Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Did Chinese discover America? Theory gets new life
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Few history theories stir as much controversy as Gavin Menzies's idea that a legendary Chinese admiral discovered America, seven decades before European explorer Christopher Columbus.
Although many historians dismiss the former British naval officer's theory, including some from China, the predominantly ethnic Chinese city-state of Singapore may give it a new sheen of respectability during a three-month exhibition beginning in June.
Menzies, author of the bestseller "1421: the Year China Discovered America," says Admiral Zheng He led a 'star fleet' of 30,000 men aboard 300 ships to the American continent in the 15th century to expand Ming China's influence.
Zheng, says Menzies, drew up maps later used by Columbus to reach America in 1492 while searching for a new route to India. Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan also sailed with the help of Chinese-drawn maps in the 16th century, he adds.
Boy finds snake in cereal box
LONDON (Reuters) - A British boy sitting down to breakfast had a nasty surprise when he discovered a two-foot long snake inside his box of cereal.
Jordan Willett, 5, thought he had found a toy when the serpent -- a harmless corn snake -- slithered out of the packet of "Golden Puffs" his parents had bought from discount store Netto in Telford, central England.
"It was quite long and popped its head up. I've seen snakes on TV before but never in a box of cereal," he told the Daily Mail newspaper.
U.S. Risks Missing the Boat in Micro-Power Fuel Cells
"We continue to be astonished that most thought and market leaders in the U.S. are indifferent to, or completely unaware of, the substantive and growing investment being made in Asia, and more recently in Europe, in the development of small, portable fuel cells, and the widespread awareness in those markets, even with the person on the street, of the technology and its promise," said Jim Balcom, PolyFuel president and CEO.
Micro-power fuel cells utilize replaceable fuel, typically methanol, that in the presence of catalysts and a carefully engineered membrane, produce enough electricity to power small electronic devices such as mobile phones, PDAs, or portable computers. What makes them attractive is the promise of more power and longer run times than is available from conventional batteries.
Balcom said that the Japanese and Koreans are especially sensitive to what some have called the "coming power crisis" in portable electronics. "You can walk into most movie theaters in Japan and find banks of public charging stations for cell phones. And the Japanese have coined the term 'power-eater' to describe personal electronic devices that gobble up power like they were connected to the mains."
Balcom attributes part of the current lack of awareness of the coming market need to a several-year lag in consumer technology adoption in the U.S. versus Asia and Europe. "Watching broadcast video on a cell phone, a perfect example of a 'power-eater' application, is one of the 'next big things' desired by the Tokyo 'salaryman'," said Balcom, "but here we're mostly just talking."
Balcom lives with this disconnect on a daily basis. "I fear, however, that by the time the trendy applications take root here in the U.S., the design and manufacture of micro-power fuel cells will be firmly entrenched offshore. That ship will have sailed." This scenario, said Balcom, is not unlike that of Lithium ion batteries, whose technologies were predominantly developed in the U.S. but commercialized first in Japan.
What is needed in the U.S., said Balcom, is greatly increased market awareness. "The portable fuel cell market is going to happen, and it going to happen in the next two to three years," he maintained. "The press, analysts, and relevant business planners have to start connecting the dots, to see that what is happening now with Japanese consumers can lead to huge U.S. market opportunities. They also have to realize that the technological challenges, like better membranes, or regulatory ones, like permitting methanol cartridges on commercial aircraft, are being knocked off one by one. Now, it's time to become attuned to the market opportunities, start talking about them, and to say 'nay' to the naysayers."
Finally, Balcom cautioned that too narrow of a market focus can also leave us waiting at the dock. "The holy grail in fuel cells is an automotive design that with electric motors can eliminate the need for internal combustion engines in cars or other vehicles, without any decrease in vehicle performance or increase in price. The expertise gained from developing portable fuel cells will be directly applicable to the designs, materials, and manufacturing processes necessary for stationary or automotive fuel cells, and can even, perhaps, provide transferable economies of scale." Balcom predicted that the leading suppliers to the automotive fuel cell market, when it emerges, will be those suppliers that "paid their dues" in portable cells.
SMART, American IDC, and High Speed Lifestyle Tour $150,000 Lamborghini Give Away!
SMART pioneered Mobile Entertainment worldwide. In addition, over the past four years, SMART has developed and managed hundreds of text message campaigns for top brands such as Visa, MasterCard and Coca-Cola along with Hollywood Blockbusters such as: "X-Men," "Kill Bill" and "The Matrix."
The High Speed Lifestyle Tour begins June 12th in Houston and will make 10 stops in all visiting Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Detroit among others.
The need to simplify Intellectual Property Rights Management and the U.S. Mobile Video Industry
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (www.wireless.frost.com), U.S. Mobile Video Services Market, reveals that service revenue in this market totaled $28.8 million in 2004 and is projected to grow to $1519.6 million by 2009.
Though content providers may have already assigned rights to established distributors in specific countries and regions, obtaining amendments to existing licensing agreements remains a much complicated process for content aggregators. In some cases, content providers assign exclusive distribution rights to established distributors in these regions, which further complicates the process of introducing video services over mobile networks.
"While the whole rights issue is not a deterrent in itself, the industry can surely benefit from the presence of a single organization that could act as a clearinghouse for mobile video rights clearance," notes Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Vikrant Gandhi. "This presents an opportunity for organizations to specialize in such clearance."
Along with the need for speedier IP rights clearance, the issue of digital rights management (DRM) is another cause of worry among content aggregators and mobile operators. To ensure larger participation of mobile content providers, the U.S. mobile industry will have to introduce strict DRM controls that address their concern.
Nevertheless, increasingly sophisticated DRM versions are being deployed in the U.S. mobile industry with the predominant DRM specifications coming from Open Mobile Alliance (OMA), a consortium of over 300 companies. Further, a majority of DRM related concerns are addressed when content is streamed over mobile network due to the fact that the content is not actually stored on the handset.
Although mobile video content is not targeted at any particular demographic segment, entertainment-related content still leads in terms of number of offerings. With the introduction of advanced networks, capable handsets, and compelling content, the mobile video industry is expected to witness a greater uptake among a broader demography.
As a step in this direction, multicast networks-led mobile TV services will be offered in the near future. While mobile operators would endeavor to provide streaming services over their own networks as well as multicast services, providing a combination of these services at an acceptable price band is expects to be a challenge.
While having to decide upon the right balance between pricing and the range of content, the U.S. mobile operators should have a data strategy targeted at increasing the average revenue per mega byte (ARMB). Since a large and attractive content portfolio could actually result in lower ARMB, it may be more profitable to offer compelling content, whose variety is determined by ARMB considerations.
"Mobile content aggregators should treat multicast networks as an opportunity and strive to partner with the multicast network operators for developing future multicast content," says Gandhi. "With the imminent launch of high-quality live mobile TV services through digital video broadcast-handheld (DVB-H) and forward link only (FLO) platforms, revenue from mobile video multicasting services is expects to overtake that from streaming and download services."
ATI Graphics Available for the First Time in New iMac G5
"Apple continues to blaze a trail in 3D graphics, using the graphics processor for functions well beyond gaming. Having Apple recognize the value of integrating ATI graphics into the iMac is a real testament to our continuing technology leadership in the Apple market," said Rick Bergman, Senior Vice President, PC Business Unit, ATI Technologies.
The new iMac and eMac feature the Radeon 9600, designed with 128MB of memory and 128 bit architecture, giving users incredible performance, resulting in a compelling graphics experience. The Radeon 9600 accelerates a range of applications, from presentations and real-time games to home entertainment and video editing.