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Attack of the Clones


I just came back from Blades of Glory (funny, Romany Malco is quickly becoming my hero), but I seriously wanted to walk out before the movie even started because EVERY preview was for the THIRD movie in a series or a remake.  I had to sit through previews for Spiderman 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End, Shrek the Third, Ocean's 13, and finally Disturbia (a remake of Rear Window).  I love going to the movies and I don't have anything against remakes, but this just about made me want to puke.  It seems that roughly since the Matrix Trilogy, no big movie studios want to make a big-budget film unless they can squeeze three features out of it.  Worst of all, as The Matrix Trilogy proved, only the first film has to be halfway decent and people will see the other two out of some twisted sense of brand loyalty.  Plus the profits are out of control because they film multiple films at the same time to reduce production costs.  The butchering of classics is just as bad.  Disturbia is perfectly emblematic of our youth-obsessed culture, it's Rear Window set in the surburbs with teenage characters and somehow lots of girls in bikinis.  I don't really have a suggestion on this, I'm just fed up with crappy trilogies.

Ok, as much a I hate to admit it Ocean's 13 does look like it has potential thanks to Steve Soderbergh.

The Slow Death of Built-to-order PCs: Part One - The High Cost of Customization

Dell's recent financial trouble may signal a shift in how consumers buy computers.  Dell pioneered the built-to-order PC, the idea being that customer ordered exactly what they wanted and Dell would never be sitting on unpopular systems.  They streamlined the process out the ying-yang and beat everyone's prices.  But now it's becoming harder and harder for Dell to turn a profit on the PCs they sell.  While I'm sure there are tons of theories as to why this is the case, I'm going to offer up my own: after a certain point offering too many options causes more harm than good, and Dell is well beyond that point...

this entry continues

Nevada Solar One


In undergrad I had a professor that thought that all of Nevada should be covered with photo-voltaic panels. Well, this 64 megawatt solar powerplant in Nevada doesn't use photo-voltaics but it will harness enough solar energy to power 15,000 homes. The project called Nevada Solar One uses parabolic mirrors aimed at a tube full of oil which heats the oil to make steam, which turns a turbine.

Full steam ahead for Nevada solar project (via Treehugger.com)

The Blue Pages: How to Vote with your Wallet


My amazing sister turned me on to this amazing book: The Blue Pages is a Zagat style directory of companies' political contributions, business behavior and policies.  I just ordered one for myself and am already obsessed with it.  Each entry has a nifty little chart that shows what percentage of political contributions went to the Democratic or Republican party, it also lists the exact dollar amount given to each party.  After browsing through it just quickly, it's a little disappointing (for Democrats at least), it seems that in general most companies contributed more to the Republicans and those that do contribute to the Democrats, contributed less.  It was printed in January 2006, and it would be interesting to know if that trend has shifted at all in the past year.  Anyways, I can't withhold my excitement about this book, without making just one tiny recommendation: They should totally make an online version of the book with data for a lot more companies, update the data annually, and provide graphs of historical data to show how a company's contributions changes over time.  This book is great, but they're going to need to update it every year or so, and an online could not only display a lot more data, but would also reduce the environmental cost of producing books year after year.

The Blue Pages - $9.99

Thanks Gen!

Medical Tablet Using E-Ink Display


Just a few weeks ago Motion Computing and Intel announced their C5 medical tablet, which had some great features but the $2999 price tag may render it a non-starter.  Now another medical tablet, from Emano Tec has emerged.  The MedTab is small (5.5" x 7.5"), weighs 1lb, has a 12hr battery, and, most notably, uses an E-ink display.  E-ink is a black and white display technology that is extremely low power and requires no backlight.  Like the C5 it's washable, offers Bluetooth and WIFI connectivity, and is drop proof (probably even more so than the C5, since it doesn't have a hard drive).  Interestingly enough it does run Windows CE, as I proposed, in my entry on the M5.  However, the price is still sky high, $4,995 for orders under 50 units and $1,999 for orders over 50.  While the form factory and battery life are are definitely a big step in the right direction for a medical tablet, the price is still way to high.  White frankly I don't understand why it's so expensive, a Sony E-book reader using a comparable screen costs about $500 and a PDA with comparable specs costs about the same.  Given that this is such a new company, I'd imagine the volume they're producing these things at is so low, that it's difficult for them to achieve any substantive price reductions due to volume.  After all if ordering just 50 units cuts the price by over 50%, imagine what an order of a few thousand units would do.

Dell IdeaStorm: Because People are Smart


So Dell hasn't had the best year.  Yet they did something few companies in their situation would have the guts to do, create a website where users can submit ideas and then vote on their favorites.  The website, dubbed Dell Ideastorm, displays the ideas with the most votes on the homepage with other ideas on subsequent pages.   Dell then tries to address the top ideas with a written response and, hopefully, action.  The effect is something like a hybrid of Halfbakery and Digg.  However, unlike Digg, and much to Ideastorm's detriment, top ideas don't seem to refresh on a daily or any regular basis.  Consequently the top ideas on the homepage have pretty much been there since the site launched.  They really need to address this problem, because the site basically becomes self-defeating if the top ideas don't have the opportunity to cycle.  Nonetheless, this is still a great move for Dell, and I wish more companies would try things like this.

Jeff Han Back at TED


Jeff Han is back at TED this year, actually he spoke yesterday. I wonder if he'll be presenting anything new since the video released with the Fast Company article. If he presents a multi-touch display that doesn't rely on cameras and projectors, I'll flip.

Web-Based Photo Editing with Picnik


Rumor has it that Adobe is readying a web-based version of Photoshop, which is nothing short of awesome.  But until it’s finally released there’s Picnik.   With Picnik you can perform basic image editing tasks like resizing, cropping, and exposure (levels!) and color correction.  It's all web based with great speed and compatibility across browsers and platforms thanks to its Flash based interface, and you don’t even need to create an account to use it. 

Picnik.com [via WebWare]

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