Tech

Tech (132)

Saturday, 06 February 2010 03:11

The United States first real high speed rail?

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We have the Amtrak Acela that's capable of 150 mph but it hasn't exactly caught the rail world on fire because the states it passes through limit it's speed to just above what a normal Amtrak train could do. In addition to that the Federal Railroad Administration dictated ridiculous changes to the design in order that it never be competitive to other forms of travel. It was a failure from the design stage on. Of course they'll say that doubling the weight of the train artificially makes it safer for the passengers but we know that doesn't make sense because the builders of it are the same companies (bombardier and Alstrom) that have been building the famous TGV trains for 30 years. If anyone knows about safety it's these guys.

In their defense the Amtrak team just bought what was basically a proven TGV design and had planned on running it on upgraded rails. The FRA changed all of that and made them modify the design in case it came in contact with a Freight train. I don't know about you but I don't think that adding weight to a passenger train traveling at 150 mph is going to make the situation that much better if it ends in a head-on collision with a freight train – I really don't. The best practice is to just give the passenger train right-of-way which never happened. In addition to that the extra weight has shortened predicted equipment times between failures from 400,000 miles to 20,000. The Acela can not succeed no matter how hard Amtrak tries.

With President Obama's 10.5 Billion dollar shot in the arm high speed rail looks more promising even if it will be state owned and local. It's not a perfect situation but at least we're taking one step forward. I was sure that California would be the first to have a high speed train but $2.5B just went to Florida which has already purchased the right-of-way from Orlando to Tampa. Eventually they want to have high speed rail from Pensacola to Miami and most other major cities down both coasts. Two and a half billion dollars doesn't build much but it will get them started.

Florida's first train will only do 120 mph but also will only cost $3.5B so they only need to raise 1 Billion dollars.The trip between Orlando and Tampa will take less than an hour which will make it faster than driving. See Florida's high speed rail site.

If you're curious about how the nearly bankrupt California is faring check out their High Speed Rail site. Their proposal is a lot more agressive and will cost a great deal more but with the amount of people living there will be in greater need.

Washington, the greenest state in the Union has Rapid transit as well in the form of buses that get to their destination in exactly the same amount of time as the old ones, are uncomfortable to ride on (irritating regenerative breaking), stop half as often, have very little room because of a horribly inefficient design where bikes are lined up not unlike a bike rack, the drivers are rude, the stations are extravagant when a platform and shelter would have sufficed, are NOT in the same places as normal bus stops making transfers difficult and it only cost us $34,000,000. We love you WA but why do you have to be so stupid?

 

Saturday, 06 February 2010 10:32

The Man, the Myth, the Legend was Green first

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There's a new category at The Man, the Myth, the Legend and it's all about Green tech. When I started writing up this article I realized what better category on this site but a Green one since the entire website is shades of green anyway! It's under the Tech menu and is simply labeled Green. At this point there's a blog and a list of websites (one) that I think are nice. As a matter of fact the one site that I posted in the link section is the reason why I've gone through the trouble of making a Green category to start with - it's inhabitat.com and I just discovered it (like Colombus discovered America!) so now that I know it exists the rest of the world can start going there now.

There will eventually be a lot more content in this section as I get time and get more involved in it. For now enjoy self-powered street lights and wearable habitats!

 

Tuesday, 02 February 2010 15:39

Mac OSX on Nokia n900? Sometimes I wonder..

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Sometimes I don't know why people do what they do outside of the fact that they can. Here's a Youtube video of someone who got Mac OSX to work on a Nokia n900.

Sunday, 10 January 2010 20:26

Another Linux Cell Phone OS?

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LG unveiled their new GW990 Smartphone and guess what OS their using - Intel's Moblin! As if my articles about Nokia going Linux, the flood of Android phones, Palms WebOS and the Access Limited wasn't enough LG which is a very large manufacturor of phones is going to be selling a phone using Moblin - a Linux OS. This phone will use Intel's Moorestown chipset which basically means it has an Atom CPU not unlike what's in my Netbook. It has a 4.8 inch, 1024x480 display, and boasts about 4 hours of talk-time and 300 hours of standby period. A 4.8 inch screen and a netbook cpu in a phone? After Google released the 1Ghz Nexus One phone I thought we'd plateau for a while. I don't know how big this thing is but it would seem that having a screen 1/2 inch bigger than my Nokia n800 (and 1.3 inches bigger than an iphone screen) would make for a phone that's quite large.

I don't have a lot of information but they've not said whether they're bringing the phone to the US or not. Does ANYONE (and I mean anyone including Microsoft and Apple execs!) have any doubts that Linux will dominate the future smartphone market?

