Leaked from today's 404 Podcast EpisodeWolfram Alpha Travel Assistant app answers the question, " Where's that plane going?" Who knew Rotten Tomatoes is owned by Warner Brothers? Canada unveils new plastic $100 bills with high-tech security features: changing colors, hidden text, and backward numbers. Tomorrow the world will join Singapore to celebrate the 10th annual World Toilet Day, as decreed by the World Toilet Organization (WTO), the World Toilet Summit, and the World Toilet College.… Read more
Have you ever wanted to know where the planes flying overhead were going? If so, you finally have a way to find out.
If you head over to Wolfram Alpha right now and input "flights overhead" into the search box, the site will return all the planes that are currently over your position, their altitude, angle, and slant distance. The site even displays a Sky map to show where planes are in relation to the position of the sun and moon.
But if you want more usable data, like where the planes took off from and where they'… Read more
There's good sound, and there's high-end sound; the difference is in the details. Case in point: the little Cruise USB digital-to-analog headphone amplifier from Alpha Design Labs by Furutech.
The Cruise sounds clear, clean and remarkably transparent. Regarding the details, connectivity comes in two flavors, there's a 3.5 mm analog stereo line input and 24/96 USB digital input. The Cruise can run off its external AC power supply, internal rechargeable lithium ion battery, or USB power from your computer. Furutech claims the battery is good for 80 hours of playback time.
High-end gear has to look the part, and again the Cruise scores. It may be a little thing, but it feels solid. Mirror-polished, nonmagnetic stainless-steel end caps flank a curvy, high-gloss carbon fiber body. Resting on my desktop the Cruise absolutely looks the part; it's the real deal. … Read more
Incessant flooding in Thailand is affecting many people, as well as another area of consumer electronics in addition to hard drives: Sony's upcoming high-end NEX-7 and A65 cameras, as well as some lens kits.
Sony's manufacturing plant in Ayutthaya has stopped production after torrents of water damaged the facility, the company said in a statement. The situation is so bad that the company is shifting production to another Sony factory southwest of Ayutthaya in the Chonburi province. Crave Asia visited the Ayutthaya facility last year and shot several pictures. … Read more
For companies that would take on Google's near-monopoly in the search business, being big is a challenge. There is, in fact, only one truly big Google rival left: Microsoft's Bing. And while it's a worthy opponent in terms of features and raw ingenuity, it's still a hugely pricey, money-losing venture.
Being a smaller, more specialized Google competitor, however, can work. And good things happened for two of my favorites this week.
Favorite #1 is DuckDuckGo. Despite the wacky name, it's a traditional search engine. In fact, part of its appeal is that it feels … Read more
Meet AlphaDog--it's BigDog on steroids.
This is our first glimpse of the brother of Boston Dynamics' robotic beast of burden, BigDog.
The vid below shows a lab prototype of the quadruped war robot, aka the Legged Squad Support System, or LS3, funded by DARPA and the Marine Corps.
The donkey-sized machine is designed to carry up to 400 pounds of gear and follow troops over rough terrain on missions of 20 miles and up to 24 hours.
That's more than BigDog's payload of 340 pounds and 12 miles; as a general rule, horses can comfortably carry up to 240 pounds. AlphaDog will have some degree of autonomy like animals, using computer vision to follow a leader or automatically trotting to GPS way points. … Read more
We joke about the worst-kept product secrets on the Web, but Sony's late-summer camera and camcorder announcements have to be some sort of record. Finally made public today, specs and photos of its higher-end updates to the Alpha line have been floating around for a while--the semi-pro SLT-A77V was even prematurely nominated for an award. So while chances are you're already familiar with the new models--the SLT-A77V, SLT-A65V, NEX-7, NEX-5N, and NEX-VG20 camcorder--read on for my take and more details.
To be fair, there really is a boatload of interesting, potentially game-changing, stuff here, with lenses and accessories in addition to the cameras.
Starting at the top, the SLT-A77V is the long-awaited successor to the DSLR-A700, though the former uses Sony's fixed translucent-mirror technology and the latter is a conventional dSLR. The A77V incorporates Sony's newest sensor, a 24-megapixel version of its Exmor HD series, along with a new 19-point autofocus system, OLED electronic viewfinder, and 1080/60p video recording in a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body. Priced at $1,400 for the body only or $2,000 with the new 16-50mm f2.8 SSM Zeiss lens, the A77V comes in a at an odd price relative to potential competitors from Canon, Nikon, and Panasonic. Sony will offer a new vertical grip for it, the VG-C77AM (October, $299.99).
Into the unenviable slot that competes directly against the Canon EOS Rebel T3i, Nikon D5100, and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2, Sony launches the SLT-A65V. The A65V sits in the SLT product line between the older A55V and the A77V, and incorporates aspects of both: the newer 24-megapixel sensor, EVF, drive mode, and video codec from the higher-end model with the older 15-point AF system, and similar body design from the A55V. Both of the new models have built-in GPS for geotagging as well.
The two SLT models have very aggressive continuous-shooting specs for their respective classes, and as long as Sony doesn't run into heat problems with video shooting on the new sensor, they sound quite nice (although, as far as I understand, there's no official way to crop into a 1080 window on the sensor while shooting video). But I'm not thrilled about the jump to 24 megapixels, though I'm sure we'll see a Nikon using some variant of that sensor next year.Related link More on the SLT-A65V and SLT-A77V… Read more
Editor's note 10/6/2011: Sony has delayed shipment of the A65 until mid-November.
Though not as sleek as the NEX models announced at the same time, Sony's translucent mirror, dSLR-style cameras are more-mainstream workhorses. And with the Alpha SLT-A77V, it's the first time that Sony's trotted a real weather-and-dust-sealed model onto the field; plus, it's packed full of new technology that ostensibly make it faster and better than ever. But despite comparisons with models like the Canon EOS 7D, Sony reps were very emphatic that this is an enthusiast-targeted model, not pro. Whether that's because it's got as-yet unknown limitations or because Sony's planning to release a subsequent even higher-end model, I don't know.Related link Sony redefines its Alpha lines
The design (and price) certainly seems pro oriented, with a top informational display and 150,000-cycle shutter rating. And the camera pretty much includes a new everything: autofocus system, OLED viewfinder, AVCHD 2.0 progressive video capture with full-time AF, 24-plus-megapixel sensor, and articulated LCD. Plus it's got a built-in GPS, which is absent from competing models. Sony also claims class-leading performance, in part because of what Sony refers to as a "electronic first curtain" release. (In essence, since the camera has to keep the shutter open in order for you to view the image through the viewfinder, it would normally have to close the shutter before it could initiate exposure. Instead, it simulates a shutter close via the sensor, which of course is faster. It will be interesting to see if this introduces any artifacts during, say, panning.)… Read more
Most die-hard camera gearheads have been following the progress of Sony's Alpha NEX-7, hoping that it will offer all the bells and whistles they want in the "right" size. That means big enough to accommodate a large sensor, EVF, great lens, and full manual controls, but still be small enough to fit in a pocket. I'm glad I don't have to build that camera, because science has yet to develop such TARDIS-like technology.Related link Read all of Sony's Alpha announcements
Still, it seems as if Sony is attempting to try with the NEX-7. It's got an innovative two-dial system that takes the predominantly screen-based NEX operation and moves a chunk of it back to the hardware controls, where enthusiasts want it. For this class of camera, the NEX-7 has almost everything: built-in flash, OLED EVF, large sensor (unfortunately packed tightly with pixels), tilting LCD, and relatively serious video features. … Read more