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Posts by Trey Trawick

Howard Stern Live-Tweets Commentary of Private Parts

On Saturday, the Twitterverse received a grossly detailed behind-the-scenes look at Howard Stern's 1997 movie Private Parts. For nearly an hour and a half while his frighteningly accurate biography aired live on HBO, Stern gave first-hand commentary via 140-character messages, providing amusing nuggets of information such as "tranny in the middle is a friend of mine named Dana. She came on the show looking for money for new breasts" to thousands of followers. Twitter is the perfect medium for actors and producers to provide hilariously insightful anecdotes about their movies and TV shows to fans, and the success of Stern's commentary may woo other media personalities into doing the same. As mentioned by All Things D, the commentary could give viewers a reason to watch programs live, which could ultimately benefit the television networks while entertaining loyal viewers. (via All Things Digital)

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Apple Working on Cheap “iPhone Nano”?

Bloomberg reports that Apple is currently prototyping a miniaturized iPhone that would be roughly two-thirds the size of current models. The alleged device, which is rumored to cost $200 off contract (for comparison, the iPhone 4 is $599 unsubsidized), is targeted at potential Android customers who want a smartphone, but not the prohibitive price-tag that is usually attached. As noted by Bloomberg, Android has a 32.9 percent global smartphone market share -- and that number is growing, fast. Apple does not currently have a low-cost alternative, and if they would like to hold their ground, they will need to enter Android's unopposed territory. In order to cut costs, Apple would also have to cut corners. The lovely Retina display would likely be left out -- though on a smaller screen, it may not be necessary, and "last-gen" guts would surely be squashed inside. Though, screen resolution and processing power would have to be identical to some form of existing hardware to avoid fragmentation issues within the App Store-ecosystem. Apple is also said to be working on a dual-mode iPhone, which could work on both GSM and CDMA carriers without the need for a new SIM. Coupled with a built-in app and contract-free device, users could easily change networks without having to swap hardware or wait in line. (via Bloomberg)

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Nokia and Microsoft Shack Up

Nokia announced last night that it would be partnering with Microsoft to produce Windows Phone devices. As keen techies may have noticed over the past few years, Nokia hasn't been doing too hot in the wake of iOS and Android. Symbian, Nokia's previous operating system of choice, has become obsolete, and their planned replacement, MeeGo, now seems to be taking a back burner to Windows Phone (the former head of MeeGo, Alberto Torres, just quit). The duo will bring the usual Microsoft services such as Xbox Live, Office, and something called "Bing" to Nokia devices, along with the much-needed Windows Marketplace ecosystem.

Today, the battle is moving from one of mobile devices to one of mobile ecosystems, and our strengths here are complementary. Ecosystems thrive when they reach scale, when they are fueled by energy and innovation and when they provide benefits and value to each person or company who participates. This is what we are creating; this is our vision; this is the work we are driving from this day forward. There are other mobile ecosystems. We will disrupt them. There will be challenges. We will overcome them. Success requires speed. We will be swift. Together, we see the opportunity, and we have the will, the resources and the drive to succeed.
Whether this partnership will be able to save the Finnish manufacturer from the brink remains to be seen. The early indications show that Windows Phone isn't exactly a hot commodity, but the platform is still young. Props to Nokia for making the plunge, it takes kivekset of steel to turn a company around like this. (via Nokia)

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Phantom of the Floppera: A Musical Score Created with… Floppies.

8 bit music is so played out, it’s not even hip anymore. The new vintage-hotness is music created by the hardware that the ones and zeros themselves are stored on. This bangin’ beige machine uses four floppy drives to create the score (in this case, Toccata & Fugue in C: minor), each controlled by a computer chip […]

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Silicon Valley Fight Club

If Tyler Durden was a software engineer instead of a projectionist (or, if Michael Bolton directed his rage towards humans, and not copiers) the Fight Club that we love to pretend to emulate would probably resemble this. According to the Gentlemen's Fighters, there are, surprisingly, no rules. Just two guidelines: "One, do not grapple your friend. And two, do not bring him to tears." Naturally, the geeks spend a fair bit of time whacking at each other with keyboards and dustbusters, and the mele-noobs wear sparing gear.

