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-> What kind of present did you buy to your family or yourself fover the Holiday Season?

High Tech stufff, bought on the internet: too cold/lazy/crowdy to go outside!
High Tech stuff, but bought directly in the shop: I was too late to order...
More traditional stuff because my family is not that nerdy, but ordered on the internet because damn I am a nerd!
More traditional stuff, and in shops... I am a nerd but I am late... And Damn all those crowds!
I don't buy presents. I don't have family nor friends. I am the only one here who can really pretend to be a Nerd...

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Issue 172

released on : 12 July, 2003

zzz news

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PhoneSecure

On 12 January, 2005, by se99jmk

I'm not generally an insecure person. I'm perfectly happy with carrying in excess of ?1000 in electronics on my person... well, maybe I should get some protection after all, and I've found it, in the form of PhoneSecure.

Click here to read more...

Phraselator

On 12 January, 2005, by se99jmk

One step closer to the babelfish from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

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Epson fabricates 20-layer PCB using InkJet tec

On 05 November, 2004, by Dreadnought

Epson has fabricated a 200micron thick 20 layer using their own InkJet technology with a conductive ink containing silver micro-particles measuring from several nanometers to several tens of nanometers in diameter, and a newly developed insulator ink.

Click here to read more...

PetaPixel displays, 100TB storage and more...

On 05 November, 2004, by Dreadnought

Colossal Storage is developing 14M dpi or 200Tpixels per square inch of near-non-volatile display. It is based on a ferroelectric material which gives each pixel a state retension of up to 12 hours. Display resolutions of up to 4Petapixel will be possible with this technology.
Colossal Storage is also developing a holographic media which can store 10TB on a single 3?" disc. The theory behind it can go up to 1.5Exabytes (1.5x10^1.
They are currently looking for companies who are interresting in licensing the products.

Click here to read more...

Helicon Double Layer Thruster Ion Drive

article written by : arhines

released on : 12 July, 2003

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Is the end of manned spaceflight nigh? Things seem pretty down at NASA these days, but I remain optimistic because I think spaceflight is on the verge of several breakthroughs. First off we have X-Prize, the much spark I think will relight the flame of excitement attached to manned spaceflight during the 60?s. The fact that there are people willing to try to achieve orbit in glorified tin cans is testament to that.

Second, we now have decades of materials and electronics research ready to be implemented in new spacecraft. Third, we have what has been keeping elaborate satellites from becoming elaborate solar system explorers: new propulsion technology.

There is one fundamental thing people are starting to realize: that standard chemical propulsion is inefficient and a waste of expensive Atlas V rocket lifting power. Most high level NASA officials now agree that nuclear propulsion is a necessary evolutionary step in spaceflight, and as soon as people get over the bad image of any and everything radioactive, we may start to see it used. We?ve covered nuclear propulsion before so I won?t delve into that, but what we haven?t covered is a very cool new technology which sounds like it is straight out of Star Trek.

Wish my car had blue exhaust...maybe I should put an LED fan in the tailpipe? :)
Wish my car had blue exhaust...maybe I should put an LED fan in the tailpipe? :)



A new ion drive developed by researchers in Canberra Australia will dramatically improve the efficiency of propulsion in space. The Helicon Double Layer Thruster (HDLT) uses magnetic and electric fields to shape, constrain, and excite the propellant, giving it an extremely high exit velocity. A gas, most likely xenon, is pumped at very low (essentially a vacuum compared to our atmosphere) pressure into a sort of ?combustion? chamber. What happens next is certainly not combustion, but the effect is the same so the analogy works. A strong electric field is sent through the chamber, which is sealed at one end, and ?open? at the other. I say ?open? because it is very tightly constricted because of magnetic fields created by a ring of solenoids forming a magnetic nozzle. The electric field excites the gas to almost complete ionization, at which point it is no longer a gas, but plasma. The plasma then rushes through the magnetic nozzle at a very high velocity, creating thrust with remarkable propellant efficiency. This is the part where I imagine Geordi LaForge saying something about plasma coolant or power conduits.

Solenoids form a magnetic nozzle.
Solenoids form a magnetic nozzle.



