John C. Dvorak, PC Magazine, writes:

Does anyone but me see the OLPC XO-1 as an insulting “let them eat cake” sort of message to the world’s poor?

Hands Across America, Live AID, the Concert for Bangladesh, and so on. The American (and world) public has witnessed one feel-good event (and the ensuing scandals) after another. Each one manages to assuage our guilt about the world’s problems, at least a little. Now these folks think that any sort of participation in these events, or even their good thoughts about world poverty and starvation, actually help. Now they can sleep at night. It doesn’t matter that nothing has really changed.

This is how I view the cute, little One Laptop per Child (OLPC) XO-1 computer, technology designed for the impoverished children of Africa and Alabama. This machine, which is the brainchild of onetime MIT media lab honcho Nick Negroponte, will save the world. His vision is to supply every child with what amounts to an advertising delivery mechanism. Hence the boys at Google are big investors.

GeekZone (NZ), via /., reports:

Microsoft Corp. is announcing a flexible business model for emerging markets powered by Microsoft FlexGo technology.

The pay-as-you-go computing model enabled by Microsoft’s FlexGo technology allows customers to have a fully featured PC at home by paying only for the time as they use it through the purchase of prepaid activation cards or tokens. Microsoft has been running trials of the program in Brazil for more than a year and will soon be expanding to select markets in India, Russia, China and Mexico.

Photo: antenna designed by AI

NASA, via BoingBoing, reports:

Like a friendly, non-biological form of the Borg Collective of science fiction fame, 80 personal computers, using artificial intelligence (AI), have combined their silicon brains to quickly design a tiny, advanced space antenna.

If all goes well, three of these computer-designed space antennas will begin their trip into space in March 2006, when an L-1011 aircraft will take off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The airplane will drop a Pegasus XL rocket into the sky high above the Pacific Ocean. The rocket will ignite and carry three small Space Technology (ST5) satellites into orbit.

Each satellite will be equipped with a strange-looking, computer-designed space antenna. Although they resemble bent paperclips, the antennas are highly efficient, according to scientists.

“This is the first time an artificially evolved object will have flown in space,” observed Jason Lohn, who led the project to design the antennas at NASA Ames Research Center, located in California’s Silicon Valley.

Photo:A Power Generating Ramp
The ramps generate up to 50kW of power

BBC News reports:

Dorset inventor Peter Hughes’ Electro-Kinetic Road Ramp generates around 10kW of power each time a car drives over its metal plates.

More than 200 local authorities had expressed an interest in ordering the £25,000 ramps to power their traffic lights and road signs, Mr Hughes said.

Kim Zetter, Wired Nws Reports:

For 26 years, strange conversations have been taking place in a basement lab at Princeton University.

No one can hear them, but they can see their apparent effect: balls that go in certain directions on command, water fountains that seem to rise higher with a wish and drums that quicken their beat.

Yet no one hears the conversations because they occur between the minds of experimenters and the machines they will to action.

Photo: Professor Ishiguro and hist Anroid
Professor Ishiguro (r) stresses the importance of appearance in his robots

David Whitehouse , Science editor, BBC News, reprots:

Japanese scientists have unveiled the most human-looking robot yet - a “female” android named Repliee Q1Expo.

She has flexible silicone for skin rather than hard plastic, and a number of sensors and motors to allow her to turn and react in a human-like manner.

She can flutter her eyelids and move her hands like a human. She even appears to breathe.

LEE GOMES, The Wall Street Journal, reports:

Dell — which wasn’t even the first PC maker to take the step — last week was offering for $299 a Windows computer that had most of what a beginning user would want. That list includes a 17-inch monitor, a 2.4 gigahertz Celeron processor, 256 megabytes of RAM and a 40-gigabyte hard drive.

A nearly identical system a year ago cost $499, and while it had only half as much RAM, it did provide speakers. The newer, cheaper model doesn’t have any, but you can add a pair for $20.

Besides reflecting a remarkable price decline of 40% in 12 months, the fact that computers can now be had for less than $300 means they have officially entered into the territory of “consumer electronics,” at least under one set of industry rules.

Ten or so years ago, when PCs cost five or even 10 times what they do now, it was common for analysts to say that they would never become a staple in homes until they were priced the way consumer electronics were, usually defined as costing less than $300. In the days when PCs were $2,000 and even more, that target seemed to be something of a fantasy.

