Pi buster: French software whiz claims record

{ Posted on Jan 10 2010 by }
Categories : Tech

A French software engineer said on Friday he was claiming a world record for calculating Pi, the constant that has fascinated mathematicians for millennia.

Fabrice Bellard told AFP he used an inexpensive desktop computer — and not a supercomputer used in past records — to calculate Pi to nearly 2.7 trillion decimal places.

That is around 123 billion digits more than the previous record set last August by Japanese professor Daisuke Takahashi, he said.

Takahashi, using a T2K Open Supercomputer, took 29 hours to crunch Pi to 2.577 billion digits.

Bellard took 131 days, comprising 103 for the computation in binary digits, 13 days for verification, 12 days to convert the binary digits to a base of 10 and three final days to check the conversion.

The gear cost “a bit less than 2,000 euros” (3,000 dollars), Bellard, who earns a living as a software consultant in digital television in Paris, said in an email exchange.

“It is a completely standard PC. The only unusual thing is that it has five 1.5-teraoctet hard disks. Mainstream PCs generally have only one 1-teraoctet disk.”

Bellard has placed on his website details of the achievement, including the use of a high-powered mathematical engine called the Chudnovsky algorithm that chewed through the computation.

Extracts of the 2,699,999,990,000-digit outcome have been published so that they can be compared to preceding records in order to gain independent verification, Bellard told AFP.

Files containing the digits are also being offered to any outside organism keen on hosting the record, he said.

Pi, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, kicks off with 3.14159… in a string whose digits are believed never to repeat or end.

Bellard said he was “not especially interested” in Pi’s digits but more in taking up the gauntlet of writing the software to carry out the arithmetic.

“Optimising these algorithms to get good performance is a difficult programming challenge,” he wrote.

Science Laughs: Science Comedian Brian Malow

{ Posted on Jan 07 2010 by }
Categories : Random, Videos

If you like science and comedy, this is the guy for you.

Joan Rivers Stranded!

{ Posted on Jan 05 2010 by }
Categories : Random, Television

I don’t know if you have heard yet, but Joan Rivers got stranded in Costa Rica recently. The woman at the desk wouldn’t let her board the plane because she had two different names in her passport. Her passport reads, Joan Rosenberg AKA Joan Rivers, Rosenberg was her late husbands name. She was stranded, could not use her credit card, and only had $100. Luckily there was another worker that felt sorry for her and drove her to the main airport.

With stories like this popping up all over the place, it is a wonder as many people fly as they do. Ever since this latest terrorist attempt, airport security has gotten stricter. Many people are being patted down, and do you know who they are? They are just average day Americans with kids that are flying to Disney World, the beach, or to see their families. I don’t mean to be racist, but why must security be as tight for people that check a bag per person, have 5 people traveling, including kids, and heading toward Orlando. In case they haven’t noticed, the latest terrorist attack was suspicious from the beginning. It was one foreign man, traveling by himself, he didn’t check any bags, and barely had any carry-on luggage if any at all, besides the bomb. That is the kind of person that needs to be checked more thoroughly.

When I travel, I carry a laptop, video camera, DSLR camera, and various equipment to go along. When I was going through the San Antonio airport, they had to check my backpack because they thought I had a weapon. I was pulled over to the side and the woman unzipped my bag. She said, “will anything cut me if I stick my hand in there.” What kind of question is that? It turns out they were wondering what my monopod was. They thought it was a bicycle pump. My question was, what the heck would I do with a bicycle pump to blow up a plane?

The point is that born Americans are being treated like terrorists, and yet the terrorists still get through the search. Something needs to change, and it needs to be done now.

Pop Up Office

{ Posted on Dec 28 2009 by }
Categories : Videos

Video of a pop up office set made of cardboard. Includes a chair and a desk! Great for travel and small apartments.

Cheating Wife

{ Posted on Dec 17 2009 by }
Categories : Videos

The Beatles: Rockband

{ Posted on Nov 17 2009 by }
Categories : Gaming, Tech

“Shake it up baby!”

We howl as we sing along to the new Beatles Rockband. The story mode of the game starts out in the Cavern Club with Twist and Shout. With each new venue, the music slowly progresses just as it did in real life. When you finish a song you earn pictures. There is a picture for getting three stars on a song and one for five stars, as well as one for finishing the entire venue. Once several pictures are earned, a rare video is unlocked of The Beatles doing whatever they do.

Instruments

The game includes Paul’s Hofner base, Ringo’s Ludwig drums, mic, and mic stand. The base is one of the most realistic video game controllers I have held. It has the length, the look, and the curves of a real Hofner base. When I started banging on the drums, they felt a little different, quieter, but different. After the first awkward song , I was getting the feel of the new drums and I was loving it. Unlike the first Rockband game, the base pedal in this one feels a lot sturdier. You might be saying, “What is so special about the microphone in this game?”. Well if you are just that far out of the loop, I’ll tell you. YOU CAN HAVE THREE PEOPLE SING AT THE SAME TIME! No! I did not stutter, you heard me right. It allows you to plug in three mics, all used with one controller. Anybody can sing any part they want. That way, certain people can be designated to sing different songs. The great thing about having the mic stand is that if you only have three people but want the have a full band, that one special person can sing and play an instrument at the same time!

