Be Careful What You Diss For

According to a piece on DailyTech, MacMall has begun shipping MacIntel boxes with Windows XP pre-installed as an option. “According to both MacMall’s website and Apple’s online store, a identically configured 1.83GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro can be pre-installed with Windows XP Professional for $100 — which is actually a discount.” While this is obviously a smart business move on Apple’s part, it does make me chuckle and feel shameless manipulated as a consumer, given Apple’s history of dissing Windows and crowing about their own superior tech. I mean, even the most recent Mac ad campaign (making fun of Intel’s previous customers, i.e. Windows PCs ), talked of drab gray boxes and their drab little tasks. So now they’re selling us the drab little operating system for our Macs? On the chips they used to so vigorously argue where inferior to their own processors?

Robot Hall of Fame’s Latest Inductees

So many areas of business, entertainment, and sports have a Hall of Fame. Did you know there’s even a Robot Hall of Fame? There has been since 2003. It’s the brainchild of those prodigious crania over at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science. The 2006 Inductees have just been announced. They are (…the envelope please): Maria , the art deco fembot from Fritz Lang’s landmark 1927 film “Metropolis,” Gort, the big-boned bot from 1951’s “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” David, the droid that sees dead people, from Spielberg’s/Kubrick’s “Artificial Intelligence: AI,” the Sony AIBO robo-pet, and SCARA (Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm), the increasingly ubiquitous industrial robot. Previous Hall of Famers include Mars Pathfinder, ASIMO, R2-D2, and C-3PO.

The RHF has the two categories “Robots from Science Fiction” and “Robots from Science” to celebrate the robots that inspire us and those we create as a result of that inspiration. The new bots will officially be welcomed into the Hall during a ceremony this June. No word yet on what Maria Metropolis will be wearing, but we think she’d look stunning in anything from the DigiKey catalog.

Skype Sells Soul to China: Cost of Doing Business

Another one from the “How Do You Sleep at Night?” File: Skype has joined the growing list of companies that are more than happy to engage in censorship for China as long as it plumps up their bottom line. According to a piece in the Financial Times, Skype has admitted that Tom Online, its partner company in China, has been censoring text messages with words like “Falun Gong” (the banned religious group) and “Dalai Lama” in them. Says Niklas Zennström, Skypes’s CEO:

“I may like or not like the laws and regulations to operate businesses in the UK or Germany or the US, but if I do business there I choose to comply with those laws and regulations. I can try to lobby to change them, but I need to comply with them. China in that way is not different.”

Well DO let us know just as soon as you and Yahoo and Google and Microsoft start lobbying to change China’s laws and regulations and how you intend to do that while you’re pigging out in their tremendous trough.

Putting on your GameFace

Nyko, which seems to make a lot of game and mobile accessories that get our attention, has come out with a kit that allows you to create your own Xbox 360 faceplates. The kit (US$19.99) comes with 6 pre-printed faceplate skins, 15 blank skins, and a clear overplate to house the skins. I haven’t seen too many teen’s game boxes (or many adult’s for that matter) that aren’t festooned with stickers and other personal totems, so this seems like a cool way to individualize the look of ye ol’ frag box.

Bonjour World!

One of the most satisfying tech moments of my so-called life was getting my new iMac onto my LAN two winters ago. I dreaded hooking it up, ’cause I expected hours of fuss-time, looking up DNS numbers, subnet masks, and the like. Instead, I plugged in my Ethernet cable and THE COMPUTER did all of this discovery and form-filling on its own. Contrast this with my son getting an MSN Messenger watch for Christmas that year and us spending hours trying to figure out how to get a message from my WinPC to his watch.

Anyway, a little true plug n’ play intelligence comes to the Windows world, thanks to Apple’s release of Bonjour for Windows, their oh-so-welcomed networking framework.

Lo-Tek Flashlights 2.0

Chris J. over at GRYNX was so chuffed by all of the attention he got from his Tic-Tac flashlight, that he’s posted a new project, a 3-bulb LED light made from a 9v batt, three bright white LEDs, and a battery snap made from a dead 9v. One cool thing about this project is that, by using three LEDs on 9volts, you don’t have to use a resistor in the circuit, so the parts count is only five. You can also add a magnet to it to create an attachable light, or maybe to use in some electronic graffiti.

Hey Philips, Don’t Be Evil!

According to patent sleuth Barry Fox, in his current Invention column in New Scientist, Philips has filed a patent for a technology that would make it impossible to fast-forward through commercials on digital video recorders. Basically, the scheme would embed flags in the broadcast signal which would disable user-control of the recorded/buffered content during commercial blocks. The scheme also includes a provision for a paid opt-out feature where viewers could pay a fee to regain control of their signal. Gee thanks, Philips. Philips? What do they make, again? I can’t think of the last time I bought a Philips anything. Maybe this is why. I don’t like the way these people think.

You can peruse the patent aquí.

Gmail Now Offers Google Calendar Linkage

If youve been using Google Calendar, or thinking about it, you might be interested to know that Gmail now offers integration with the calendar. Ryan at CyberNet Tech News explains how it works:

When you begin to compose a message you will see a link on the right side of the screen that says “Add Event Info”. This link will allow you to enter in the details of the event that you are inviting the recipient to. When the recipient receives the email it will appear as an invitation that they can decide whether they will attend, might attend, or will not attend the event. If they decide that they will or might attend the event then it will be added to their calendar.

There are a few other calendar/mail features, too. Check it out.

Thanks, Craniac!

Cost of RAM to Rise?

According to a piece on Yahoo News (via IGN News Service), RAM prices are expected to rise soon, thanks to increased demand, especially for newer DDR2 (Double Data Rate 2) RAM. Chip maker Micron projects demand in 2006 to be up 50-60% over last year. The increase is expected to be driven by greater memory demands from apps, increased laptop sales, the MacTel boxes (which use DDR2), and the forthcoming AMD Socket AM2 motherboards, which will support DDR2. On top of this, continued demand for older, first-gen DDR will force chip makers to have to reserve fab time for this memory type as well, slowing production of the newer modules. All major memory makers have been making noise about pending price hikes.

So, if you’ve been thinking about maxing out the mems on that cyberdeck, you better get while the gettin’s not ridiculously overpriced.

Cooling Off the Xbox 360

If you have a 360 or have been reading up on them, you know that there are numerous complaints about how hot they are. They’re hot. One hacker has joked that he’s going to do an E-Z Bake Oven/360 mash-up mod. Hey d00d, it’s been done (sorta). Rather than cook bit-sized snack treats on their boxes, most gamers would like to cool things down. It’s doable, but as this tutorial shows, it’s rather involved, requires you to do some serious hacking up of your hardware, and it ain’t cheap. This cooling system, centered on the Thermaltake home theater cooling unit, costs some US$300. And what you’re left with is a very Frankensteinian looking game console with a big silver box next to it. So much for J. Allard’s elegant gesture of the iconic in-breath.