“In Silicon Valley we have the highest concentration of aggressive people in the United States. And it's a place where all life has been reduced to working in a cubicle and then after work going out to have a Merlot at the Fromage bar. I'm kind of looking for something a little more primitive, a little more basic, something that appeals to the essential nature of a man."
They'll be in for quite the fisticuffs once Star Wars Kid gets wind of this. (via The Next Web)

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Obama Calls for $53 Billion High-Speed Rail System

Chugging along in a claustrophobic passenger train for hours on end can be a nauseating affair, so President Obama is calling for a six-year plan to create 250 mph trains across the US -- making those weekend trips to see the in-laws mercifully zippier. Obama aims to provide 80 percent of Americans with access to high-speed rail within 25 years, and create tens of thousands of jobs in the process. The plan still needs to make its way past the stuffy geezers in Congress, and considering the project will cost $53 billion to implement, it may be up for a decent fight. Obama's State of the Union speech had an emphasis on technological innovation (as well as a dash of "keeping up with the Joneses"), so snapping together pieces of high-speed track would make an excellent side project to help fulfill his dream. [Huffington Post]

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The Extent of Human Radio Broadcasts in the Milky Way

It's unlikely that aliens are sitting around fiddling with rabbit ears in attempt to listen to our nonsense, but nevertheless, humans have been sending messages into space for decades. The first AM broadcast was on Christmas Eve, 1906, and Hitler's broadcasting of the 1936 Olympics is regarded as the first signal powerful enough to be carried into space. When compared to the vast size of the Milky Way, our presence here on Earth seems insignificant. Even our space-bound messages -- which are traveling at the speed of light -- are dwarfed by the galaxy's immensity. The image on the left illustrates our "bubble" of existence, which spans 200 light years in all directions -- but is just a small blip on the cosmic radar.

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Scientists Grow Human Blood Vessels

Scientists have developed a technique to grow human veins in a laboratory, for use in dialysis or coronary bypass patients. The vessels are created with muscle cells from a human cadaver, which are grafted onto tubes made of polyglycolic acid (the same polymer that degradable stitches are made from). The original human cells are "washed" from the vessels, which decreases the chances of rejection once transplanted. 8 to 10 weeks after being plopped into the patent, the polyglycolic tubes dissolve, leaving the graft to preform its vascular duty. The vessels can remain ripe for up to a year when kept in a saline solution, so it will eventually be possible to stockpile the vessels at a hospital to use on an as-needed basis. Current bypass surgery procedures use artificial veins, but these can clog easily and cause infection. The home-grown method has been successfully tested on animals, but further research will need to be done before the vessels are available at a hospital near you. (AAAS via The Telegraph)

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NASA’s Kepler Discovers Six-Planet Solar System

NASA's Kepler spacecraft has uncovered the largest known collection of Earth-like planets orbiting a star similar to the Sun outside of our own solar system. The star, named in true astronomer fashion as Kepler-11, is located a brisk 2,000 light years away and contains six tightly-packed planets, five of which are located in the "habitable zone" -- a region where liquid water (and undoubtedly Aliens) could exist. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden:
"In one generation we have gone from extraterrestrial planets being a mainstay of science fiction, to the present, where Kepler has helped turn science fiction into today's reality. These discoveries underscore the importance of NASA's science missions, which consistently increase understanding of our place in the cosmos."
Kepler is able to determine the mass and distance of a planet by observing minute changes in brightness as it passes across a star. To verify that a planet candidate is up to the task of being a bona fide planet, Kepler must observe three full transits. If a planet is similar to Earth, it will therefore take three years to confirm its status. The planets hovering around Kepler-11 have a much quicker orbital period, ranging from 10 to 47 days, (except for the asocial Kepler-11g, which takes a leisurely 118 days to orbit) so their elite status has been confirmed. NASA's Deep Field image uncovered roughly one gazillion new galaxies by focusing on a seemingly insignificant point in space. Similarly, Kepler's field of view only covers one four-hundredths of the sky -- and its discoveries only accounts for objects that reside inside the Milky Way. Over 1,200 planet candidates have been found to date by Kepler, including a total of 59 candidates located in a habitable zone (up from a paltry zero just two years ago). NASA plans to validate the existence of additional exoplanets using ground-based observatories down here on Terra, and will continue to use Kepler for future planet scouting missions. (via NASA)

