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Comments

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I measure my weight ...

jdray Re:no subject (150 comments)

I'm in shape... If you consider that "round" is a shape...

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Would You Build a Microsatellite?

jdray Re:Really: launching is hard (117 comments)

Considering that a spare-time project to build a launchable satellite might take a couple of years, it's likely that within that time the landscape of launch companies will change. Somewhere along the way, he's going to figure out that the project is a go and a complete date is in sight. At that point, figuring out who will launch it for a price he can afford is going to be solvable (success = 0|1).

about a year and a half ago
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Hacker Behind Leaked Nude Celebrity Photos Gets 10 Years

jdray Re:Don't put things online you want to keep privat (346 comments)

As I said, I don't defend the hackers. However, I think people who use tools should understand the scope of the tools they're using, in the same way that people who own and use firearms should be responsible to understand how they operate, what the risks are, and what safety measures need to be taken.

about a year and a half ago
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Hacker Behind Leaked Nude Celebrity Photos Gets 10 Years

jdray Don't put things online you want to keep private (346 comments)

I'm not quite clear why anyone thinks that putting things online in any capacity is safe from prying eyes, particularly if they're a celebrity. I don't defend the actions of these "hackers" (pfft), but the photo owners should be smart enough to take some precautions or find someone that can help them do it.

about a year and a half ago
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Is Technology Eroding Employment?

jdray Re:Pay Us more! (544 comments)

Frankly, technology is a much safer bet than human capital. Capital tends to have a fixed investment base with a relatively well-known maintenance schedule. Labor, on the other hand, is fraught with pitfalls: changing laws, rising insurance costs, performance variances. Not to mention, it's rare that machinery gets poached by your competition.

Creativity is the area that machines will suck at for the foreseeable future. Anyone in manufacturing should start looking toward a career in process design instead.

I may sound callous with this, but those with the money (certainly not me) only care about growing the money with as much guarantee as they can. The rest is annoying details. Given their position, it's unlikely you can say with certainty that you'd act any differently.

about a year and a half ago
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How To Use a Linux Virtual Private Server

jdray Re:Apt-get install clue (303 comments)

Why on Earth is this modded "Troll"? The first question is rhetorical, not trolling.

about a year and a half ago
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NASA: New Mars Rover By 2020

jdray Re:Do we need more Mars rovers? (79 comments)

you have to be absolutely damned certain that there's no local life to screw up.

Well, no you don't actually. We may want to, or choose to, but we don't have to. It's more likely that we'd find life there and use that as an argument in favor of moving there. If Mars is shown to support any kind of life, it will radically change the way we as a culture view our place in the universe, and likely touch off some sort of mass effort to spread ourselves around, alien bacteria, lichens, ichthyoids, and the rest be damned. It'll be Manifest Destiny all over again.

about a year and a half ago
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NASA: New Mars Rover By 2020

jdray Re:Look as much as I like Mars (79 comments)

Sorry, but while your rudimentary concept is reasonable, one practicality stops it: at a certain point, the ice around the tether is going to freeze up, stopping the descent of the probe, which will end up hanging in its own little bubble of hot water. Now, studying that bubble might have some value, as we would probably find residue from whatever is in the ocean (if there's fish, we might find the up-welled bones and scales, for instance). Better to figure out some wireless communication technology that will work through several kilometers of ice without getting swamped in Jupiter's radiation output.

about a year and a half ago
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NASA: New Mars Rover By 2020

jdray Re:Recycle (79 comments)

And how far apart are those existing vehicles? What's between them? How hard is the terrain to navigate? Are the components of one system compatible with another? It's cheaper and much more viable to just send fresh units, targeted for specific purposes and specific locations.

about a year and a half ago
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Other Solar Systems Could Be More Habitable Than Ours

jdray Nuclear Program Reducing Plate Tectonics? (143 comments)

FTA:

But the core isn’t our only heat source. A comparable contributor is the slow radioactive decay of elements that were here when the Earth formed. Without radioactivity, there wouldn’t be enough heat to drive the plate tectonics that maintains surface oceans on Earth.

