Gateway intros four new gaming desktops

via Engadget by Darren Murph on 2/25/09

While Gateway‘s been on the laptop bandwagon of late, it’s good to see the company doing its thang on the desktop front, too. Kicking things off is the bargain-priced LX6810-01, which houses 8GB of RAM, NVIDIA graphics, a built-in TV tuner and a $799.99 price tag. The even more affordable DX4200-11 gets going at just $609.99 and features an AMD quad-core CPU, ATI Radeon graphics, 6GB of RAM and a 750GB hard drive. Stepping things up quite significantly is the FX6800-09, which sports a Core i7 CPU and a $1,649.99 sticker. Rounding out the bunch is the $1,299.99 FX6800-11 and the currently unpriced entry-level FX6800-01e. If any of these caught your fancy, head on past the break for a look at the full release.

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Battlestar Galatica – Show About the Universe Raises Questions on Earth

via NYT; Television by By GINIA BELLAFANTE on 3/20/09
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Earlier this week, in advance of the grandly anticipated conclusion of “Battlestar Galactica” on Friday, the United Nations convened a panel to discuss the show’s treatment of terrorism, human rights abuses and religious conflict.

Despite the obviousness of the public relations piggybacking, the United Nations occasion only further legitimized the political seriousness of a series that has explored the post-9/11 consciousness by examining the costs of wartime moral relativism. While a show like “Gossip Girl” might also be said to have ambitions — broadly, to address the injustices of class disparity, let’s say — it is unlikely that the name Blair Waldorf has ever come up at the coffee cart around which the Council of Economic Advisers gathers.

“Battlestar Galactica,” which during its four seasons has elevated the image of the otherwise campy and unambitious Sci Fi channel, has — like most science fiction — conducted an experiment in supposition. Ideas of faith, coexistence and democracy have been delivered with an air of intellectual rigor and a vagueness that has allowed the series to exist as a tabula rasa on which nearly any strain of speculative meaning might viably take shape.

The series began with the premise that the human race had been extinguished by a robot tribe, the Cylons, it had created to enslave. The Cylons, who devoutly follow a single god, have been understood, quite reasonably, as stand-ins for the robotic, prescriptive aspects of religious extremism; they are Islamic fundamentalists in one view, the politically aggressive factions of the Christian right in another. They are literally born and born again.

But toward the show’s finale, as the differences between the Cylons and the remaining humans began to dissolve, the opportunity for a more acutely contemporary symbolism emerged. It became easier to regard the series as an argument for the imperatives of shared interest in a post-racial world.

In another, if fringier, analysis, the show’s focus on the struggles of a contained brigade of human survivors in a post-apocalyptic galaxy is a loose parable for the events in the Book of Mormon: Gaius Baltar (James Callis), the venal scientist turned collaborator turned false prophet turned savior equated not with Jesus or a hundred televangelists but with Joseph Smith. (The original “Battlestar Galactica” of the late 1970s was created by a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints, lending the thesis a certain currency online.)

At the same time, it would hardly seem illogical to read the series, right now at least, as a housing-crisis metaphor: thousands of displaced people without a safety net in search of a home.

Since the revived “Battlestar Galactica” first made its appearance as a mini-series in 2003 it has been celebrated for its moral ambiguity, which seems empty praise, given how much bad television has been created in the name of a gray area and how little anything worthwhile is ever made without it.

But the series has been far more remarkable for the ways in which its characters’ principles and value systems have evolved. Most notable has been the change in Gaius, whose self-regarding penchant for expedience finally gives way to a moving and incalculably consequential display of rectitude in the final episode.

In the end, his self-serving rationalism comes to accommodate a genuine commitment to faith, one that seeks to resolve the show’s theological tensions, if not with the kind of pungence one might have hoped for. The humans have been worshiping multiple deities, but the longstanding battle between monotheism and polytheism is irrelevant, Gaius warns his adversary in philosophical summation.

“Whether we want to call that God or Gods or some sublime inspiration or a divine force that we can’t know or understand doesn’t matter,” he says. “God is a force of nature beyond good and evil.”

Atheism is the real enemy of mankind’s progress; salvation seems to lie in a vague belief in angels and higher powers, as if the series thought of itself as a promotional appendage of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I’m not sure that in the most fleeting sense, it hasn’t. The final three hours of the series devote considerable time flashing back to the lives of the survivors before the fall, who are all shown drinking to the point of physical and psychological compromise.

Though Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) seems able to imbibe with a semblance of moderation, we encounter her, in prehistory, learning that her father and two sisters have been killed by a drunken driver on the way home from a baby shower she has given. The scene poignantly contextualizes the calm that Roslin has demonstrated with a mesmerizing consistency throughout her tenure as president of the remaining colony of humans: her own world already evaporated a long time ago.

