FocuSoft Tech Blog

FocuSoft Tech Blog

Drool-worthy MID concept stops us in our tracks

Posted: 30 Apr 2009 05:41 PM PDT

jan rytir mid concept 1 410x480 Drool worthy MID concept stops us in our tracks

We see plenty of semi-yawn-inducing MIDs around the office here, and concepts are certainly a dime a dozen in this racket, but Jan Rytir’s concept gave us pause. The hyper-hip look of the design makes it startling in a field not generally known for its sexiness, and the bottom rainbow colored tabs are just icing on that sexy, sexy cake. In this rendering, the whole package would measure 180 x 80 x 20mm, have a trackball on the right of the QWERTY slide out keyboard, and boast an Atom CPU, two USB ports and an SD card reader. Can somebody build this? Please? We promise: ravers everywhere will thank you.

[Via Slashgear]

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Drool-worthy MID concept stops us in our tracks

Routon previews its Android MIDs

Posted: 30 Apr 2009 04:59 PM PDT

4 30 09androidmid Routon previews its Android MIDs

Android on netbooks might be the fad du jour, but it sounds like Routon’s still working the MID angle — the company just dropped word of two devices in the pipeline. The P760 and P730 are said to be in the “research phase,” so we don’t know too much about ‘em, but they certainly look nice, and they’re scheduled to hit sometime in the second half of the year.

Honestly, though, we can’t help but wonder when and where we’re supposed to use these things — anyone craving a MID over a netbook or smartphone?

[Via Slashgear]

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Routon previews its Android MIDs

Aquawall Wandaquarium is the fish tank of death

Posted: 30 Apr 2009 04:30 PM PDT

375_0The generally therapeutic impact of aquariums is well known, but many people don't the like the hassle or the size of a real fishtank. Aquawall has tried to to get around this by creating the Wandaquarium — a wall-mountable display intended to provide the interior decorator with a maintenance-free aquascape.

As an aquarium hobbyist, this type of product sickens me. The creators of this system attempt to tell consumers that the tank is self-cleaning, and needs a water change only once a year. This is completely untrue. Regardless of if the display has live plants or not (and this appears to be set up to have them) the water will still need to be changed consistently to provide the fish with a healthy environment.

Selling for $1450, this fish-killing device should not be purchase under any circumstances. While it does look very modern, it just another ill-advised case of form over function. I'd go so far as to compare it to the infamous "goldfish shoes" of the disco era.

[via Dvice]

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Aquawall Wandaquarium is the fish tank of death

Scientists Use Laser Beams and Engineered Algae Viruses to Control Your Mind [Look Into My Eyes]

Posted: 30 Apr 2009 04:26 PM PDT

Laser mind control Scientists Use Laser Beams and Engineered Algae Viruses to Control Your Mind [Look Into My Eyes]

That’s right: Scientists will achieve mind control. By shining laser beams. Directly at cells in your brain. Which have been intentionally infected. By a blue-light sensitive virus. That they made in a lab. From algae.

According to Wired, you can really do some fancy stuff inside the mind by injecting an engineered virus into cells then shining a blue laser beam at them. The point is to pinpoint neurons that aren’t doing what they should, and using this very pinpointy process to kick start them without playing havoc on the rest of the brain.

To what end? We’re not at Cybermen just yet, but one of the proposed uses is actually prosthesis controlled by optics instead of electrodes as they are now. If this isn’t at all scaring you yet, check this bit of Wired’s story out:

Crucial to the technique is that the virus is only injected into a very small part of the brain, and only a certain class of neurons, once infected, actually turn the channel on.

Or what? Please tell me, or what?

Turns out, it’s… Or else the treatment would resemble the kind of clumsier brain teasers, like drugs and electrodes. MIT neuroscientists Ed Boyden and Xue Han have already done it with primates, which, as everyone but Mike Huckabee knows, are close relatives to the human. Prior to that, fish, flies and rodents were all lasered up, with successful mind-control results. I am so happy I live in the present day, and not some quaint, almost cute past where all I had to worry about were influenza viruses and low-flying aeroplanes. [Wired]

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Scientists Use Laser Beams and Engineered Algae Viruses to Control Your Mind [Look Into My Eyes]

Acer: Windows 7 coming October 23rd pre-loaded on Z5600 AIO

Posted: 30 Apr 2009 04:26 PM PDT

gateway aio 001 Acer: Windows 7 coming October 23rd pre loaded on Z5600 AIO

If all this talk of Windows 7 Release Candidate 1 has thoroughly piqued your interests, here’s something to tickle your fancy even more. Acer UK marketing director Bobby Waltkins has told Pocket-Init that the Z5600 all-in-one PC is due out October 23rd along with — and here’s the kicker — a genuine copy of Windows 7 pre-loaded on the device. That jibes with what Compal’s president said back in late February, but it’s hard to say for certain from the wording of his response whether he’s referring to the OS’s wide release or just his company’s 7-equipped desktop, although his talk of a 30-day upgrade free upgrade period might be suggesting the former.

