Google and IBM help students reach for the clouds

By Sterling Camden
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

 It’s always a challenge for colleges and universities to keep up with advancing technology.  Back when I was hiring people, I was often disappointed by the lack of exposure to current practice obtained by new graduates during the course of their matriculation.  Technology advances so rapidly that unless you get your degree from one of the schools that create the new stuff, you’ll probably be five to ten years behind the times when you graduate.

Now imagine that you’re hiring for a company that defines the leading edge, like Google.  How do you find graduates who can work with your technology, when your technology isn’t being taught anywhere?  Answer: push your tech out to the universities.

Google has teamed up with IBM to create large data centers for students at six universities to learn “cloud computing” — the type of computing that uses thousands of processors and huge data stores to drive sites like Google.com.

These data centers will use “an open-source version of Google’s data center software” — a most interesting arrangement.  Obviously, the kids can’t learn it if it’s closed, but Rich Miller asks how much of Google’s secret sauce will be given away in this version?  There would seem to be a dilemma between wanting the students to have as rich an understanding as possible of the technology, versus protecting Google’s trade secrets from competitors.  But perhaps Google understands that any given technological advantage is fleeting, and that continued dominance rests more on the people they cultivate than on the algorithms they protect.



iPod pants on fire: liar liar?

Even though this was first reported two days ago, we couldn’t call ourselves “Geeks are Sexy” if we didn’t write about a case of iPod-induced pants on fire.

Danny Williams was working at his kiosk at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta airport and listening to his iPod Nano, when suddenly the music got a little bit too hot. Apparently the lithium ion battery (yes, the same kind of battery that produced several cases of exploding laptops last year and, um, “sparked” a recall) caught fire right in Danny’s pants pocket.

According to Williams, flames shot up to his chest before he noticed anything was going on (I don’t know what he was listening to, so maybe that extra warm feeling in his pants didn’t seem out of the ordinary). But he avoided having his meatballs broiled, thanks to an amazingly fire-retardent piece of glossy paper in his pocket. As one commenter on engadget said,

Ah yes, we all know the life saving properties of a “glossy piece of paper”. After all it’s what all flak jackets are made of.

Lots more great comments over at Fake Steve and Gizmodo.

Perhaps Danny’s story has been exaggerated just a wee bit. But I don’t doubt that the unit actually did overheat. After all, it’s happened before. Apple has reportedly offered to replace the year-old Nano, but I’m betting that Danny (or his lawyer) might be looking to cook up something more than that.

Can guest blogging be good for you and your site?

That’s the question I answered in a guest post over at Performancing.com after my newfound buddy David wrote a guest article for us two days ago. For those of you interested in learning more about why guest blogging could be profitable for you and your site, just follow this link and read what I have to say about the subject.

Who said guest blogging was worthless?



50 years of the Space Age

Scale model of Sputnik 1, from the Muzeum Tekniki, Warsaw, PolandBy Lyle Bateman
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

Today marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most significant events of the 20th century. Technology never exists in a vacuum … no matter what technical advancement we think of, there are always social, political, and ideological currents swirling around it as well as the technical ones. But, from time to time, a technical achievement happens that is so significant, it makes others pale in comparison. Such is the story of Sputnik 1, the first human object ever to orbit the earth.

Continue reading

Big Bang Theory is the Ultimate Geek Sitcom

…apart from the IT crowd that is!

The Big Bang Theory is a brand new sitcom that shows what happens when two hyperintelligent nerds meet a beautiful woman–and realize they know next to nothing about life outside of the lab.

This new serie airs on Monday nights at 8:30/7:30c on CBS. It will also be broadcasted on CTV and Channel 4 in Canada and the United Kingdom respectively.

The first full episode can be watched on CBS’s website. Enjoy!

Edit: Ok, the episode is not available for now, but I’m sure it’ll get back on eventually, so you might want to try the link again in a few hours.

(via BelchSpeak)

How Television and News Works

How Television Works

‘How Television Works’ is a must see for anyone curious about who controls television, why producers alter their programming to appease corporate sponsors, and what detrimental affects television has on human brain chemistry, attention span and behaviour.

How the News Works

‘How The News works’ is a closer inspection into the relationships between news agencies and news casters to their corporate shareholders which helps to explain why you shouldn’t believe a single word broadcast on the daily news.

Beijing 2008 Olympic Terminal looks like a UFO base

Beijing 2008 Airport Terminal

In order to accommodate the large amount of air traffic that will be flowing into China for the forthcoming 2008 Olympics, the Chinese government has commissioned a new multi-billion dollar airport terminal. The construction is slated to be completed by February 2008, just in time for the summer games. Designed by Foster + Partners, this new structure is the most technologically advanced airport in the world. Foster + Partners claims that this airport will provide a defining passenger experience as well as a level of operational efficiency and sustainability not found anywhere else. Beijing’s new international airport terminal will be the gateway to the city as it welcomes athletes and visitors from around the world to the twenty-ninth Olympiad in 2008.



Source: Gizmodo

HOW TO: Cheap Wireless For Your Xbox 360

Xbox 360 WirelessThis project will help you change a cheap wireless router into a wireless receiver for your Xbox 360. The total cost of this project can be as low as twenty or thirty dollars, compared to the one hundred dollars Microsoft wants for their little wireless dongle.

