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Monday, July 29, 2013

Smartphones now normal for AmericansIf you live in the United States, the chances are you own a smartphone. And if you’re black, it’s probably an Android.
The percentage of American adults with a smartphone has gone from 35 percent to 56 percent in the past two years. The proportion with a standard cellphone (usually defined as one where you can’t install applications) is now 35 percent, leaving just nine percent of people without some form of mobile phone.
The figures come from the a survey for the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, which says it’s the first time the smartphone ownership has passed 50 percent. Last year’s figure was 46 percent.
As you’d expect, the proportion of smartphone ownership peaks among 25 to 34 year olds (81 percent), dropping consistently among older groups and falling to 18 percent for people aged 65 or older.
Ownership is significantly stronger among richer people and those with a higher income (which may simply correlate to being richer), while urban and suburban folk are almost 50 percent more likely to own a smartphone than rural dwellers (which could be a combination of income and shitty coverage.) Pew noted that the older somebody is, the more effect income has on whether they own a phone: it’s a status symbol for middle-aged and a norm among the young.
Men are slightly more likely to own a smartphone than women (59 percent to 53 percent), while there’s a potentially surprising racial breakdown with ownership at 53 percent among white people, 60 percent among Hispanic people and 64 percent among black people.
Another particularly notable racial point was that both white and Hispanic people had an almost identical split between iPhone and Android ownership (roughly 26 to 27 percent in both cases.) However, only 16 percent of black people had an iPhone, compared with 42 percent having an Android handset.
Posted in Android, Apple, smartphone | No Comments » Read more from John Lister
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Will algae or seaweed solve our fuel problemsEarlier this week Joule Unlimited secured $70 million in funding.  The company happens to have algae facilities that turn carbon dioxide and sunlight into biodiesel and ethanol.  Meanwhile Bio Architecture Lab was able to get seaweed to create chemicals and biofuels.  Both processes use patented organisms to create the biofuel.
Joule Unlimited’s new funding will allow the company to continue building its facility in Hobbs, New Mexico.  According to Technology Review the facility will allow the company to begin scaling up its production operations in five acre increments.  Each acre is covered in SolarConverters that consist of “clear panels circulate brackish water and a nitrogen-based growth medium bubbling with carbon dioxide.”  Joule’s genetically modified algae continuously converts sunlight and CO2 to fuel within that medium.  Eventually the company hopes to have all 1,000 acres covered in SolarConverters producing biofuel. 
Currently Joule’s algae have reached 60 percent of that 20,000 gallon goal. In order to continue moving towards that goal, the company is continuing to tweak the algae by “limit[ing] all biological processes that compete with fuel.” Once the genetically modified algae are perfected that could mean 20,000,000 gallons of biofuel total per year.  The company has previously said that once the modified algae are perfected they should be able to produce 20,000 gallons of biofuel per acre. 
According to Bio Architecture Lab (BAL) there process “first transform[s] seaweed into a renewable chemical intermediate, and from this intermediate, chemicals and fuels are produced through chemical synthesis or fermentation.” BAL considers seaweed to be a better feedstock that even algae because it doesn’t require the use of any land or fresh water.  That’s important since fresh water is scarce in many parts of the world.  Even areas that currently have abundant fresh water are expected to see water shortages in the future.  Preserving land and fresh water for habitation and food crops only makes sense.
Seaweed fuel illustration Bio Architecture Lab
After the demise of GreenFuel in 2009, the viability of algae based fuels was questioned. Other algae based biofuel companies have continued forge ahead. According to algae based biofuels have already been successfully tested in Navy ships and commercial airlines flights.  Unfortunately, the cost of algae based biofuel is not currently competitive.  Joule expects its process to be affordable once it is maximized and scaled up.  BAL is working toward the same goal but is not as far along.
Algae and seaweed may someday provide all the fuel we need for our transportation and chemicals to replace other fossil fuel products like plastic.  We won’t see that happen for years to come.
Tags: algae, Bio Architecture Lab, biofuel, biomass, Joule Unlimited, seaweed, SolarConverters Posted on: January 21st, 2012 by Susan Wilson
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iPhone 5S bringing slow motion video recordingApple’s iPhone 5S — the next-generation model that’s expected sometime this fall — has to bring some additional features on top of a snappier processor. Slow motion video could be one of those features.
According to multiple reports, there is code hidden inside iOS 7 — the latest generation iPhone and iPad operating system that’s supposed to rollout with the new iPhone — that offers video recording at 120 frames-per-second, or fast enough to record slow motion videos. Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone lineup already offers this features.
From MacRumors:
According to our analysis and testing of the code, “Mogul” is a feature in development that allows the iPhone to capture video at an exceptionally fast and precise rate. Specifically, our testing indicates that the feature can allow the iPhone to record video at a rate of 120 frames-per-second (FPS). The resolution at which this 120FPS video could be recorded at, however, is currently unclear.
While recording in slow motion, action seems normal, but on playback, those 120 frames per second are shifted back to the normal 60 frames, giving the action a dramatic look and feel. Get ready for some amazing running videos.
Or really boring pet videos.
Much like Siri was reserved only for the iPhone 4S when it was discovered in coding of iOS 5, 9to5 Mac found out that the hidden features of slow motion doesn’t work on an iPhone 5, which makes most of us believe that the feature will only be available on the iPhone 5S.
Apple is expected to release the iPhone 5S in September or October. It’s expected to feature a faster processor and potentially 128 GB of storage. An improved camera has also been rumored, so a video-centric new feature isn’t entirely out of the blue. Plus, high-speed video is typically a larger file size. Apple could start the iPhone at 32 GB and let it go up to 128 GB.
Apple is also rumored to be releasing a cheaper, plastic-version of its iPhone at a cheaper price that would rollout with the iPhone 5S, in a move to increase its marketshare. The cheaper iPhone could start at 16 GB, to help keep the price low.

