The U.S. military this summer will equip special forces troops with a high-tech grenade launcher that has military experts in thrall. This is a different sort of infantry weapon - and not just because of the hefty $25,000 price tag attached to each unit coming off the production line. With built-in lasers and optics precision sensors, the so-called "XM-25 "Counter Defilade Target Engagement System" was designed to shoot around obstacles, and thus provide a solution for one of the age-old challenges faced by armies confronting dug-in opponents.
The weapon shoots 25 mm exploding "smart" rounds which contain embedded microchips, accurate up to 500 meters. The army says that the weapon can destroy targets which might otherwise be outside of a soldier's direct line of fire, such as a combatant who is crouching behind a window or below a wall. In other words, a solider will be able to take out opponents they can't see. (For more, see DefenseAerospace.com's write-up here as well as this piece in Popular Science, which offers the following summary:
The XM25 doesn't curve its bullets. Rather, it programs them to explode at precise distances. The soldier measures the distance to a target using a laser site and then dials in where the bullet should explode, such as at the corner of a building, raining down shrapnel. The bullet has a small magnet inside that lets it generate AC current as it spins and a microprocessor that measures those current oscillations to derive how far it's traveled.
If it works as advertised, the XM-25 may become a replacement for the M203,a decades-old grenade launcher that gets mounted under an M4 carbine. Here's an explanatory video along with a brief demonstration of the system being deployed in the field:
It was a good run but NASA has decided to discontinue efforts to reestablish contact with its Phoenix Mars Lander.
In a statement put out on Monday, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said that the NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter, which flew over the landing site 61 times, had failed to detect any transmission emanating from the vehicle. Three other listening campaigns involving other attempts to establish communications similarly proved unsuccessful.
NASA said that an image taken from an orbiting spacecraft indicated that the vehicle, thought to be near the Martian north pole, had suffered severe ice damage to its solar panels.
The lander arrived on the red planet on May 25, 2008. Perhaps its most lasting legacy was the discovery that Mars featured diverse wet environments over the course of the planet's history. What's more, NASA said that the Phoenix had returned more planetary data than all other Mars missions combined. Among the Phoenix's other achievements, the agency flagged the following:
- Confirmed and examined patches of the widespread deposits of underground water ice
- Identified a mineral called calcium carbonate that suggested occasional presence of thawed water
- Found soil chemistry with significant implications for life and observed falling snow.
- Discovered perchlorate, an oxidizing chemical on Earth that is food for some microbes and potentially toxic for others
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Earlier this month, Intelstat's Galaxy 15 satellite began drifting out of control. At the time, the owner of a satellite that transmits programming to all U.S. cable systems expressed concerns that the rogue satellite would distupt cable programming across the United States.
Although there was virtually no risk of an actual physical collision between the spacecraft, there still was the possibility of interference.
Not to worry.
The company, SES World Skies said on Monday that programming transmitted by its AMC 11 satellite would not be affected as no collision - or near collision - occurred. Ditto for Comcast, Time Warner and Cablevision Systems, according to the Associated Press.
Intelsat lost control of the Galaxy 15 in April and was thus unable to steer the satellite. The circumstances of the outage remain unclear, though one possibility is that a solar storm disabled the unit's control systems. Both the Galaxy 15 and the SES-owned satellite operated on the same frequencies, which increased the possibility of potentially crippling interference.
The Former British Prime Minister has joined Khosla Ventures, a Silicon-Valley-based firm founded by the veteran technologist and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla. Blair's charge will be to work as a public policy adviser to the firm's portfolio of green portfolio companies.Continue »
The global economic outlook remains fraught but a technology analyst at Morgan Stanley earlier today made one of the most brilliant or most bone-headed predictions in recent memory: Apple at $400 a share.
In raising her price target to $310 from $275, Katy Huberty said investors continue to "under-appreciate Apple's future growth opportunities" adding that the company may register $20 per share in earnings during the 2011 fiscal year, and thus be worth $400 a share.
"The market underestimates the earnings power of Apple's mobile Internet devices," Huberty wrote. "We view the combination of new product launches, broader distribution [carrier, international, enterprise], more attractive pricing and strong upgrade rates as the key demand drivers over the next two years."
