Saturday, November 29, 2008

Intel's Linux-based Moblin platform arrives on devices

By Ryan Paul

Intel's open source Moblin platform is beginning to ship on consumer electronics products. The Linux-based platform is designed specifically for mobile Internet devices that use Intel's Atom processor. The project launched last year and has evolved swiftly.

Gigabyte is preparing to release the M528, its first Moblin-based device, next week in Taipei. It has an 800Mhz Atom processor, 4GB internal storage, 512MB of RAM, a 3MP camera, and a 4.8-inch LCD touchscreen that supports a resolution of 800x480. It also has support for WiFi and 3G connectivity.

IDG reports that the product will be available for NT$12,900 (US$386) with a 2-year 3G service contract at Chunghwa stores in Taiwan. The device will face strong competition from Apple's 3G iPhone, which is also set to launch through Chunghwa next month.

Intel has built close ties with Taiwanese partners, and views the country as a significant market for Moblin-based devices. The chip giant announced last month plans to build a Moblin development center in Taiwan as part of an arragement with the country's Ministry of Economic Affairs. Intel is also investing in VMAX, a mobile carrier that is rolling out Taiwan's first major WiMAX network. Although the Gigabyte MID and other early Moblin devices don't have WiMAX support yet, the feature will be included in future Atom-based MID products.

The Gigabyte M528 is based on a design by Compal, a major ODM from Taiwan. The same design is also being used by Aigo for its P8860 MID. I got an opportunity to test one of the generic Compal models in person when I was at LinuxWorld earlier this year. I was impressed with the product's performance and usability. The device's form factor makes it feel like a beefier N810, but its processor puts it in the same class as modern netbooks, performance-wise. The device I tested came with, which it was able to run surprisingly well.

The arrival of Moblin on actual consumer electronics devices is a significant milestone for the platform. It has gained enormous traction with the major Linux distributors, but it has been slow to attract a community of independent programmers. When Moblin products hit the market and reach the hands of developers, it will likely get a big boost as early adopters begin porting applications and hacking the platform.

The platform leverages the GNOME Mobile and Embedded stack and uses Hildon, a derivative of the GTK+ toolkit that was originally designed by Nokia for Internet tablet devices. It also includes a modified version of the Firefox 3 web browser. Developers who want to get a head start hacking on the platform can download the source code from Intel's Git repository.

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Orange: Our Customers Can Now Access The Pirate Bay

Written by enigmax

A week ago today, customers of the ISP Orange across the UK and France found that they could no longer access The Pirate Bay. Many of them fired off emails to the service provider, worried that Orange was censoring their access to the Internet. Now, a week later, Orange have answered officially - its customers should have no further difficulty accessing the world’s largest tracker.

pirate bayWhen reports from last Friday started to escalate over the weekend, BitTorrent users with the ISP Orange grew more and more concerned. Out of nowhere it appeared that The Pirate Bay was off limits and they could no longer access the site.

Reports coming in from France told the same story - no Pirate Bay and no helpful explanation from Orange, despite many complaints. Many believed that Orange had taken the decision to block the Swedish tracker and they began voicing displeasure.

TorrentFreak picked up the story on Monday, contacting Orange PR for an explanation. After a reminder on Tuesday, we published the response from Orange who said: “Our understanding is that Orange doesn’t block access to any sites other than those identified by the Internet Watch Foundation, that relate to illegal child abuse imagery. However, we’re looking into this and will update you again as soon as we can.”

File-sharers live in uncertain times and when organizations such as the IFPI actively take steps to force ISPs to censor the Internet, it’s little wonder that people come to the conclusions they do. So we asked Orange customers to tell us directly if they could access The Pirate Bay or not. An overwhelming majority said they couldn’t, but a few explained that they could, which cast some doubt on the ISP-wide block theory. However, with nothing official coming back from Orange, lingering suspicions remained.

Finally today, an Orange spokesperson responded officially, thanking TorrentFreak for bringing the matter to their attention and offering the following message:

We can confirm that we have not actively stopped customers accessing the web sites reportedly affected. However, following investigation by our network partners, a small section of our Internet traffic was rerouted by one of them which has now restored access to the sites concerned.

