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Friday, February 22, 2008

Proteins Could Beef Up Computer Memory - Yahoo! News

 

Lamont Wood
Special to LiveScience
SPACE.com 1 hour, 43 minutes ago

Proteins play a big role in the functioning of your brain, but some recent research indicates that, in a few years, proteins could also play a big role in the functioning of your computer.

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Tetsuro Majima at Osaka University in Japan has now shown that proteins can be used to store computer data - and exceed the capacities of today's magnetic and optical media, which are pushing their performance boundaries. The resulting data should be stable enough for a commercial product, which he hopes to see emerge in the next five years, he told LiveScience.

Protein-based memory devices should be immune to magnetic interference, which can wreck data on a hard drive.

To demonstrate the storage approach, the researchers used a special fluorescent protein to etch patterns on a glass slide. Using combinations of light and chemicals, they were able to read the patterns as computer data and erase them at will, mimicking the functions of a computer's memory.

The protein patterns can be fixed in about one minute, Majima said, and then can be read at standard computer speeds. The protein (derived from bacteria) is stable, but for long-term storage is best kept below 4 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit.)

The results are detailed in the latest edition of Langmuir, a scientific journal of the American Chemical Society covering films, gels, bio-electric-chemistry and related phenomena.

In addition to conventional memory storage devices, Majima and his colleagues hinted that the proteins could also be used for improved biosensors and automated medical tests.

Proteins Could Beef Up Computer Memory - Yahoo! News


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Organic computers, CPU's that grow and adapt.... :-)

 

EDIT: after writing this looky what I found on CNET:

IBM experimenting with DNA to build chips

http://www.news.com/IBM-experimenting-with-DNA-to-build-chips/2100-1008_3-6231183.html?part=rss&tag=2547-1_3-0-20&subj=news

My original POST:

I thought I would blabber a bit... This is for the people who like to ask
questions.. and have a curious mind... :-)

Moore claimed recently that CPU power will reach a barrier in 10-15 years.
Many of you may be aware of "Moore's law" that he had stated that every 24
months the power of CPU's (the amount of calculations they would be able to
do) would double.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore's_law
This barrier Moore says now, would be true if we continue our path in this
direction of technology, which are microchips.
The problems arise are clearly about physics. Transistors are in fact made
of matter, thus atoms,
and through them passes the electric signal that is electromagnetic energy
with the speed of C (light speed). Pushing these chips to go faster produces
more heat, thus we have reached a speed limit of modern CPU at around 5 GHz
and even that is with super cooling.
Many talk about molecular computers or even quantum computers, that seem
very interesting...
But there is another way, the way nature works. If one studies the brain you
will see that it gets its processing power out of slow components (nerve
cells) that however have many connections with each other. Each neuron has
thousands of connections (called dendrites) with others, and all these
together form a "web" or vast cluster.
The number of "possible" connections of these neurons, in each human brain
is more than all the atoms of all the matter in the whole universe. This is
of course the number of POSSIBLE connections and not the true number of
connections in any given time. This is because the brain is not static,
rather it has "brain plasticity" the ability to adapt and learn and change
in real time.
It is my opinion that the new era of computers must follow the structure of
the brain if they want to achieve more processing power. And indeed piece of
the human brain the size of a dime, has more processing power than all the
computers in the world put together.
You may ask if so much power is in one brain why are some people so
stupid?..I believe differently. Each person has infinite POTENTIAL. The
reason why this is not unleashed is a different matter. Why? The answer to
this is not simple and I wont get into that now.. because we are talking
about computers here not humans.
There is another problem here though... what software would be able to
handle this new hardware even if we had it? It will not be a digital
computer.. rather it would be a combination of digital and analog
computer... and this is so new that its hard for people to write code that
would be able to put these neuron nets into function.
There is good news. Single chip CPU are things of the past now. We have 4
core CPU now, and Intel has predicted that in 5 years we will have more than
200 cpu per chip.
The OS's and programs are NOT built to handle multi CPU very well. In fact
Vista stinks at it big time. Linux is far better .. MS knows this and is
working on this problem because its in our near future.
So the next generation of programs and OS will be able to handle multi core
CPU better, and that's much like having many nerve cells as cluster in a
small electronic brain. Its a start.
A new generation of robotic scientists now claim that we will have robots
and AI (artificial intelligent computers) that will be comparable to humans
in only 20 years.
I think this is obtainable. Computing power will be infinite very soon....
but it will need some out of the box thinking.
What would this new type of computers be like?
There is a way... for infinity in everything. Infinite bandwidth, processing
power, memory storage, and energy. I believe that it is within the abilty
for humans to reach infinity.
Are you flexible enough to imagine how this would be possible? I know it is
possible.. I'm just fathoming its ramifications.


