December 13, 2006

the get it
I know I’ve been featuring quite a few cameras these days but this is a fantastic deal and a new digital camera is a great gift for the holidays. Newegg is offering the ultracompact Canon SD600 for the bottom line price of $212 with free 3 day shipping! This is an incredible camera that is on every reviewer’s shortlist. It features superb image quality with 6 megapixels, a 2.5-inch LCD screen, 4x optical zoom, and 16 automatic shooting modes. High quality movie clips can also be recorded at 30fps, and the 60fps QVGA mode gives you slow motion video capability. All of this in a classically designed steel body that can be dropped into your pocket.
the gizmo
If you enjoy music and try one thing I recommend here this year, this is the one. I’ve been using it for the past three days and really love it. It is a fantastic way to discover and rediscovery music. Musicovery is an online Flash based site that provides playlists according to the inputs you provide. This is where it gets interesting. The interface is incredibly intuitive and allows a tremendous amount of input in a relatively small area. You begin by choosing a mood from the mood map. Here you can choose a point within the quadrants of Energetic, Positive, Calm and Dark. Musicovery then builds a playlist with a graphical representation, complete with color coding of the genres. You can then further your selection by using the other inputs such as genre, Hits/non Hits and a slidebar that allows you to choose the era of your music. It’s incredible, for example, how a Jazz song from the 50s can feel right at home in a playlist alongside a current hit. The LoFi version is free while CD quality HiFi can be had for about €2 monthly. Give it a try.
the gorgeous

This is just crazy. Furniture maker DB Fletcher has developed a table that can expand 73% with just a 30 degree rotation. That means the Fletcher Capstan Table can increase capacity from 6 seats to 12 in a matter of seconds. At first it sounds like some sort of engineering marvel until you see the video and become convinced that David Fletcher is some sort of Dark Lord practicing his black magic. Don’t believe me? Just look at this video, it’s like something out of Hellraiser. What really boggles the mind is how they package all that functionality into these beautifully constructed tables. As cool as they are, I just can’t imagine what something like this would cost.
the green

Professor Andrew Blakers, director of the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems at the Australian National University, claims he’s got the greatest thing since sliced bread. Sorry, I couldn’t help that. Actually, he believes his new ‘sliver technology’ will bring the price of solar power below the current price of electricity. Basically, his system is based on taking a standard solar cell, which is about 1 millimeter thick and cutting it into slices about 120 micrometers. According to Professor Blakers, "Imagine a standard solar cell is a loaf of bread. When you put it out in the sun it generates energy based on its surface area, now imagine you cut that loaf up into slices and lay them horizontally. You get a lot more surface area." Besides the added benefit of increased surface area, it also uses less expensive silicon and is purported to have achieved a 20% efficiency making it the world’s most efficient commercial thin-film solar cell. It’s also worth noting that Blakers and his colleague Dr. Klaus Weber won the Australian Institute of Physics’ Walsh Medal for their work.
the gossip

The nation of Kazakhstan is about to embark on a project that is straight out of a James Bond storyline. You see, temperatures in the capital Astana can sometimes reach -30C in the winter. So what is a Kazakhstanian to do? How about enclosing the whole downtown under a giant transparent tent. Yes, that’s right; the plan is to do it with a tent made from a special material that absorbs sunlight to create the effect of summer. It will cover an area larger than 10 football fields and will contain squares, cobblestone streets, shopping centers and golf courses. The dome tent is being designed by Lord Norman Foster and is slated to be completed within the next year. Apparently cash is no issue for this oil-rich nation which has already spent nearly 15 billion dollars on new architecture for the capital. I wonder if they thought about the unrest that will be caused by everyone outside the capital during the cold months. I can just picture it now, all those unfortunate folks standing on the outside in -30C weather, pressing their faces up against the glass while everyone inside frolics about. I wonder what the over-under is on a revolt.