I wonder... if we're pulling uranium out of the ground and refining it, are we slowly pulling out the fuel that drives our plate tectonics?

about a year and a half ago
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Large Hadron Collider May Have Produced New Matter

jdray Re:No comments, then a flood of experts (238 comments)

So, can you fill us in? What are the implications of such discoveries? Or is this another one of those things that happen (a happy accident) with no real consequence besides filling up a few research papers?

about 2 years ago
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Cambridge University To Open "Terminator Center" To Study Threat From AI

jdray Re:How is AI on the list? (274 comments)

Right. And ultimately, the benevolent overlords that we give complete control of our society to will be the sizes of cake tins with no capability for self mobility. That will be left to the robot butlers that carry the overlords on neck chains, looking like diminutive versions of Flavor Flav. Bi-di-bi-di...bi-di-bi-di.

about 2 years ago
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Cambridge University To Open "Terminator Center" To Study Threat From AI

jdray Re:How is AI on the list? (274 comments)

I suppose that sooner or later we'll invent the next big thing that could kill us all. Even if in the study of how to deal with it, we accidentally invent it, at least there's a reasonable chance that, in the act of creation, we will have discovered a solution to the new problem. Like where the off switch is for the gone-mad computer.

about 2 years ago
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How Do You Participate In Black Friday?

jdray Re:my TV just broke (231 comments)

Bad timing. The best deals on TVs are always the day before Superbowl Sunday (at least in the U.S.).

about 2 years ago
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With Pot Legal, Scientists Study Detection of Impaired Drivers

jdray Re:Easy (608 comments)

The only thing indisputable is Congress' right to ban marijuana for the purposes of interstate commerce. Everything else is a matter for the Supreme Court. Unless, of course, they deem it a matter of national defense. Tough case, that, when the drug is being produced domestically.

about 2 years ago

Submissions

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Robert Zubrin Lambastes NASA Plans for Mars

jdray jdray writes  |  about a year and a half ago

jdray writes "Noted space guy and founder of The Mars Society, Robert Zubrin has posted an essay lambasting NASA's plans for returning samples from Mars via a space station constructed at L2:

In recent weeks, NASA has put forth two remarkable new plans for its proposed next major initiatives. Both bear careful examination.

As the centerpiece for its future human spaceflight program, NASA proposes to build another space station, this one located not in low Earth orbit but at the L2 Lagrange point just above the far side of the Moon. This plan is indeed remarkable in as much as an L2 space station would serve no useful purpose whatsoever. We don’t need an L2 space station to go back to the Moon. We don’t need an L2 space station to go to near-Earth asteroids. We don’t need an L2 space station to go to Mars. We don’t need an L2 space station for anything.

The other initiative is a new plan for Mars sample return, which is now held to be the primary mission of the robotic Mars exploration program. This plan is remarkable for its unprecedented and utterly unnecessary complexity.

"

Link to Original Source
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Low cost way to maximize SQL Server uptime?

jdray jdray writes  |  more than 2 years ago

jdray writes "My wife and I own a mid-sized restaurant with a couple of Point of Sale (POS) terminals. The software, which runs on Windows and .NET, uses SQL Server on the back end. With an upgrade to the next major release of the software imminent, I'm considering upgrading the infrastructure it runs on to better ensure uptime (we're open seven days a week). We can't afford several thousand dollars' worth of server infrastructure (two cluster nodes and some shared storage, or somesuch), so I thought I'd ask Slashdot for some suggestions on enabling maximum uptime. I considered a single server node running VMWare with a limp-mode failover to a VMWare instance on a desktop, but I'm not sure how to set up a monitoring infrastructure to automate that, and manual failover isn't much of an option with non-tech staff. What suggestions do you have?"
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jdray jdray writes  |  more than 7 years ago

jdray (645332) writes "Wired is carrying a story on the certification of the Active Denial System (ADS) for use in Iraq. The ADS is a millimeter wave weapon that uses a reportedly non-lethal energy beam to inflict short term pain on its targets, encouraging them to leave an area, what experimenters call the "Goodbye effect." Some crunchy bits from the article:

The ADS shoots a beam of millimeters waves, which are longer in wavelength than x-rays but shorter than microwaves -- 94 GHz (= 3 mm wavelength) compared to 2.45 GHz (= 12 cm wavelength) in a standard microwave oven.