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Canadian Government Threatens to Kill Usage-Based Billing Plan

Looks like the Canucks have actually done it, eh? Just a few short days after the Canadian Radio-Telecommunications Commission sanctioned "Usage-Based Billing" (also called metered Internet) for Bell, the Industry Minister Tony Clement has announced via Twitter that the Harper government will repeal the CRTC's decision if the commission does not rescind it itself.

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Google Gives Voice to Disconnected Egyptians

Google, Twitter, and SayNow have taken it upon themselves to give a voice to the masses in Egypt, who have been completely cut off from the Internet. Over the weekend, the team created "Speak2Tweet", a service that allows anyone to tweet a recorded message via telephone. Though the latest reports claim that cell networks will be shutdown in anticipation of tomorrow's "march of millions", landline phones can still be used. While most of the recordings are in Arabic, a few particularly heartwarming messages can be found in English on the speak2tweet Twitter account.

We worked with a small team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow, a company we acquired last week, to make this idea a reality. It’s already live and anyone can tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855) and the service will instantly tweet the message using the hashtag #egypt. No Internet connection is required. People can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to We hope that this will go some way to helping people in Egypt stay connected at this very difficult time. Our thoughts are with everyone there.
(via Google) (title pic via Al Jazeera)

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Canadian ISPs to Impose Usage-Based Billing

The Canadian Radio-Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has sanctioned "Usage-Based Billing" for Bell Canada, effectively killing all forms of competition in the ISP space. Telco goliath Bell leases their lines to smaller providers, such as TekSavvy, at a rate governed by the CRTC. As a reseller, TekSavvy previously offered high-bandwidth plans at a lower cost than Bell. With UBB in place, TekSavvy is forced to lower their $31.95 premium data caps from 200GB to a miserable 25GB per month (both download and upload combined), with overages costing users an additional CAN $1.90 per gigabyte.

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Study: Circadian Rhythm Exists at the Red Blood Cell Level

It's no coincidence that you pop wide awake just moments before your daily alarm buzzes to life: Humans, and possibly all other living creatures, have an internal circadian clock that ticks along 24 hours a day. This clock controls everything from sleep cycles to migration patterns, and has even been found in life as basic as algae. Scientists previously assumed that these rhythms were connected to DNA and genes, but a new study from the Institute of Metabolic Science at the University of Cambridge has pinpointed the origin of the circadian clock to red blood cells (which don't contain DNA). The study was conducted by isolating red blood cells and observing their peroxiredoxin protein levels, which were then discovered to be responsible for the 24 hour clock. Much like we need an internal clock to chaperone our bodies throughout the day, individual cells need a clock to plan out their own routine.

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NASA Discovers Most Distant Galaxy

13.2 billion light-years away resides what could very well be the most distant object ever seen in the universe. Caught in Hubble's 2009 Ultra Deep Field snapshot, the infant galaxy appears red due to the stretching of photons caused by the universe's continuing expansion. The galaxy pictured was formed just 480 million years after the Big Bang, and is 100 times smaller than our own Milky Way.

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Obama Wants High-Speed Wireless for 98 Percent of Americans by 2016

Yesterday's State of the Union address had a heavy dose of geek as President Obama expressed America's need for further technological innovation. There was a strong focus on "rebuilding for the 21st century" and making sure America keeps pace with other countries -- from both an industrial and scientific standpoint. Most excitingly was Obama's plan for 98 percent of Americans to be covered with wireless high-speed internet in the next five years.