You may have been expecting some incredible force to be created by this ion drive, but alas I must disappoint you with the observation that ion drives, no matter how efficient, are pretty much limited to slow-and-steady acceleration. The thrust created is incredibly efficient, but in this case it is only equivalent to the weight of a piece of paper lying on the palm of your hand. This seems small almost to the point of insignificance, but I assure you in long range space travel it pays off bigtime. To give you some idea of the efficiency I?m talking about, a 50 liter charge of xenon should last for about 20 years. If used only to keep satellites in orbit, HDLT will still save about half a ton in launch weight, somewhere in the millions of dollars per satellite range. There is also very little chance of mechanical failure during the long lifetime of ion drive engines, as they have no moving parts at all ? only solenoids and a radio antenna. An added bonus for use in human carrying vessels is that waste (I?ll let you define that for yourself) can be used as a propellant. Speaking of which ? did people on Star Trek ever use the bathroom, or did they just use transporters to aid their bodily functions? Seriously if you know, email me?I?m curious.

- Arhines

More Wearable Tech, LAN Chair Woes, and God Gets High Tech

article written by : killdashnine

released on : 12 July, 2003

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Ahhhh, paranoia. There's nothing like a healthy dose of the crazies to make the Dow sink to record lows and make your friends and neighbors wipe clean the shelves of Wal-Mart of Duct Tape and plastic sheeting. But seriously though, where are all those multi-billions of dollars for new Homeland Security measures being invested? One would think we'd get some pretty nice tech out of the deal. Maybe it's going to something like this:


The e-Sleeve

We've talked about augmented reality and strange input devices here at ZZZ before, but this is sweet. Per the researchers, the e-Sleeve is "a wearable wrist computer with position and heading sensors combined with a user interface employing speech recognition and a small display." Hmmm ... is that all?

The e-Sleeve ... my, I have to get one of these babies to impress the guys at work! ... Not!
The e-Sleeve ... my, I have to get one of these babies to impress the guys at work! ... Not!



Some folks would lead you to believe that it's really a first draft of a "Homeland Security Bracelet" that will track our every move and every conversation ... all in the name of fun (I hope )

Seriously though, the Bristol Wearable Computing website has an array of interesting devices for the busy professional like the BlazerJet and the CyberJacket. Imagine, a Card-based PC, GPS, and a GSM phone too. All the possibilities ...

Uhh, where's the next pub? I can see problems with this already after a few too many pints!
Uhh, where's the next pub? I can see problems with this already after a few too many pints!



Speaking of useful wearable devices ... In the US at least, paranoia has turned to outright cynicism ... In this case as evidenced by the "Homeland Security Choker Set":

Also could be used for your non-verbal significant other's mood meter
Also could be used for your non-verbal significant other's mood meter



LAN Chair Woes

Something that's always bothered me is the uncomfortable nature of traditional LAN Party seating. These days, many people bring their favorite ergonomic office chair to LANs, but of course those guys often have a truck in which it will fit nicely. Damn geeks! ("This is the Pot ... the kettle is black!")

At my last LAN, I found myself using an nice camping chair. The problem? No seat height adjustment!!! Actually, this is always the problem at any LAN. Crappy steel chairs with no padding ... or worse, plastic pieces of junk!

Yup, it happens. Let's donate to the Australian LANners with bad chairs fund!
Yup, it happens. Let's donate to the Australian LANners with bad chairs fund!



So I got to wondering ... Are there any chair manufacturers are out there who specialize in providing good office-grade chair solutions for the traveller (read: LAN Party fool).

The result? After a search for some five hours, the closest thing I found was the Camo Chair!!!

Huntin', fishin', and LAN Partyin' ... uhh, something seems wrong here
Huntin', fishin', and LAN Partyin' ... uhh, something seems wrong here



Apparently, there just isn't a real market for collapsable office chairs. No, I don't want to sit on a "game crate" and I don't want to be vibrated off my mark whilst playing Battlefield 1942: Desert Combat by something like The Intensor:

Lay down and LAN? Not if you want someone to trip over you in the dimly lit room!  I'm also a little disturbed about the positioning of the central subwoofer ...
Lay down and LAN? Not if you want someone to trip over you in the dimly lit room! I'm also a little disturbed about the positioning of the central subwoofer ...



There are others too, like the Pyramat, the Monsta System, and the Battlechair, but all I really want is a simple, comfortable chair with height adjustment that can pack into a bag for easy transit.

I guess, however, if you can't get something simply, you may as well p1mp out your chair with a "6" woofers with aluminum cones, ported boxes to help eliminate thumping! and a fully adjustable 120 watt subwoofer amp. Oh for the love of god!!!

