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Microsoft, Tablet Maker

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At a glitzy Los Angeles event Microsoft unveils its next big step as a hardware maker-- Microsoft Surface, a family of 2 Microsoft-branded Windows tablets complete with clever keyboard covers.

Window RT TabletThe purpose of the Surface tablets is to "prime the pump" for the imminent Windows 8 release, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says.

The Surface comes in 2 varieties-- one running Windows 8 on Intel 22nm Ivy Bridge chips, and the other running Windows RT using an ARM chipset.

The Windows 8 Surface is 13.5mm thick, weighs 860g has a 10.6-inch "ClearType HD" display of unknown resolution and comes inside vapor-deposited (PVD) magnesium case. It carries USB 3.0 and DisplayPort ports and supports stylus input.

The Windows RT version nearly identical in size, only slightly thinner (9.3mm) and lighter (6.6g). It has microSD, USB 2.0 and Micro HD ports and also comes with either 32 or 64GB of storage.

Both tablets carry front- and back-mounted cameras, an integrated kickstand (also made in PVD magnesium), full-size USB ports and dual wifi antennas.

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RIP Eugene Polley

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TV remote inventor Eugene Polley passed away age 96 from natural causes at a Chicago hospital.

Eurgene PolleyPolley invented the TV remote-- making life a lot more comfortable for coach potatoes everywhere-- back in 1955 with the gun-like "Flash-Matic" It fired a light beam at 4 photo cells on each corner of the TV screen in order to turn switch between channels.

Original adverts described it as a "flash of magic light" that "you have to see to believe it." It wasn't perfect, mind-- sunlight affected the photo cells, changing channels at unexpected moments.

Polley was born in Chicago in 1915, and started his engineering career in 1935. His career with Flash-Matic makers Zenith Electronics lasted 47 years, earning him 18 US patents.

In 1997 Polley received an Emmy for his work together with fellow Zenith engineer Robert Adler.

Go TV Remote Control Inventor Eugene Polley Dies at 96 (BBC)

Billion Dollar Ghost City is Tech Lab

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Smart grid, smart cities, smart homes, smart roads…how do you research these mega-projects?

CITEYou build a $1 billion city in the desert. You model the fake town after a real city (Rock Hill, South Carolina in USA, population 66,000) and build it complete with highways, houses and commercial buildings—even some old buildings mixed in with new ones just like in the real city. No one will live there, but each and every house will include appliances, plumbing, and other necessities.

This built-to-order town lets researchers test new infrastructure without interfering in anyone’s everyday life…because there isn’t anyone.

It’s a research facility but it’s also an empty city, a veritable ghost town. They call this CITE project “a first-of-its kind” smart city but given its cost and mission, it may just be “a one-of-a kind.”

Thankfully it’s not taxpayer money but a private firm building this city-as-a lab, the CITE (Center for Innovation, Technology and Evaluation).

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Baby Steps for Video on Demand in Europe

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In "What About Bob?" a smug Richard Dreyfuss tells a phobia-ridden Bill Murray to always take "baby steps." The Video-on-Demand (VOD) industry follows that same strategy in Europe... with most steps taking place in the UK.

what about bobNow the UK gets a new a new VOD platform-- Curzon on Demand, offering day-and-date digital distribution of major independent releases.

The success of Curzon on Demand (or lack of it) might help progress for VOD feature films in W. Europe, a market worth $900m in 2011 according to IHS Screen Digest. In contrast the 2011 N. American market totals $1.8 billion.

A major obstacle for VOD in Europe is exhibitors, who still hold great power-- France even has a law blocking a day-and-date VOD and theatrical model, Variety says. European companies are also less entrepreneurial than their British counterparts, while cable and telcom infrastructures remain primitive.

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NAB: First Glimpse of High Dynamic Range (HDR) Video

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HDR VideoThe University of Warwick spinout goHDR unveils a world first in television technology at NAB.

goHDR provided the world with its first glimpse of High Dynamic Range (HDR) video, screened on a commercial HDR display, enabling viewers to see images with exceptional lighting detail.

Alan Chalmers, Professor of Visualisation at WMG, University of Warwick and Innovation Director at goHDR, explains: “High Dynamic Range video is the next big step in TV imaging – similar to the change from black and white to colour TV. For the first time, viewers will be able to see scenes on TV just as they would in real life, without losing detail in the glare of bright sunlight or in deep shadow.”

goHDR, in partnership with WMG at the University of Warwick, is one of only a handful of companies invited to demonstrate its technology at the International Research Park of the world’s largest media show, the NAB Show in Las Vegas.

The company develops compression technology to enable the huge data streams produced by HDR video cameras to be displayed on a TV screen.

As part of its demonstration at the show, goHDR has just announced it will be teaming up with the innovative Italian company, SIM2, to enable the HDR content produced by goHDR to be screened on SIM2’s first commercial HDR display, the HDR47E monitor.

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Five Millennial Myths

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Jennifer J. Deal’s Five Millennial Myths is subtitled: Forget what you think you know about your Gen Y employees.

That part was easy: I didn’t know much.

The conventional wisdom, apparently, is that “…everyone under the age of 30 is needy and narcissistic. They want the corner office and a company car, but they aren’t truly committed to their organization. They don’t take kindly to criticism, but can be easily won over with the next hot gadget.”

Deal asks: “Can companies afford to put their trust in these types of characterizations?”

For the past 12 years, she studied the so-called generation gap through empirical research, and found the stereotypes of millennials in the workplace asinconsistent at best and destructive at worst. With data collected from more than 13,000 participants in for-profit, nonprofit, and government organizations, Deal dentifies five key myths that companies believe about their younger employees.

Myth #1: Millennials don’t want to be told what to do.

The reality: Wrong! Their research shows (unexpectedly, she admits) that millennials currently in the workforce are more willing to defer to authority than either baby boomers or Gen Xers.

Millennials are more likely to thrive if they know the ingredients for success in the workplace, starting with the basics. For example, although it may seem obvious to an older manager, millennials may appreciate being told what time they are expected to arrive at the office, and precisely how quickly they should turn around a project (beyond just “ASAP”).

Millennials

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The Samsung Tech Theft Story

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Here is a rare story of industrial espionage from South Korea-- the Yonhap News Agency reports 11 people were arrested for allegedly stealing and selling AMOLED technology secrets from Samsung Display.

Samsung HQThe arrests include employees and researchers from both Samsung and an unnamed "rival company"-- including a former Samsung researcher suspected of receiving 190 million won ($168544) on November 2011 for stealing data on the "small mask scanning" technology used in the construction of TV-size AMOLED displays.

Apparently bearing a grudge at Samsung after failing to get a promotion, the researcher-spy even accepted a job at the rival company... before trying to sell the same information to a Chinese manufacturer after getting disgruntled with his new employer.

Who was the "rival company" buying industrial secrets from Samsung? Until the Korean police release more details, we can play the speculation game... maybe it was LG Display, who is also working on the technology?

Currently in use in mobile device displays, AMOLED is growing bigger-- both Samsung and LG revealed AMOLED TVs at CES 2012 earlier this year.

Go 11 Arrested Over Suspected Leak of Cutting-Edge Display Technology (Yonhap News Agency)