Until the boys in Redmond call it official, we’re just gonna mark our calendars very lightly with a pencil.

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Acer: Windows 7 coming October 23rd pre-loaded on Z5600 AIO

Switched On: Windows 7, Non-Starter Edition

Posted: 30 Apr 2009 04:01 PM PDT

Ross Rubin (@rossrubin) contributes Switched On, a column about consumer technology.

hodgman triplet 3 Switched On: Windows 7, Non Starter Edition

Microsoft is making many well-received improvements in Windows 7, but may be in for a black eye on its Starter Edition because of growing misconceptions that it has optimized and recommended the limited Starter Edition for netbooks. For instance, the ad copy for the Apple commercial jabbing Starter Edition almost writes itself.

“Hello, I’m a Mac.”
“And I’m a PC.”
PC is trying to juggle.
“Hey, PC. What’s with the juggling act?”
“It’s my new operating system. See, it only lets me run three programs at a time so I need to stop doing one thing when I want to do another. Really keeps me on my toes thinking about which three programs I should use. Of course, I could upgrade to a more expensive version that gives me the capabilities I should have had from the beginning.”
PC drops the balls.
“Hmm, really? Every Mac lets you run as many programs as you want out of the box.”
“Well, that would be nice. I’d sure like to send someone an e-mail about that.”
“That’s a good idea, PC. Why don’t you?”
“Because I had to quit my e-mail program to say that.”
PC starts trying to juggle again. Cut to iMac with “Mac” desktop

One of the earliest demonstrations of Windows 7 had it running on a netbook, a hardware phenomenon that caught Microsoft squarely off-guard with the hardware requirements of Windows Vista. PC makers and consumers reacted by running to the familiar embrace of the tried, true and relatively lightweight Windows XP. That was a problem for Microsoft on a number of fronts, including reduced revenue and an inability to bring new strategic initiatives into the marketplace.However, the alternative would have been even worse for Windows — have PC manufacturers ship a laptop without Windows at all, and push them further down the road of creating their own front-ends for Linux. Asus started that phenomenon with the original Eee PC, and the practice has created mindshare for the (dubious for now) idea of Android on a netbook.

“There seems to be a growing misconception that Starter Edition is the the operating system Microsoft recommends for netbooks and that consumers must live with the limitations.”

Windows 7 Starter Edition aims to address both the price and performance issues that caused Windows Vista to stumble when compared with its predecessor. The software’s three-application limit clearly implies a sacrifice. It is not one that many netbook users may in fact encounter on a regular basis, particularly with more time increasingly being spent in the browser. Nonetheless, it’s all but designed to be a limitation that sticks in the craw of customers.

Starter Edition will also improve performance compared to Windows Vista, with many tests on the unoptimized public beta showing that it meets or beats Windows XP at most tasks. (Performance tests on the first release candidate should be coming soon and should be even more promising.) However, there seems to be a growing misconception that Starter Edition is the operating system Microsoft recommends for netbooks (and nettops) and that consumers must live with the limitations to see the performance gains. Indeed, arriving at the conclusion that a cheap operating system would be tuned for cheap PCs is a reasonable jump.

However, this isn’t so, according to Microsoft, which maintains that the core Windows 7 performance increases have been implemented at the kernel level and is recommending that manufacturers include Windows 7 Home Premium on netbooks. For U.S. consumers, much of this will likely be a moot point as there probably will be few netbooks shipped with this curtailed version of Windows 7. Retailers will be as loath to ship Windows 7 Starter Edition as they have been to ship Linux-based notebooks for fear of returns when consumers discover that it imposes artificial limitations, and most major manufacturers will act on the same answer.

With all that going for it, one wonders why Microsoft is even bothering. Is it much better to have a customer looking for a full Windows experience dissatisfied with Starter Edition than Linux? The answer is yes in at least narrow financial terms as Microsoft still collects payment for the weakened OS flavor and has the opportunity to upself the customer in the field. That upside, though, will bring with it high potential for misperception, frustration and ridicule for its willingness to sacrifice the customer experience.

Ross Rubin is director of industry analysis for consumer technology at market research and analysis firm The NPD Group. Views expressed in Switched On are his own.

Originally posted here:
Switched On: Windows 7, Non-Starter Edition

Windows 7 to debut on or around October 23rd, according to Acer

Posted: 30 Apr 2009 03:55 PM PDT


A loose-lipped Acer spokesman appears to have put a date on Windows 7. Quoth Bobby Watkins from Acer UK:

23rd October is the date the Windows 7 will be available. There is a 30 day upgrade time so that customers don't wait to buy a new computer, so if you buy during that 30 day period, you'll get a free upgrade to Windows 7.

Gasp! And here we were expecting to maybe be able to order it around Christmas! Instead, it'll apparently be around for Acer to pack onto their recently announced Z5600, which they say is built for 7.

Of course, there's no guarantee this information is what it appears to be; maybe "availability" to Watkins means a date Microsoft has pledged to have finalized pricing or something. At any rate, I'm guessing we'll soon hear from Microsoft on this issue. I say the sooner, the better.

