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22Apr/11Off

Solar Magnetic Energy, Better than Photovoltaic Cells?

Researchers at the University of Michigan have discovered a new property of light that allows them to harness the magnetic attributes of light. Electromagnetism being a classically unified force, the relationship between light and magnetism is well known, but the magnetic component was thought to be weak enough that it could be safely ignored. Stephen Rand, a professor at UMich, said of this, “You could stare at the equations of motion all day and you will not see this possibility. We’ve all been taught that this doesn’t happen. It’s a very odd interaction. That’s why it’s been overlooked for more than 100 years.” Scientists are so awesome.

“This could lead to a new kind of solar cell without semiconductors and without absorption to produce charge separation,” Rand said. “In solar cells, the light goes into a material, gets absorbed and creates heat. Here, we expect to have a very low heat load. Instead of the light being absorbed, energy is stored in the magnetic moment. Intense magnetization can be induced by intense light and then it is ultimately capable of providing a capacitive power source.”

Right now solar power cells are expensive and somewhat dirty to produce as they are made from semiconducting wafers. This will allow solar collection apparatus to be constructed from much more common materials. This could be the breakthrough that makes solar power cheap enough for widespread adoption.

“To manufacture modern solar cells, you have to do extensive semiconductor processing,” Fisher, a PhD student involved in the research, said. “All we would need are lenses to focus the light and a fiber to guide it. Glass works for both. It’s already made in bulk, and it doesn’t require as much processing. Transparent ceramics might be even better.”

This could be a major breakthrough, focusing the light into a usable beam and creating voltage potential with cheaper materials is going to be the ticket to ending the world’s dependence on fossil fuels once and for all. There isn’t going to be a magic bullet that’ll solve all of these problems, solar power is a major component. Efficient energy storage solutions like flywheel energy storage systems are also going to be an important part in leveling out the grid.

[via Earth Techling]


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22Apr/11Off

Google In Talks With Spotify To Power Android Music Service

According to CNET, a source familiar with the situation says that Google is in talks with the popular European music streaming service, Spotify, to help power their Android music service. This comes just after news that Apple is already finishing up its own music streaming digital locker ahead of Google’s. Both companies have been stalled by license negotiations with record labels.

Additionally, Google has not been able to make up its mind on what direction to take with its music strategy. They initially wanted an iTunes-like store with an online music locker to store and share the music you’ve already purchased, but then they began considering a subscription model. This has made it difficult to reach any agreements with the record companies. Apple, on the other hand, has already signed licensing deals with two labels.

Amazon has actually beat both companies with the launch of its Amazon Cloud Player last month. However, their service launched fast partly because of their decision to forgo the licensing process claiming that their service was simply online storage for music but did not actually sell any music.

Google’s music service seems ready to go on the technical side, but they’re indecisiveness may lie in wanting to push out a true game changer of a service. Considering that Spotify is facing its own licensing hurdles in trying to break into the U.S. Market, it’s not certain how partnering up will help boost Google’s own attempt. But Spotify is more experienced in the music arena and has a unique model that enables it to offer limited free music that may help Google differentiate and compete against Apple’s iTunes and soon to come music locker.

[via CNET]


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22Apr/11Off

How Green is Your iPhone?

It’s Earth Day, right? And I’m a dirty hippie. I think about environmental issues a lot. Like many people I like the sound of birdsong more than car horns. I actually spent half of last year canvassing with Texas Campaign for the Environment. We were fighting to improve electronics recycling throughout my home state. Being the gigantic geek that I am, I spent a lot of time learning as much as possible about these issues. Looking forward over the next twenty years our production/consumption/waste cycles are the place where we can do the most good. Dealing with our waste products, whether in the form of gaseous carbon emissions, land-filled garbage, or industrial waste is our generation’s great challenge moving forward into the future. Our friends over at geekaphone released this informative infographic giving you some idea of the scale of this issue as it relates to your iPhone.

In a global economy, the phone you have in your hand was sourced from all over the world. From the mining of the raw materials in the Congo that has coined the term “blood phones”, to the production of silicon chips throughout South East Asia, to the final assembly by factory workers in China, finally through your hands for an average of 18 months, and then most likely to a landfill somewhere in the States.

