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Last night, CES opened to members of the press with Unveiled to highlight many of the design award honorees and new tech that will be featured across the upcoming show, which starts tomorrow. I was on hand looking for new iOS compatible or Apple accessory products geared toward iOS devices. Check inside for a few of the products I stumbled upon…


After seeing all of the vendors, I was most impressed with Delphi, which announced two new products for 2013. First is the wireless charging system that can be integrated with a car dashboard or center console. Using Resonance charging technology, the phone needs to be in relative proximity to the sensors but requires no direct touch or external cases. Consequently, the device will charge as you drive without fumbling with annoying wires or cigarette lighter accessories.

Second, an active human-machine interface (HMI) that gathers information from a car-to-cloud and cloud-to-car devices installed by the consumer within the vehicle was announced. This service will be subscription based with Verizon wireless for an unannounced price, which is controlled by Verizon. Through an app for iPhone or Android devices, it will read system diagnostic information such as engine status and tire pressure. Additionally, the app provides the ability to remote start the vehicle, control the AC/Heat units, and lock or unlock the car. If you are interested in tracking children, or a spouse, the app will allow the user to set a geofence to specific areas, giving a pop-up notification when it is breached. Aggressive speed increases and decreases are also optionally monitored.


In the connected home category, Belkin was present with another addition to their WeMo system. This system allows control of certain hardware devices around the home with minimal installation. Currently, the system provides hardware for WiFi controlled outlets and motion detectors. Launching in 2013 will be a WiFi enabled wall panel light switch. The switch will still offer tactile hardware control but also connect to the user’s home WiFi router for control through the appropriate app. A perfect way to hit the lights without getting out of bed.


In the case category, Unu is releasing the Endliss Hybrid Battery Case, an LED battery powered case which is a Q1 hopeful. The case has a built in LED screen on the back, which uses Bluetooth 4.0 to receive information about incoming calls, texts, Facebook messages, or tweets. It will be touch sensitive to allow user manipulation and the goal is to release with a stock set of LED images, then slowly release new options. Ultimately, the user will be able to create their own images by drawing/touching the back of the screen and saving their own options. The case has its own power supply but, in a pinch, the power supply can be drained into your iPhone, should it need a charge. However, it does not charge from the iPhone, as it is charged via mini USB.

Another interesting case is the touch sensitive Sensus by Canopy, which we covered in a previous article. Microprocessors are built into the back and right side of the case to allow manipulation of on screen items. Sensus is powered by the iPhone but allegedly drains the battery less than any other connected Bluetooth device. It is being marketed primarily as a gaming option to keep fingers off the screen, freeing up valuable viewing area. It will hit the market sometime this year with a price range between $59-$99.

Stay tuned for more CES coverage on iDownloadBlog. Tomorrow, Sebastien will be joining me on the floor and we will tag team some of the booths. If you have not yet, find me on Twitter for live tweets during the show.

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Why Some Sharks Are Like Blimps, And Others Are Like Airplanes

When you think of a zeppelin, you probably don’t picture a large, cartilaginous fish with rows of pointed teeth. But perhaps you should. There are similarities between the two that you’ve almost certainly never considered—and these shared aerodynamic properties have given us insight into how sharks evolved their buoyancy.

The thing about living underwater is that your body has to be approximately the same density as the liquid surrounding it. Too dense, and you spend all your energy trying not to sink. Too airy, and you just float right on up to the top. Land animals don’t have this problem, since we’re all more dense than air. But sea creatures have to evolve a way to balance their buoyancy and their ability to swim, or else they’d never survive in the ocean.

Fish do this with a swim bladder, which sounds like an old-timey swimming cap, but is actually an organ filled with gas that allows some swimmers to adjust their buoyancy at will. It looks rather like a fleshy, inflated balloon. Bony fish (that is, non-cartilaginous ones) can change how much gas is inside their swim bladder to float at any depth they’d like, without having to expend energy when they’d rather stay in one place.

Sharks don’t have that. Instead, they’ve evolved very fatty livers. Fat, in addition to being delicious, is much less dense than water. This is why (generally speaking) humans with more body fat tend to be more buoyant. It’s the same basic principle, except that we carry our fat on the outside and sharks store theirs in the liver.

