Archive | May, 2010

X-51A Waverider records the longest scramjet flight

Today history happened (and I am not talking about Apple reaching a bigger market capitalization than Microsoft, although that is history as well). In California, the X-51A Waverider scramjet recorded the longest scramjet flight ever at 140 seconds. After that, some technical glitches (not explained) caused the plane to loose telemetry and it was remotely destroyed. However, up until the 140 seconds mark everything was perfect, the plane demonstrating a nimble Mach 5 speed.

Charlie Brink, X-51A program manager with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base says preliminary data shows that the separation from the B-52H was “phenomenal” and the solid booster light, which accelerates the X-51 to Mach 4.8, was “perfect”. At 65,000ft the booster separated from the vehicle as planned, followed by the start of the scramjet engine with an ethylene mix and switchover to JP-7 fuel. The vehicle accelerated to Mach 5 at 70,000ft, exhibiting nominal guidance and control functions.

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Facebook Announces Privacy Redesign

After several weeks of complaints from Facebook users on privacy issues, Facebook announced several changes to address the concern many users may have in how Facebook shares their confidential data. mainly, facebook will provide an easy-to-use “master” control that should enable users to see exactly who can see the content they share through Facebook. This is the e-mail I received:

Facebook will roll out changes today that will make it easier for our users to understand and control their privacy settings. As this change will have an impact on our users, we wanted to let you, a valued advertising partner, know about it. Please note that this change will not affect your advertising campaigns and there is no action required on your part.

Facebook is a company that moves quickly, constantly innovating and launching new products to improve the user experience. The feedback we heard from users was that in our efforts to innovate, some of our privacy settings had become confusing.

We believe in listening to our users and taking their feedback into account whenever possible. We think the following changes address these concerns by providing users with more control over their privacy settings and making them more simple to use. Read More…

How to force Netflix update to HD on Windows 7

As you might know, several days ago Microsoft released an update to their Windows Media Center, update that would enable Netflix to stream in HD (720p). On some systems the update went without any problems, on some it wasn’t triggered for some (probably Microsoft related reasons). There are two ways to force the update, a mild one and a hardcore one (in case the mild method doesn’t work). We’ll describe both of them in detail after the break.

Mild Update:

1. Open Windows Media Center, and navigate to Tasks->Settings->General

2. On the General page, navigate and select Automatic Download Options

3. On the Automatic Download Options page, enable (check) the first two settings (Retrieve CD Album Art… and Automatically Download Windows Media Center data between…) Read More…

Best Media Streamers 2010 – top 10

Update: There is a new and updated list for the best media streamers in 2011 here.

I put together a list containing the most feature rich media streamers available on the market right now.

Among the criteria used to create the top list I considered must have features as Netflix or YouTube, but also the inclusion of DLNA support, popular codec support (MKV, h264, etc).

The list will be updated as new players appear on the market. Feel free to send me your feedback/thought and I’ll update the list accordingly. Currently, as illustrated in our reviews, the best media streamers are Boxee Box (by D-Link) if you want something fancy and with a HUGE list of web clients, an excellent Webkit based Web Browser, QWERTY remote control and Adobe Flash 10.1 support. If you just want something cheap, with Netflix support and also large codecs support (MKV, etc) capable of accessing media from your network shares and USB, go with WD TV Live Plus. Read More…

Archos 7 8 GB Home Tablet with Android available for $199

Archos 7 8GB Home Tablet found its way earlier than expected in Amazon stores. The Archos 7 Tablet is very light at 13.7 oz and it makes a good alternative to the more expensive iPad. It has some big advantages over iPad, the most important being the price and the openness of the Google Android OS, but some disadvantages as well ,as it lacks an accelerometer to detect the portrait/landscape transitions and its resistive touchscreen is much less responsive the the capacitive one that iPad has. However, if you just need a cheap eBook Reader or media player to travel with, the Archos 7 Home Tablet might be the perfect device.Check after the break for the picture gallery and full specs.