A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except faults, so he loses touch with reality and lives in a world of illusions.

By thought I mean the chattering inside the skull; perpetual and compulsive repetition of words, of calculations, and symbols going on inside the head.

For as a result of confusing the real world of nature with mere signs, such as money, stocks and bonds, title deeds, and so forth. This is a disaster. Time to wake up. – Alan Watts

Now here’s the part that makes me sick and angry. Apple will recycle all of their products for free. Yes, for free. Actually, it’s even better, if you bring some devices in to Apple retail stores, you can get a discount on a new one. And still only 10% of us are even bothering to do anything but chuck it in the trash. That’s ridiculous, wasteful, and just plain stupid, especially in these hard economic times. Many computer companies are offering free recycling programs. There are national coalitions like the Electronics TakeBack Coalition that are pushing for extended producer responsibility to be made law. It already has been made law in a lot of places.

Alright, surf on over to geekaphone to check out the rest of these facts and figures. I would have grabbed more shots to highlight for you, but it’s really worth taking a look at the image in it’s entirely. Really, it’s awesome.

[via Cult of Mac]


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22Apr/11Off

Best Buy Announces Pre-sale of HTC Flyer for April 24th, Priced at $499

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Best Buy hasn’t narrowed down their spring launch window for the Wi-Fi-only version of the HTC Flyer, but they have announced the beginning of pre-sales for the device. Starting this Sunday, April 24th, you can reserve your Flyer ahead of its release for $499. Best Buy will be the exclusive retailer of the Wi-Fi-only Flyer in the United States, though we question how great the demand for the device will be. The $499 price tag matches up with the lowest price point for the iPad 2, though that device features a larger screen and all the marketing power of Apple behind it. Even if the Flyer came with Android Honeycomb onboard (which it doesn’t), the tablet has an uphill climb in front of it.

While we aren’t sold on the Flyer yet, fans of HTC’s Sense UI looking for a smaller tablet for factor might be interested in at least giving it the once over.

[via Best Buy]


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22Apr/11Off

Japanese Social Gaming Network GREE Acquires OpenFeint for $104 Million

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Japan’s leading social gaming network, GREE, is taking a big step onto American soil with the purchase of OpenFeint for $104 million. The acquisition doesn’t come with many changes in store for either company. The services will remain as separate entities as OpenFeint will continue to work on spreading their worldwide impact and hiring more staff. Still, the combined userbase of both services tops 100 million, establishing the largest network of gamers in the world. With two separate entities, GREE is hoping their global reach can be catered to specific markets.

Pretty great news for OpenFeint, a company that has been a driving force behind bringing a plethora of new, quality titles to the Android platform. With the backing of the larger GREE the company should continue to grow and provide new gaming experiences for mobile users around the world.

[via DroidGamers]


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22Apr/11Off

Motorola Droid Pro Update Now Rolling Out to All

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Last week it was discovered that the Motorola DROID PRO was due for an update, one that would bring the phone up to Blur version 3.8.7 and provide a bevy of fixes and tweaks int he process. Much of the update has to do with correcting certain ActiveSync problems, but it also includes the VCAST Appstore. Reports had us thinking it had started already rolling out, but the update seems to have been hitting handsets sparingly. Today, Motorola announced the larger push of the update should start hitting handsets in waves. If you haven’t received yours yet, hang tight. More info in the update can be found at Motorola’s support page.

[via DroidLife]


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22Apr/11Off

Will Spotify Be Google Music’s Savior?

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The Google Music saga continues to unfold as the tech giant scrambles to piece together a service that could compete with Apple’s iTunes. It was recently revealed that Apple may beat Google to market with a cloud music service. As such, Google is reportedly turning to the established and popular Spotify for a partnership that could benefit both sides.

Spotify has long wanted to break into the US market but has been having trouble tacking down the exact specifics of launching their streaming music service in the States. Google has struggled to pen deals with record labels to secure the necessary rights and licenses to make Google Music a reality. The combined product would likely stray from the music store/cloud music service initially teased by Google, but a streaming service would offer a product much different than what iTunes currently offers.