ITworld.com - Why Windows XP should be available until Windows 7

 

Don Reisinger, ITworld.com

As the world's most prominent operating system, Windows has dominated the tech industry for well over a decade and its competitors - Mac OS X and Linux - have failed to gain the kind of penetration Microsoft has.

But ever since the days of Windows 98, we have been forced to deal with a slew of Windows issues that have plagued individuals and companies alike. Instead of being the highly intuitive operating system Mac OS X is, Windows became bloated and difficult to use. Instead of offering sound functionality and customizability like Linux, Windows became quite the opposite.

To make matters worse, malicious hackers and spammers started developing a slew of attacks that proved deadly to Windows systems. Responding too late, Microsoft has allowed the security issue to become such a concern that some have migrated to other operating systems. And who can blame them? With Microsoft doing very little to protect them, the decision seemed quite simple.

But for all of its issues, Windows XP was still a relatively reliable operating system after Service Pack 2 was released. Once installed, SP2 offered the kind of functionality and security that we had hoped for and although there were still security concerns, the operating system worked much better than any of its predecessors and finally made sense for businesses and individuals alike.

And just when XP was at its height, Microsoft decided to drop Windows Vista on us, claiming "The wow was now." Sadly, the company failed to realize that the only "wow" coming out of most people's mouths was followed by something like, "what a crappy operating system."

In essence, Vista is nothing more than a pretty OS that loses any sense of reliability and reignites that uneasy feeling I got when using XP SP1. Of course, Microsoft doesn't agree.

According to the company, Vista was designed with security, good looks and functionality in mind. Instead of being an XP clone, Vista has the fine looks of Mac OS X and the usefulness we had come to expect from its predecessor. Sadly, the marketing team must have missed the memo because I haven't experienced anything of the sort.

Let's face it - Windows Vista is junk in almost every sense of the word. Sure, it's better looking than XP and I like the Windows Aero interface, but what really matters is how well the operating system performs at the tasks we ask of it. And so far, it has failed miserably.

How many times have you used Vista only to find out that it's basically the same bloated operating system with awkward warnings and crazy dialog boxes? Vista is easily the most annoying operating system I have ever used.

Just last week, I tried to install a Microsoft software package. After going through all the rigmarole of validating my copy and making sure Microsoft knows what I'm doing is legit, the operating system's new User Access Control, which was ostensibly installed to safe guard me, asked me five times if I wanted to install the program and if I had initiated the process.

Once I got through that annoyance, I sat there and waited for the program to install and watched as my brand-new operating system on a high-end PC slowed to a crawl trying to perform a simple task. Of course, that issue isn't just found during installation; the restart times are ridiculous and the chances of getting something done in a reasonable amount of time are all but lost. Simply put, Vista is brutally slow.

And yet, none of these issues are experienced in XP. Aside from being asked once if I want to install something, XP boots up in a jiffy and works just as I had hoped it would.

But in true Microsoft fashion, the company wants to stop licensing Windows XP to OEMs by June 30. According to the company, it's time we move on from XP and join the Vista world. It makes sense from a business standpoint - Microsoft spent millions developing Vista and it wants to cash in on its investment. But what about those of us who don't want to move to the junker? What if we want to stick it out with the tried and true XP?

Even worse, after releasing XP Service Pack 3, I really don't see a reason to switch. SP3 included all of the added security benefits of owning Vista and did so without slowing the OS down or making it annoying to use. In other words, the better OS just got better.

Of course, Microsoft knows the general public can't stand Vista. After trying to deal with companies like Acer and Dell that forced the organization to push the end-of-licensing date back, it was forced to manage retailers that simply didn't want to sell Vista in their stores and businesses that were loath to switch.

In response, the company has already started the propaganda machine for Windows 7 - Vista's follow-up - and told the world just how "special" it will be. But to me, it looks like a desperate move.

Instead of telling us how it will fix Vista and make it a worthwhile product, it's as if Microsoft wants us to believe that the operating system is a bridge to greatness and we should swallow our reservations and walk across that bridge because the pleasure will surely be worth the pain.

What a crock. Instead of wasting our time with hope for the future, Microsoft should keep XP alive until Windows 7 and allow the users to choose which software they want to use. At this point, Microsoft needs to realize that consumers want reliability and hate the thought of being forced into another crappy product. And although monetary concerns are obviously a factor for the company, just how much money will Microsoft lose if people realize how poor of an operating system Vista really is and they switch to competing platforms without ever taking a look back?

Trust me, allowing XP to stay available is good for all parties involved.

ITworld.com - Why Windows XP should be available until Windows 7


Emotiv's headset gives users mind-control over digital objects | Geek Gestalt - A blog by Daniel Terdiman

Emotiv's headset gives users mind-control over digital objects

Posted by Daniel Terdiman

Emotiv's headset allows users some control over objects on a computer. It is possible to move things around, with limited application, with your mind.

