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Tech-news archive: May-June 2006

DS Lite
New DS proves object of desire
(Jun 27, 2006)

Until Nintendo's Wii games leaves the starting gates, the company is eschewing the relative dead duck GameCube and pumping its creative juices into the ridiculously popular DS handheld. Yet for all its unique features and quirky software, the console could hardly be dubbed truly portable.

Read more. Source: BBC

Mobile phone risk during storms
(Jun 25, 2006)

Next time you find yourself talking on your mobile phone in the middle of a thunderstorm you may want to cut the conversation short. UK doctors have warned of the danger of lightning strikes when using mobile phones outdoors during stormy weather. In the British Medical Journal, they highlight the case of a teenager left with severe injuries after being struck by lightning when talking on her phone.

Read more. Source: BBC

The rat brain cells form self-organise into clusters with projections between them (Images:Yael Hanein)
Neurons self-organise to make brain chips
(Jun 22, 2006)

Brain cells can be enticed into forming uniform functioning patterns using a nano-engineering trick. The technique could allow the development of sophisticated biological sensors that use functioning brain cells, the researchers say. This type of device would identify a compound – a deadly nerve agent or poison, for example – by measuring its effect on a functioning network of neurons.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

500 GHz microchip
Microchip pushed to record operating speeds
(Jun 20 2006)

A silicon-based microprocessor has been accelerated to a record speed of 500 billion operations per second (500 gigahertz) in an experiment that raises hopes for super-fast, yet cost-effective, electronic devices. Researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology and IBM's microelectronics laboratory in New York, constructed the microchip from an alloy of silicon and germanium. Electrons flow through this material more easily than through silicon alone, especially when the alloy is cooled.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Dry ice creates toughened glass
(Jun 16 2006)

A form of solid carbon dioxide that could be used to make ultra-hard glass or coatings for microelectronic devices has been discovered. The material, named amorphous carbonia, was created by scientists from the University of Florence in Italy. Writing in the journal Nature, the team says the material was theoretically possible but had never been created.

Read more. Source: BBC

Launch of the .eu domain name
Rewriting the net address books
(Jun 15 2006)

If you created something that is used billions of times every day by millions of people, you might expect it to be around for a long time to come. Yet Dr Paul Mockapetris, inventor of the net's Domain Name System (DNS), entertains few illusions about the longevity of his creation.

Read more. Source: BBC

Internet users in China
China 'blocks' main Google site
(Jun 12 2006)

Chinese authorities have blocked most domestic users from the main search engine, a media watchdog said. Internet users in major Chinese cities faced difficulties accessing Google's international site in the past week, Reporters Without Borders said. But, the controversial Chinese language version launched in January, has not been affected.

Read more. Source: BBC

Toshiba laptop fuel cell prototype
Fuel cells in laptops edge closer
(Jun 1, 2006)

Electronics companies are promoting fuel cells as an environmentally-friendly and convenient alternative to traditional lithium ion batteries. The technology promises to supplement or replace today's batteries in laptops. Instead of storing power, fuel cells generate electricity by breaking down methanol via an electrochemical process. The cells can be recharged by topping them up with methanol from a cartridge.

Read more. Source: BBC

robot hand
Robot hand controlled by thought alone
(May 27, 2006)

A robotic hand controlled by the power of thought alone has been demonstrated by researchers in Japan. The robotic hand mimics the movements of a person's real hand, based on real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of their brain activity. It marks another landmark in the advance towards prosthetics and computers that can be operating by thought alone. The system was developed by Yukiyasu Kamitani and colleagues from the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, and researchers from the Honda Research Institute in Saitama.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

semantic web search
Smart sites to power semantic web
(May 26, 2006)

Much of the talk at the 2006 World Wide Web conference has been about the technologies behind the so-called "semantic web". Phrases like "increased intelligence", "next generation" and "bringing meaning to the web" are being bandied around by researchers, exhibitors and delegates alike.

Read more. Source: BBC

Tim Berners-Lee
Web inventor warns of 'dark' net
(May 23, 2006)

The web should remain neutral and resist attempts to fragment it into different services, web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has said. Recent attempts in the US to try to charge for different levels of online access web were not "part of the internet model," he said in Edinburgh. He warned that if the US decided to go ahead with a two-tier internet, the network would enter "a dark period".

Read more. Source: BBC

Vista announcement
Microsoft reveals Vista checklist
(May 19, 2006)

Microsoft has revealed how powerful computers must be to run Vista – the new version of its Windows operating system. It has given advice on the basic specifications to run the software as well as the higher capabilities needed to get the most out of it. Also available is a downloadable tool that lets people know if the PC they own now will run the system.

Read more. Source: BBC

Nintendo Wii console
Nintendo shows new games console
(May 10, 2006)

Nintendo has shown off its new Wii games console with its unorthodox motion-sensing controller, arguing it will help draw more people to gaming. But it shied away from setting a launch price or date at a US news conference, ahead of this week's E3 games expo.

Read more. Source: BBC

Problems plague World of Warcraft
(May 9, 2006)

Players are being left frustrated and angry by ongoing problems with online game World of Warcraft. Some are suffering long delays to get into the game, others report countless small hold-ups during play and the disappearance of the interactive parts of the Warcraft world. Intermittent server crashes have thrown players out of the game at key moments.

Read more. Source: BBC

PlayStation 3
Giants head for console showdown
(May 8, 2006)

Sony and Nintendo are setting their sights on Microsoft as they gear up to reveal more details about their next-generation game consoles. Microsoft grabbed a head start with its Xbox 360 going on sale last year, while Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii are expected in the coming months. The three will battle for attention at this week's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles. E3 is where companies tout their forthcoming hardware and software.

Read more. Source: BBC

Internet cafe in China
Net censorship spreads worldwide
(May 5, 2006)

Repressive regimes are taking full advantage of the net's ability to censor and stifle reform and debate, reveals a report. Written by the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) pressure group the report highlights the ways governments threaten the freedom of the press. The report has a section dedicated to the internet and the growing roster of nations censoring online life. This censorship is practised on every continent on Earth, said the report.

Read more. Source: BBC

USB memory sticks
Warnings over USB memory sticks
(May 2, 2006)

Smart phones, iPods and USB memory sticks are posing a real risk for businesses, warn security experts. Just over half of companies take no steps to secure data held on these devices, found a UK government-backed security survey. Now security firms are developing ways to help firms control access to the confidential data held on the gadgets. They are also working on ways to stop the devices being used by viruses as a way to bypass other digital defences.

Read more. Source: BBC


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