Also, please note that if you are NOT a technical person, you are better off getting Microsoft’s official wireless adapter. The cheapest place where you can get it is at Amazon.com.

* This tutorial assumes you already have a wireless router to send out wireless access to the Xbox 360.

Parts Needed:

  • Xbox 360, any version
  • Three Feet or more of Cat 5e Cable (Ethernet Cable)
  • Wireless Router
  • DD-WRT firmware

With the Nintendo Wii and the PlayStation 3 having built in wireless access, it has always been shameful to tell others I know that the old version of the Xbox 360 doesn’t have the same feature. If the inexpensive Nintendo Wii can have it built in, why can’t the Xbox 360?

Well with a change of the firmware on a vast variety of wireless routers, we can enable a feature that much more expensive wireless routers have by default: becoming a wireless receiver.

Before we begin, an explanation of the DD-WRT firmware is needed.

From the DD-WRT Wiki:

DD-WRT is a third party developed firmware released under the terms of the GPL for many 802.11g wireless routers based on a Broadcom chip reference design.

In the most basic of terms, DD-WRT replaces the router’s administration software, and allows access to a variety of different advanced features.

Purchasing the Proper Wireless Router

So first we will need to acquire a wireless router that allows use of this software. You can pick one up from eBay for around twenty or thirty dollars. Even better, you can purchase routers that already have the DD-WRT firmware installed, so if you are not into going the more advanced route, it is all set for you. These routers sometimes cost a little more as they sometimes come with a 1GB SD memory card inside, allowing you to use the router almost like a mini-server. That is overkill for what we need, but if you check out the router compatibility list for DD-WRT, you can surely find a router that will suit your needs.

Please note that the WRT54G, which is one of the cheapest and most famous linksys router around, works perfectly for this and can usually be found on Amazon.com for around $45 (or even less in the “used products” section).

I suggest purchasing a router of the same brand you are already using to send out your Internet signal, but if that isn’t possible, you might come across issues in getting the two wireless routers to talk to each other later on. I have used a variety of different brands and have yet to have any issues.

Installing DD-WRT

Once you have the router, we can begin the next step. Download DD-WRT from their website. Make sure you are using the right version for your wireless router, as stated in the DD-WRT version required list on the supported devices page.

The next step can look incredibly complicated and confusing, but if you spend a little bit of time reading the DD-WRT wiki, they have organized the information rather well.

A word of warning though. If you have never updated the firmware on a device before, you may not want to proceed with this project. Incorrect flashing procedure can cause your newly purchased router to no longer function.

I won’t go over all the installation instructions here, as it can be quite different depending on which router you have purchased. Check out the installation instructions on the DD-WRT wiki. They also give you tips on what you can do if the installation goes wrong.

Thankfully, the installation is usually quite easy, as most wireless routers have a system built in for upgrading the firmware, and this system can be used to install DD-WRT.

Setting the Router as a Receiver

Using your Ethernet cable, connect your computer to the router that is using the DD-WRT software. Browse to 192.168.1.1 using a web browser. It will ask for a user name and password. The user name will be root and the password will be admin. If you are using an older version of the DD-WRT software, you may not need to enter a user name.

DD-WRT - Main ScreenOnce you are in the DD-WRT administration panel, you will be able to change settings. What we need to do is change the router into what is known as client mode wireless. This will allow the router to receive Internet signal from whatever other wireless router you are using and share it out through the Ethernet ports on the back.

Again, this can be quite a lengthy list of instructions, and is totally dependent on your current network configuration, but the DD-WRT wiki to the rescue again, with a great list of tips, tricks, and numbered instructions on how to get it all to work.

The basic idea though is to get the DD-WRT router to get an IP address from your other wireless router connected to the Internet and then bridge that connection over to the devices we want to connect to the Internet.

Once you have gone through all the steps, your computer should be able to get Internet from the DD-WRT router. If you have not been able to get Internet access, DD-WRT has a great forum filled with knowledgeable people that are willing to help you out.

Connecting to the Xbox 360

If you have access to the Internet on your computer, then it is time to plug the connection into your Xbox 360. Move the DD-WRT router next to your Xbox 360, connect the Ethernet cable from the router to your Xbox 360’s Ethernet port.

Turn on your Xbox 360, and it should receive a connection. If you have made it to this stage then pat yourself on the back. You now have hopefully saved yourself enough to buy a few games from the Xbox 360 Marketplace, and have the ability to connect to the service and download them.

This same trick can be used to enable other devices to have a wireless connection, including a second computer somewhere in the house that you can’t easily put a wire to. I know this post will require a fair bit of reading on your part, but once it is complete, it is a great feeling. I spent less than forty dollars on the project, a savings of around sixty dollars plus tax, which I was then able to put into getting Zuma and a few other games for myself and the wife.

But as we said before, if tinkering and modding isn’t your thing, Microsoft’s official wireless adapter can now be had for pretty cheap on Amazon.com.

David Peralty, a full time problogger for the last two years, writes about making money online to fund his geek living over on eXtra for Every Publisher.