Our Weekly Utilities Update report is a list of all the updates for many Mac utilities that have been released in the past week. Though utilities can be any tool that helps you perform a routine task (including image manipulation and synchronization), our focus in this column is to bring you those tools that help in troubleshooting Mac hardware and software problems. This week there are relatively few updates, with a couple available for both maintenance and hardware management utilities, as well as a new version of MacPorts.… Read more
Researchers in Australia say they've successfully engineered the first dipstick-like blood-type test. By placing a drop of blood on a thin piece of paper that has been specially printed with antibodies, the blood's type is revealed based on which parts of the paper it seeps into.
The team, led by chemical engineering professor Gil Garnier at Monash University in Victoria, estimates the cost of the test at 10 cents. (By comparison, simple blood-type tests typically cost at least $15.)
The main grouping of blood types is ABO, and results in type A, type B, type AB, or type O (O indicating zero or absence of antigens). A separate grouping system, Rh, essentially qualifies blood types as positive or negative. The vast majority of people, then, have a blood type that can be characterized as A positive or A negative, B positive or B negative, AB positive or AB negative, and O positive or O negative.
Knowing one's blood type is crucial in the event that a blood transfusion is necessary, as complications such as shock and renal failure can occur between certain incompatible blood types. Someone whose blood type is O negative is considered a universal donor, while someone who is AB positive is a universal recipient.
The engineers and material scientists had actually been experimenting with different substances when they noticed something strange. "When you put a drop of blood on a Kleenex, it goes everywhere," Garnier told MIT's Technology Review. "But if it agglutinates [thickens], it stays in one place."
So they built a piece of paper with three arms, each printed (using enzymes or antibodies instead of ink in a modified ink-jet printer) with a different antibody to match the antigens on red blood cells--one for A, one for B, one for Rh.… Read more
The detection and treatment of solid cancers such as lung, breast, ovarian, colon, and prostate cancers could be on the verge of a major makeover, thanks to a new blood test developed at the University of Nottingham and spinoff company Oncimmune.
Early in a tumor's development, cancer cells produce antigens that trigger the body's immune system to release auto-antibodies in an attempt to fight them off. The body produces an abundance of these auto-antibodies to win the battle--more than the tumor does antigens, making the auto-antibodies easier to detect.
The test measures a panel of auto-antibodies in a … Read more
It's a noisy world and getting noisier all the time. No wonder sales of noise-canceling and noise-isolating headphones are booming.
Dwight Garner's New York Times article, "Meditations on Noise" reports on three books covering the impact of sound and noise on our lives.
Noise is usually classified as unwanted sound, but one person's noise is another's bliss. I've always been fascinated by electric guitar distortion, which can sound beautiful. Musicians such as Link Wray, Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, and Jonny Greenwood mastered the art of noise. Why humans like such unnatural sound is a mystery to me, but it appeals on a primitive, strangely organic level. That, or it's noise, ugly, nerve-wracking, unwanted sound. Indulging in loud music can be risky business; if you occasionally experience "ringing in the ears" after exposure to loud sounds or concerts, you may be losing your hearing.
Garner looks at three books: Garret Keizer's "The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book About Noise" (PublicAffairs); "Zero Decibels: The Quest for Absolute Silence" (Scribner), by George Michelsen Foy; and "In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise" (Doubleday), by George Prochnik.
I never thought about it until I read the article, but noise exposure has social and political aspects. Garner put it this way: "You can judge a person's clout--his or her social and political standing--by witnessing how much racket he or she must regularly endure." Right, money can buy whatever degree of solitude you need.
Technology may be the source of much of the aural bombardment, but it also offers remedies. We can block out some of the din with our iPods and such, but using music to mask noise can be dangerous. When earbuds and other headphones don't hush outside noise you have to turn up the volume louder than the noise to hear the tunes, so you're compounding the problem. That's why noise-canceling and noise-isolating headphones are such a good idea; they let you turn the volume down and still hear more of the music.
Reducing background noise, in and of itself, lets you hear more deeply into the music. It's not a small, audiophiles-only distinction. Noise masks the subtle stuff, so you can't hear the reverberation surrounding a singer's vocal, or the gentle strum of an acoustic guitar. When the background noise level is high you only hear the louder sounds in the music. Listening "through" noise is stressful and fatiguing; mute the noise and you hear more and feel better. … Read more
With more applications being built for the Web, performance testing is critical to determining the proper approach to scaling both applications and infrastructure. But for many years performance testing was largely a rich-man's game, primarily because of the expense of setting and maintaining a large server infrastructure that can simulate real-world traffic.
Hosted testing solutions make a lot of sense from both the user and provider perspective. Considering the vast computing power available at your fingertips there are few reasons why you would want to own the infrastructure, or not take advantage of the latest offerings from providers both … Read more
A lot has changed since we gave the Panasonic TC-PV10 series our Editors' Choice award last year. The most relevant development to the review you're reading now can be summed up with the eminently Google-able phrase "Panasonic black levels." The short story? Testing revealed that 2009 Panasonic plasmas lose their excellent black-level performance--the crucial capability to produce as dark a shade of black as possible--over less than a year of typical use. They become, literally, grayer, and lose the very edge that made them stand above the pack in the first place. As a result we lowered … Read more
With the launch Thursday of the X-37B spacecraft aboard an Atlas V rocket, the U.S. Air Force is taking a page from NASA's space shuttle program.
Looking somewhat like a traditional shuttle but at roughly one-quarter the size, the unmanned X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle took off for its maiden space voyage from Cape Canaveral in Florida and reached a low earth orbit late in the day. The X-37B is intended to serve as a platform for experiments and to offer insights on transporting satellite sensors and other equipment to and from space.
"If these technologies on the … Read more
Recently, AT&T announced an eco-friendly cell phone charger called the AT&T Zero Charger.
The allure of this device is it automatically shuts down when not in use, offering what AT&T claims is "zero vampire draw" from the wall outlet. Vampire draw is a term for the power that devices draw out of outlets they are plugged into while they are turned off. AT&T's charger will be USB-compatible, making it practical for many of the phones on the market today.
Sure, a zero-draw charger sounds helpful. With that said, we … Read more
On Wednesday I gave lip service to the Audi Ice Driving Experience that took place roughly a month ago in Finland. Today's video is a continuation of the current topic, showing the sights and sounds of this yearly event that's been in effect since the mid-'80s. There isn't a whole lot that I can add to what this video displays--it's simply poetry in motion with cars driving around on the beautifully snowy mountainside, and that can hardly be a bad thing. Enjoy.