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Windows 7 to debut on or around October 23rd, according to Acer

Xobni Coming To The Blackberry (Leaked Pic)

Posted: 30 Apr 2009 03:48 PM PDT

54c7ceb988bni bb Xobni Coming To The Blackberry (Leaked Pic)

It's been just one month since email startup Xobni got an investment from the Blackberry Partners Fund, which brought its total B round up to $10 million, and already it has a working prototype for an upcoming Blackberry app. Xobni executives were showing off the app at a Mobile Meetup in San Francisco last night, and the screenshot above found its way into my inbox (which is "xobni" spelled backwards, you know).

The app was working, and could be released sometime this summer, according to my source. The photo above shows the app on a Blackberry Bold, and appears to be showing off its contact search functionality. You type in a few letters, and it returns the contact information for every match in your inbox (even people who you haven't necessarily added to your address book yet). I wonder what else it can do.

Xobni, which is a plug-in for Outlook that incorporates data from various social networks, currently does not have a mobile client. But the company has hired a small team of engineers to work on mobile apps, with Blackberry being the first device to get one.

Not only is there the connection with the Blackberry Partners Fund, but I've been told in the past that there is about 50 percent overlap between Xobni users and Blackberry owners. (There must be an Outlook-Blackberry mental axis out there). So it makes sense to go after the Blackberry first. But the startup cannot afford to ignore the iPhone. Can it?

Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.

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Xobni Coming To The Blackberry (Leaked Pic)

WhitePages Bringing Their Mobile App To BlackBerry Devices

Posted: 30 Apr 2009 03:31 PM PDT


Good news, BlackBerry users! Never again will you need to kludge around in your browser just to dig up a number or determine who's behind the number that just called. Following the success of their iPhone and Android applications, WhitePages will soon be announcing the upcoming availability of a native BlackBerry application.

It'll still be a few days before the app makes its way to the BlackBerry App World, but we've been tinkering with a pre-release copy for a few days now.

The Major Features:

  • People Search: Being as this is the first thing anyone thinks of when you mention WhitePages, this one's pretty much mandatory. Pictured above.
  • Business: Search by business name or category. Their business database seems relatively exhaustive and up to date.
  • Reverse Search: Know a number, but don't know who owns it? Punch it into reverse search, and they'll dig through their database to try and pin it on someone.
  • Company: As far as we can tell, this feature is making its mobile debut in their BlackBerry app. By searching through "a number of public and proprietary data sources", Company search allows you to find the contact information for people who work at a specific company. Company name and last name are required. We tested it with a few major chains (Starbucks, Blockbuster) and it functioned as expected, listing their position within the company (where available) and contact information. A bit creepy, but equally useful.
  • Recent Results: Even if you're outside of signal range, you can look through the details for a number of your most recent searches.


Due to a limitation of the BlackBerry OS, one feature we've grown fond of in the Android port won't be making an appearance: real-time CallerID for incoming calls. They've worked around this as best they could, adding a quick link to the reverse search function from within your BlackBerry call log. Highlight the number, hit "Search WhitePages", and it'll do the heavy lifting. It's not nearly as handy, but it's the best they can do within their boundaries.

They've integrated the application into the OS in other ways, as well. From within any listing, you can initiate a call, add a contact, send the details via email, or get directions via the built-in BlackBerry Maps application.

picture-131The application seems rock solid overall, and does just about everything you might expect - or, at least, it does everything the iPhone port does (plus an extra trick or two). Unlike the iPhone app, however, the BlackBerry version won't be free. Fortunately, it's not going to be too hard on the wallet; at $6.99 for 6 months, the per-month cost comes in at under $1.17. This app has just been submitted to the BlackBerry App World, so it should be available within the next few days. Initial availability will be limited to the BlackBerry Bold, though versions for the Storm, Curve, and Pearl will be released shortly thereafter.

Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it's time for you to find a new Job2.0

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WhitePages Bringing Their Mobile App To BlackBerry Devices

Phoenix Motorcars undergoing restructuring, still committed to EV space

Posted: 30 Apr 2009 03:28 PM PDT

phoenix motorcars sut vehic Phoenix Motorcars undergoing restructuring, still committed to EV space

With proven success stories like Tesla struggling to keep those electric car dreams alive in today’s economy, it’s no shock to hear that at least one little guy (that’d be Phoenix Motorcars) has caved to the pressures. After reviving itself once already late last year by nailing down a partnership with the absolutely stunning state of Hawai’i, it seems the company hasn’t been able to progress as planned with its intentions to bring EVs and an electric vehicle infrastructure to the island of Maui. According to a filing on April 27th, the flagging automaker has pegged the soft economy (surprise!) as well as a $5.3 million arbitration apparently won by former drivetrain supplier UQM as the main contributors to its demise. In an update to the situation, however, its CEO has replied to AutoblogGreen in order to reaffirm that it “has not abandoned the alternative fuels transportation space.” Unfortunately, that could mean absolutely anything… or nothing at all.

Read - Original filing
Read - Update from Phoenix MC

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Phoenix Motorcars undergoing restructuring, still committed to EV space