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Using the mind to control games and computers shown at Intel Developer Forum 2008

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Aug-2008 04:51

Another interesting demo here at the Intel Developer Forum 2008 is a research into using the mind to interact with computers.

Using a special headset the researcher was able to interact with a game - scaring "spirits" away by making an ugly face, or lifting an obstacle on the bridge:

This "headset" will be available sometime soon we are told.

Wireless Power shown at Intel Developer Forum 2008

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Aug-2008 04:39

I am sitting through Day 3 keynotes and now it's the Research and Development keynote session with Justin Rattner. Lots of pictures to load later, but I wanted to post this one because I think it's the big thing out here: wireless power transmission.

Unlike those "wireless power" gimmicks shown at CES, which require special connectors and devices actually touch the power source, this one transmits power over the air - we are talking about 60 watts power over two feet, at 75% power efficiency.

Based on principles proposed by MIT physicists, Intel researchers have been working on a Wireless Resonant Energy Link (WREL).

WREL promises to deliver wireless power safely and efficiently. The technology relies on strongly coupled resonators. Intel says that with this technology enabled in a laptop, for example, batteries could be recharged when the laptop gets within several feet of the transmit resonator. Many engineering challenges remain, but the company's researchers hope to find a way to cut the last cord in mobile devices and someday enable wireless power in Intel-based platforms.

Here are some pictures:

Intel-powered Yahoo! TV Widgets screenshots

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Aug-2008 08:56

These are some pictures I took from the show floor just after the Yahoo! TV Widgets announcement during the Intel Developer Forum San Francisco 2008:

And below a zoom in the Yahoo! TV Widgets area:

And more pictures of different TV Widgets:

This box is based on the new Intel Media Processor CE 3100, pairing an Intel Pentium M processor core at 800MHz and 256K L2 Cache, with multi-stream high-definition video decoding and processing hardware, including support for MPEG-2, H.264 and VC-1 with HDMI 1.3a output, and featuring advanced 4-field per pixel motion-adaptive de-interlacing and 9-tap, 128-phase, independent horizontal and vertical scalers.

It also adds a 3-channel 800 MHz DDR2 memory controller supporting tiled memory mapping and channel interleaving, dedicated multi-channel dual audio DSPs with support for 7.1 surround sound implementing advanced audio codecs, including support for Blu-ray requirements.

The media processor also features a 2-D/3-D Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 500 supporting multi-threaded dual universal scalable shader architecture for pixel/vertex processing, accelerated BLTs/Alpha BLTs, programmable anti-aliasing and compliance with industry-standard APIs: OpenGL ES 1.1, Open GL ES 2.0 and Open VG 1.0.

Apple iTunes shows how New Zealand ISPs are not providing Internet Service

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Aug-2008 11:01

Apple has released its iTunes Movies service in New Zealand last week, and this has shown us how badly the ISPs are performing.

First we have the problem with "data caps". Most people I know are on 10GB or 20GB plans, which means that they either pay a premium for any excess traffic during the billing period, or have their connection throttled down to dial-up speeds. yes, dial-up speeds!

Take for example this comment from someone with Vodafone:

Going to take me about 3 hrs. Its 2 Gb which will be over my d/l cap for day !! ( Ihug) so Ive stopped for today and continue tomorrow to complete

Two gigabytes a day? Two days to download the movie?

I am using TelstraClear cable-modem service and downloaded a 1 GB movie in 20 minutes. But not even TelstraClear is free of problems as we can see in the same discussion:

... [I] bought groundhog day just to test the waters and the download speed was soooo slow, 3 hours nearly! 

Three hours on a 10 Mbps cable-modem connection?

I hope the launch of Apple iTunes will show ISPs three things:

1. Not every heavy downloaded is a pirate downloading copyright material being illegaly distributed;

2. There's demand for a service with a bigger monthly data allowance, and

3. Their concept of "fast" is off.

MID (Mobile Internet Devices) around the Intel Developer Forum 2008

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Aug-2008 05:48

Even before the official exhibition opens at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco we can see the big them of mobility going around. Below are just a sample of the devices I could see when entering the main event centre hall.

All those devices are based on Intel Atom:

Lenovo Ideapad U8 (above), running Linux, 512 MB RAM, 8 GB SSD

Asus R50A (above), running Microsoft Windows Vista, 1 GB RAM, 32 GB SSD

Clarion MiND (above), running Linux, 512 MB RAM, 8 GB SSD

Aigo P8880 (above), running Linux, 512 MB RAM, 4 GB SSD

USI MID-150 (above), running Linux, 512 MB, 8 GB SSD

Below you see a video with Ultra Mobility Group Uday Keshavdas showing three Intel Atom-powered devices that will be on hand this week at IDF San Francisco, including the special Oylmpic edition Lenovo ideapad.

Intel Developer Forum San Francisco 2008 Day 1

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Aug-2008 05:14

This week I am attending the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. The activities started yesterday with a "Day 0" series of keynotes for media and bloggers. This was followed by an exclusive Asia Pacific dinner where our group had the opportunity to meet some Intel execs and talk about their respective areas. In our table (four Australian journalists and myself) we had the pleasure of having Steve Smith (Director intel Digital Enterprise) and John Skinner (Director, Eco Technology and one of the Intel guys at the Climate Savers initiative) in our table.

