology similar to Minority Report might not be a distant reality !

I just came upon a really cool video demonstrating an amazing touch-screen technology that’ll soon go into mass production. The video distinctly reminds you of the movie, Minority Report. In the video, Jeff Han and Phil Davidson demonstrate how a multi-touch driven computer screen might change the way we work

What remains to be seen is how cost-effective this new technology will be and how soon it’s integrated into our present home computing paraphernalia. It can definitely act as a terrific visualisation aid in large presentation environments.

All said and done this could prove to be an invaluable tool for data analysts in large-scale explorations leading to a deeper understanding of the relationships between various entities.

A Human Figure Clock & a Live Fish-Tank Lava Lamp using computer monitor

Human Figure EightRecently, I came across this post in the Stupid Random and Hilarious blog that depicted the digits 0-9 composed of various strange combinations of human postures. Following the trail, I came upon this real-time clock that utilises these figures to display the current time.

The clock has been designed by Billy Chasen who’s a Long Island (New York) based freelance graphics designer as well as a web designer. Billy’s site had another bunch of surprises in store. Billy is an accomplished artist who dabbles in innovative artwork revolving around technology. He always comes up with ingenuous ideas to incorporate technology “either directly or figuratively” into all his pieces giving birth to some really cool fusion art.

What really caught my attention at his site was this Lava Lamp made out of an aquarium with live fish placed on top of a computer monitor. According to Billy, “the fish do not mind the monitor and are sometimes entranced by it.” He’s even got a short video of the lamp in action at his site. I simply loved the concept and admired Billy’s work even more after watching the video.

[flv:/postimage/fishtank.swf 430 241]

A couple of more examples of his work, which include a portrait made out of acrylic strips and a still-life composition using a rusty anvil which is supported mid-air by a quilt pen dipped in an inkwell which rests on the Bible. The piece is called “Weight of Words“.
Portrait made out of Acrylic Strips Weight of Words

Here’s more from the beautiful mind of Billy Chasen.

P.S. This is an introductory post which comes in the wake of a new section in my blog named “Trend-Setters“.

iPhone… the king is born

After years of speculations and wild rumours flying around, iPhone finally made it’s debut at the MacWorld Expo. Even recently, it narrowly missed enlistment in the top Vapourware List of 2006, published by Wired News.

Apple CEO Steve added a super-punch to his shocking, stunning, surprising keynote address by unveiling the long awaited iPhone. The iPhone brings features of the iPod, digital camera, smart phones and even portable computing to one device – all under the same roof. To enhance the overall experience a widescreen display and an innovative input method called “Mutli-touch” have been thrown in.

While announcing the product, Jobs was noted saying, “Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything.” Jobs further added, “iPhone is a revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We are all born with the ultimate pointing device—our fingers—and iPhone uses them to create the most revolutionary user interface since the mouse.”

The iPhone completely redefines the concept of mobile telephony and ushers in a new era of software power & sophistication in hand-held devices. What makes it such a beautiful product that seems to have set new boundaries for innovation is that there are no keys, neither aerial stubs at the top. Communication isn’t done through pushes or stabs, but strokes and touches. Hopes are being raised that the device will serve as a whopper of an introduction for Apple into the mobile market (a market that’s much larger, and more valuable, than that for MP3 players) thus bucking the trend set by the Motorola and Nokia.

Apple iPhone Screenshot

As per the new “Multi-Touch” technology, the iPhone features only a single physical button, called “home.” The phone is controlled by by sliding a finger across its touch-sensitive 3.5-inch display, which has a resolution of 320-by-480 pixels at 160 pixels-per-inch display.

Here’s a brief list of features:

  • 11.6 mm (thickness)
  • 3.5 in. (width)
  • Runs Mac OS X (access to Safari Web browser)
  • Touchscreen display with multi-touch support
  • 2 megapixel camera
  • 8 GB storage
  • Bluetooth with EDR and also WiFi
  • Quadband GSM (850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, and 1900MHz) radio with EDGE
  • EDGE or WiFi, the phone switches to WiFi when detected
  • Seamless data syncing with a Mac, PC, or an Internet service
  • Google Maps: Satellite directions, traffic monitoring, and normal maps.
  • Random access voicemail
  • Widgets: Weather and stocks
  • Photo album lets you scroll through images with your finger and you can zoom in/out by “squeezing” or “pinching” the screen with two fingers.
  • The orientation of the screen (landscape or portrait) will automatically rotate based upon the orientation of the device itself.
  • Full iTunes integration
  • 3G capabilities to come in the future…

The iPhone sports three smart sensors which help in controlling it’s behaviour. A proximity sensor shuts down the display and touchscreen when the phone is held to the ear. An ambient light sensor automatically adjusts screen brightness to save power. Meanwhile, an accelerometer lets the phone know whether to display in portrait or landscape mode.

iPhone runs on Mac OS X and even has the Safari browser bundled in, enabling it to view full-fledged web-pages as compared to its WAP-based cousins from other manufacturers.

Also an all new feature is the iPhone’s dual battery module giving you far longer operability with talk-times or video display upto 5 hours and while music can be played upto 16 hours.

As of now iPhone is available in 4GB and 8GB variants and costs $499 and $599 respectively. At this price range, it’s a real serious competitors to all the mobile phone out there that offer similar functionality. However, it’ll be readily available for shipping only from June 2007 and requires a two-year contract with Cingular, the exclusive U.S. carrier. Apple plans to bring the iPhone to Europe in the fourth calendar quarter of 2007, and to Asia in 2008.

Source(s): CyberNet News, Macworld