Friday, 30 September 2011

Cosmic Log - Gamers solve molecular puzzle that baffled scientists

Video-game players have solved a molecular puzzle that stumped scientists for years, and those scientists say the accomplishment could point the way to crowdsourced cures for AIDS and other diseases. “This is one small piece of the puzzle in being able to help with AIDS,” Firas Khatib, a biochemist at the University of Washington, told me. Khatib is the lead author of a research paper on the project, published today by Nature Structural & MolecularBiology.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Amazon Kindle Fire tablet unveiled: Android-based, 7-inch display, $199 price tag

Amazon Kindle Fire tablet
Okay, so it wasn’t much of a surprise, but Amazon finally has a tablet, and as expected its name picks up where the Kindle left off: Fire. Of course, rumors of an Amazon tablet date back to this time last year (if not before), but it seems that Jeff and co. have wisely chosen to get this thing out on the open market before having yet another wild and wacky holiday quarter. Bloomberg has curiously reported on some of the details before the event itself kicks off, noting that the 7-inch device will run a version of Android while acting much like a “souped-up Kindle.” The real kicker, however, is the price — at just $199, it’s bound to turn heads, regardless of whether you were interested in a slate before. Naturally, that bargain-bin sticker explains the lack of an embedded camera and microphone, though consumers will find WiFi (no 3G, sadly) and a 30-day trial of Amazon Prime. It’s also quite clear that Amazon’s hoping to make a bigger splash on the content side of things than has been made already by Apple, and with the deals flowing like wine, we wouldn’t be shocked if it does just that.
►Mini Matmian:
Well it’s been on the cards for a while and it’s finally here (sort of, not actually released until November 15th State side). After watching some of the limited previews of the device, it looks quite slick. Clearly Amazon are going for stacking up the content available to users. Particularly the consumers interested in using the book, music and video online store. They made the decision to start with a 7” version only but been have been reports flying around for a while now that if the 7” takes off, they will most likely release a more powerful 10.1” version. Whether this is actually true only time will tell but I’d be surprised if they didn’t.
NOT having access to the Android market place is quite a brave move at first glance but you can see why they did it. They want to stand out from the crowd and have control over the apps that get publsihed on the Amazon App store, making them a more direct competetor to Apple; which may pay off handsomely for them. They have a huge and loyal customer base to tap into. People who trust Amazon and use the site regularly for a variety of needs.
The small internal storage and lack of peripheral ports is a slight surprise but due to Amazon’s support for cloud service, they don’t see the need for much else. Everything will be stored on the cloud and streamed. Sounds like a great idea and is definitely something we are seeing more and more of (OnLive to name but one). Whether this move works for them remains to be seen. Some people just like to know they have complete control/access over things they buy and not have it floating in this mysterious cloud. This general public perception will no doubt evolve over time and Amazon are banking on that time coinciding with the push of this fancy tablet of theirs.
The move to completely alter the look of the Android based system UI puts even more distance between this tablet and other Android based ones. On top of this, the ability to synch it up to Whispersync and stream movies/TV to your flat screen at home adds to their ability to compete with Apples Ipad2 and Air TV.
Playing off the name ‘Kindle’ is also another smart marketing move as they have established that name as the best in the eBook business with a large and very satisfied group of customers.
And finally, the price. $199!! That alone is going to get tongues wagging and people interested in owning Amazons tablet…even if they never considered buying a tablet before this. 
This is an exciting looking tablet. Will it challenge the iPad? Doubt it. It’s more of a consumption based device and not creation. If anything, it will probably hurt other Android tablet manufacturers.
My own personally feelings is that I’d rather wait for a 3G enabled version…but each to their own. I look forward to seeing how this plays out. 
See a video preview of the device in action here.
p.s. NO volume control on the device itself COULD be quite annoying. Having to delve into the UI itself to turn the sound up or down iscertainly something that I could see irritating me.

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