Overclock your chair? I don't want to find out what happens spontaneously when I get blasted by an AC-130 in Desert Combat!
Overclock your chair? I don't want to find out what happens spontaneously when I get blasted by an AC-130 in Desert Combat!



The Inflatable Church ...

Speaking of God, one begins to wonder about the foundations of the Church when it becomes plastic (literally). I laughed at first at the Inflatable Church, but it's legit.

Oh My God ... oops, sorry!
Oh My God ... oops, sorry!



You have to give credit to the company who manufactures these miracles of the plastics industry. The attention to detail is exquisite as it comes "complete with plastic 'stained glass' windows and airbrush artwork which replicates the traditional church. Inside it has an inflatable organ, altar, pulpit, pews, candles and a gold cross. Even the doors are flanked by air-filled angels. The church can be built in three hours and dis-assembled in less than two."

Soon to be followed by the "Inflatable Pub" and "Inflatable Nightclub", you take your "Inflatable Date" in confidence for an evening on the down and revel in decadance only to repent the day after at the "Inflatable Church". You'll need to have an e-Sleeve to keep track of where to go! With regards to the Inflatable Pub, I would imagine that a cheerful round of darts would be out of the question anymore.

Personally, I think it'd be much easier to enjoy the beverage of my choice in my favorite (permanent) drinking establishment and make up for it the day after by attending church online.

- Killdashnine

Wireless Printer Cables and Servers

article written by : arhines

released on : 12 July, 2003

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Thank god for upgrades. With all the assorted computers, peripherals, and other gadgets I have lying around, I could never afford to upgrade everything at once and continue to purchase such essentials as food and cactuses. Ok, so maybe I could deal without spiny plants, but there?s no way I could abandon food?unless I was a 64 year old mechanical engineer from India? Anyways, while I?m still living in Seattle far from the requisite age of senior citizenship, I have to upgrade my ?stuff? incrementally. This means that with my new LCD I still keep my old case, with my motherboard in it, connected to my old HP Deskjet. It?s at times like these when I thank the legacy gods for making the parallel port stick around for a few years (and legacy gods ? if you?re listening ? get rid of floppy drives already). But then I was thinking. Parallel ports are sure to go sometime, and if it would clear up some real estate on motherboards for more USB ports or what have you I?d be all for it, as long as there can still be a way to use my old school printer. Luckily there is, and it doesn?t involve cramming a ten year old ISA parallel and serial port card into my clean, shiny, dust free case.




The BlueTake BT200 Printer Adapter is a small device which allows you to put your printer on a Bluetooth network, enabling it to be accessed by any Bluetooth device without the inconvenience of using a parallel cable. I know people don?t often think about printing from their PDAs, but with the BT200 it would be easy as pie. Most new PDAs come with Bluetooth built in anyways, so all you need in addition to the BT200 is software. BlueTake has been kind enough to include a CD with (a trial version of) PrintPocketCE, software which facilitates the printing of all kinds of documents over a wireless network from any Windows CE device.

One would hope that the high bandwidth Bluetooth connection would also assist with print spooling speed ? freeing up your computer quickly after the data is sent to the printer. But unfortunately the device is still bottlenecked by the parallel interface after the data leaves the BT200, so transmission is limited to just 115kbps. The BT200 does have a 32k buffer though, so any data transmission problems are not likely to stall the printer. A range of 10m provided by the protocol leaves plenty of space for you to ?roam? and still print easily.

One annoying problem is that the device requires an AC adaptor to supply its input of 6v. For such a nice compact device one would hope that it could be powered through the port to eliminate clutter, but I guess there isn?t much BlueTake can do about changing legacy standards. I should note that POE (power over Ethernet) is catching on, so we may be seeing more and more socket-conserving devices like the LAN-powered electric razor. The bottom line with the BT200 is that if you?ve got Bluetooth-enabled devices you want to print from, this may be your best (and in some cases, only) option. However, there is yet another alternative for people wanting the same functionality without Bluetooth. 802.11x networks are probably much more common than the somewhat more obscure standard supported by the BT200, so it makes sense that D-Link has an 802.11 based print server.




Wireless routers have provided print server options for some time now, but D-Link has taken the extra step of making one dedicated to that task. The server, called DP-311P, runs on 802.11b, and should have considerably better range and compatibility than its Bluetoothed competition. Both devices have just been released, so street prices will take some time to surface.