Roslin’s relationship with the fleet’s military leader, Adama (Edward James Olmos), one built on respect and shared sorrows and a profound inclination to give care, has provided one of the sublime, bittersweet pleasures of the final season. There has been no better or quieter rendering of love in midlife on television. “Battlestar Galactica” has upheld certain liberal pieties without the utmost subtlety. (Why should we abstain from waging biological warfare on annihilators? Because then it makes us no better than our enemies.) But it has drawn the need for, and the sustenance of, emotional connection with a nuanced and deeply felt authenticity.

“Battlestar Galactica” has aspired during its reign more toward the science fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin than toward the science fiction of “Stargate Atlantis”: the show’s taste for gender neutrality seems plucked from her 1969 novel, “The Left Hand of Darkness.”

But the show could not break with the genre’s tradition of hokey, hopeful earnestness. Landing finally on a pastoral facsimile of Earth, the human-Cylon partnership vows to start anew with pledges not to let science outpace soulfulness. One hundred fifty thousand years later, a city of neon stands on the green terrain — as well as the assumption that we won’t make all of the same mistakes over again.

Mobile Visor Confirms That You Are, In Fact, Looking At Porn

via Gizmodo by Jack Loftus on 3/22/09

So you say you’re a somewhat shady person, but you really want to confirm that trait for anyone who’s still on the fence about you. Enter the Mobile Visor. It’ll do the trick. Easy.

Before the visor, people might have simply guessed that you were surfing porn on your mobile while at work.

“Well, his face is flush,” they’d think to themselves, “and he’s sweating a bit too much for such a cool day in the office, but maybe he’s just walked up a flight or stairs or something.”

But then, after you attach this loud, outrageous $9 black thing to your Blackberry, you will have confirmed what you’re really up to, and then some.

Either that, or you’re the world’s most paranoid business executive or pencil pusher. Whatever. It’s bad news all around.

[New PC Gadgets via Gear Diary]

MIT dreams of fully autonomous greenhouse, will definitely make it happen

via Engadget by Darren Murph on 3/22/09

You know what’s hard to find these days? Consistency and reliability — in anything, really. But we’ve learned that when MIT touches something, it not only gets done, but it gets done right. Thus, we’re absolutely elated to hear that a few of its students have dreamed up a fully autonomous greenhouse, utilizing real plants, sensors and gardening robots to ensure the greenest, most healthy crop possible. In fairness, we’ve already seen oodles of robotic plant tending apparatuses, but this is just something special. Thus far, gurus have used “re-imagined versions of iRobot‘s Roomba” in order to tell what a plant needs and then respond accordingly, and apparently, things have been going quite well early on. Check out a demonstration vid just past the break.

[Via MAKE]

Continue reading MIT dreams of fully autonomous greenhouse, will definitely make it happen

11.6-inch Acer Aspire One inches closer to our hearts, reality

via Engadget by Darren Murph on 3/22/09

It’s very possible that we’re just reading too far between the lines here, but a recent post over at macles* lines up awesomely with specifications gleaned from a recent Acer FCC filing. Basically, what we’re probably looking at is a forthcoming Aspire One with an 11.6-inch panel (as opposed to the 10-inch versions available now), a 1,366 x 768 resolution and very strangely placed Ethernet and VGA ports. Furthermore, we’re also told that this bugger will house an Atom Z530 CPU, Intel’s SCH USW15S chipset (Poulsbo) and GMA500 integrated graphics. Oh, and there’s also an extended battery option that should provide up to eight hours of life. Interested yet?

Lenovo’s X1 for China is full of KIRF, win

via Engadget by Chris Ziegler on 3/22/09

Okay, there’s some amount of originality here, but enough to justify a Red Dot design award? What you’re looking at here is the award-winning Lenovo X1 — as opposed to, say, the Sony Ericsson X1 — which is a triband EDGE handset Lenovo sells in China. To us, it looks like an Instinct with a slide-out keypad and TouchWiz, but what do we know? Coincidentally, Lenovo calls this totally original UI “Touch Dream,” which sounds just a little bit (okay, a whole lot) like an HTC device. So, to summarize: Sony Ericsson and HTC branding, Samsung design, made by Lenovo. Right then.

[Thanks, Bin Xu]

Deep Flight submarine is not for the claustrophobic

via DVICE by Michael Trei on 3/21/09

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Most of what lies under the world’s water remains a mystery, so it’s not surprising that mega wealthy individuals with an adventurous spirit have moved on from building crazy multi-million dollar yachts, to submarines.

This mini sub was created for venture capitalist Tom Perkins by Hawkes Ocean Technologies, presumably to go along with his 290 foot sailing yacht The Maltese Falcon. Built to withstand ocean depths of up to 400 feet, the carbon fiber electric submersible can seat two, and stay submerged for up to four hours.

Any thought of going deep into the ocean like this makes me want to stay firmly planted of dry land, but if it’s any comfort, Hawkes Ocean Technologies was busy building a sub for Steve Fossett to explore the 35,000 foot deep Mariana Trench before he died in a plane crash.

Hawkes can build a Deep Flight sub for your yacht too, starting at around $1.3 million.

CNN, via Like Cool