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The future: Batteries with indefinite lifespan

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been known around the tech community as being ahead of the curve, but what it has achieved in partnership with Samsung may be the beginning of a revolution. MIT and Samsung recently announced they have found a way to make batteries with an “indefinite” lifespan by replacing an existing liquid electrolyte substance with solid electrolyte material.

Continue reading “The future: Batteries with indefinite lifespan”

Windows Phone mobile-apps resources, higher-ed student contest

Editor’s note:  The following information has been excerpted and modified from an email announcement received recently at K-State from Joan Bruns, Microsoft account manager in the Kansas City area, and other Microsoft emails.

Microsoft has heard from many of its faculty partners that mobile application development is being featured in more classes, with some doing entire courses and others adding modules. Faculty who are doing mobile development in any courses may contact Joan Bruns (913-940-6003, joanbr@microsoft.com) about how Windows Phone might fit in.

Windows Phone resources 

  • Find Your Colony (www.findyourcolony.com) has getting-started resources for Windows Phone development, tips on building better experiences, and more.
  • App Hub (create.msdn.com) has free developer tools for Windows Phone, code samples, documentation, and community support forums.
  • Dreamspark (www.dreamspark.com) gives students access to professional developer tools free of charge.

“Big App on Campus” contest for college students (age 18+)

Microsoft’s contest is going on right now for U.S. college/university students to create a mobile app and win two $15,000 prizes.  In addition, 10 student finalists (and guests) will attend the national SXSW event March 13-18, 2012, in Austin, TX.  Contest deadline is Feb. 14, 2012 (apps must be published to marketplace and all entry forms completed).

For details, free tools, rules, how to enter, and other deadlines, see the overview blog post “Do You Have What it Takes to be the Big App on Campus?” and use the free resources listed above.

QR codes (+ free tools): Quick access to all kinds of data

Image of QR code for K-State IT Help Desk URL
QR code for the website of the K-State IT Help Desk

K-Staters may have noticed some funny-looking images of black-pixeled boxes popping up around campus lately, notably in Hale Library. So, what are they used for and what can you do with them?

These are “QR codes” or Quick Response codes (also known as QR barcodes). This technology allows the public to access information fast through graphical links.

QR code readers

To access the information behind a QR code, you first need to download a free QR reader to your smartphone and then scan/capture (take a picture of) a QR code. (Some smartphones may come with a QR reader already installed.) Here are a few that seem to work well:

  • For the iPhone, RedLaser is a free, general purpose barcode reader app.
  • For Android smartphones, Barcode Scanner is a free app that has received positive feedback.

For more choices, do a Google search for “QR code reader”. Continue reading “QR codes (+ free tools): Quick access to all kinds of data”

Spotlight: Smartphone pro/cons for holiday purchases

iphone20091208During this holiday season you may be considering purchasing a smartphone. Here is a rundown of some pros and cons of popular smartphones on the market in Manhattan — the iPhone, Droid, Palm Pre, Hero, and BlackBerry smartphones. NOTE: The purchase of a smartphone usually requires the purchase of a data plan.

iPhone pros/cons

Pros

  • Over 100,000 applications available through iTunes Store
  • Plays iTunes content, music, movies, TV shows, pod casts
  • Can purchase apps, music, TV shows and movies from iPhone
  • Integrates well with Zimbra (e-mail, calendar, contacts)
  • Integrates well with Gmail (e-mail, calendar, contacts)
  • Integrates well with MobileMe (e-mail, calendar, contacts)

Travelers: Beware of international data-roaming rates

With the proliferation of smartphones in the last few years, more consumers are using data services such as e-mail, streaming video, web surfing, or other activities that require access to data through a mobile network from smartphones. Consumers are accustomed to the “all you can eat” data plans that can be used everywhere, which enhance productivity and support the interaction with information in new ways.

Those who travel abroad with data-enabled smartphones are used to higher roaming rates per minute for telephone calls and seek cheaper alternatives for overseas voice calls. However, data roaming is an entirely different beast. Many smartphones will silently ping various data services for updates on new information, which ranges from e-mail and instant-messaging applications to GPS-enabled street maps. All of this traffic requires data plans, which on overseas jaunts can add up to big bucks.

For example, AT&T charges $0.0195 (about 2 cents) per kilobyte; downloading a 1-megabyte file could cost about $20. For a consumer who uses about 50 megabytes of data on a phone the cost would be $975 if AT&T roaming rates were applied.

Continue reading “Travelers: Beware of international data-roaming rates”