The UpStream

Georgia Institute of Technology Captures The Heartbeat of Technology

posted Sunday Apr 3, 2011 by Scott Ertz

You've seen The Matrix, right? Of course you have. Remember laughing at the silly concept of turning people into batteries? Well, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology didn't feel the same way when seeing the film. They, in fact, decided to give our future robot overlords a head start and develop the technology for them.

They have developed a tiny chip that can harness the movements of the human body, both voluntary and involuntary, to produce electricity, like a series of very small generators. So far the technology has been able to power small LCD panels and diodes, and even send radio transmissions (after charging a cell first). That isn't where it stops, though. These guys want to be able to power everyday electronics with the technology.

Hit the break to hear what one of the researchers has to say about the project.

Best Buy Connect 4G IS 4G - but Not Best Buy Connect

posted Sunday Apr 3, 2011 by Scott Ertz

Best Buy Connect 4G IS 4G - but Not Best Buy Connect

Best Buy seems to have lost their way. At one point they were the store you thought of when you wanted to purchase home appliances and large electronics. Now, the product that made them who they were has become almost an after thought. Even their brand is a disaster. We've talked in the past about their clearance tag logo and even their pricing often doesn't match reality.

Recently, they have been trying to make some changes to stores to make their employees look knowledgeable by designing the store to show off how products work together. This week, they have started offering Best Buy Connect branded 4G wireless Internet access. While you might see the Best Buy name and assume that they are lying about 4G T-Mobile and AT&T, but you would be wrong. They are lying about it being Best Buy Connect.

To find out what it is, hit the break.

GameStop Makes A Spin-dash Toward Digital Distribution Acquisitions

posted Sunday Apr 3, 2011 by Jon Wurm

GameStop Makes A Spin-dash Toward Digital Distribution Acquisitions

Specialty media retailers have been hit hard by the growing popularity of digital media. All you need to do is take a look at Blockbuster and there is no dispute about it. They also make a great case study for what not to do with a brick and mortar niche media retailer that is expanding into the digital distribution business. GameStop seams to have realized this and has begun taking action to prevent an impending game over scenario.

GameStop is taking a different approach to entering digital distribution than failed Blockbuster by acquiring two companies that already have some of this figured out instead of just trying to figure it out themselves. They have $100 million put to the side for these acquisitions as a company that totally screws its customers should have available for that purpose. Spawn Labs and Impulse are their first victims in this process and probably not the last. Spawn Labs is very similar to OnLive in that they provide a cloud based gaming service you can use through your TV and Impuse is like Steam who allows you to purchase PC games online and download them to your computer. GameStop exec Paul Raines explained that these acquisitions are in line with the needs of their hybrid consumers.

We've got a hybrid consumer, and we are now a hybrid company. We've become more and more a technology company.

Click the break to continue.

Apple vs The World

posted Saturday Apr 2, 2011 by Scott Ertz

Apple vs The World

We all know how much fun lawsuits can be and Apple is certainly the company who likes them the best, so let's see what they have been up to this week. Two of Apple's current legal projects have taken major steps this week. We first spoke of the battle between Apple and Nokia nearly 18 months ago and Nick and Kyria have kept us up to date 5 more times since then:

Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4 | Round 5 | Round 6

This week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules in favor of Apple, saying that the manufacturer had not infringed on any of Nokia's stated patents. You might remember that Nokia filed the complaint with the FTC, which is secondary to the lawsuit still pending in federal court, as an attempt to get Apple's products to be blocked for import. That would have certainly stopped Apple in its tracks since their phones are fabricated by Foxconn in China. It is hard to sell a phone to Americans when it is stuck in China.

This ruling does not affect the other side of the coin, however. Apple had filed a counter claim against Nokia to the FTC claiming the same types of patent infringement, not to block the import of Nokia phones, but to prolong the process as long as possible. They probably assumed that the FTC would rule against them and they could then make an offer between the companies to get both phones back into the America market. That is no longer required, so if Nokia loses the next one, Apple will have the upper hand. It's kind of like a legal tango, isn't it?

We also have news regarding the ongoing Apple vs Kodak battle. For the details, hit the break.

Microsoft Teaches An Old Disc A New Trick and Adds 1GB Capacity

posted Thursday Mar 31, 2011 by Jon Wurm

Microsoft Teaches An Old Disc A New Trick and Adds 1GB Capacity

Only 6 long years after the debut of the worlds best game console the day has come where Microsoft was forced to address the storage capacity of DVDs. Compared to Blu-ray discs, which can hold upward of 50GBs, the DVD's 7.95GB limit was quickly running short as Xbox 360 games were confined to 6.8GB. The other gig was partitioned off and reserved for anti-piracy purposes until a new version of Halo: Reach that uses the extra capacity surfaced. The details of what the extra capacity is being used for is uncertain but Xbox 360 scene hacker commodore4ever broke the news to the world in a tweet,

MS will introduce xgd3 – this will add more ap checks, cvi (content integerity) checks, increase the disc size and adds a new layer for protection issues – all in the 20500 sdk! bring it on.

There is currently no announced change over date and assuming things work out there will definitely be a Xbox 360 dashboard update that will allow consoles access to the extra space.

Some people might be disappointed that Blu-ray didn't make the cut but there is no way that could happen since Xbox consoles have never been equipped with Blu-ray disc readers. Yes, Blu-ray discs have around 6.3 times the capacity of DVDs and Microsoft was aware of that but read speeds for Blu-ray drives are significantly slower which is why most PS3 games have to be installed on the HDD instead of being run from the disc.

Look Around You, 3D Media Is More Engaging?

posted Thursday Mar 31, 2011 by Jon Wurm

Look Around You, 3D Media Is More Engaging?

DVD has been around for ages compared to Blu-ray which made its debut in May 2006. We also can't forget the new format on the block, 3D, that is still in the infant stages of development, even if we might want to. For several years we have seen DVD sales decline and Blu-ray sales double in some instances. The same can be said for 3D TVs which are expected to be in 15 million homes by the end of 2012.

There are a number of factors that have contributed to the slow decline of DVDs, such as increased competition from the other physical formats as well as the increasing popularity of digital media. Research company Mindlab, however, suggests that we might be drawn to higher quality media because our brains like it better.

Decide for yourself and hit the break.

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