Technology Tidbits

Robots, Open Standards, Vista Shenanigans, and more.

Norway mandates government use of ODF

Norway…

…has mandated that its websites must use Open Document Format (ODF) for files published for use by the Norwegian public.

“Everyone should have equal access to public information: Open standards become compulsory within the government.

“The government has decided that all information on governmental websites should be available in the open formats HTML, PDF or ODF. With this decision the times when public documents where only available in Microsoft’s Word-format is coming to an end.

One of the problems with Vista is that the consumer 32 bit version (and this is true generally of Windows systems) has an upper limit on how much RAM is actually available to the user, and it is about 3.2 gigs. So, consumers become depressed and angry when they buy 4 gigs for their computer, check out available memory, and find out that there is much less. Vista Service Pack 1 fixes this problem:

With SP1, Windows Vista will report the amount of system memory installed rather than report the amount of system memory available to the OS. Therefore 32-bit systems equipped with 4GB of RAM will report all 4BG in many places throughout the OS, such as the System Control Panel.

Nice going, Microsoft. THIS is why OpenSource rules! This would simply be impossible in the OpenSource world, but typical, expected behavior in the proprietary rule.

(Hey, consumers who buy into Vista, well, they’re just asking for it, aren’t they?)


NASA declares government tech invention of the year

Sounds like something straight out of a Terminator movie: A device that can act like muscle and nerves to expand and contract surfaces is the NASA Government Invention of the Year.

The Macro-Fiber Composite, or MFC, is made up of ceramic fibers and can be attached to a structure to bend it, reduce vibrations and monitor force. A team at NASA’s Langley Research Center created the flexible and durable material.

By applying voltage to the MFC, the ceramic fibers change shape to expand or contract and turn the resulting force into a bending or twisting action on the material. Likewise, voltage is generated in proportion to the force applied to the MFC material, NASA said in a statement.NASA sees MFC as being used in industrial and research applications for vibration monitoring and dampening. MFC technology could also find its way into inflatable space structures can be used for antennas, communication satellites, space station trusses, and solar sail support structures, NASA said.

Japan Robot Prize Goes to Mechanical Arm from PhysOrg.com
(AP) — A mechanical arm that can grab 120 items a minute from a conveyor belt won Japan’s Robot of the Year award Thursday, defeating a dozen flashier finalists, including a walking humanoid and a transparent torso for simulating surgery.

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Army Contractor iRobot Wins Patent Suits from PhysOrg.com
(AP) — IRobot Corp. on Friday won a pair of federal lawsuits against a competitor company founded by a former employee, resolving the dispute between the companies and putting the competitor out of business.

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