Sunday, 13 December 2009 11:04

Wanting what you can't have (without importing)

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I notice that the Motorola Droid has been released in Europe as the Motorola Milestone.. This means that there's a GSM Droid running around out there! I will be checking out bringing an unlocked speciman here so I can use a pre-paid sim card in it. I found some sim cards that have free incoming calls and allow you to connect to 3G for data. My plan would be to use Google Voice to make all my connections but I'd be using a small amount of data access to connect. It seems that if you pay by the MB a pre-paid card could get expensive depending on what you are doing. I'd have to try it to see what kind of data I'd be downloading a month but if it was very small I theoretically could have a Droid for zero dollars a month. This I like.

Anyway once I started looking around to see where I could buy a GSM droid I thought I'd put together a list of the importers and all the cool geek toys they have. I used to surf these sites back in the Sharp Zaurus c-3000 days because Sharp never imported their very cool tiny computer. Later I wanted a Panasonic R-7 sub-notebook and again I was going to have to import it. There's several ways of doing that and some are cheaper than others (but more work).

Anyway Dynamism is one of my favorite importers but is also the most pricey. I just like wandering their site looking at gadgets. Also GeekStuff4U is pretty cool so spend some time there as well.  I'll wet your appetite with the photo to the right. A 4 lb laptop with dual monitors? Pretty cool.

Or how about a danger bomb clock? You need to diffuse the bomb every morning by severing the right wire. :-) Not to mention light saber chopsticks, R2D2 soy sauce bottle etc.. There's a lot of junk but still fun to look at.

 

A few other sites that I used to spend time at but haven't in a while are listed below.

Sometimes you get busy and forget these sites exist. If however, you're a gadget nut like I am you'll have fun there.

 

Thursday, 10 December 2009 04:35

Rest in Piece Windows Mobile

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Computerworld just did an article on Windows Mobile smartphones sales dropping this quarter by 20% while smart phone sales in general increased by 13%. This doesn't surprise anyone because Windows mobile 6 stunk and the update (6.5) just stunk in new areas. Blackberry has it's loyal corporate followers, the iphone has taken the world by storm and the Linux phones (everyone else at this point) are a steamroller coming. There 's a chance that Windows Mobile 7 could turn this around but most people agree that by the time version 7 comes out Android and the other Linux OSs will have trampled it. There's a chance it's not dead but I don't think it's a very large one. There was a time when nobody thought Microsoft could screw up. They were a machine that only a few companies were able to compete against. With Windows Mobile they had the opportunity to take the cell phone world by storm and replace Symbian (the market leader in the consumer sector) and Blackberry in the corporate sector because Microsoft already owned both of those computing markets. The fact that they blundered just shows they didn't understand that cell phone users don't wish to have Windows XP on their Cell phones. Apple proved this by providing a simple effecient gui that works without a Stylus.

A second announcement just surfaced that showed Samsung, the world second largest cell phone manufacturer (after Nokia) bringing out their own Smart Phone OS - Bada OS. My immediate reaction is "nobody would be dumb enough to create an OS from scratch anymore" and upon further examination my reaction proves sound - it's Linux. So lets recap here.

As of Q3 2009 according to Gartner

  • Symbian, the OS used by Nokia devices, finished first with 44.6%
  • Research in Motion's BlackBerry OS finished second with 20.8%
  • iPhone finished third with 17.1%.
  • Windows Mobile had 7.9% of the total smartphone OS market
  • Google's Android phones a 3.5% share

Palm I believe is in the 1.?% marketshare. What's interesting about this is that Android has only been on one widely available phone and it's been for the most part a sales failure and yet it still garnered 3.5% of the market. Windows Mobile is available on many phones by the biggest carriers and only garnered twice that and is losing it at a horrific rate. Verizon's (Motorola) Droid and Droid Eris has hit the mainstream running and has posted record numbers. This is the first Android phone that most people will ever hear of.

Gartner has predicted in the next 3 years Android will have 18% of the market putting it in second place behind Symbian. My personal feeling is that when Maemo 6 comes out Nokia will start to replace Symbian. I'd also like to see Palms WebOS do well but I also think it needs to a phone of equal stature to the OS. The Pre just isn't the phone I want to buy. I'd like to see Palm do a rotatable wide screen iphone/Droid style of phone and get the lead out of the app store. There still isn't hardly any apps and the ones that are there don't work.

Recap on Smart Phone Operating Systems

  • Google's Android - Linux
  • Samsung's Bada - Linux
  • Nokia's Maemo - Linux
  • Palm's WebOS - Linux
  • Access OS - Linux
  • LiMO R2 - Linux
  • Apple iPhone OS - BSD Unix
  • Blackberry - proprietary
  • Windows Mobile - proprietary

Do the proprietary OS's have a chance? I don't think so. I will reiterate my many statements toward the eventual dominance of Linux in ANY embedded market. At some point all custom and/or embedded devices will run variations of Linux.