Archive for July, 2009

Floating apartment complex

July 31st, 2009 No comments

I’ve finally discovered where I would live if money and language were no object!
It’s called The Citadel, and it’s going to be somewhere in the Netherlands (Surely Dutch isn’t that hard to learn).

Citadel 1

The Citadel is the world’s first floating apartment complex, designed by architect Koen Olthius of Waterstudio. And it will use 25% less energy than than a conventional building on land by using unique water cooling techniques.
The project will be built on a polder, a recessed area below sea level where flood waters settle from heavy rains.
There will be 60 luxury apartments in the complex, a car park, a floating road to access it, boat docks and greenhouses.
Apparently this is just the beginning of the proposed development. If all goes well there are to be several more buildings to surround this one.

Citadel 2

Via The Guardian UK and Inhabit

Check out an interview with architect Koen Olthius.

Categories: Green Technology Tags:

hField Technologies Wi-Fire

July 31st, 2009 No comments

hField Technologies has just launched the newest generation of its Wi-Fire USB WiFi Adapter. The new Wi-Fire is 40% smaller, and 30% lighter, but still delivers an extra punch over its predecessor, already the most powerful adapter on the market.

The Wi-Fire multiplies the effectiveness of any 802.11 b/g wireless networks and eliminates those nasty dead spots that plague users. It allows users to connect to a WiFi network from up to 1,000 feet-more than three times the range of other 802.11 adapters-often at significantly higher speeds, and even in locations where no wireless signal could be detected previously. Independent testing has shown the Wi-Fire outperforms 802.11n adapters at distance; delivering greater throughput and a more stable connection.

Wi-Fire, only 2.8 ounces, is palm-sized and easy-to-use. Its portability and long range make it a natural for travelers and other Wi-Fi users who want to connect at their convenience, not a network’s whims.

This new hardware release also features hField’s new Wi-Fire Connection Manager 2.2 (WCM2.2) for Windows, which has much smaller memory requirements for XP and Vista than any other adapter on the market, as well as the WCM 1.1 for Mac. The Wi-Fire is plug-and-play for most popular Linux distributions with the Wi-Fire driver and network support built-in to kernel distributions from 2.6.24 and forward.

Wi-Fire gives Windows, Linux and Macintosh users the freedom to connect to WiFi networks when they want, where they want.

Get it at Amazon Wi-Fire 500mW High-Gain Wireless G USB Adapter W/ built in powerful 10.4 dBi antenna

Categories: Computers, Electronics Tags:

Transparent Aluminum, a reality?

July 30th, 2009 3 comments

You Star Trek geeks out there should appreciate this one.
Today my friend sent me this:

Transparent aluminum

Scientists at Oxford have developed TRANSPARENT ALUMINUM (or as they probably say over there “aluminium”).
Using a FLASH laser (no idea what that is, btw) they knocked out an electron from every aluminum atom in a lab sample.
“What we have created is a completely new state of matter nobody has seen before,” said Professor Justin Wark.

That’s pretty cool, I have to say! Granted, the sample was less than a 20th the width of a human hair and the amount of energy required to create this “new state of matter” was equal to that of a power plant providing electricity to an entire city (though what size city is never made clear). But they say this technology may be able to help in the quest for generating power using nuclear fusion.

I, however, like it mostly for it’s nerd factor. About 9.5 out of 10.


Categories: science Tags: , , ,

The First iPhone Virus?

July 30th, 2009 No comments

Looks like it was only a matter of time until some dirtbag had to write an iPhone virus and ruin it for people. There is currently an iPhone vulnerability that lets a virus go through via an SMS message. Apple has yet to release a patch.

The virus will appear as an SMS message with a single square. The exploit reportedly makes your phone to be inoperable and also  be remotely controlled.

Via Mashable

Categories: Electronics, iPhone Tags: ,

Do you use Twitter or RSS?

July 30th, 2009 No comments

Twitter google-reader-rss

It’s never really been about too much information – the challege has always been how to manage and organize the volume of information. First, there was RSS (Real Simple Syndication) which essentially aggregates new posts from different websites into a central portal so that you don’t have to manually check your favorite sites. Think of RSS as an email Inbox, but for websites. The RSS feed can display a summary or the entire post depending on how the originating website configure it It may also contain Google Ads embedded in the post. What?! Did you think you were going to just strip away content from a website and have them lose advertising dollars?

I use RSS for quality content rich websites.

My favorites are

On the other hand, I also use Twitter to follow people of interest as well as other sites. Twitter “tweets” are much more brief as they are limited to 140 characters. Many websites have both RSS and Twitter profiles essentially doing the same thing which is to broadcast news to their subscribers (RSS) or followers (Twitter). Furthermore, you can also subscribe to a Twitter profile so the tweets show up as RSS feeds as well. What a marriage!

However, there are some key differences between RSS and Twitter. RSS feeds allow richer content such as pictures, movies, full articles in the feed. Twitter limits the article a great deal. When you receive a Twitter feed, sometimes you have no idea what shortened URL you are clicking. This can present a serious security risks such as phishing sites and direct virus downloads.

Twitter’s most fascinating feature is really its Search. You can search for celebrities and follow them directly without intervention of old media such as magazines, TV, or radio disrupting the message. You can see what is a Trending Topic and have that topic bookmarked to see what people beyond your Facebook friends are talking about. Remember the jokes of Chuck Norris Twitter trend a few weeks ago? It lasted for a surprising 2 days. People tweeted their own Chuck Norris jokes.