But not all shark livers are created equal. Buoyancy is a delicate balance, and each species of shark has evolved a specific level of floatiness. Biologists from the U.S. and Australia set out to study how 32 shark species vary in density, size, and swimming habits to figure out how this balance actually evolved. They recently published their results in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Some sharks, like Greenland or bramble varieties, swim exceptionally slowly at intense ocean depths, where the water is more dense. They need to be less buoyant at those sea levels—but also swim exceptionally slowly to conserve energy—so they need to have enough upward lift from their livers to allow steady motion. These are the blimp sharks; they’re perfectly adapted to constant motion at moderate speeds.

Other, faster species have different priorities. Blacktip and silky sharks live in relatively shallow waters, where they need to be able to catch lightning quick small prey. Having a less buoyant body allows them to maneuver more nimbly (as anyone who’s ever tried to swim in a life vest will understand), and more energy-efficiently. These plane-like sharks have smaller livers, often so small that the fish would sink if they weren’t moving forward. As a result, their fins are shaped like wings to provide upward lift in lieu of internal flotation support. The trade-off is that they’re poorly suited to slow, constant movement.

Your intuition probably tells you that bigger sharks tend to swim more slowly, and based on all this new information, that they probably have higher buoyancies. And you’d be right. Large sharks tend to have large livers, though that wasn’t necessarily a given. The researchers weren’t sure that the livers would scale in proportion to overall body size, or whether some species would have inordinately large or small flotation devices in their guts. But it turns out that the greater the liver volume, the larger the rest of the body needs to be to accommodate it—the additional liver doesn’t replace lean muscle tissue.

The humble cow shark Peter Southwood

Of course, none of this means that blimpy sharks can’t also be terrifying, toothy, speedy predators. Sharks are still extremely efficient swimmers—it’s just that bulky, buoyant species are more energy efficient at slower speeds. The blimp-esque bluntnose sixgill shark is roughly 12-foot-long, fat-headed, and so sluggish it’s earned the noble nicknamed of “cow shark.” They are, however, distinctly un-blimp-like in their capacity to rip an animal to shreds with their six rows of teeth. Even large sharks typically rely on their speed, agility (and, let’s be honest, their toothiness) to catch food.

Sharks may be really good at hunting down their food, but these are killing machines that deserve more respect than fear. Even in the death trap colloquially known as Australia, sharks have only killed 16 people since 2000, and that’s the country with the most shark-related fatalities in the world. You’re more likely to die by cow attack or, for that matter, by deer—and that’s not counting how many people die in car crashes caused by deers. A literal deer just being a deer is more likely to kill you than is a shark is. Fear the deer—not the great white.

New Iphones, New Macbook Pros, Snow Leopard, And Iphone 3.0 Unveiled At Wwdc

Today at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco, the Cupertino computer maker announced a host of new products before an audience of developers and media. Among other announcements, the company has updated its MacBook Pro product line, launched a new version of its Safari Web browser, offered a preview of its upcoming Snow Leopard operating system, and readied iPhone 3.0 for market.

New Notebooks

First up in its presentation, Apple showed off new MacBook Pro laptops, including a new version of the 15-inch MacBook Pro. With a longer-lasting battery (similar to that featured in the existing 17-inch model), the new machine will have a battery life of up to seven hours, two hours longer than its predecessor. It also features a nicer display, an SD card slot in place of the former Express Card slot, and support for up to 8GB of RAM. It will be available with processor speeds up to 3.06GHz abd 6MB L2 cache, making it the fastest notebook Apple has made to date.

The 17-inch MacBook Pro has also been refreshed with a 2.8GHz processor and a 500GB hard drive.

The 13-inch unibody aluminum MacBook has received a bump up in status, making it a MacBook Pro. Unlike its predecessors, it will now feature support for 8GB of RAM and 500GB of storage, with the option of a 256GB SSD drive.

Apple has dropped the prices of its notebook line as well. The 13-inch MacBook pro will range from $1,199 to $1,499, the 15-inch model will range from $1,699 to $2,299, and the 17-inch model will cost $2,499. All models begin shipping today.