Huberty expects the company will sell about 61.5 million iPhones in 2011, or about 25 percent more than current estimates on Wall Street. Earlier today, Apple confirmed that CEO Steve Jobs will keynote its annual worldwide developers conference, an event where he may shed more light on the expected launch of the company's next-generation iPhone.
That's a bullish bet for what remains a premium product line. With unemployment still hovering at close to 10% and new economic worries about potential fallout from Europe's latest financial jitters, consumer spending remains a wildcard. Also, Apple also stepped-up competition in the smartphone business from Google's Android.
Third-party ad networks have been officially banned from Twitter, according to a post on the Twitter blog on Monday from Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo. It's a move that could drive some of the advertising start-ups that have built around Twitter out of business.
"We will not allow any third party to inject paid tweets into a timeline on any service that leverages the Twitter API," the post read, explaining that the exception will be Twitter's own "promoted tweets" program that it announced earlier this year.
"Third party ad networks are not necessarily looking to preserve the unique user experience Twitter has created," Costolo's post read."They may optimize for either market share or short-term revenue at the expense of the long-term health of the Twitter platform. For example, a third party ad network may seek to maximize ad impressions and click through rates even if it leads to a net decrease in Twitter use due to user dissatisfaction."
But the straight story is that these third-party networks--include Adly and the just-launched TweetUp--now compete with Twitter itself for advertising dollars.
As Twitter has moved from open-ended communication platform (and investment dollar black hole) to structured company with a nascent business model, many of the third-party companies that built businesses (in some cases, profitable ones) on top of its API have felt the heat. Prior to its unveiling of the Promoted Tweets advertising program, Twitter announced that it had acquired iPhone client Tweetie and would launch other official mobile clients as well Twitter confirmed to CNET that this does not have any bearing on marketers working directly with prominent Twitter users to post paid tweets--reality show star Kim Kardashian reportedly has a rate of $10,000 per sponsored tweet.
Read the rest of this article at CNET News.com.
Last year when the event was held, Jobs was out on medical leave. The expectation is that the headline event will include an update about the new mobile operating system Apple announced in April. There's also the possibility that Jobs may offer more details on the (not-so-secret) next-generation iPhone 4G. In an interview earlier today with Bloomberg News, Edward Jones & Co. analyst William Kreher noted that 'given Apple's track record, the most likely scenario is that they'll introduce new hardware, in this case the latest iPhone." Shares of Apple were up more than $6 in late morning trading.
Earlier this spring, an Apple engineer forgot his prototype iPhone unit in a bar not far from Apple's headquarters. The tech Web site Gizmodo subsequently published pictures and specifications of the unit, setting off a concatenation of events> which led to a police investigation.
Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) and GE said they have formed a partnership to build a 20-megawatt wind farm in Lake Erie using GE's direct-drive turbines, which are designed for offshore wind. The companies announced the deal at the American Wind Energy Association's annual conference in Dallas.Continue »
The Pentagon has put a four star general in charge of cyber warfare, a move that underscores the growing unease among computer experts about the growing likelihood of an online attack against the United States.
In what was described as a low-key affair, Gen. Keith Alexander was officially sworn in to head the new Cyber Command on Friday afternoon. In a related move, the Army said that it planned to establish an Army Forces Cyber Command by the end of 2010.
How acute is the risk? Critics say that the hype continues to exaggerate the reality. But IT professionals do believe that it's only a mattter of time before an attack gets launched against critical piece of the cyber infrastructure in the United States. At the same time, several other countries have been building up their capacities in case of a full-fledged cyber war.
""Given our increasing dependency on cyberspace, this new command will bring together the resources of the department to address vulnerabilities and meet the ever-growing array of cyberthreats to our military systems," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in a statement.
You can read more here.