We're the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn't just change our lives. It is how we make our living. Within the next five years, we'll make it possible for businesses to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans. This isn't just about faster Internet or fewer dropped calls. It's about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It's about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It's about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.
The White House as a whole has become increasingly up-to-date: following the President's speech, government officials monitored Twitter and Facebook for a Q&A session with we the people, and on Thursday, Obama will be answering user-submitted questions live via YouTube (and we fully hope Obama responds in kind to YouTube's regular demographic).

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Chrome, Firefox to Offer Ad Tracking Opt-Out Solutions

Internet advertisers are able to create personalized ads by tracking user's browsing habits with cookies (a term which has been subjected to far too many puns to warrant another), which is why you may see an advert for the next Twilight movie on your favorite website. While tailored ads are more relevant -- and generally more tolerable -- than their generic counterparts, they also raise privacy concerns: websites can sell personal information to 3rd party advertisement agencies without the user's knowledge. To protect their users' privacy, both Google and Mozilla have devised "Do Not Track" solutions for users to easily opt-out of personalized advertising. While the end goal is the same, the two companies have vastly different approaches.

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LibreOffice Releases First Stable Version

Oracle's 2009 acquisition of Sun Microsystems threatened all that is good in the software world, so Sun's team decided to stand up against the man and fork off into a separate entity, aptly named "The Document Foundation". With fears of being buried gone, the developers have been able to work freely on creating "LibreOffice", a freshly revived variant of the premier open source productivity suite. Today marks the release of the first stable version of LibreOffice 3.3, a major milestone for the fledgling project -- which has grown considerably in the past four months. The developer community has accomplished a great deal in the short time frame, from both a developmental and logistical standpoint.

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Verizon Experiencing State-Wide Outage in Virginia

Verizon is experiencing a state-wide outage in Virginia (and parts of North Carolina), leaving thousands of sexts unsent (and heinously, unread). There are reports of Verizon calling back ex-employees to work on the problem, which leads us to believe the issue is more than just a cut line.

Verizon Wireless is aware of the issue and our crews are addressing it. We’ll share more information as it becomes available.

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Internet to Reach Critical Mass “Within Weeks”

During the time when computers were still just a primordial ooze, even the greatest of minds couldn't comprehend how immensely vast the Internet would become. As famously said by (apparently no one) "640K is more memory than anyone will ever need". At the time, 640k was more than enough to store a bitmap or two, and likewise, filling 4.3 billion IP addresses would seem to be an unimaginably lofty goal. But, the end is nigh. "Within weeks", we will meet that limit, and the Internet will officially run out of address space, causing a major inconvenience as data attempts to find a buddy to packet-pool with. (Or, until the industry adopts IPv6, which is a much roomier protocol.) Vint Cerf, the creator of the IPv4 protocol, has already sacked up and accepted blame for the shortage, although the real culprit is likely those glittery GeoCities sites which devoured the '90s web like a black hole with yo mama at the center of it.

"I thought it was an experiment and I thought that 4.3 billion would be enough to do an experiment. Who the hell knew how much address space we needed?" -- Cerf
The move to IPv6 will create trillions of additional addresses, which should buy us another year or so until this whole "Internet fad" comes to a halt. (via SMH)

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Apple Quietly Starts Tamper-Proofing Devices with Obscure Screws

Apple has always been known for their "Walled Garden" approach to software, locking out anything they don't see fit, but have now begun to prevent users from tampering with hardware as well. When visiting Japan for the release of the iPhone 4, the chaps at iFixit -- a company well known for their gadget tear-downs -- noticed that Apple had begun to replace the standard #00 Phillips screws with peculiar "Pentalobe" screws. That name sounds unfamiliar because the screws are one-of-a-kind, and (as far as anyone can tell) are only being used by Apple.

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