GeekSpeak for 2006-09-16

Hydrogen Hype, Ter(r)a Tragedy and Planet Ponderings

Geeks Lyle, John, and Sean will be on hand to discuss the week’s news and to take your calls.


! Week in Geek

!! Nintendo’s Wii

Nintendo Wii gaming console launches November 19th.
Nintendo announced that it’s gaming console called Wii will be launched in the US on November 19th, in Australia on December 7th, and in Europe on December 8th, and will well for $250 in the US.

The price includes one wireless Wii Remote controller, one Nunchuk controller, and the groundbreaking collection of five different Wii Sports games on one disc.

Every Wii console includes a series of on-screen “channels” that make up the Wii Channel Menu that is the starting point for all of the console’s functions. When connected to a TV, the Wii Channel Menu offers a simple interface, letting users pick games to play, get news or weather, view and send photos or even create playable caricatures of themselves to use in actual games.

The most interesting aspect of Wii is the controller that allows users to pinpoint targets in games or move through the Wii Channel Menu. Nintendo dubs it an intuitive control system that will be understood immediately by everyone, regardless of their previous experience with video games, and will make games both easier and more intense. For example, in the Wii Sports tennis game, players swing the Wii Remote like a racket to hit the ball, as in real life. They can add topspin or slice the ball just by angling their hands and wrist like they would in a real match.

The downside: Wii will not include a DVD player, so it cannot play DVD movies. Nintendo feels most people already have a DVD player and it was a good way to cut costs. Some games may be region-locked, as is the case wth Xbox 360 games, but this is not required by game publishers.
[Read a liveblog of Nintendo’s NYC Event|http://kotaku.com/gaming/nintendo/liveblogging-nintendos-nyc-event-200486.php].

!! Microsoft launched its Zune portable media player

[Zune| http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2006/sep06/09-14ZuneUnveilingPR.mspx] is a digital media player that competes head-to-head with the Apple iPod. Zune comes in black, white or brown colors and features a 30GB hard drive, 802.11b/g wireless connectivity, a USB 2.0 interface and a bright 3-inch LCD video screen that works in portrait or landscape mode. It also includes an FM tuner, and advanced tuning capabilities allow you to see the name of the song currently playing on selected frequencies that broadcast a Radio Broadcast Data Standards (RBDS) signal.

With Zune, users can share music between devices using Zune-to-Zune music sharing that utilizes the integrated wireless connection to share selected songs, homemade recordings, playlists and pictures between Zune devices that are within range. Shared songs can be listened to up to three times over the course of three days and can be later purchased from Zune Marketplace.

Zune Marketplace is Microsoftís software that replaces Appleís iTunes. It allows users to purchase songs individually or in bulk using a flat-fee-based Zune Pass subscription. Zune Marketplace only runs on a Windows XP PC and requires Windows XP Service Pack 2 and high-speed Internet connect. With it, users can import audio files in unprotected WMA, MP3, and AAC audio formats, photos in JPEG format, and videos in WMV, MPEG-4, and H.264 formats.
[A gallery of Zune pics can be seen at Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows| http://www.winsupersite.com/showcase/zune_gallery_01.asp].

!! Seagate Breaks World Magnetic Recording Density Record

[Seagate Technology| http://www.seagate.com/] yesterday set a world record for storing bits of data on magnetic media ó 421 Gbits per square inch (421 Gbit/in2)! The demonstration used perpendicular recording heads and media created with currently available production equipment. Seagate claimed this method validates its ability to scale the technology for the foreseeable future without major technology changes or capital additions.

What does this mean for hard drive disk capacities? Seagate expects use of this technology will enable:

At 2.5TB capacity, a hard drive would be capable of storing 41,650 hours of music, 800,000 digital photographs, 4,000 hours of digital video or 1,250 video games. Seagate anticipates that solutions at these density levels could begin to emerge in 2009.

!! Pluto This Week

Pluto is now named [Asteroid 134340| http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/09/060915-pluto-name.html]. Xena is now named [Eris| http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/greek-mythology.php?deity=ERIS].

!! BMW and Chevrolet announce hydrogen vehicles*

[The BMW Hydrogen 7|http://www.bmwcca.org/node/5349] is powered by a 191 kW/260 hp twelve-cylinder hydrogen combustion engine and accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 9.5 seconds with a top speed of 143 mph. The vehicle runs on liquid hydrogen and, when needed, the dual-mode power unit switches over to conventional premium gasoline. The development of hydrogen technology is part of the BMW Group’s Clean Energy strategy, which serves to fulfill current and future demand for individual mobility without the use of fossil fuels. The Hydrogen 7 has a high-pressure storage tank for 17.6 pounds of liquid hydrogen, good for 125 miles of driving. At the touch of a button, the driver can switch to the 19.5-gallon gasoline fuel tank for another 300 miles cruising.

The Chevrolet Sequel
is a petroleum-free vehicle that runs on hydrogen. The Sequel, which debuted at the 2005 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, uses renewable hydrogen as a fuel and emits only water vapor. GM officials say the five-passenger crossover SUV is the first car to integrate a hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system with advanced technologies like wheel hub motors and lithium-ion batteries. The Sequel can travel an estimated 300 miles between fill-ups and can reach 60 miles-per-hour (mph) in 10 seconds. Other benefits include unequaled control on snow and ice, or uneven terrain, 70-percent more torque for unparalleled acceleration, shorter braking distances, and the ability to “talk” to other vehicles about traffic congestion or road conditions.

!! AOL has launched My eAddress

The [My eAddress| http://media.aoltimewarner.com/media/newmedia/cb_press_view.cfm?release_num=55254608] service offers Internet users the ability to create their own e-mail address with personal domain names like you@thenameyouwant.com. The new service, which is free for all Internet users, allows individuals to create addresses with up to 100 additional identities onto their customized domains ending in .COM or .NET. AOL officials say the My eAddress domain can also be used as an AIM address for sending and receiving instant messages, to access various AOL features and will soon be available to create personal Web pages.