Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Free High Quality Wallpapers

I don't know about you but I'm always on the lookout for new pictures, art and such to use as backgrounds for my desktop Wallpaper. Well here is a new free program which is currently in beta for Windows called Desktoptopia that you should give a try. If you're a Mac person you may already be using have Desktoptopia which has been around for awhile. Also it appears there is no longer a charge for the Mac version. Anyway Desktoptopia is a wallpaper manager that pulls down new artwork from the Desktoptopia site. Once installed you can choose from the following categories (3D, Abstract, Architecture, Films, Games, Graphic Design, Illustration, Photography and Typography) of artwork for Desktoptopia to choose from as it randomly downloads your next wallpaper. Currently there are over 250 different pieces of art to choose from and I have found most of the pieces to be very high quality. The other nice feature is you can rate each piece of art that Desktoptopia loads and you can also reject a piece so that it will not load again if it's something you just don't care for. One feature I would like to see added to Desktoptopia is the ability to load images from a local or networked folder so that you can add your own images. In the absence of allowing you to load images from a local folder Desktoptopia does allow you to submit art which if selected will be added to the public images Desktoptopia downloads for all users.

Monday, May 12, 2008

PC History - great read

The first model of the IBM PC, the personal computer whose successors and clones would fill the world.Image via WikipediaIf you have been around PC's for more than a few years here is a very entertaining review of PC History by Briard that will bring back memories or fill in pieces of the story you may not have heard. It covers not just the IBM PC but also Apple and the fun that led up to the IBM and Apple branches of the PC tree and the growth of those branches through the years. In addition Briard adds a lot of color to PC History with his naming of the characters that were involved.

Also this article is part of a new wiki started by Gizmo Richards who puts out the Support Alert monthly ezine which is one of my must reads every month.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Hack your Canon Digital Camera

Canon PowerShot A60Image via WikipediaThe geek part of me just loves CHDK which allows you to hack your Canon Digital Camera firmware. Also when I read that CHDK is non destructive to your cameras firmware I was really interested, I mean bricking your gadgets really puts a damper on hacking a device. If your thinking ok what will CHDK let me do here is a list of the Canon Digital cameras for which the CHDK firmware add on works and what new tweaks CHDK adds, very impressive. If that wasn't enough there are thousands of scripts to tweak your camera even more with CHDK. I don't know about you but I know a Canon Digital Camera is now on my short list as I try to decide what Digital Camera to buy.

If you know of other Digital Camera brands with firmware add-ons/tweaks similar to CHDK let me know so I can include them in my list of Digital Cameras as I research the overwhelming number of options available these days.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Twitter -> Universal IM client and more

I have been using Twitter on and off for a little over a year. Initially Twitter seemed like an interesting idea but somehow it just didn't seem to stick with me. Well recently I discovered that Twitter allows you to send private messages or Direct messages as they are called in Twitter. Well for me direct messages solve the problem of a mobile IM client for which I've been looking for a solution for several years. So when you consider that Twitter has a text message (i.e. SMS) interface you now have a universal IM client that will work on any phone, no need to worry about the OS on your mobile phone and whether there is a client for your device. If you haven't tried Twitter or you have but where not sure you liked it think about Twitter as more than just a way to tell the world what you are doing. Twitter can be very macro if you have the desire to tell everyone what you are doing or very micro using direct messages and with the SMS, IM and web interfaces it is also very accessible.

Now if I could just find a way to send Twitter direct messages to existing AOL, MSN, Google and Yahoo IM ids then Twitter would be not only a universal IM client but a universal IM hub.

Stay tuned for more on Twitter.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Memristors what amazing potential

If your into physics or electrical circuits you may have already heard of the term memristor. If you have not heard the term before a memristor is a fourth type of passive circuit element to go along with capacitor, resistor and inductor. So you say I've heard of the other circuit element types but not memristor why is that. Well until recently no one had been able to build a memristor even though they had been theorized 37 years ago by Leon Chua. But recently researchers at HP Labs using nanotechnology have solved that problem and have built a working memristor prototype. So now you say what good is a memristor, well as the name implies one use would be memory. But you say current DRAM memory works well already and DRAM is fast what advantage would using a memristor have. Well first memristor based memory needs no power to retain its state, so for example if you hibernate your PC, resuming your PC would be nearly instantaneous like flipping on a light switch. So that sounds good memristors are energy efficient but memristors are also fast possibly many times faster than current DRAM. Then you have size, memristors are small and memristors actually function better the smaller they get. To get an idea of the size of the memristors in the HP prototype the prototype puts 100 Gigabits onto a square centimeter vs. 16 Gigabits for current flash memory technology. In addition HP thinks they can further improve the density of the current prototype to allow 1 Terabit or more to be contained on a sq. cm. in future updates. Next memristors not only operate in digital 0's or 1's they are also analog in nature. So assuming you can get a memristor to store 256 measurable states you now have increased your storage density by 2 to the 8 power. Aside from memory applications another exciting possibility due to the analog nature of memristors may be various neural network applications such as image recognition. So unless memristor technology encounters a fatal manufacturing hurtle I would say the potential for memristors is truly amazing.

If you want to read further about memristors here is a link to my Delicious bookmarks on the subject. I have also found a Google Group called - Memristor Computer Programming

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Atom smasher and micro black holes

Thousands of particles explode from the collision point of two relativistic (100 GeV per ion) gold ions in the STAR detector of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider; an experiment done in order to investigate the properties of a quark gluon plasma such as the one thought to exist in the ultrahot first few microseconds after the big bangImage via WikipediaHere is something to get you thinking, if have any interest in particle physics go to Geeks are Sexy and read about the LHC (Large Hadron Collider (i.e. atom smasher)) which has been built by CERN in Europe. Some scientists are voicing concerns that the LHC could create micro black holes and stranglets. Well I have heard of black holes but not micro black holes so I went to Wikipedia to find out what a micro black hole is. Well micro black holes are as you would expect very small black holes so small that they may not be big enough to affect even one atom. In addition micro black holes may just evaporate or fly off into space at the speed of light. But the LHC is not the only possible source of micro black holes though, cosmic rays are also considered to have sufficient energy to produce micro black holes and I would assume stranglets also. So then I went back to Wikipedia to find out what a stranglet might be and if I understand correctly a stranglet would be a group of strange quark(particles that protons and neutrons are made from)s vs. up and down quarks and if there are enough strange quarks you end up with a quark star. So having a star created in the middle of the LHC sounds like an undesirable result also.

So let's hope that neither the LHC or cosmic rays are able to produce a stable black hole or quark star. But if they do will any of us know it since everything would be sucked into the black hole or annihilated by a quark star or will time move so slowly that we will see it happen in slow motion.

fyi. On a sad note I just read this post that John Wheeler the scientist who coined the term "Black Hole" just passed away at age 96.