Rating

I give it a 4 out of 5. It is a great game and The Beatles are amazing, but it won’t let you play other songs that you have downloaded for other Rockband games. You also can’t play songs you download on Beatles Rockband on other Rockband games.

Other than that, it is a definite buy.

How Google Street Really Works

{ Posted on Oct 24 2009 by }
Categories : Tech, Videos

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQGrIsYUm4c

Interesting Animation from Google Japan showing how Google Street really works. Check it out, and leave a comment telling us what you think!

TV.com Releases WatchList

{ Posted on Sep 30 2009 by }
Categories : Television

There are tons of places to watch TV online legally and for free. Hulu gets much of the buzz, in part because it was the first really comprehensive offering with big corporate partners, but it’s hardly the only player out there. CBS-owned TV.com was recently redesigned and the site has been taking steps to become not just another place to watch TV, but a full-fledged social community.

Now the site is launching a new way to keep track of what shows you want to watch and even where you want to watch them, with its new TV.com WatchList feature. The WatchList is really easy to use — basically you just search or browse for shows and choose to add them to your list. From the list, you can see upcoming shows for the rest of the week (and when they will be airing locally on your regular TV), watch a preview of upcoming episodes if they are available, and go right to the show’s page, which will provide clips, full-length episodes, reviews from the community, etc.

You can even record a show from your WatchList on your TiVo by connecting your TiVo account with TV.com. That way, you can choose to record an individual episode or get a Season Pass on your TiVo right from TV.com.

Because TV.com uses Facebook Connect, you can see which of your friends are watch the shows you watch and have seen or are planning to see the upcoming episode. Soon, you can share that you are planning on watching a show using Twitter, Facebook or MySpace. TV.com isn’t trying to be the only place you visit to watch TV shows online, instead, they want the site to act as sort of a central manager, making it easy for you to watch shows online, on regular TV or on other sites like NBC.com. TV.com wants to be the TV Guide of the 21st century.

Only time will tell if these features will be enough to make TV.com more than just a dream domain name, but features like the WatchList and better social media integration are a great way at honing out a distinct niche in the vast space of TV portal sites.

What do you think about TV.com’s WatchList feature? How do you manage what shows you are going to watch (online or off)?

Dropbox for iPhone

{ Posted on Sep 29 2009 by }
Categories : Tech

Dropbox App
Image by Funkbreaks via Flickr

The Dropbox Blog has just released a wonderful post announcing the release of their free iPhone Application. It’s not intended as a standalone app, so if you don’t already have one the software will prompt you to create a free 2GB Dropbox account.

Once installed on your device, Dropbox for iPhone provides access to all your Dropbox files, allows you to view any file supported by your iPhone (including documents, photos, music, and video), uploads any photo or video you’ve taken on your device to your Dropbox account, and lets you save any file as a favorite for offline viewing.

Other features of the app include easy one-click sharing of your Dropbox files by email (a link to the file will be sent to the recipient), and a photo gallery view for easy browsing of images in your Dropbox account on your phone. You can also upload photos and video directly to your Dropbox, which when combined with Shared folders can quickly and easily share your media with friends and family.

If you already use Dropbox on the desktop you’ll appreciate its automatic sync features, but because of potential space limitations the iPhone app thankfully doesn’t actively sync your entire Dropbox collection. But it does support automatic downloads to your phone, and “favoriting” a Dropbox file will set it up to auto-sync. When a new version of the file is available on Dropbox, you’ll be notified in the iPhone app and prompted to sync.

We’ve been checking out the new app and have been impressed with its ease of use. The ability to connect natively on the go to a service we already find indispensable adds a lot of value. Are you a Dropbox user? If you have an iPhone, have you had a chance to check out the app yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Microsoft Courier Video

{ Posted on Sep 29 2009 by }
Categories : Tech, Videos

This video walks through the Courier interface, and provides an overview of the interface and Courier’s features, and more of how you would actually use it if you are not a designer. The interface has more of a Microsoft feel (fonts and titles bars) and less of the entirely handwritten journal aesthetic: a smart agenda, more defined folder system, universal search and multi-page web browsing.

The heart of Courier appears to what’s called the “infinite journal,” which is what it sounds like: A journal/scrapbook that is endless, bound only by storage constraints (presumably). Hopefully they will call it something less awkward. The journal can actually be published online, and it’s shown to be downloadable in three formats: a Courier file, Powerpoint or PDF.

The hinge between the screens is still used as a pocket to “tuck” items you want to move from one page to another. It also revolves almost exclusively around using the pen for input: In 4 minutes of video, there’s not a virtual keyboard in sight. Fingers are used just to navigate, through flicks, swipes and pinches.

It also begins to bring into focus Courier’s priorities, and possible limitations: Other than the brief glimpse at the library and the web browser, there is basically nothing about viewing content, like watching movies, reading books, or listening to music. Courier appears to be all about creating and writing with a pen, which is vastly different from what everybody expects out of the Apple tablet.