- Arhines

Programmable High Altitude Single Soldier Transport

article written by : arhines

released on : 12 July, 2003

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arhines's rating : *****

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Seen any good movies lately? I rarely go to theatres myself (and no, for those of you who must make assumptions about heavy broadband users such as myself, that doesn?t mean I watch all the latest releases in grainy handicam-capped video snagged from kazaa or IRC), for two main reasons: A) Movies are ridiculously expensive. It?s now up to 8.50 for an ad-crammed hour-and-a-half of watching. And B) I usually get to see all the good parts in previews, for free, on TV. There are of course a few exceptions to these rules - namely the Lord of the Rings series - but usually the cons outweigh the pros. For example, I just saw a trailer for the new Tomb Raider movie. In it, we see Angelina Jolie running around with her miraculously lightweight Super-P8, shooting at everything, running away from nobody in particular, and staring at a glowing magical Egyptian relic. None of these things really grab my attention, as tends to be the case with homogenous action flicks. But then I saw ? albeit for only a split second ? a tiny segment that screamed ZZZ.




Yes! The Birdman suit I wrote about way back in Issue 151. Hmm, come to think of it? maybe ZZZ screamed ?Tomb Raider movie?. I guess that?s like the chicken or the egg argument though. I?ll just go with my gut instinct and say that 95% of Hollywood scriptwriters read ZZZ and largely base their writing off of it.

Ahem, well then.

It didn?t take me long to remember an e-mail Peter Geoffrey sent me a long while back, which I had nearly forgotten about. A small company called Kinetic Aerospace has been working for some time on a new type of aircraft which has gotten a lot of attention recently from Hollywood.




PHASST (Programmable High Altitude Single Soldier Transport), which you might recognize from the latest James Bond movie, is a pretty innovative delivery system for people wanting to do more than just jump out of perfectly good airplanes. The basic concept is a cross between skydiving and gliding... perhaps sklyding would be a good word for it. PHASST fits into a cargo/jump plane with its wings fully swept so that the wingspan is a mere 5 ? feet. Once airborne, the pilot can steer the glider with the help of an airbrake on each wing. The wings can also be unfolded slightly to achieve a wingspan of 8 feet for slow, more controlled descents.

The result is a mini glider with a very small radar footprint and a glide ratio acceptable for getting skydivers/paratroops accurately to the place they need to be.

Wings swept for exiting the jump plane
Wings swept for exiting the jump plane



An interesting feature currently in the testing phase is a GPS-controlled autopilot. Such a system could provide even better accuracy with insertions (particularly at night or those involving large groups), and the pilot could spend most of the flight time rechecking his parachute or what have you. Yes, he still has to wear one ? PHASST isn?t meant to land like a conventional airplane or glider does. Although the wings do provide some horizontal motion, the vertical speed of a little glider with a maximum of 8 feet of wingspan is simply too much to even think about landing safely.

The glider has its own chute, but the pilot still has to separate and use his own. In test runs pilots have found that while low speed (~100mph) separations are easy as pie, faster descents can make it difficult for the pilot to actually get off the glider. The controls are very sensitive, and the wind ?wrapping? around the top of the glider makes it very hard to disembark without risking putting yourself and the aircraft into a dangerous spin. I wouldn?t want to get conked on the head by an airbrake at 200+mph.

Wings unswept for a slower, more controlled descent.
Wings unswept for a slower, more controlled descent.



I thought it was strange I hadn?t seen anything about PHASST sooner. Then I noticed a little note on Kinetic?s website:

Yes, those are PHASST gliders carting superspies James Bond and Jinx Johnson (played by Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry, respectively) into the face of peril. They're the reason Kinetic Aerospace Inc. pulled the PHASST test flight photos off the company's www.kineticaerospace.com web site for a year.



Darn NDAs. Anyways, I can?t imagine why a big production company would be so concerned with information about a vehicle in one of their films getting out?but maybe they just didn?t want to give away free publicity like that. I?m sure Aston Martin pays them a bundle to use their car, and would be a little upset if a tiny skydiving company got just as much publicity for free. Well, having bashed the film industry, I actually have to strongly recommend seeing 28 Days Later. It?s surprisingly good scifi, given the fact that most scifi flicks these days are heavily Hollywoodized. Wait ?til it comes out on DVD though.

- Arhines

Issue Image!


What do you guys think about this to replace the current design? That's just the top, and the banner has to be there somewhere, so what would you change other than that?