Mysteriously malfunctioning garage doors

About ten days ago, a mysterious radio signal around Ottawa, Canada began blocking the operation of hundreds of garage door openers. (Background here.) On Thursday, the garage doors began working again. From CBC News:
The powerful radio signal causing the problem stopped transmitting on Thursday afternoon, around the time CBC News contacted the U.S. Embassy to ask if it knew anything about it.

The embassy categorically denies that it had anything to do with it.

The signal was being transmitted at 390 megahertz, a U.S. military frequency used by the Pentagon’s new Land Mobile Radio System. The same frequency is used by garage doors openers, which started to malfunction around the city about almost two weeks ago. A similar problem has popped up around military bases in the States.

Link [BoingBoing]

Handheld laser gun available for purchase

“Oh boy, a Laser Ray Gun is now available for purchase from a company called Information Unlimited. This $1750 handheld shooter comes fully assembled, runs on standard AA batteries, and packs enough focused energy to blast a hole in the ‘hardest of metals.’ A set of Alkalines loads about a hundred-fifty 6,000 Watt shots with a 20 to 30 second recharge lag between blasts. Oh sure, they’ll tell you that the product is intended as an ‘advanced science project’ after digging into the details, and you’ll have to sign the ‘hazardous equipment affidavit’ before purchasing since this is a Class IV (read: highly dangerous) laser. Oh, well, we feel better now.”

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Computer squishes into wall-socket

“How ‘thin’ can a thin client get? How about one that fits into an existing wall-mount LAN jack box? The Jack-PC from Chip PC Technologies takes ‘zero desk space’ by converting existing enterprise LAN jacks into full-function Windows CE-powered thin client computers, without requiring additional cabling, according to the company.

“The Jack-PC runs Windows CE on an AMD Au1550 Alchemy processor with up to 128 MB of DDR RAM and 64 MB of DiskOnChip (DoC) Flash storage (the internal Jack-PC embedded computer is shown on the right). Three versions are available: two supporting analog displays up to 1280 x 1024, and the third supporting DVI up to 1600 x 1200.

“Two of the three models are powered via a Power over Ethernet (PoE) capability. If PoE is not available, the model 6700 can use an external 5 VDC supply.”

The company’s web page for the product is here:

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The Snark – the meanest UAV on the planet

“Meet the Snark – an Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle of immense capability that demonstrates just how far the breed has come in such a short period of time. Constructed mainly of Carbon Fibre and Kevlar, the Snark is light and fast (280 km/h), quiet (special rotor blades make it extremely quiet), virtually invisible to radar or infrared detetection (it recycles its exhaust gases and emits little heat) and can carry a payload of 680kg, offering the ability to pack both massive firepower (enough to sink a ship) and surveillance equipment (such as high res infrared cameras with a magnification of 7500). But wait, there’s more, and this is the clincher. The Snark is the first UAV that runs on diesel fuel, which means it can be easily integrated into any military force – current UAVs require their own special fuel supply to be transported with them whereas the entire US Army plans to run on a single one fuel – diesel. Last and probably most importantly, the Snark can stay airborne for 24 hours at a time, offering an unprecedented loiter time for a machine of this capability.”

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Will ocean tides power our homes in the future?

“New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have opted into a new study on tidal power that could see underwater turbines installed in the Bay of Fundy and in waters off five U.S. states. Tidal power has long been talked about in the Fundy region, which boasts of having the highest tides in the world, but new technology means it’s getting a fresh look…

“Oceanographer George Hagerman has scouted potential locations, including the Bay of Fundy. ‘In order for the capital project to pay for itself, it has to survive 20 or 30 years. And it has to produce well, and produce high reliability,’ Hagerman said in a corporate video touting the study.

“Hagerman said the researchers are talking to eight companies about ‘in-stream’generators that will come on the market over the next couple of years. The Nova Scotia government says they would be similar to wind turbines in structure, but would be located underwater and wouldn’t be visible from shore.

“It could be five years before a turbine is actually in the water, generating electricity from the two sets of tidal flows each day.”

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Fredericton-area farmer hosts a huge tomato fight

“A Fredericton-area farmer with a field full of unmarketable tomatoes will host Canada’s first-ever mass tomato fight on Saturday.

“About 100,000 kg of overripe tomatoes will be grabbed, smashed, hurled in a span of two hours. And there’s no need to worry about food going to waste, said organizers.

“‘Because of crop cycles, I won’t be able to harvest this field of tomatoes so why not put it to good use. It would just go to waste otherwise,’ said farmer Buzz Harvey.

“Harvey said he got the idea to hold the Great Canadian Tomato Fight from impromptu fights he and his workers have had over the years on the farm. The ball really got rolling when he heard about the annual tomato toss in Bunol, Spain, the biggest food fight in the world.”

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“Underworld: Evolution” trailer out now

“Watch the trailer for the sequel to Underworld, due in theatres on January 20th, 2006.”

Summary from IMDB: “Underworld: Evolution continues the saga of war between the Death Dealers and the Lycans. The film goes back to the beginnings of the ancient feud between the two tribes as Selene (Kate Beckinsale), the beautiful vampire heroine, and Michael (Scott Speedman), the lycan hybrid, try to unlock the secrets of their bloodlines. This will be a modern tale of action, intrigue and forbidden love, which takes them into the battle to end all wars as the immortals must finally face their retribution.”

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