(Credit: Emotiv)

I've just made a small orange cube disappear with my mind. No hands necessary.

I'm testing out the San Francisco company's so-called brain control interface, the latest iteration of technology it first showed off a year ago, but which, unlike last year, is now almost ready for prime time.

The idea is a blending of hardware and software: A headset that seems a little like the one from the James Cameron-written 1995 film, Strange Days, complete with a set of sensors that are built to read your brain waves.

The software then is designed to interpret those brain waves in such a way as to allow users to manipulate objects onscreen with nothing but their mind.

So that's why I've come to this office in downtown San Francisco, where I'm face-to-face with this little orange cube. It's kind of mocking me, daring me to make it disappear.

The headset is designed to fit snugly on a user's head. The data it produces can, in theory, be plugged into a wide variety of software.

(Credit: Emotiv)

Here's how it works: The software has several choices for actions you can take. So, taking the disappearing cube as an example, once you're hooked up to the headset, you're directed to run a short, six-second test, where you concentrate on doing something, anything, with your mind--relax, focus, whatever.

Then, once you've completed the test, it's you against the cube. And the challenge is to see if you can reproduce what it was you were doing with your mind during the test; If so, the cube slowly disappears.

In my case, it disappeared, then came back, then disappeared again and then came back. Repeat.

They also ran me through another example, this time trying to pull the cube forward. This one was harder because the brain function I chose to do to synchronize with the challenge was more concentrated. It involved me sort of tensing up my head and imagining the act of pulling the cube forward. It didn't work very well.

But with the disappearing act, I simply relaxed my mind, with much better results.

Of course, there's no relationship at all between brain activity that is consciously trying to "pull" the cube forward and what happens. That is to say, it doesn't matter in any way what you're doing with your mind, so long as what you do during the six-second calibration matches what you do when you try to enact the action.

So really, the software is just looking for a pattern match. It's not all that complicated a concept, though I'm sure it's a pretty difficult engineering feat.

Emotiv has also built technology designed to read your facial expressions and emotions. So while there, I saw a demonstration where someone wearing the headset would smile, frown, smile again, and so forth. And a goofy-looking face on the monitor would repeat the expression.

For now, this is all still just in prototype phase. But Emotiv promised me that the headset would be available in time for Christmas this year, at a price of $299. It'll come bundled with a game that is geared toward using the technology, and presumably, more games will follow. The success, I think, of this product, will be how easy it is for developers to build the technology into their games. And that, presumably, is why the product is being showcased during this week's Game Developers Conference, here in San Francisco.

Emotiv also said that the company is working on a partnership with IBM to integrate the brain control interface technology with Big Blue's virtual worlds projects.

To be perfectly honest, I think this technology is a ways from being ready for any hard-core application. Based on what I saw, it's very interesting and even quite impressive. But I just don't know if it can improve fast enough to make a real difference in the market in the next year. Perhaps it can, and if so, that would be fantastic.

Nintendo's Wii and Guitar Hero have opened people's eyes to all-new interfaces, and I'm sure that this would fit into that category. But the things that have made the Wii and the Guitar Hero controller so successful is that they are easy and intuitive to use. Whether Emotiv's technology is as well is something I'd have to reserve judgment on.

Still, I was able to make that cube disappear without using my hands. And that's something.

Topics:

Emotiv's headset gives users mind-control over digital objects | Geek Gestalt - A blog by Daniel Terdiman - CNET News.com


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

50 ways to leave your Vista!!!

This is a Paul Simon tune parody "50 ways to leave your Vista" (by yours truly) normally called "50 ways to leave your Lover"

The tune can be heard below


50 ways to leave your Vista

The problem is all inside your Drive
She said to me
The answer is easy if you
Take it logically
I'd like to help you in your struggle
To be free
There must be fifty ways
To leave your Vista


She said it's really not my habit
To intrude
Furthermore, I hope my meaning
Won't be lost or misconstrued
But I'll repeat myself
At the risk of being crude
There must be fifty ways
To leave your Vista
Fifty ways to leave your Vista....


CHORUS:


You just format the drive , Clive
Get a New Mac , Jack
Y'don't need that crap toy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Boot from a *nix, Jix
You don't need to discuss much
Just install XP, Lee
And get yourself free


She said it grieves me so
To see you in such pain
I wish there was something I could do
To make you smile again
I said I appreciate that
And would you please eXPlain
About the fifty ways



She said why don't we both
Just sleep on it tonight
And I believe in the morning
You'll begin to see the light
And then she kissed me
And I realized she probably was right
There must be fifty ways
To leave your Vista
Fifty ways to leave your Vista


CHORUS


You just format the drive , Clive
Get a New Mac , Jack
Y'don't need that crap toy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Boot from a *nix, Jix
You don't need to discuss much
Just install XP, Lee
And get yourself free


Original lyrics
http://www.wbr.com/paulsimon/lyrics/50ways_to_leave.html


Saturday, February 9, 2008

How to Perform a Full Manual Defragmentation of Your Hard Disk Under Windows Vista

 

If you have tried doing a defragmentation of your hard disk under Windows Vista, you would have noticed that the defrag utility does not really give you any detailed information about your hard disk fragmentation level, show you the defragmentation progress while defragging, and in certain situations even defragment when you ask it to. This guide shows you how you can perform a full defrag of your hard disk under Vista and get at least a basic report on your hard disk fragmentation before and after defragmentation.

