29 Feb 2012

Microsoft has made the Windows 8 Consumer Preview available for download at this location.  They have both a web installer and an iso installer.

Microsoft outlined the system requirements in the Building Windows Blog post.  Anyone who is already running Windows 7 can run Windows 8 just fine, and basically anyone with a decently modern machine should be good to go as well, at least for the Consumer Preview.

Microsoft Recommends:

-1 GHz or faster cpu
-1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
-16 GB hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
-DirectX 9 Graphics card with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

They go on to list some other recommendations as well.

29 Feb 2012

As I've mentioned before, I am a big Flight Simulator X (FSX) fan and am quite familiar with the hardware dependencies of that platform and have built a beast of a machine to run FSX to the full tilt.  Many are welcoming Microsoft Flight on less stringent hardware requirements alone, which should fly with better frame rates on lesser hardware and use DirectX 11, but will this be enough to enchant flight sim enthusiasts?  Microsoft has decided to make the base platform of Microsoft Flight a free-to-play model.  The profit will come from their premium plane and scenery add-ons.

You can download your very own free copy of the simulator from this link.  The download is just a web installer file.  The web installer file will then download the entire program, around 1.5 GB to your machine.  It installs as a Games for Windows Marketplace game.

At least as of now Microsoft Flight is land locked in Hawaii, which compared to the Microsoft Simulators is extremely limited.  One would hope these scenery add-ons will expand the options into the rest of the world.  The only option you have in the free-to-play initial release is to fly a mission around some balloons in the default Icon A5 aircraft.  If you stray too far or take to long they force you to start the mission over.  This initial version feels too much like an arcade to me because of its mission orientated play and stripped down controls.  No where in any of the options could I find a way to break free of the mission(s).  You are very limited on planes and ATC at this point as well, disappointing.

28 Feb 2012

The hot topic right now is that Apple is likely to unveil the third iteration of their iPad series, the iPad 3 at a "special event" in California March 7th.  Emails were sent to journalists on Tuesday, inviting them to the event in San Francisco on March 7th at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.  Apparently the invitation included the photo above.  If the iPad 3 is released March 7th this will be one year after it announced the iPad 2.

The rumors on the specs include a bigger battery (and a thicker tablet).  There is a rumor of a retina display similar to that of the iPhone 4S, a faster processor, better camera and Siri voice assistant along with the ability to run on 4G cellular networks.

Its expected to be about $60 more than the iPad 2.  The original wi-fi only iPad 2 was $499 and $629 for 3G by comparison, so there is likely to be a price cut once its released.

Source:  Latimes

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28 Feb 2012

Microsoft recently announced new SkyDrive applications.  One will be a Metro app that will provide access to all SkyDrive files and through a touch friendly interface.  It will use Windows 8 charms and contracts to let Metro apps store data to Skydrive and share documents and photos through other applications.

The other application will be a desktop version of the cloud in Windows Explorer.  It will allow Windows 7, Vista and 8 users to drag and drop or upload and download Skydrive files inside of Windows Explorer.  Skydrive would appear as a "favorite" on the left hand side of the interface.  According to Microsoft they will limit the uploading of large files to 2GB through Windows Explorer and the application will auto synchronize changes from SkyDrive to the local folder similar to Dropbox.

Another feature is something called fetching, a way to access non-SkyDrive files from PC's with a SkyDrive account.  Fetching is only on Windows 8 PCs and will allow the downloading of documents from PC's connected to SkyDrive.  Effectively this is the feature that you would use if you forgot something on your home PC, as you can browse to it and upload it to SkyDrive.

There are rumors of paid storage plans, but nothing was confirmed yet from Microsoft.  In the Building Windows 8 blog post, it was noted that the SkyDrive service will not support PC-to-PC syncing without using the cloud, due to added complexity.

Source: Building Windows 8 Blog


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28 Feb 2012

Mother of pearl or nacre is made by mollusks and
can be used as a temperature gauge for past
climate studies.
(Credit dianamower / Fotolia)

Mother of pearl, otherwise known as nacre is an organic-inorganic material that is produced by certain molluscs in an inner shell layer and also what makes up pearls.  Its used with a wide variety of jewelry and art.  Nacre is also extremely resilient, about 3,000 times more so than the aragonite from which it is made. 

A new study published from the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), with scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, have shown that nacre can be used as a thermometer and pressure sensor, which can reveal both the temperature and ocean depth at which the nacre formed.  The microscopic structure of the material tells the maximum temperature and maximum pressure which the mollusk lived.

Nacre is widespread throughout the world and can go back 450 million years.  Using the same techniques applied to the mollusks on fossil nacre, there is an unprecedented opportunity to reconstruct a global record of environments and environmental change going much further back than before possible.  Essentially, by correlation, its a thermometer that goes back in time or a "paleothermometer" of the water temperatures when the nacre formed.

Scientists can also look at the two independent parameters, by looking at two parts of the nacre structure.  Maximum temperature is measured by seeing how disordered the nacre crystal alignments are and maximum pressure via the thickness of the layers themselves.

Considering the many holes in past climate history and change that still exist, this finding could potentially increase our knowledge of ancient Earth climate dramatically and give insight to current and future changes.

Source:  ScienceDaily.com

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21 Feb 2012

Imagine a future, where you are very far from your charging station for your electric vehicle, but you can relax as your car is charging as you drive.  If a team at Standford has their way, this future just might be sooner than we think.  A team of electrical engineers at Standford are proposing a system that would have embedded metal coils several feet apart on the highway.  The vehicle would have its own coil.  As the vehicle drives the embedded coils would wirelessly recharge the car's battery.

This technique is called magnetic resonance coupling and has already been proven in other applications such as a 60 watt bulb that was lit by MIT five years ago as an example.  Copper coils are tuned so they resonate at the same frequency and one coil passes the electric current to the other via the magnetic field.  The tuning is specialized so that you won't be fried while your vehicle is charged.

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21 Feb 2012

Ever wished you could take some of the more common surfaces around you and turn them into projection displays for showing off your YouTube videos?  The solution called LightBeam uses a pico projector with a webcam for tracking and reorienting the display to any surface, such as a piece of paper or book.  Watch how they rotate a coffee mug to change the channel as well.  This is all the work of Technische Universitat Darmstadt in Germany.  They intend to demonstrate at CHI 2012 in Austin, Texas in May.

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20 Feb 2012

Windows 8 Consumer Preview and the Windows Store

If you have not heard by now there are some new details regarding Windows 8 and Windows 8 on ARM (known as WOA).  It was announced that the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 will be given out during the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona on February 29th.  It seems likely that the rest of us will see a download for it, shortly afterwards, as Microsoft had previously stated it would be released the end of February.

This release will have several Metro-styled apps such as Camera, Messaging, Mail, Skydrive, Photos, People and Music along with possible support for SMS in the Messaging app.

In addition the Windows Store is coming and in a test phase, meaning there will only be free apps during the testing period.  Be sure to check out the screenshots at the end of the article.

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