Hallmark, one of the world s best-known makers of greetings cards, apologized to clients for Web site problems on Valentine s Day. Internet users seeking to pick up or send Hallmark electronic cards on February 14 found the company s site off-line for a large part of the day. We thought we were ready to handle a huge amount of traffic on Valentine s Day. Obviously, we thought wrong, Hallmark wrote in an e-mail to clients, saying the Web site was flooded by double the expected traffic. Hallmark s staple greetings cards business has in recent years had to fight off a challenge from the increasingly popular electronic cards.
Macrovision s RipGuard DVD, launched this week, is designed to thwart cracking programs that get around the encryption system used in standard DVDs. Macrovision also claims a related system to be used with RipGuard can foil attempts to make analog copies of DVDs. Such copies are made by connecting a video recorder to a DVD player s video and audio output jacks, a method that previous DVD copy protection software has failed to prevent fully. Attempts to copy-protect DVDs and CDs have been easily thwarted using a black marker or by holding down the shift key while accessing the content. DVDs fitted with the new technology do not require new software or hardware to be played and should be compatible with nearly all existing DVD players and DVD computer drives, according to the company.
Apple Computer s 12-inch iBook G4 laptop ($999) is popular because it s affordable, thin, light, dependable and easy to use. Now, Sharp s new Actius MC24 ($999), PC devotees who are seeking a cute, reliable 12-inch laptop need not feel compelled to switch to a Mac. The MC24 has a glossy white finish and weighs 5.3 pounds, a few ounces more than the 12-inch iBook. It has a 12.1-inch XGA display with a resolution of 1024 pixels by 768 pixels, 512 megabytes of RAM, a 60-gigabyte hard drive, Wi-Fi connectivity, a PC card slot, four USB ports and a CD-RW/DVD drive. The iBook s nearly six-hour run time trumps the MC24 s two-hour battery. And Apple s G4 processor runs faster than the MC24 s Mobile AMB Athlon XP-M 2400+ processor.
If you want to do everything from backing up digital photos to crafting a road-mix CD for your weekend drive, InterVideo s MediaOne software suite ($100) bundles just about anything you might want to do with a DVD or a CD including InterVideo WinDVD (playing), WinDVD Creator (video-editing), DVD Copy (copying), PhotoAlbum (managing), Smart Backup (safeguarding), and DiscMaster (copy back-up).
Highlights from last week s DEMO technology conference in Scottsdale, Arizona:
An isolation booth mapped detailed holographic images of visitors for a company called Intellifit, measuring everything from the length of their thighs to the circumference of their knees and the thickness of their necks. The technology, developed jointly by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Department of Energy to detect nonmetallic weapons, creates a 200,000-datapoint image of a single body.
Digital Monkey, of Adelaide, Australia, lets budding musicians practice with a symphony orchestra performance as aural backdrop, as the sheet music scrolls up their computer screen beneath video of the conductor. The software also listens to tempo, pitch and timbre and gives text, audio and visual feedback.
Mars Rover technology called the Instant Scene Modeler, by Canada-based MDA, was used to map an on-stage crime scene after the mock murder of an employee. About 100 digital photos of the victim s supine body were shot in a matter of seconds by an MDA colleague who walked around him. In 40 more seconds, the software built a 3D model, complete with accurate measurements.
Read past Blade Special Reports on Tiger Force, Ohio s dangerous roadways, stem cell research, the Taliban, and Ohio s small towns.
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IP GUYS AWARD
Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn have won the prestigious Turing Award for inventing the basic communications protocols that allow millions of Internet users around the world to send e-mail, listen to music online and flash instant messages. Cerf and Kahn share the $100,000 prize for developing TCP/IP. The networking design is so simple that computers in diverse environments can talk seamlessly with one another. That simplicity also allows other innovators to create complex applications like the World Wide Web and video conferencing on top of it. The award is given by the Association for Computing Machinery, one of the leading organizations for computing professionals.
Even when Dilwyn Jenkins body is in Wales, his mind is in South America. The same could be said of his Web site, ecotribal.net, a portal to raise money and awareness for the needs of tribal people.
Jenkins first trip to South America, at age 18, led to a two-month stay with a disappearing Amazon tribe. After studying anthropology at Cambridge University, he worked as a journalist and teacher in Peru, all so he could be close to Peruvian Amazon communities, particularly the Ashaninka tribe, to which he recently delivered a solar-powered radio communications system.
After writing travel guides and making documentaries about jungle Indian communities, Jenkins decided to develop projects that allowed him to help those communities market their wares, like jewelry or coffee, on the Web.
The idea for Ecotribal has developed as the only practical way that I can personally work for the benefit of tribal peoples, arguably the most marginalized communities on earth, Jenkins said in an e-mail message. My idea isn t to storm into remote villages and demand to buy everything marketable. It s about developing long-term partnerships for the production of sustainable nontimber forest produce and what can be produced sustainably from organic forest gardens.
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