Snow Leopard

Business users will be able to use Microsoft Exchange servers with Mail, iCal, and Address Book. In a demo of the new features, Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Bertrand Serlet explained that the three built-in contact, scheduling, and e-mail apps will now feature Exchange configuration as a standard option. Users can simply enter their Exchange e-mail address and password, and Snow Leopard will automatically configure all three apps at once.

Come September, Snow Leopard will sell for $129, with an upgrade for existing Leopard users available for $29.

Apple’s Web browser, Safari, has also received a refresh, and ships today in version 4 for Leopard, Tiger, and Windows. Safari 4 includes better handling of browser plug-ins, which will allow the browser to continue functioning if a plug-in such as Flash crashes while viewing a page.

The most talked-about bunch of updates Apple unveiled at WWDC came from its iPhone 3.0 software upgrade, which purportedly adds 100 new features to the iPhone. Critics have long stressed the need for cut, copy, and paste features across the iPhone OS, and those features are now built in. Also, all key apps in the iPhone now feature landscape mode to maximize screen width. And in the U.S., iPhones on the AT&T network will finally feature MMS support later this summer.

Search features have also been enhanced in iPhone 3.0 with the addition of Spotlight. This will enable users to search not only their contacts, but also calendar entries, notes, e-mail, and even apps on the device.

iTunes will now allow iPhone users to purchase or rent movies directly from the device, and Apple has added parental controls that will restrict the kinds of movies, shows, and apps that children can run on the phone or iPod touch.

As promised in a previous iPhone announcement, iPhone 3.0 includes push notification for instant messaging and other applications.

Perhaps the most exciting update for iPhone 3.0 is the addition of tethering capabilities. At last, users who are away from their Wi-Fi network will be able to use the iPhone’s cellular broadband connections to connect their laptop to the Internet. This feature will work via USB or Bluetooth, and is supported by 22 carriers in 44 countries.Unfortunately, AT&T is not one of the carriers supporting this feature, which leaves U.S. iPhone customers wanting.

The iPhone 3.0 software is available to developers today, and ships to customers next Wednesday.

The iPhone 3GS will be faster than the iPhone 3G, and will include video capture, voice control, built-in support for Nike+ accessories, hardware encryption for Exchange users, and improved battery life. The phone will be available on June 19.

Now We Know What An Angry, Hungry Bat Sounds Like

Jostling for food and living space can make for some tense interactions with your roommates. But just imagine thousands—or millions—of individuals spending decades sharing the same dark room. They’d need constant communication to keep the peace.

That seems to be the case even for Egyptian fruit bats, which live in large colonies and are generally social creatures. Walking into a typical roost can be a noisy experience, but are the bats just making random noises or are they actually talking to each other?

In a study published in Scientific Reports on Thursday, researchers suggest that the noisy bat calls actually do contain a lot of information, including who’s ‘speaking’ and whether the bats in a particular interaction are fighting about food, a mate, or something completely different.

“The vocalizations we looked at in this study were all categorized in the past as agonistic calls, that is, aggressive vocalizations emitted during fighting. We now show that there is information in this chaos. We demonstrate that a third individual listening to a fight between two bats can tell who is shouting, what is the context of shouting (e.g., fighting over food or over position or over mating) and even to some extent who is being shouted at. We now know that the cacophony that we hear when entering a bat cave is far from just noise,” Yossi Yovel, the lead author of the study, told Popular Science in an e-mail.

By recording a group of 22 bats for 3 months straight, Yovel and colleagues were able to figure out which bats were involved in any conversation and what they were squabbling about. But that doesn’t mean that the researchers have identified a bat language, or even the bats’ individual call signs. What they did manage to do is recognize individual bat voices.

“It is similar to humans individual voice. It is not that bats state their name, but that when you examine their voice, you can recognize who is shouting (calling),” Yovel says. “In fact, in the study, we used algorithms that are typically used for human speech recognition to recognize the individual bats.”

They could also figure out specific noises that related to food, mates, or a need for some space. But this isn’t the start of some kind of inter-species communication. (Go home Arrival, you’re drunk.)


“We do not find a ‘word’ that mean ‘hello’ or ‘move’ or ‘eat’ in bat communication,” Yovel says. “You could imagine this as something like this: when a bat shouts at another bat for taking its food, the vocalizations will always be higher in pitch than when they are fighting over a position in the cave.”