...while subjects may feel like they have sustained serious burns, the documents claim effects are not long-lasting. At most, "some volunteers who tolerate the heat may experience prolonged redness or even small blisters," ...

There has been no independent checking of the military's claims.

I can see using this in a wartime situation, but how long before we see these things mounted to the top of S.W.A.T. vans for domestic crowd control? And, is that a bad idea? I can't really tell from where I sit.

"
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jdray jdray writes  |  more than 7 years ago

jdray (645332) writes "Reported this morning in Gizmag, the Trimersion head-mounted display looks to be a step in the right direction toward full-immersion VR. From the article:
The wireless Trimersion head tracking HMD and tracking gun replace the mouse/keyboard or gamepad controllers with a realistic and natural interface (for killing things).

The Trimersion is now in full production and a vast improvement from the initial prototype shown at the E3 2005 show. The new units have been completely redesigned from scratch. The new features are a double rocker trigger for main fire and alternate fire. The gun also has all of the controls of a standard Xbox or Playstaion game pad. The tracking device has been simplified and miniturized to a fraction of it's former self. This means better performance, less cost and less weight. The most significant improvement is the freedom of movement. Once you put the Trimersion on, you can move and turn around freely without worrying about wires or connections. The headset and gun are powered by a standard 9v battery. The wireless connection goes back to a base station that has a video and VGA input.

Now where are the productivity studies showing how office workers get so much more done when their displays are replaced with one of these rigs?"
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jdray jdray writes  |  more than 7 years ago

jdray (645332) writes "I find myself in a position to influence, if not define our corporate deployment of development tools on our Unix servers, a mixture of Solaris and AIX environments, and asking Slashdot seemed to be a prudent stop on my research trail.

Our environment is like this: Most of the development is in Perl and KShell with a little CShell, Ruby and Python for flavor. Development teams are expected to maintain their own libraries of Perl modules and whatnot, so access to bulid tools for .pm files is required. Access to systems is done through SSH, typically using PuTTY or some similar commercial SSH client, with file access done through SFTP or SCP. Most of our users edit with vi; vim would add syntax highlighting if we deployed it. What other features should I be looking for? What tool suggestions do you have?"
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jdray jdray writes  |  more than 7 years ago

jdray (645332) writes "Reported in Gizmag today, Panoptic is proposing a new security system that is composed of deep integration of existing technologies to provide a security system that gives an operator Superman-like X-ray vision. From the article:
...security-critical events and alerts are adapted into one system then correlated against each other based upon defined security policy and rules. This automated, root cause analysis enables disparate real-time security data to be combined into "an integrated panoptic security command centre (over)view."
It evidently uses new data compression technology called IHC:
[Panoptic] describes IHC as "an object oriented wavelet-based compression system for security and surveillance applications" and a "programmable compression hardware and software solution.". IHC enables object selection and extraction and features high-resolution viewing while conserving bandwidth, meaning high quality images can be selected and viewed with higher data rates and higher frame rates than the significantly reduced background.

It will be interesting to see if they can bring this thing to fruition. The deep integration of technologies is always a good thing. The rule writing for alarms would be the hardest to manage, for instance figuring out the difference between someone wearing a balaclava and someone just bundled up for winter.

Images of the proposed system include pics of one of the 360-degree cameras.

"

Journals

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Dell shipping "green" MacMini killer

jdray jdray writes  |  about 6 years ago Dell has gotten on the "green computing" bandwagon in rainbow colors with their "Studio Hybrid" PC, a MacMini knock-off available in a rainbow of first-gen iMac jewel tone colors. Specs seem good for something that will likely go on a media rack and run MythTV or Media Center. HDMI and 5.1 channel SPDIF output is included. FTA:

The Studio Hybrid uses 20% of the material of a standard desktop mini-tower, and as little as 30% of the energy to run. Packing materials are 95% recyclable and have been reduced in weight by 30%. The printed documentation has also been reduced in weight by 75%. This gives the Studio Hybrid the title of Dell's most environmentally friendly PC.