What's Happening Here

There are a number of changes between Windows Vista's defragmenter and XP's defrag tool. In general, Vista's defragger is designed for the average user and is thus tuned for automatic behind-the-scenes work: by default, the defrag utility is scheduled to run weekly. It defragments all the partitions on all your hard disks automatically. Unlike the Windows XP defragmentation tool however, it will only defragment files with fragments smaller than 64 MB on NTFS file systems. The lack of any useful user interface in the Vista defrag utility is consistent with this design decision of having an automated defragger running behind the scenes without user intervention.

Before you get too upset, let me say that this is a generally useful setting for the average user. Let's face it, if you are reading this, you are not an average user. Many users I know don't defragment their hard disks. They don't even know the concept, let alone how to get it done or what use it may serve. The default Vista setting is sensible for such users - a weekly schedule is more than adequate: too frequent and the constant defragmentation causes additional wear and tear on the hard disk for very little additional gain. And for most people, not moving file fragments if they are more than 64 MB is a good compromise - it speeds up the whole defragging process, and the fragments are large enough so that in most cases they don't cause significant slowdowns in the system.

Manual Defragmentation

There are of course reasons why you might want to override this default mechanism. For example, a full defragmentation of the hard disk may speed up certain hard disk backup operations. If you're doing it on a large scale with many computers, the time savings when backing up a properly defragged hard disk compared to one where the files are broken into many fragments may be significant. Another possible reason might be if you are capturing video on your computer and don't want any frames to be skipped; if the disk is fragmented without a contiguous free space for the entire video file, the hard disk head may have to skip over occupied sectors in the middle of recording, causing your recording software to skip frames.

To get Vista's defragger to give you some information about your hard disk, and to control which hard disk or partition it defragments, you will need to use the command line defragmentation utility. It will still not give you any feedback while defragmenting, just as the GUI version of the defragmenter will not, but at least you can get information on the fragmentation level of your hard disk, control whether to defragment even if the file fragments are larger than 64 MB, and control which partition or hard disk to defragment.

To use the command line defrag tool in Windows Vista, you have to run the Command Prompt as an administrator. In Vista, this is not automatic even if you are logged in as the administrator. Click the Windows button (previously the Start button in earlier versions of Windows), the All Programs menu item and the Accessories menu item. Right click the "Command Prompt" button and select "Run as administrator". A command prompt window will appear. Everything you run in this Window will be run with administrator rights.

  1. To view a file fragmentation analysis of (say) your C: drive, type:

    defrag c: -a -v


    The "-a" parameter tells the defragger to perform a fragmentation analysis. The "-v" option tells it to be verbose in its report. If you want a report on drive D: or some other drive, substitute that drive letter in place of c:.



    Be aware that defrag may tell you that you have no fragmented files even if you have some. On NTFS partitions, the reporting function of defrag does not consider fragmented files with fragments greater than 64 MB as fragmented. If you need truly detailed information, you may have to consider getting a third party defragmenter such as those listed on the Free Defragmentation Utilities page on thefreecountry.com.





  2. To defragment a particular drive, say C:, type:



    defrag c: -v -r


    The "-r" option tells the defragmentation utility to treat files that are fragmented with 64 MB fragments or larger as though they are not fragmented. This partial defragmentation is the default for "defrag", and it's the only way the GUI defragmenter in Vista works.



    You can also force the defragmenter to defragment everything. That is, even if the file fragments are larger than 64MB, the Vista defragmenter will still attempt to put the file into contiguous sectors. To do this, run the defragger with the following options:



    defrag c: -v -w


    As you have probably have guessed, "-w" tells the Vista defrag tool to do a full defragmentation. All file fragments will be consolidated where possible.



    You will still not get any feedback as to the progress of the defragmentation with the command line tool, just as you did not with the GUI version. However, at the beginning and the end of the defragmentation, "defrag" with the "-v" option will give a report, much like the old Windows XP GUI defragmentation utility. Again, though, it will not report fragmented files with 64 MB fragments (or larger) as being fragmented.






How to Perform a Full Manual Defragmentation of Your Hard Disk Under Windows Vista (howtohaven.com)