On June 4th, Sprint will release what, for the time being at least; will be the coolest phone on the planet. I got a chance to preview the HTC EVO-4G, and based on my experience, Sprint and HTC have a winner. No, it won't kill the iPhone but it does prove that Apple is far from the only innovator in the smartphone market
The phone runs Google's Android operating system but like some other HTC phones, it also has the HTC Sense user interface that adds a more user friendly front-end to the phone. Sense has a number of enhancements over the basic Android interface including a "friend stream" that aggregates your social networking experiences into a single stream enabling you, for example, to see your friends' Facebook and Twitter updates on one screen while simultaneously updating your own Twitter and Facebook status.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to test the phone's most heralded feature - its ability to run on Sprint's fast 4G network. That's because Sprint has, so far, only rolled-out 4G in 32 markets, not yet including New York where I find myself this week. A few months ago I tested Sprint's Overdrive WiFi adapter on the company's 4G network in Las Vegas and I was impressed. Wall Street Journal's Walter Mossberg was able to take his EVO 4-G phone to Baltimore where he experienced "the highest consistent downstream data speeds" he had "ever seen on a cellular network."
Another feature of this phone is the ability to create its own WiFi hotspot. When it's turned on you'll be able to wirelessly connect up to 8 PCs or other WiFi-equipped devices to the Internet via the phone. Sprint plans to charge an extra $30 for the service above whatever voice and data plan you already have. In fairness, that's about half the monthly cost that Sprint and its competitors' typically charge to use standalone wireless adapters.
The EVO is one of the few phones to have two cameras. One is an 8 megapixel back-facing camera for taking photos and high-definition (720p) video. The other is a front-facing camera that you can use to engage in a video conference or take a picture of yourself. The phone comes with the Qik video app that lets you share live video. With it, you can "broadcast" live video to the web though, in my test, I experienced a significant time delay between what the camera was aimed at and what the viewer saw and heard.
The phone is fairly large as smartphones go, measuring 4.8 by 2.6 by .5 inches but for that you get a great 4.3 inch 800x480 display which makes web pages look quite nice. Like the iPhone it has a multi-touch interface that lets you zoom in or out by pinching with your fingers.
It has the same fast 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor as the Google Nexus One and several other new smartphones. There is an HDMI port for digital video output to high-definition TVs. The phone comes with an 8 gigabyte microSD card and supports up to 32 GB.
The phone weighs six ounces and Sprint claims it gets 6 hours of talk time but admits that "time may vary depending on 3G/4G coverage. Use of the phone on 4G networks will deplete battery life as will running lots of Android applications. Regardless of what Android phone you use, you have to carefully monitor what you're running in the background to avoid unnecessary drain on the battery.
The EVO costs $199 with a two-year contract and usage plans start at $69.99 a month plus a mandatory $10 charge for 4G service which everyone pays, even if they don't use the service or don't live in or travel to a 4G market.
Bottom line: This is the most advanced Android phone on the market and an excellent option for anyone looking for a full-featured smartphone with Web access, an excellent camera and some very advanced features.
(This article also appears on Huffington Post)
The last few weeks have not been kind to the Internet's second most popular Web site, which has been pilloried by privacy activists and slammed by some members of Congress. The flap has spawned clever interactive graphics showing how Facebook has gradually exposed more user data, tools to fix your privacy settings, and reports of internal discord among employees who may fear that the negative attention would jeopardize a lucrative public stock offering.Continue »
Musician Dave Matthews and Jane Goodall came together this week in Washington D.C. to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the British anthropologist's Envision for the Future.
Among other things, the duo took aim at politicians for not sticking their necks out more on controversial issues. Mathews, in particular, slammed the nation's current generation of political representatives for failing to exercise more courage when it came to taking stands on controversial questions. We had a camera on hand to record their words. Take a look at what they had to say.
I'm gonna miss those guys.
Coincidentally or not - probably the latter - the Long-Hodgman pairing coincided with a boom period in Apple sales of its Mac computer line.
In its stead, Apple's new ad campaign tag line will be Why You'll Love a Mac. A marketing mistake? We'll only know the answer in retrospect. Besides, who in their right minds feels up to contradicting Steve Jobs when it comes to promoting Apple's products. Still, you have to wonder whether the company's losing more than just a couple of hired actors. Remember Dell's popular "Dude" commercials a few years back with actor Benjamin Curtis playing the role of mall hipster? Again, Dell's subsequent stumbles were mostly caused by internal execution errors and market shifts. But after canceling the ads, Dell also lost a distinctive voice that consumers easily recognized.