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Constructing Machine Consciousness

jdray jdray writes  |  more than 6 years ago Seed Magazine is carrying an article about Blue Brain, a project to model a complete mind inside a supercomputer. The current state of the project has a single neocortical column, the basic computational element of a brain, of a two-week old rat working. The project manager indicates that the biggest hurdle holding them back is computing horsepower to scale the experiments. With current technology, they estimate that running a model of a complete human mind would cost $3 billion annually in electricity alone.

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Science and the Candidates

jdray jdray writes  |  more than 6 years ago As the field of candidates narrows, and America starts to feel like they've heard the survivors hash and rehash their positions on the major issues, topics not previously covered are starting to bubble up. Business Week is reporting that there has been a call for a debate on science, tentatively scheduled for April. The candidates haven't exactly jumped on the bandwagon, possibly hoping the whole issue will just go away if they ignore it. Would you like to see a debate focused on science rather than the war in Iraq or national health care?

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Oracle's Second Bid for BEA Succeeds

jdray jdray writes  |  more than 6 years ago On the heels of news that Sun has acquired MySQL, it seems that Oracle has succeeded in its efforts to slurp up middleware maker BEA for US$8.5 billion, or $19.375 per share. What this means for rival IBM and its WebSphere product is unclear, as is the impact that this merger will have on the future of enterprise computing. Oracle has been on a march in recent years to acquire more and more components to build up its already-formidable software stack.

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Google Quietly Adds HTTPS Support to GMail

jdray jdray writes  |  more than 6 years ago

This may be old news, but I just noticed myself and thought I'd report it. I've been using the "New Version" of GMail for a couple of weeks (I hardly notice the difference from the "Old Version"), and happened to notice today that the inbox URL still used "http://", even after all the complaints that they didn't maintain "https://" after login. I decided a quick test was in order, and added the all-important "s" to the protocol indicator. It worked fine. After clicking around some, opening mail, using filters, etc., the "https://" protocol remained. This is great news for those of us who use GMail heavily and want some modicum of security while doing it.

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Apple ships Bento, a database with glam

jdray jdray writes  |  more than 6 years ago The Apple subsidiary Filemaker has released a Leopard-specific personal database app named Bento that promises to bring cross-app data syncing (Address Book, iPhone, .Mac, etc.) to the masses in an easy-to use, iTunes-like way. At $50 for a single seat and $100 for a five seat family pack, it's certainly affordable. Is this the first foray into what will one day become a business productivity tool a la Access?

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Digg no longer churning out?

jdray jdray writes  |  more than 6 years ago Something's going on over at Digg, the "other" news site for nerds. Or not, as the case may be. As of right now, the last story on the front page is "Concorde parts go under the hammer" at just over two hours old. Considering the stories previous to it at a rate of one every ten minutes or so, I figure something's going on (or not) behind the scenes. I hope no one died.

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Burning Salt Water

jdray jdray writes  |  more than 6 years ago A Penn State University chemist seems to have stumbled upon a way to burn salt water by applying an RF field. More study is required to verify and fine-tune the phenomenon into an industrial process, but there seem to be quite a few applications of the technology if it's even modestly efficient. Mr. Kanzius evidently made the discovery after an observer of his cancer-fighting microwave prototype showed condensation in the test tube and suggested that Kanzius use the device for water desalination. During the desalination attempt, he noticed a spark in the test tube. That's quite a chain of discoveries for one invention.

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How do you pronounce "pwn" ??

jdray jdray writes  |  more than 6 years ago After months of reading it online, with my inner voice sort of munging the sound in a faint echo of something verbally pronounceable, I decided to check out what that vast knowledgebase of society, Wikipedia, had to say about this maddening bit of online vernacular. Unfortunately, what I discovered is that pretty much whatever you think is the way to pronounce it is on the list. So, how do you pronounce it?