Spotify has been the talk of the town in streaming music in other parts of the world, but those in North America can only trust the opinions of our European neighbors for now. The two companies teaming up would please more than a few eager to give the highly-praised service a try.

[via Gizmodo]


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22Apr/11Off

The US Army Has a Prototype Android in the Works

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We’ve long known about the United States’ ARMY’s plans to bring smartphones to their soldiers in the field, and we knew they were leaning toward Android, but nothing solid had ever been confirmed to be in the works. Things may finally be underway, though, as they reportedly have a prototype in the pipeline.

The device has quite the windy name – the Joint Battle Command-Platform – and is being made by a company named MITRE. The ARMY is expected to release an SDK for the platform in July for developers to create military-grade applications for use in the field.

Unfortunately, the military is still waiting on someone to help deliver a solution that will bring about a more secure Android. We imagine this shouldn’t be too difficult in practice considering how open the platform is, but the theory has yet to be set. In any case, it looks like June is set for Android’s first big push into the armed forces. [via Ars Technica]


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22Apr/11Off

Good Technology sees boost in iPhone, iPad activations in Q1

A few months ago, enterprise mobile integrator Good Technology reported on the second round of metrics from its device activation data. The story showed strong growth for Android phones; while the iPhone remained in first place, but the curves were getting closer.

In the first quarter of this year, however, something rather disruptive happened. In the company's latest report [PDF], released today, the iPhone has widened the gap again -- and it's largely due to the Verizon effect. "There's no doubt that Verizon's launch of the iPhone 4, combined with AT&T's response on the discounted 3GS devices, certainly gave iPhones a bit of a lift," says Good's SVP of Corporate Strategy, John Herrema.

"What we were seeing in the 4th quarter was that Android was trending upward and getting close to catching up," he says, "but in the first quarter of 2011 the iPhone has reasserted itself as the leading platform, at least with activations by our customers." The Verizon iPhone launch apparently resulted in the highest rate of activation (16.9 percent) for any new device since Good has been publicly tracking and publishing reports (Q3 2010).

The tablet story is dramatically more one-sided, with the iPad and iPad 2 generating almost all of the tablet activations Good saw in the quarter. iPads represented about 20% of all device activations seen on the system, with Android tablets creeping in and reaching the 1% mark for the first time. "We're seeing the tablet momentum continuing, really driven by iPad and iPad 2," said Herrema. "We're starting to see the first glimmers of Android tablets showing up on the scene. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out in the 2nd quarter, especially as Honeycomb [Android 3.0] shows up on more devices besides the Motorola Xoom."

Overall, iOS devices made up just under 70% of all device activations Good measured during the quarter. As before, Good's visibility into the enterprise is solid but not comprehensive; it cannot measure BlackBerry deployment volumes, nor does it support Windows 7 phones at this time. Nevertheless, as a proxy for deployments of the devices it does support, Good's numbers are (sorry) pretty good.

TUAWGood Technology sees boost in iPhone, iPad activations in Q1 originally appeared on TUAW on Fri, 22 Apr 2011 09:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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22Apr/11Off

Refreshed Mac Pro prototype is rack-friendly Xserve alternative?

Apple is reportedly considering a rack-mountable redesign for the Mac Pro, with one potential prototype already in circulation at the company’s labs. According to 9 to 5 Mac‘s sources, the rackable, stackable Mac Pro is believed to be narrower and shallower than the current model – at just over 5-inches wide and 19-inches deep – with the thinking being that enterprise users could replace the discontinued Xserve with this new model.

According to the sources, the Mac Pro prototype has a new “stacked” drive system with two discs per sled, adding up to greater hard-drive density than before. The exact nature of the sleds is unknown, but Apple is believed to have designed them with both traditional HDDs and new, high-speed SSD storage in mind.

Beyond that it’s all speculation, but Thunderbolt seems an obvious inclusion. 9 to 5 Mac suggests a Blu-ray drive, though whether Apple would reconsider its “bag of hurt” stance remains to be seen. As for whether this particular design will be the model to make it to production, that also is undecided; it’s expected to be only one of several prototypes under consideration.


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