As has always been the case, it is Orange UK’s policy to not block customer access to websites, other than to those containing images of child abuse as identified by the IWF.

So there it is in black and white - Orange customers can officially access The Pirate Bay again. As the proof of the pudding is in the eating, we encourage feedback in the comments - are you an Orange customer and has the site returned for you?

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Micron to launch hyperfast SSD, touts 1GB/sec. throughput

By Lucas Mearian

(Computerworld) Within the next year, Micron Technology Inc. expects to bring to market a high-end solid-state disk drive that could achieve 1GB/sec. throughput, according to a company executive. The transfer speed is four times that offered by Intel Corp.'s newest SSD, the X25-E.

In a video on Micron's newly launched blog site, Joe Jeddeloh, director of the vendor's Advanced Storage Technology Center, demonstrated the technology using a two-processor, eight-core Intel Xeon PC and a card with two SSDs and 16 flash channels. A blurry readout showed the SSD reaching 800MB/sec. throughput, with Jeddeloh claiming that it "will be hitting a bandwidth of 1GB/sec. and at least 200,000 IOPS," or I/O operations per second. The card was directly connected to a PCI Express (PCIe) slot, bypassing Serial ATA or Serial Attached SCSI interfaces that would normally be used to plug SSDs into a server or PC, thereby limiting it to 3Gbit/sec. throughput per channel.

Using file transfers ranging from 2KB to 2MB, Jeddeloh demonstrated 150,000 to 160,000 random reads per second in the video. "That's what flash can do when it's managed correctly," Jeddeloh said.

In an interview today, Dean Klein, vice president of Micron's SSD group, said the company is already testing the technology with a few select customers and is looking for more beta testers.

"I wouldn't expect this level of performance going into laptops anytime soon, but for servers, yes," Klein said. "We plan on bringing this to market on a limited basis this coming year and in a more expanded way the year after."

In comparison, Intel's X25-E SSD achieves sustained sequential read rates of up to 250MB/sec. and sustained sequential writes of up to 170MB/sec. and 35,000 IOPS.

"We're multiple times faster in terms of bandwidth," Klein said.

Klein added that Micron's SSD uses "multiple channels" and was built interleaving 64 NAND chips to achieve its high throughput. The SSD is also based on several technology advances announced by Micron this year, including its 34 nanometer NAND chip architecture announced in May and the RealSSD P200 series drives announced in August.

While Micron's SSD technology is aimed at high-end applications that would run on Fibre Channel SANs, such as transactional databases or streaming video, Klein said consumer-grade computers using SSDs directly connected to a PCIe bus with four lanes (x4 slots) could soon achieve similar results.

Physical PCIe slots may contain from one to 32 lanes of data. Currently, PCIe Generation 1 offers 250MB/sec. throughput per lane. The second generation of PCIe is expected out next year and will offer twice the throughput, or 500MB/sec.

"It really does require a change in computer architecture to go into consumer-type systems, but it can be done," Klein said.

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Uber Tuber: The Instant French Fries Bazooka System

For some reason, Ted Goessling and Zach Gens think that creating a French fries machine using a potato gun—a compressed-air bazooka that fires potatoes—, a wire screen, and a large pot with hot oil is a good idea. I don't agree. I think their instant French fries maker—or Uber Tube, as they call it—kicks some serious Mr. Potato ass. Now I challenge them to make them curly. [Makezine]

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Sculptor creates treehouse-like tent

By Matthew Knight

LONDON, England (CNN) -- It is probably the most unusual tent you'll ever see.

Dre Wapenaar's Treetent made an appearance at the UK's Big Chill festival in 2006.

Dre Wapenaar's Treetent made an appearance at the UK's Big Chill festival in 2006.

Dangling from a tree trunk like a surreal oversized pear, the Treetent is a cross between a treehouse and a tent. But Dutch sculptor Dre Wapenaar sees his creation as much more than just a novel bit of camping kit. It is, he says, a piece of art.

Wapenaar is an artist with over 20 years professional experience, but the inspiration for creating tents stretches right back to his childhood.