  • When Bruce Banner gets angry, he turns into the Hulk. When the Hulk gets angry, he turns into Chuck Norris
  • Chuck Norris once uppercuted a horse. Now we have giraffes.
  • Chuck Norris doesn’t bowl strikes. He knocks one pin down and the others fall in disbelief!

Twitter is also very easy to use since the features are so limited. An RSS feed can be quite cumbersome to setup unless your blog already supports it. RSS has search as well but it is typically limited to the websites you subscribe to. Twitter also allows you to engage and send a direct message to your friends or followers directly. RSS is more of a 1 way communication. You can still email the author (if their email is published).

So what do you use? Twitter or RSS or both (greedy aren’t you)?

Follow GadgetMETER on Twitter at @Gadgetmeter. You can also follow my personal Twitter profile at @QuangLy.

You may also want to read my blog post on The True Power of Twitter.

Categories: Computers, Lifestyle Tags: , , , ,

Apple rejects Google applications for iPhone

July 29th, 2009 No comments

Apple recently banned all iPhone applications based on Google Voice, this will certainly add some friction between the two “frenemies” as their competing interests grow more acute.

It is likely not Apple’s fault but more than likely reflects the will of AT&T.  AT&T can threaten to revoke Apple’s iPhone subsidy if Apple doesn’t adhere to its wishes.  The  Google Voice app on the iPhone would have enabled customers to send and receive free SMS and access visual voicemail while bypassing AT&T’s voice network and associated fees.  Within a matter of months or weeks, AT&T’s SMS (short text messages) cash cow could have taken a serious hit.  The Google voice app could have also become a compelling remedy to the  Visual Voicemail issues that AT&T has been experiencing.

Question: Why does it cost so much to send text messages which employ a single “one way” communication mechanism, uses little network bandwidth —  yet it’s free to download a full HD movie on a Wi-Fi Network? It is certainly not a technological issue but rather  one of convenience. SMS is much more convenient, has less friction and is often a more efficient way to communicate instead of using voice.  Like Twitter and e-mail, it’s asynchronous yet these services are free!

For now, you can still access Google Voice services on your iPhone by going You can send FREE SMS messages, but since web pages don’t support push notification you’ll have to refresh to see new in-coming messages.    I will anticipate that Google will eventually use some of their AJAX mojo to enable auto-refresh for receiving SMS messages.

AT&T Killed Visual Voicemail and That’s NOT the Worst Part!

July 27th, 2009 No comments

I was recently aware of this problem when I noticed I wasn’t getting visual voicemail for the past several weeks. I dialed and held the #1 on my keypad to see if I missed any voicemail. Turns out I had over 20 business and personal messages. So I Googled only to find out this problem has been going on for weeks and has appeared on both CNET and TechCrunch.

AT&T Is the Death Star

AT&T Reveals Its New Service the Death Star

This leads to my rant on why the Visual Voicemail issue isn’t even the worst part. What really bothered me was AT&T’s lack of responsibility to notifying and informing their customers of this issue so people could manually check their voicemail until this issue has been resolved. AT&T is aware of this problem and has been supposedly working on a fix for several weeks now. Therefore, it is absolutely inexcusable for AT&T not to publicize this failure. Voicemail is an integral to our lives as email.

I contacted AT&T Tech Support twice and both customer service representatives were not aware of this problem. How can a system wide issue not be communicated to even their own support staff?

My real estate agent was also missing my voicemail until I told her about this issue. She’s had several dozen messages that were missed.  Another friend of mine missed over 40 messages. How much loss in business do you think could have been prevented if AT&T advised their customers to check their voicemail manually? What has changed? There were not any new features in Visual Voicemail that could have broken it!

Our GadgetMETER writer, Jay Chang, made a wonderful suggestion: switch to Google Voice. Which is exactly what HE did.

Here is our laundry list of complaints with the Death Star known as AT&T….and yes, I cannot wait for the Class Action Lawsuit. Maybe George Lucas will make another Star Wars Trilogy.

  • AT&T did not notify customers about a known issue with visual voicemail causing loss of business and life disruptions.
  • Poor 3G service in New York City and San Fransisco. Would you bother upgrading to 3GS knowing you would get shady service in these cities?
  • Long term contracts. I get it. The contracts help subsidize the iPhone purchase. However, AT&T has taken advantage of this by overcharging because Verizon is not in the iPhone game. Once Verizon is, I’m giving AT&T a two fingered salute goodbye!
  • Still no official 3G tethering. I’ve heard they are planning to charge more. Why does AT&T plan to rape their customers? We already paid for the data plan, it shouldn’t matter what devices use it. Comcast Internet doesn’t charge me extra for additional devices I use on my Wi-Fi connection at home. If you want to do a simple hack to tether the iPhone 3.0, check out our post here.
  • Telecom companies have never been known to innovate and move technology forward. It’s always been Silicon Valley. Once we move to Wi-Max and Google offers its own low cost or free universal Internet Access, I would excpect to see low cost data and voice plans.

If you are having iPhone visual voicemail problems, try these steps from CNET. It didn’t work for me but apparently it worked for others.

I cannot imagine all the problems in people’s lives this has caused. Share your stories with us.