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Grand Theft Auto V gameplay video released As teased by Rockstar yesterday, the studio has released the first gameplay footage of Grand Theft Auto V and it looks amazing. Its hard to believe the game is running on current gen technology as Rockstar squeezes out every last ounce of power.
According to Rockstar the gameplay footage was captured in-game running directly off the PS3 hardware. Could the PS3 be the lead platform this go around?
The video demonstrates how players can switch between the three main characters to accomplish team based objectives. For example while one guy is crashing through the windows shooting guns blazing, you can switch to a second character across the street with a sniper rifle and start taking out the other enemies.
The seamless transition almost reminds me of Dragon Age, where you can switch between characters on the fly to continue the battle. The weapon gameplay mechanics have been much improved for a Max Payne look and feel. The vehicle driving also looks solid.
While the video didn’t reveal much about the online multiplayer mode, it did show a small snippet near the end. It seems like air traversal will be a big thing in multiplayer as a jet flew by manned by a player.Due to some confusion about the platform the game was running on, Rockstar confirmed that the game was indeed running off the PS3 in the forums.
Just to clarify for those asking, this particular video was captured with footage from the PS3 version of the game.
Also, make sure to check out a pair of Q&A’s we did with Game Informer that debuted today with more details on customization and gun combat in GTAV (along with some new screens), plus an interview for French speaking fans at Jeuxactu:
Sony has an exclusive PS3 bundle deal with Rockstar as well for those interested in pick up a current gen console.

Posted in Games, Industry, PlayStation 3, PS3, Xbox 360 | 59 Comments » Read more from Mike Ferro
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One of the reasons the iPad has sold in such high numbers, and kick-started the tablet revolution to boot, is the sheer variety and number of things you can do with the Apple device. However, I doubt whether anyone had thought of this particular use before… until now. Meet the iPotty, a training toilet designed to house an iPad.
I have neither an iPad or children, but if I did, I’d try and keep the two as far apart from each other as possible. An iPad isn’t exactly cheap, and kids aren’t exactly known for taking care of expensive gadgets. However, for those parents that can afford the risk, the iPad offers a possible learning tool for children that’s simple and intuitive to use.
The iPad is so simple to use that even the youngest children can get to grips with it quickly. To the point that it may even help to entertain them while they’re learning to use the toilet.
That’s the essence of iPotty, a new product from CTA Digital that was on display at the recent CES 2013 in Las Vegas. The iPotty is a normal potty with the addition of a stand designed to accommodate an iPad. The idea is that kids will be much happier to sit on a plastic toilet waiting for nature to take its course if they have a tablet loaded with apps in front of them.
There are no specific apps designed for use with iPotty, but there are existing toilet training apps available. Personally I’d put Angry Birds
on there instead, or load the iPad with cartoons and press Play as soon as the child sat down to do their business.
The iPotty also comes with a screen guard and a seat cover so that it can be used on other occasions. According to BBC News the product is set to go on sale in March priced around $40.
Posted in iPad, News | 1 Comment » Read more from Dave Parrack
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