"I started building them when I was a kid. We had a competition in the neighborhood to build the coolest tent," Wapenaar told CNN.

He graduated from the Academy of Visual Arts in Tilburg, Holland in 1986 and set up his own studio in Rotterdam the following year. He describes his sculptures as an artistic exploration of how groups of people and individuals relate to one another.

"People from all over the world are coming to live in Holland, so you have to make new forms of living together," he said. "The tent is a nice metaphor for studying this."

The tear-shaped frame of the Treetent is constructed from steel, covered in canvas and anchored to a tree trunk. It measures four meters high and is over two meters in diameter. The interior incorporates a horizontal wooden platform which Wapenaar says can sleep up to four people.

But it's not something you can pack up and put in your rucksack. "It's not a portable framework," he said. "It's closer to architecture."

He designed his first Treetent not for a campsite, but for a group of environmental activists in the UK who were hoping to frustrate a road building program through protected woodland.

That was ten years ago, but the interest in his sculptures -- particularly the Treetent -- has kept on growing.

Wapenaar still receives hundreds of emails every year from people interested in buying his Treetent. But as he points out, it is not a commercially available product, and the price tag of 30,000 euros usually dampens the enthusiasm of the average camper.

He gets frustrated by media reports that celebrities keep buying up his work. "The gossip was that Victoria Beckham bought one," he said. "But it's a lot of crap. She didn't buy one."

When he's not fending off rumors about well-heeled customers buying his art, Wapenaar continues to expand his portfolio, exploring different types of tent sculptures including the Birthingtent and the Showertent.

His collection has grown into a diverse and elegant range of sculptures including bivouacs, kiosks, villages and pavilions.

His most recent creation, the Recital Pavilion, was unveiled at this year's Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam. A tent-like space for intimate piano concerts, it reinforces Wapenaar's commitment to exploring human communication through his art.

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About those “rampant” iPhone 2.2 problems…

When I saw the headline on CNET’s iPhone Atlas blog proclaiming that “iPhone OS 2.2 Problems Run Rampant,” I scratched my head. After all, I probably use the iPhone more than most people both for regular tasks and the testing of applications, and I haven’t noticed one noteworthy problem with the new update.

So when I read the report, which starts with “Users, in droves, continue to report a bevy of issues…” — that’s “rampant,” “droves” and “bevy” in the first dozen or so words for those keeping score at home on the hyperbole meter — I was still baffled, as I haven’t experienced a single one of the issues listed in the story (disappearing apps, WiFi problems, syncing problems and many others). Then I read the comments on the post, and it appears that basically none of iPhone Atlas’ readers have either.

“I have 4 iPhones in my family that were upgraded to 2.2 and none of them have this issue,” wrote Aquia33

“I had none of these issues (1st gen),” wrote inthefastlanes

“No issues here either. I’m loving the 2.2 update,” wrote man290663

“I have been using 2.2 (5G77) on an Original iPhone since the day it came out. (My Mac is a PB 17 G4 with 10.4.11 with iTunes 8.0.2.) I’ve experience absolutely no problems with the iPhone or any of the apps that I have (most of which have not had any updates since 2.2),” wrote portlandGuy

“Droves? Rampant? Define ‘droves,’ please! Define ‘rampant.’ Neither I nor any of the many people I know who own iPhone 3Gs and have moved to 2.2 have any of these problems,” wrote NoDroves

If you think I’m just picking and choosing comments to make a point, think again: Those are the first five of 17 comments — and 15 of the 17 comments note that they’ve seen absolutely no problems at all. The two that did mention some problems seemed to be odd exceptions, with only one claiming that this was an “epidemic.”

Epidemic? I know a lot of people who own the iPhone (I do live in San Francisco after all), and I haven’t heard of one person with a major problem since the upgrade. Could some people be having limited issues? Sure, all upgrades cause glitches for some people. But is this a “rampant” “epidemic” happening to a “bevy” of people in “droves”? No.

We all indulge in sensationalist journalism from time to time (see my posts every time Twitter goes down for five minutes), but come on, there’s no need for hyperbole here.

[photo via Glarkware]

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