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Pandigital Novel 7″ Color Multimedia eReader appears

Pandigital makes the jump from Photo Frames to a little 7″ e-Reader sporting Barnes & Noble bookstore capability built around Android OS. The little reader also has built Wi-Fi for web access, web browser as well as media player. It uses a  LCD screen instead of ePaper, 1GB internal memory and, a nice touch, SD/MMC slot (supporting 32GB cards).  The price at launch should be around $199. Supported eBook formats include PDF, ePub, HTML and the dimensions are: 5.5- x 7.5- x 0.5-inches. The weight is a meager 16 oz, baterry life about 6 hours, tilt sensor for portrait/landscape orientation so it looks like at least on the paper, everything looks pretty good.

Boot time: The recorded boot time is about 28 seconds from the time you push the power button, which suggests the firmware still has to improve.

Screen: The screen quality is decent in low light, but hardly readable outdoor. If reading books is the main activity for this device, you might need to look elsewhere, the display is not optimized for direct sunlight.

Touchscreen: The touchscreen is not very responsive, with the touchscreen slow to the touch.Also the behavior is sometimes erratic, with random page turns. This suggests that the device still needs several rounds of patches to reach a reasonable level of usability.

e-Reader: The e-Reader feature is basic, you can set the text size, but not the fonts/justifications. Page turning is also slower than e-ink based devices (Nook, Kindle) which should raise a red flag over the CPU speed.

Conclusion: Pandigital Novel is a cheap reader with basic features. Buy it if the price is the most important feature and if you do most of your reading indoors. SDHC card slot is a nice addition and allow an easy expansion.

Pandigital started to appear in various chains like Kohl’s and JCPenney, but at a price greater than MSRP. I would suggest to wait until they will be available in more stores…

Update: It looks like Kohl’s recalled the Pandigital readers to upgrade their firmware. Exactly as I explained, the firmware seemed to be really buggy (slowness, unresponsive, broken WiFi). However, you would expect an update to take place without taking the unit back in the year of grace 2010…

Check after the break for additional pictures and specs. Read More…

HP Smart Wi-Fi Display Review – sd828a1

I wanted a reasonably cheap photo frame capable of more than just displaying pictures and a couple of weeks ago I found a good deal at Amazon for $79.99 for this HP Smart Wi-Fi Display. I will start in an unusual way and state that the software is horrific, the remote control is really hard to use and the frame is at times non responsive making you wonder if it accepted our command or not and making you to click several time on the remote control. However, I went ahead and purchased the second one. Here is why (check after the break for the full in-depth review) Read More…

HITACHI Deskstar 2TB for 99.99 after $20 rebate

NewEgg has 2TB Hitachi Internal 7200RPM Serial ATA Desktop Hard Drive for $120 – $20 Rebate = $100 with free shipping Read More…

Google TV is launching – your TV is about to get a lot smarter

Google is launching, as we speak, a new platform for using from the coach: Google TV that will combine our good old content with Web content, Android applications into one  little set top box.

The box software will feature Google Search able to pull content from both Web and regular TV in a unique manner, access to NETFLIX and Amazon Video on Demand, YouTube of course, Twitter streams , etc.  Also Pandora streaming and…FLASH!  Weeee, that got to send Apple a message you would think. It should allow a pass-trough of your HDMI signals and be used as an overlay, connecting between your cable/satellite box and controlling it via an IR blaster. Support for Keyboard, mouse, remote as well, just as a PC.

Your Android will be able to control the TV as well as push a movie from the phone to the big screen and watch it there.

Apps, Apps, Apps: This is what we were looking for and it looks like we’ll be able to use Android apps on the TV so expect thousands of games available. The service is expected to be launched in the fall and the main partners will be Intel, Logitech and Sony.

Here is a little cartoonish movie introducing Google TV (by Google) Read More…

Windows Media Center Netflix Client gets updated to HD

Well, after Netflix announced several days ago the availability of HD streaming (720p) on PC, everybody expected at some point that the Windows Media Center Netflix streaming plug-in to be upgraded as well. Guess what, it already happened and there is a new client available to be updated for your streaming pleasure. The update process is fairly similar with the first one you went through to install the Netflix client for the first time, so no surprises here. If the update doesn’t start by itself, just go to Settings->General->Automatic Download Options and click Download Now. And by the way, I just did the whole process on train, while commuting back home from work tethering via my iPhone. It literally took 2 minutes. Check some screenshots after the break.

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