14 May 2012
Eastman Kodak Co.'s californium neutron flux multiplier (CFX), acquired in 1974. (Credit: Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

Talk about a Kodak moment, in this case how did the Kodak camera company manage to house a nuclear reactor along with weapons-grade uranium in its basement from 1978 until 2006? Sources are reporting that in Rochester, N.Y., the home area of Kodak there was a nuclear reactor housed there intended for research.

14 May 2012

Tech-Stew Podcast E15: Back to the Dark Ages was recorded on Friday May 11th, 2012.

Summary: 

Rumors of the Apple Television resurface, Microsoft only allowing Internet Explorer with Windows RT, No DVD playback out of the box with Windows 8, the Xbox subscription plan, JUICE to explore the moons of Jupiter, Wi-fi Wallpaper and more.

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11 May 2012

According to Foxconn chief Terry Gou, his company is in the process of preparing to produce an Apple Television.

Gou held a news conference in Shanghai about his company's future plans.  During this conference he mentioned that Foxconn is preparing to produce the long-rumored television.  Development and manufacturing hasn't begun just yet though.

10 May 2012

Tired of being stuck on those chkdsk screens on process 3 of 6 for what feels like an eternity?  Well, Microsoft is proclaiming that with Windows 8 they have revamped the process of checking the disk for errors and it is faster and less disruptive than ever before. 

Most of the improvements in Windows 8 surround the ChkDsk utility, that inspects the hard disk and checks for errors and issues.  In the past users would run the utility and would have to stop using the machine while the tool ran and had to endure long check times.

10 May 2012

"The Light of Stars" is a stunning time lapse video from astrovideographer Daniel Lopez.  In the video he treats us to several inspiring videos of the night sky and also shows us how he used sliders and cranes to move the cameras themselves, giving the imagery a three-dimensional feel.

10 May 2012

Worried about outsiders sniffing your wi-fi to gain access to your computer?  Say hello to Wi-Fi wallpaper, thanks to researchers at France's Grenoble Institut Polytechnique and the Center Technique du Papier.  A Finish materials company called Ahlstrom plans to introduce affordable consumer versions of this wallpaper that blocks wi-fi signals.  It will be commercially known as Metapaper and be available in 2013 in France, no word on a U.S. release date.

The wallpaper can block signals in the 2.45 to 5.5 GHz range, while still allowing television, FM and mobile phone signals to pass.  Metapaper can be applied to a variety of surfaces such as concrete, brick and plaster and you can even paint over it. 

There was an original version that was known as Frequency Selective Surface (FSS) sheeting developed years ago by BAE systems for the U.K. telecommunications firm Ofcom.  It was designed to prevent unauthorized access to private Wi-Fi signals.  However, it was too expensive.  10 square feet would have cost about $800 USD.

There was also a paint developed in 2009 by Japanese scientists that blocked Wi-Fi.

Source:  PCMag


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10 May 2012

Mozilla has come forth with a big reveal that Windows RT (Formerly Windows 8 on ARM) will only support a single browser:  Internet Explorer.  From a technical side Firefox would be able to run in Metro mode on Windows RT, but would be crippled to the point of unusable.  Only Office 15 is allowed to run in the classic Desktop Mode with Windows RT.

The issue has to do with API access.  Third-party developers will only have access to the WinRT (Metro) API.  However, Microsoft's software will have access to the lower level Win32 API.  Firefox could build Firefox for ARM but without the ability to tap into the Win32 API it can't compete with Internet Explorer.

Some of the logical reasons behind this move by Microsoft is that they have not wanted to port x86 code to ARM, largely because these ported apps may not have the efficiency and stability of a low-power ARM tablet requirement. 

Another reason could be due to malware attacks.  Since a browser is an open pit for malware attacks on the operating system making it so there is only a more secure Metro Internet Explorer could be a protection mechanism. 

Metro Internet Explorer

The Tech-Stew Take Home

This move by Microsoft seems akin to the early dark days of the 90s and possibly a move to gain market share with Internet Explorer, at least on the surface.  Hopefully the primary motivation here is that they are just trying to protect the operating system and by association the end-users giving them a more pleasant experience with less risk of malware attacks.

The downside is that due to this restriction it means we won't see any browsers with add-ons on Windows ARM tablets.  Nor will there be any HTML5 web apps.  Competition gets squashed as a result and the chance of ARM tablets winning out over x86 tablets becomes less likely.

Source:  PCWorld


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10 May 2012
Illustration of the new Liberty launch system, which uses parts of the Ares 1 rocket and Europe's Ariane 5 rocket, will use the existing platform at Kennedy Space Center. (Credit: ATK)

The aerospace company that built solid rocket boosters for the space shuttle announced it is developing its own private launch system, a spaceship and rocket that will fly astronauts to and from low Earth orbit.  The first manned missions could launch in about three years.

Alliant Techsystems (ATK), a Utah-based company announced the new project at the first Spacecraft Technology Expo, a gathering of thousands of government and industry officials that discussed innovative new technologies along with the future of human spaceflight.

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