Now, PCs cost less than some telephones — and less than a lot of TV sets — and can be found in roughly three-quarters of U.S. homes. But while they are priced like consumer electronics, the machines still aren’t even remotely as easy to use, and the trend lines there aren’t particularly encouraging. In fact, with price no longer as significant an issue, the continuing complexity of computers may become the biggest contributor to any “digital divide” between digital haves and have-nots, especially involving access to the Internet.

ThinkSecret reports:

June 6, 2005 - Apple will begin shipping Macs with Intel microprocessors next year, and plans to complete a full switch away from PowerPC by the end of 2007, CEO Steve Jobs announced today at his Worldwide Developers Conference keynote address in San Francisco.

S. SRINIVASAN, The Associated Press, via Slashdot, reports:

BANGALORE, India (AP) - Four years ago, a low-cost handheld dubbed the Simputer was touted as a way to give villagers in poorer countries access to computing power. That dream remains elusive.

Very few Indian villagers have even seen one, and the government agencies and nonprofits that were target buyers have barely bitten.

Meager sales of the device, designed by Indian scientists for easy sharing by a community, come instead from businesses and city dwellers who already had access to technology.

“It has not yet reached the rural market in a big way,” rued Swami Manohar, co-inventor of the Simputer and CEO of Picopeta Simputers, a company selling the device.

Picopeta has sold fewer than 2,000 units in the past 12 months, far below the target of 50,000. Worse, only 10 percent of those Simputers were bought for rural use.

Encore software, the other company making Simputers, also sold about 2,000 units.

DailyIndia.com reports:

Global computer maker IBM has announced that it has developed a new mouse adapter that will eliminate excessive cursor movement for users who suffer from hand tremors.

Photo: 1.4mm Thick Gigabit Ethernet Cable

Gizmodo, via Slashdot:

Flat network cables aren’t anything new, but I’m pretty sure ones like this are. Japanese accessory king Elecom today announced the “LD-VAPF/SV05” network cabling, coming in at 1.4mm thick. With such a thin cable, you can run it pretty much anywhere you like; I guess it would work particularly well under carpet, in doorways, or as a new type of karate belt. The Cat5 standard cables support up to 1000BASE-T, and are reinforced with aluminium.

Phillip Torrone, Make: zine blog writes:

Okay, this is what my friends call a “Torronesque” project. This is where I usually come up with something and build it, and it really has no purpose or usefulness- but on further inspection it’s kinda neat. This is the iPod shuffle hand charger, actually recharger. There are many “crank powered” accessories floating around, so I thought I’d try a few and figure out if the iPod shuffle can be recharged with one. Well, it can, sorta. Here it is in action! I am still working out the best voltage regulator and wiring, as I figure it out, I’ll post the details, I don’t what to screw up everyone’s shuffles. What I’d really like to do is add little power generating motors to more things. Imagine getting a little power charge everytime you press a key or open your or phone laptop, maybe it wouldn’t matter that much, but multiply that by a billion people and perhaps it would…

The BBC reports:

The world’s first digital cinema network will be established in the UK over the next 18 months.

The UK Film Council has awarded a contract worth £11.5m to Arts Alliance Digital Cinema (AADC), who will set up the network of up to 250 screens.

AADC will oversee the selection of cinemas across the UK which will use the digital equipment.

High definition projectors and computer servers will be installed to show mainly British and specialist films.

Photo: Wacom Cintiq 21UX Tablet / Display

MacNN reports:

Wacom Technology today announced its Cintiq 21UX interactive pen display that allows users to work with a pen directly on a 21.3″ color-accurate LCD. The Cintiq 21UX offers more screen area, greater pressure sensitivity, better pen control, higher resolution, and increased comfort over previous models. At a suggested retail price of $2500, the Cintiq 21UX delivers many enhancements no price increase over the previous generation. The Cintiq 21UX will go one sale in March, but customers can register at now to be at the head of the line for units. The 21.3″ display features UXGA (1600×1200) resolution, a 170 degree viewing angle, anti-glare and hard texture coatings, 24-bit color with ICC color profile, a 400:1 contrast ratio, and 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity.