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Tech-news archive: July-August 2006

HAL eye
They know all about you
(Aug 28, 2006)

Every time you use an internet search engine, your inquiry is stored in a huge database. Would you like such personal information to become public knowledge? Yet for thousands of AOL customers, that nightmare has just become a reality. Andrew Brown reports on an incident that has exposed how much we divulge to Google & co.

Read more. Source: Guardian

JCB Dieselmax car
JCB car beats diesel speed record
(Aug 23, 2006)

A car built by JCB has broken the diesel engine land speed record after reaching 328.767mph (529km/h). A JCB Dieselmax spokesman said the vehicle attained the average speed during two runs in Utah, USA. Confirmation was given on Tuesday by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile. An attempt to better the record will be made on Wednesday.

Read more. Source: BBC

flat-screen TVs
Artificial muscles light up TVs
(Aug 21, 2006)

Arrays of thousands of tiny "super prisms" controlled by robotic muscles could bring real colour to TV screens for the first time, scientists say. The devices, known as electrically tunable diffraction gratings, have been built by researchers in Switzerland. They manipulate light to reproduce the full spectrum of colours on screen, impossible using existing technology.

Read more. Source: BBC

Game tools put players in charge
(Aug 10, 2006)

Gamers are getting the chance to take over and run a portion of an online role-playing world. French game maker Nevrax is releasing tools that let players craft and run their own sophisticated scenarios set in the Ryzom game world. The scenario creation kit can be used to create quests for other players to complete and, once written, edited and uploaded, will become part of the larger game that anyone can play.

Read more. Source: BBC

chip held by tweezers
Green pigment spins chip promise
(Aug 10, 2006)

An unpopular pigment used by artists in the 18th Century could lead to more energy efficient, faster computers. Cobalt green, as the dye is known, has been tested by a US team who believe it could be used in "spintronic" devices. Spintronics involves manipulating the magnetic properties of electrons to do useful computational work.

Read more. Source: BBC

Google warning
Google warns on 'unsafe' websites
(Aug 6, 2006)

Google has started warning users if they are about to visit a webpage that could harm their computer. The warning will pop up if users click on a link to a page known to host spyware or other malicious programs. The initiative comes out of a larger project cataloguing programs that plague people with unwanted ads, spy on web habits or steal personal data.

Read more. Source: BBC

digital home
Digital home 'still 10 years off'
(Jul 28, 2006)

The vision of a digital home in which music and video is streamed between devices is still 10 years away, says a leading music technology businessman. John MacFarlane, chief executive of Sonos, said neither consumers nor the technology itself were ready. Sonos makes wireless (wi-fi) music streaming systems, aimed at customers who want to listen to their digital music around the house.

Read more. Source: BBC

Transporter wi-fi player
Wi-fi music player gets serious
(Jul 26, 2006)

A wi-fi music device developed for audiophiles will offer better audio output than CD players, says its maker. Transporter is being billed as the world's first network music player for lovers of pure sound. The $1,999 (1,079) player is aimed at people who encode music using so-called lossless formats, such as Flac or Wav.

Read more. Source: BBC

wireless memory chip
Tiny wireless memory chip debuts
(Jul 18, 2006)

A chip the size of a grain of rice that can store 100 pages of text and swaps data via wireless has been developed by Hewlett-Packard. The tiny chip was small enough to embed in almost any object, said HP. The chip could be used to ensure drugs have not been counterfeited, on patient wristbands in hospitals or to add sounds or video to postcards, said HP.

Read more. Source: BBC

Matthew Nagle
Brain-implant enables mind over matter
(Jul 13, 2006)

A man paralysed from the neck down by knife injuries sustained five years ago can now check his email, control a robot arm and even play computer games using the power of thought alone. Matt Nagle's extraordinary abilities were first reported in March 2005. Now details of the technology that lets him perform these tasks are published in the journal Nature.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

electronic chip
'Magnetic memory' chip unveiled
(Jul 10, 2006)

A microchip which can store information like a hard drive has been unveiled by US company Freescale. The chip, called magnetoresistive random-access memory (Mram), maintains data by relying on magnetic properties rather than an electrical charge. One analyst told the Associated Press news agency that the chip was the most significant development in computer memory for a decade.

Read more. Source: BBC

flat ion trap. (Image: Signe Seidelin and John Chiaverini/NIST)
Flat 'ion trap' holds quantum computing promise
(Jul 8, 2006)

Quantum computers could be more easily mass produced thanks to the development of a two-dimensional ion trap - one of their key components. A quantum computer could be much faster than a conventional computer. While electronic bits can exist in one of two states – "0" or "1" – a quantum bit, or qubit, can be in both states simultaneously. Connecting lots of qubits together would allow many more calculations to be carried out simultaneously.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Blue Gene
Top computer hangs on to its title
(Jul 4, 2006)

IBM's BlueGene/L computer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California, has once again been crowned world champion by the TOP500 list of the fastest supercomputers used for scientific applications. This giant among giants has 131,072 processors and a computing speed of 280.6 terraflops per second (1 teraflop equals 1 trillion calculations or 'floating point operations').

Read more. Source: Nature


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