A valuable talk, mostly about computer power usage at home and enterprise. The main thing we took away is how small changes in computer manufacturing (a more efficient PSU for example) or just using appropriate Power Settings on your PC can make a big difference in your power bill - and the environment.

According to Skinner there is a reason for all those free power configuration applications going around - mostly because users are affraid of going into Control Panel and deal with cryptic configurations to get the best configuration for their needs. Those applications provide easy management and encourage people to act on that.

IDF Day 1 is in progress now. The official vision is "[IDF] brings together top Intel technical experts, Intel Fellows, industry thought leaders and leading technology companies. A strong slate of Intel keynotes is one source for insights and inspiration."

The first keynote was delivered by Craig Barrett, Intel chairman. “Technology is a tool to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges related to health care, education, economic development and the environment,” said Barrett, who also chairs a United Nations initiative on technology in the developing world. “No nations or individuals are untouched by these issues. Get involved. Be part of the solution.”
Barrett announced that Intel will award four $100,000 prizes to the most innovative ideas for applying technology to meet unmet needs related to education, health care, economic development and the environment. Ideas will be evaluated primarily for sustainability and innovativeness of the solution. More details on the INSPIRE•EMPOWER Challenge are available at

I am really interested on Day 2, which will be all about Mobile Internet devices (pictured below). Day 3 is about "crossing the chasm between Humans and Machines" and we will see Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak on stage.

There's also an exhibition with more than 180 companies from around the world where atendees will have hands-on demonstrations of their newest innovations and future technologies - no access for us until the end of Day 1, and other attendees will get to see this on Day 2.

For developers IDF is offering more than 170 hours of technical training. All technical sessions are led by Intel and industry experts. New this year is an Industry Insights Panel themed "Using Information Technology to Meet 21st Century Challenges and Opportunities." Two Technology Insights, both presented by Intel Fellows, will cover "Next Generation Intel Core Microarchitecture Family of Processors: Screaming Performance, Efficient Power" and "Splitting the Atom: A Peek into the Intel Atom Processor."

Google Street View car in Wellington

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Aug-2008 12:44

I was told today the Google Street View car is going around Wellington. here are some pictures, taken on the move, showing the camera on top of the car, and a couple of side shots showing the Google logo:

Thanks to Evan for sending in the pictures!

Xero is going international

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Aug-2008 20:02

Wellington-based Xero is going international, according to a release in the NZSX and a blog post. Xero is a listed company in the NZX and this is from the official announcement:

Xero wishes to advise that by early 2009 it will release a global version of its award-winning online accounting software.

Xero is choosing to disclose this part of its strategy now in order to openly respond to growing international sales enquiries.

Earlier this week Xero was named as one of the world's Top Ten Best Application User Interfaces of 2008 by Nielsen Norman Group, the US-based analysts and experts in software design.

'King of usability' and award judge Jakob Nielsen commented about Xero: "Making accounting fun? That's an award-winning design."

The award has led to a surge in interest from small businesses internationally asking when Xero will be available in countries outside its initial target markets of New Zealand, the UK and Australia.

Xero is a web-based accounting software-as-a-service platform. Sounds boring, but they managed to create an easy to use, good looking software that works for the company owner and for the accountant.

Microsoft lost the plot on Media Center...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Aug-2008 15:20

We waited so long for Microsoft Fiji, er, TV Pack - to find out it may only be released to OEM and don't event have the HD h.264 support.

Then a few months ago I posted here how the Apple iTunes movie store would kill the media center - when it was released to UK, France and Canada.

And now Apple has announced the Apple iTunes movies for Australia and New Zealand.

Yes, for the first time I am downloading iTunes as we speak. I am going to install in our media center in the lounge.

The iTunes Store in Australia and New Zealand feature over 700 films for rent or purchase, with new release titles available for purchase on the same day as their DVD release, including favorites such as “National Treasure 2,” “Jumper,” “27 Dresses,” “Cloverfield,” “Vantage Point” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.”

iTunes movies in New Zealand start at NZ$9.99 for catalog title purchases, NZ$17.99 for recent releases and NZ$24.99 for new releases. iTunes Movie Rentals are NZ$4.99 for library title rentals and NZ$6.99 for new releases, and high definition versions are priced at just one dollar more. Movie rentals can be previewed, purchased and watched on iPod classic, iPod nano with video, iPod touch, iPhone and on a widescreen TV with Apple TV.

Enough said. Microsoft lost the battle in the consumer entertainment media space.

Now we just need those New Zealand ISPs to stop selling plans with 10 GB cap and offer real stuff - let's start with 200 GB?

Attending the Intel Developer Forum (with video)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Aug-2008 10:31

I was invited by Intel to attend the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, 19th - 21st August 2008. I also received a list of sessions and people available for meetings and round tables - I am looking forward to meeting Anand Chandrasekher (below), Intel Ultra Mobility Group Senior Vice President, in a round table.
Other topics of interest are of course the technology showcase, anything about mobile computing, and the keynotes - Steve Wozniak will be the guest speaker on the 21st August.

freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
New Zealand

I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I'm the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums. Also worth visiting is TravelTalk NZ, a community for travelers!

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