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Jay Leno's Bio-Diesel Supercar: the Eco Jet


Recently Jay Leno unveiled his top secret Eco Jet supercar. It features a turbine jet engine that runs on 100% bio-diesel, and a "cruelty free" interior. It was created in collaboration with GM's design team, which explains is similarity to the Cadillac Cien, and a team of Leno's engineers. Unfortunately, while the Eco Jet is designed to be drive it isn't headed for production anytime soon, still it's an excellent demonstration of what's possible with enough cash, expertise, and enthusiasm. While there aren't a lot of specs available (like 0-60 time, or mpg) it does boast an impressive 650 horsepower. The fuel uses is 100% bio-diesel which is made from refined vegetable oils, so it's not quite as eco-friendly as straight vegetable oil (SVO) or waste vegetable oil (WVO), but it's better than bio-diesel blends which combine the bio-diesel and conventional diesel. And, oh yeah, it was all assembled in California.

Lost of links to videos, pictures and more info after the jump.

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Is the next Detroit in California?


Seems like the next hotspot for automotive innovation might be just a few thousand miles west of Detroit. Specifically there's Tesla Motors making an electric roadster that goes 0-60 in about 4 seconds, Lovecraft Bio-Fuels converting diesel Mercedes to run on waste vegetable oil, and Jay Leno's EcoJet making a supercar that runs on bio-diesel (yes that Jay Leno). This probably is the best evidence that when high gas prices and smog become unacceptable, people actually start to make things happen. More on each of these amazing automotive savants shortly.

Hybrid Inkjet-Laser Printer


You'd think with hybrid cars and hybrid hard drives, some intrepid company would combine the two dominant printing technologies, laser and inkjet, to make a hybrid printer. The laser would print just black and the inkjet would print color, and the two could even be used on the same page. After all for printing text, the speed and sharpness of a laser printer is best; while for printing color, the price and size of inkjet printers can't be beat. Also, inkjet printers are extremely small and simple, so modifying an existing laser printer into a hybrid inkjet-laser printer shouldn't make it that much larger or more complex than one of those ubiquitous scanner, printer fax machine monsters.

Zune Sharing Stations


Microsoft is heavily pushing Zune's wireless song sharing capabilities, with the tagline "Welcome to the Social." But until tons of people buy a Zune, "the Social" is going to be pretty lonely, which I think is actually the opposite of social. Microsoft would be wise to address this problem head-on by setting up Zune sharing stations that would allow users to connect to virtual (or actual) Zunes with tens of thousands of songs. Best of all, such a sharing station would also bring Zune owners together. The stations could be in malls or stores, and could have the Zune, Zune Accessories and staff that could give demos and answer questions. Plus everyone would love the free music, even if it's only good for 3 plays or whatever. Also, it would be really cool if the names of the Zunes at the sharing stations were the development team of the Zune and reflected each of their music tastes. Such a gimmick would be a great way to foster a "cult of Zune." Ok, I figured out what they could call the sharing stations: Zune Zones. Durr...

Good ideas, gone lame: Zune's wireless

The Zune, Microsoft's answer to the iPod, has built-in wireless, a feature often dreamed of for the iPod. However, for now, Zune's wireless can only be used to share music with other Zunes. David Pogue sums up this problem perfectly:

Microsoft also faces what’s known as the Dilemma of the First Guy With a Telephone: Who you gonna call? The Zune will have to rack up some truly amazing sales before it’s easy to find sharing partners. Source

As if that wasn't bad enough, Microsoft has further crippled this feature by imposing Draconian playback limitations on songs transferred from Zune to Zune; the song is only good for 3 days or 3 plays (which ever comes first). Maybe if the limit were more like 10 days or plays, the restriction wouldn't be hopelessly frustrating. But what's really so surprising about Zune's wireless, is that it could be used for a number of other things that would not suffer from the "First Guy With a Telephone" dilemma. For instance, purchasing music over the internet, sharing music over the web, internet radio, wireless syncing, wireless connectivity to the XBOX 360, or wirelessly connecting to speakers.

No more student discounts on iPods :(


Well, it seems the days of modest student discounts on iPods are over. Since dropping the price of the standard iPod to $249, Apple also dropped academic pricing on all iPod models. Previously, students were privilege to roughly a 10% discount on all iPods, but now, prices for academic customers are the same as for everyone else. Hopefully, this isn't the first step in the elimination of all student discounts on Apple products.

Three Days of the Condor: A remake waiting to happen


Usually Hollywood's insistence on remaking perfectly good films just because they're a few decades old or not in English makes me want to wretch. But if a remake is what it takes for more people to see Three Days of the Condor, then they should totally remake it. In addition to being an excellent thriller, it's eerily relevant to current events. So, rent it, buy it, whatever. Just watch it, you won't be disappointed. The Wikipedia article has a great synopsis, but be warned, it's full of spoilers.

Electronic Voting Machines: The middle school gymnasium goes high-tech

Avi Rubin, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins and author of the book "Brave New Ballot," recently discussed electronic voting machines on NPR's Talk of the Nation. The interview is absolutely fascinating and I strongly recommend listening to it. Interestingly enough, Rubin prefers paper ballots marked by a computer and scanned by an optical scanner.


In this scheme the voter would cast his vote using a touchscreen computer (like the AutoMark VAT), but all the computer does is print out the marked paper ballot. The voter can then verify the printed ballot and perhaps even request an additional copy to keep. The filled out paper ballot is then counted and captured by an optical scanner. This way recounts and audits can always go back to the paper ballot and be preformed by hand if necessary.

From a voter standpoint, carrying a piece of paper between two sophisticated machines might seem strange but it actually is the most secure and verifiable method.

Also in the interview, Dr. Rubin describes the source code for voting terminals developed by Diebold (the leading manufacturer of electronic voting machines), as "full of security problems, flaws and bugs"; furthermore there's "no way to verify the votes, no way to preform an audit". Very scary.

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