Anyway, for old time's sake, here's one more look.
But long before the Halos and the Sims and the Call of Dutys and the Maddens began bringing in billions of dollars, the world was dominated by a simple yellow character munching his way through a maze of dots, trying to avoid getting eaten by ghosts.
On May 22, 1980, a Japanese company called Namco Bandai released a game in Japan called Puck-Man. The title was rejected in the United States because some worried that the "P" would chip off the cabinet and look like an "F."
Regardless, a global phenomenon was born that day. And on Saturday, Pac-Man celebrates its 30th anniversary. And unlike so many of the hit games that have come and gone since then, the little yellow disc with the missing pie-slice for a mouth has become a legend in the video games industry, as well as an inspiration for many of the best-known designers in the field.Google's Pac-Man Game
"I think there's no question that Pac-Man was sort of a watershed event in the popularity and possibilities of video games," said Richard Garriott, a veteran designer known for his pioneering work on Ultima and Ultima Online, as well as his leading roles on Lineage, City of Heroes, and Tabula Rasa. "It was by no means the first [hit game], but earlier offerings [like Asteroids and Pong], no matter how compelling [they were] to nerds like me...Pac-Man was really the first [that reached] what I would call the broad cross-section of society, men and women. It was really the first time, where people looked at video games not merely as this odd thing that teenage boys would [pump] their quarters into, but which had much broader social significance."
That may seem like a bold statement, but there is evidence to back the idea that Pac-Man may be the most influential video game of all time. For instance, the Guinness Book of World Records named Pac-Man as the best-known video game character on Earth, beating out stalwarts like the Mario Brothers and Sonic the Hedgehog. Guinness also lists Pac-Man as the most successful coin-operated game ever.
And while it may not have the attention of the typical male teen gamer, Pac-Man certainly still has a place in society today. There are popular iPhone and iPad versions of the game, many bars still feature the arcade machines. And on Friday, Google is breaking new ground by unveiling its first-ever interactive and playable home page logo, a full-featured, 255-level version of Pac-Man (see this video), built from the ground up but maintaining an almost perfect look and feel of the original.
"We are very excited about the Google [logo] project," Namco CEO Kenji Hisatsune told CNET by e-mail. "This being the first time Google has ever included sound or made a [logo] playable demonstrates just how big of an impact Pac-Man has made."
Marcin Wichary, the Google senior user-experience designer who led the Pac-Man logo project, agreed that the game has made a huge difference in many people's lives, including his.
Pac-Man was released when "there were a lot of space shooters," said Wichary. "It was the first game that tried to approach it a little bit differently. It tries to tell a story and it's not a violent game. It's very friendly, with colorful characters and music. I think that was important...It's just so amazing that Pac-Man's so timeless. Even 30 years later, it's actually [still] such a blast to play it."
One of the biggest reasons that Pac-Man, and its many sequels, especially 1981's Ms. Pac-Man, were hits, is because they were very simple. Pick up one of today's more complicated $60 Xbox 360 titles and if you're not a hard-core gamer, you can easily get so confused and intimidated that you quickly give up. But Pac-Man wasn't like that.
"Pretty much anyone could watch someone playing it for 10 seconds and understand everything about it," said Steve Meretzky, a veteran game designer who created famous Infocom titles like Leather Goddesses of Phobos and the game version of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. "It was a game everyone felt comfortable playing, even in the setting of an arcade, and that's why it became so universally popular."
In addition, Meretzky said, Pac-Man had something for everyone, be it a first-timer or someone who had spent countless dollars in quarters on it. "It's just incredibly well-crafted," he said. "It balances pretty well. Even if you are a super expert and you're playing it for the zillionth time, level one isn't boring. It still feels fun to play. And vice-versa. Even if you're a rank newbie, level one doesn't feel like a horrible crushing experience. It's still fun to play."