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Tom Keating
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Technology and Science

Technology and Science

Free WiFi a God given right?

October 4, 2005

I was just checking out Ubergizmo, and they posted a story about the San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom declaring that Wifi connectivity is a 'fundamental right', the equal of food, clothing, and shelter. This is the same mayor who shortly after he was elected permitted same sex marriages to take place in City Hall which stirred a political storm and made him a national celebrity after previously being unknown..

In any case, Newcom envisions an "affordable" Wi-Fi network covering the 43 hills, and 49 square miles of San Francisco, with Google as one of the bidders. Whether or not this is simply another "publicity stunt" on Newsom's part or if he legitimately wants free WiFi for all San Franciscans remains to be seen, but they apparently have $200 million extra to burn.

Upgrade your Mac

September 27, 2005

I'm not much of a Mac user myself (I haven't touched a Mac since college), but I do admire the loyal Mac community. As such, I thought this bit of news for easily and cheaply upgrading your legacy Mac might be a benefit to my Mac readers.

New Low-Cost PowerLogix Upgrade Makes Legacy Macs More Than Nine Times Faster

Put some pounce back into a PCI-based Mac with new 900MHz PowerForce 750GX G3 upgrade immediately available for $139

­ PowerLogix and Other World Computing have immediately available a new 900 Megahertz (MHz) PowerForce 750GX G3 upgrade for PCI- based Macs including PowerMac 7300, 7500, 7600, 8500, 8600, 9500 and 9600 models from Apple Computer, as well as select Power Computing and Umax clones.

The 900MHz PowerForce 750GX G3 includes 512K of L2 cache also running at 900MHz and is immediately available for $139. With a clock speed up to nine times faster than original stock 601 or 604 Apple processors, additional performance and software compatibility are possible because of the modern IBM G3 750FX processor gains this upgrade is based upon.

The PowerForce 1 Gigahertz (GHz) PowerForce 750GX G3 featuring 1MB of L2 Cache also is available for $209.99.

The new PowerForce 750GX G3 is the latest in the PowerForce G3 line, previously honored as "Editor's Choice" by MacWorld Magazine.

"Computers people thought were aging beyond the ability to use Apple's latest advances are still viable," said Larry O'Connor, president of Other World Computing, master distributor for PowerLogix. "Even without using software like XPostFacto to use Apple's Tiger OS, this upgrade makes applications running under OS 8.6 to OS 9.2.2 fly like never before.

JiWire WiFi toolbar

September 27, 2005

Cool new WiFi hotspot finder utilizing a software toolbar. I'll have to download and check it out.

JiWire, the leading provider of information and services to help people connect to the Internet without wires, today unveiled its new WiFi toolbar for major Internet browsers. This free utility features immediate access to a worldwide hotspot directory, WiFi security and connection status, so users can easily find, monitor and secure any wireless connection.

The WiFi toolbar, available at:, takes just seconds to download and is currently available for Mozilla Firefox (Windows), with coming releases for Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox (Mac OS X), and Safari (Mac OS X). Key features include:

• WiFi Hotspot Finder: allows users to search from the more than 70,000 verified public Wi-Fi hotspots in 103 countries worldwide.

Interesting Windows Vista features

September 26, 2005

Windows Vista reportedly will boot and shutdown in just 2-3 seconds. I'm not sure how that is possible considering my 3Ghz Pentium 4 takes at least 6 seconds just to load the BIOS, do a memory test, etc. before it even attempts to load the operating system on the hard disk. I don't see how Windows Vista can startup or shutdown in just 2-3 seconds.

But here it is from the horse's mouth, on Microsoft's site:

Fast On and Off: A Windows Vista computer starts and shuts down as quickly and reliably as a television, typically within 2 to 3 seconds.

Is this photo real or fake?

September 26, 2005

As computer graphics imagery (CGI) becomes more advanced it gets harder and harder to tell which images are real and which ones are not. Between movies like the Final Fantasy, Matrix, the Star Wars prequels, and other CGI-heavy laden movies, it seems to me it won't be long before we have virtual actors/actresses. Actually, the mathematical formulas to represent human hair or even water are very complex and as of yet most CGI created images still have a "cartoonish" feel to them and not real-world, but they're getting closer. Who knows what the next 20 years will bring?

Even professional or amateur computer graphics artists can fool the human eye.

Microsoft turns 30

September 22, 2005

DivX HD Film Festival

September 21, 2005

I'm a huge fan of the DivX video format which is one of the best compression algorithms you will find. DivX has a controversial history and is often the format of choice for transmitting pirated movies and television shows. Admitedly, I've downloaded DivX versions of Smallville episodes that I happened to miss (pre- my Windows MCE 2005 PC which has TiVo-like functionality). DivX users and indeed DivX encoders have an almost cult following, but alas it seems the cult has gone mainstream with a HD Film Festival using DivX.

Upcoming HDFEST New York Event to be First DivX HD Film Festival

HDFEST's New York City event will be taking place September 30th and October 1st at the Goldcrest Post Screening Room and will offer a historic first look into the incorporation of DivX HD technology in filmmaking and HD playback.

Ham radio operators to the rescue

September 20, 2005

Sometimes low-tech is better than fancy-schmancy VoIP as in this case where ham radios apparently came to the rescue in the Gulf States after Hurricane Katrina... Check out this news about a Congressman looking to protect ham radios.


When Disaster Strikes, Ham Networks Spring Into Action; Event Features Demonstration of Amateur Radio Emergency Communication

West Babylon, NY- On Monday, Congressman Steve Israel (D-Huntington) announced the reintroduction of the "Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Consistency Act" that will help to protect the vital function of amateur radio as an emergency communications and public safety resource. Amateur radio operators have always filled in the gap when other communications systems failed. Hurricane Katrina was no exception.

In the storm's aftermath, operators of amateur, or "ham," radios have been instrumental in helping residents in the hardest hit areas, including saving stranded flood victims in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Broadband-in-gas (BiG) delivers broadband

September 20, 2005

Hmm, interesting - Broadband-in-gas (BiG) uses natural gas pipelines to deliver broadband Internet access? Guess this means you can serve up some ham & eggs and Web access too, on your gas oven range! Boy, first it was the Internet over the phone wires, then it was Internet over cable, then it was Internet over power lines, what'll they think of next? Broadband-over-sewer lines?

Oh wait, they thought of that too! Apparently, thousands of Scottish homes could soon get high-speed internet access through the sewerage system.

Hydrogen alternative fuel for existing cars

September 19, 2005

Joe Williams Sr. believes he has a machine that will increase fuel efficiency in all cars by converting distilled water into hydrogen which is then mixed with gasoline vapors (thus existing vehicles can be retro-fitted). The device is called the Hydrogen Generating Module, or H2N-Gen for short and according to's article, it is "smaller than a DVD player - small enough to sit comfortably under the hood of any truck or car - it could be big enough to solve the world's greenhouse gas emission problems... It's a scientific fact that adding hydrogen to a combustion chamber will cause a cleaner burn. The challenge has always been to find a way to get the hydrogen gas into the combustion chamber in a safe, reliable and cost-effective way.

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