The next step will be to figure out how bats know to make those noises. Are they born with this manner of “speaking” or do they learn it over time? Yovel and his colleagues are also looking into vocalizations made outside of the confines of the roost. To gather that data, they are attaching tiny microphones to bats in the field, which is adorable. Maybe someday soon we’ll have an even more detailed answer to that age old question: ‘what does the bat say?’

Hp Unveils A Slew Of New Ips And Led Monitors At Ces 2013

HP unveils a slew of new IPS and LED monitors at CES 2013

Today things are officially off and running with CES 2013, and what better way to start some announcements from HP then with a host of new Windows 8 PC monitors. HP has a slew of 5 new monitor series. They’ll be featuring impressive LED, IPS, and ProDisplay monitors on the showroom floor this week, and we’ve got all the details so read on below to find out more.

We’ll jump right in as they’ve just announced 5 different monitors this afternoon. The biggest of the bunch coming in at 27-inches is the new HP Envy 27 Monitor. This features a beautiful and vivid 27-inch IPS LCD panel with their thin blade bezel design. It’s also protected in edge-to-edge hardened glass for extra gloss and protection. It features built-in Beats Audio stereo speakers, and a full 1920 x 1080p HD resolution. The new 27-inch IPS Envy 27 hits the streets February 3rd for around $499.

Next since we’re talking about IPS displays is their new HP Pavilion 20xi-27xi IPS monitors. While not covered in hardened glass like the model above, the xi series features a similar edge-to-edge bezel free design with their blade technology. They’ll come in 4 sizes: 22xi, 23xi, 25xi, and 27xi and all have 1920×1080 Full HD resolution options. You’ll then get support via VGA, DVI-D and HDMI connectivity, while a smaller 20xi offers 1600 X 900 resolution with VGA. The IPS panels ensure 178-degree viewing angles and excellent colors. The new Pavilion xi monitors start at $129 and go to $339 for the 27xi. All available around the end of January.

Then for those on the go HP’s announced their new HP U160 15.6-inch LED Backlit Monitor. This unique display features a built in stand that doubles as a carry case, and is ideal for those on the go needing a portable monitor. Weighing in around 3.4 lbs and measuring only 1.02 inches thin, this should be a great choice for many. It’s expected to be available in January starting at $179 USD.

Next up is the HP x2401 24-inch LED Backlit Monitor (pictured below and also at the head of this article). This is another high end Beats Audio powered monitor, only it is 24-inches and comes with an LED display instead of IPS — so won’t be priced as high as the 27-inch monitor above. The X2401 features an MVA panel, not IPS, but still gives excellent 178 degree viewing angles and extremely inky black colors. This monitor also rocks a full 1920 x 1080p HD resolution 5000:1 contract ratio, and comes in a brushed aluminum finish. Oddly HP states it won’t be available until November, but will be priced at $249.

Then last but certainly not least is the new HP ProDisplay LED backlit line. These are more traditional monitors, and come in 18.5, 20, and 21.5-inch inch models. Respective names are P191 18.5-inch, P201 20-inch, P201m 20-inch, and P221 21.5-inch LED Backlit Monitors. These offer 250 nits brightness, 1000:1 contract, 3M:1 DCR, 5ms response time, and 170/160 viewing angles, so not quite IPS quality. These have the always welcomed 35-degrees of tilt adjustability and 90-degree pivot modes for multiple uses. I’d probably snag two P221’s and put them side by side. The new ProDisplay line will be priced at $129-179 based on size.

Surely we can expect big things from HP here at CES, and we’ll be running around trying to get pictures and videos of all their latest and greatest. Stay tuned for plenty more from CES 2013.

New Book By Pete Souza (Com’76) Throws Some Shade On Trump

New Book by Pete Souza (COM’76) Throws Some Shade on Trump Former White House photographer expresses his opinion of Obama’s successor

From 2008 to 2024, Pete Souza worked at the job of a lifetime: he was the White House photographer, chronicling the first US African American president. Last year Souza (COM’76) spoke with BU Today about his book Obama: An Intimate Portrait a collection of pictures from his eight years on the job that made some readers tearfully nostalgic for the 44th president. It became a number-one bestseller.

At the time, Souza didn’t talk much about the way he was using his @petesouza Instagram feed to needle Obama’s replacement, Donald Trump, but nonetheless, it got a lot of attention. He responded to the 45th president’s public gaffes, combative tweets, and assorted graceless moments by posting pictures that showed Barack Obama in, well, a contrasting light. His 2.1 million Instagram followers enjoyed the way he was throwing shade on Trump, but Souza said he preferred to let the posts speak for themselves.

Now Souza is back on the road with Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents (Little, Brown, 2023), which offers a curated version of his Instagram feed between hard covers. Just like his first book, it’s hit best-seller lists. And these days he’s more than willing to discuss his feelings about Trump.

The book begins by reproducing a @realDonaldTrump tweet: “An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that @BarackObama’s birth certificate is a fraud.” Facing it, on the title page, is a Souza picture of Obama pointing an accusing finger at himself in the mirror, just kidding around. It’s a not-so-subtle mocking of Trump’s accusation. Similar contrasts continue throughout the book. Sometimes it’s substantive, sometimes it’s a matter of personal grace, sometimes both.

Left page: “Trump Bars Refugees and Citizens of 7 Muslim Countries, New York Times, Jan. 27, 2023.” Right page: Photo of Obama kneeling among young refugees at a school in Malaysia.

Left page: @realDonaldTrump tweet, “WITCH HUNT!” Right page: Photo of Obama greeting a little girl in a witch costume during trick-or-treating at the White House.

BU Today spoke with Souza recently about his new book.

Souza: It’s good the Dems took the House and some governor’s races. Until now there hasn’t been any branch of government that could keep a check on Trump and things he’s doing which are knowingly illegal. The Republicans just look the other way. But until we make a change in the president, I’m not going to feel that good at all.

It’s the constant lies and bullying and scare tactics of the president. I finally saw that I needed to speak out a little more vocally, that it was my civic duty, and that I have a unique voice that could contribute something—still mostly in a humorous way—about how disrespectful this guy is to the presidency by his almost daily antics.

I made that choice because that is what started Trump’s political career and started him getting all this media attention. Every time he would speak about that, the cable channels and Fox News would cover it and give him prominent airtime. Where it was just a bunch of bull—. And he knew it was bull—-, but he also knew it would get a lot of attention. And that’s the way he operates. He wants attention.

Predominantly the same, but I think I’ve inspired some people to get involved in their community and to vote. There’s been an emphasis all across the country this year to get people out to vote, and I think I’ve had a tiny part in that. There’s a grassroots movement—you saw the record number of people who voted in the midterm. I spoke to a high school journalism conference the other day in Chicago; there were a few thousand in the audience, and I asked them, ‘How many of you will be 18 in 2023?’ and pretty much every single one raised their hand. And then I said, ‘How many of you are going to vote in 2023?’ and nobody put their hand down. I think there’s an awareness now of how important voting is.

I think from the historical standpoint, you’ve never had a former White House photographer publicly criticizing the next president. I didn’t do this lightly. If it was Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney or McCain or Kasich or any of those guys who had become president, I wouldn’t be doing this. All of those people respect other people and respect the office of the presidency. What galls me about Trump is I think he disrespects the office of the presidency every day by the way he behaves and the things he says on Twitter, and he lies all the time and bullies people. I think it’s unbecoming of the leader of our country. And I just could not live with myself if I did not speak out.

I’ve heard from lots of people that they find the Instagram account humorous and comforting and truth-telling as well. As far as the president goes, I have not really talked to him about this, because I didn’t want to put him or myself in the position where people thought this was something I was doing under his direction. I’ve seen him a couple of times and mainly we’re talking about family, how are his girls doing, things like that. We’re not talking about my Instagram feed at all.

No, I don’t socialize. My travels would not necessarily be to the places they’re going.

Pete Souza will sign copies of his new book, Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents, on Thursday, December 13, at 5 pm at Porter Square Books, 25 White St., Cambridge. Tickets are required for the signing line—find one by scrolling down the store’s web page. One ticket is included when you purchase a copy of Shade ($30). Souza will be personalizing books. If you have Obama: An Intimate Portrait, he’ll sign one copy per person.

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