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What features would you put in a custom gaming table?

jdray jdray writes  |  more than 7 years ago

As a teen in the 80's, we spent many hours designing paper-based aids to take some of the burden out of role playing, freeing us up to dive deeper into the scenarios. Twenty-five years later, there have been significant advances in three things: game mechanics, technology and our disposable incomes. Most members of our campaign group have six figure incomes, and several of us are technologists by trade. Lately we've been discussing the idea of custom building a gaming table. But where to start? Our campaign's host is willing to completely remodel the gaming room, which is about 12x15. Power, water and broadband Internet are all available. We have skills in electric wiring, plumbing, networking, cabinet making, house remodeling, software design, programming and engineering. We can probably commit a couple thousand dollars to the project overall, probably leaving out advanced technologies like that found in Microsoft's Surface, but not flat screens, individual displays, comfortable chairs or refrigerators.

So, what features would you put in? If there's a computer involved, what software? What should the shape be like?

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Entrepreneurs create mushroom-based insulation board

jdray jdray writes  |  more than 7 years ago A Vermont farmer and his business partner have created a mushroom-based insulation board that is grown in a form, taking about two weeks. Early tests indicate that the material insulates slightly better than the typical pink fiberglass batting found in homes today. To date, the two inventors have been growing samples under their beds while searching for affordable lab space and some venture capital. If nothing else, talking to venture capitalists should give them plenty of feedstock for further tests...

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Tuna-inspired aircraft runs on fuel cell

jdray jdray writes  |  more than 7 years ago

The startup R&D organization "Team SmartFish" has come up with a design for a performance aircraft that's inspired by a tuna fish, which is evidently (one of?) the fastest fish in the sea and has been clocked at 85 km/h. Their model-sized prototype is powered by a fuel cell stack with a pusher prop. The full scale version calls for a 900-1000# turbofan in the tail.

If this thing works out, I wonder if a small modification to put one of Rutan's rocket motors below the turbofan output would make this a viable sub-orbital launch vehicle.

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Boeing Working on Fuel Cell Aircraft

jdray jdray writes  |  more than 7 years ago Boeing is working with development partners on a fuel cell-based small aircraft as a technology demonstrator. It seems like a logical use of the technology. From the article, a Boeing research director was quoted as saying, "While Boeing does not envision that fuel cells will provide primary power for future commercial passenger airplanes, demonstrations like this help pave the way for potentially using this technology in small manned and unmanned air vehicles." Now if they can come up with a quiet, personal-sized VTOL craft a la Paul Moller's Skycar (which is anything but quiet), we'll really have something.

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AppleTV Hits the Streets

jdray jdray writes  |  more than 7 years ago Stories are starting to pop up all over the web about the AppleTV, which evidently means that Apple has set loose the hounds of marketing and the units are (or will be tomorrow) available in Apple stores. Still no word on whether or not it plays DivX files. That will be the key to me purchasing one.

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Army combines X-Box controller, iRobot

jdray jdray writes  |  more than 7 years ago The U.S. Army has a new tactical system in the test phase that combines an X-Box controller, an iRobot, and five million lines of code to provide remote sensing, communication and collaboration to ground units. Next up: getting Beowulf to run on the Army Grunt platform.

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Sun SPOT: Enabler for the future?

jdray jdray writes  |  more than 7 years ago

eWeek is running an article on Sun's SPOT (Small Programmable Object Technology) that looks to be the start of something good, at least from the perspective of every geek that wished they had the tools to develop "the next big thing (TM)" in their basement.

On Sun's product site, the about Sun SPOT page has a few crunchy bits worth chewing on, such as:

We've created a platform that greatly simplifies development and experimentation with small wireless devices, and we've opened it up to the development community...

Open is almost always good. The one that really got me was:

And the jaw-droppingly cool "migratable application" functionality enables applications (with their complete state information) to be dragged from one Sun SPOT device to another while they're still running. So you could, for example, move software off a SPOT device with low battery power onto another device with more battery life, avoiding loss of state information.

I'm not sure how I feel about software being able to statefully leap from one computing device to another. Worms come to mind. I hope there's protection in the devices themselves, since the JRE seems to be the OS.

The initial price of the development kit (US$550) isn't cheap, but it's not out of the reach of the average hobbyist, either. If this platform takes off the way Sun hopes it does, basic components will be available to grow the "implementation space" of SPOT technology. If Sun opens the hardware to the point that manufacturers can produce their own devices to a standard, this new technology may be the enabler of many of the things we've been promised for years.

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iSlate?

jdray jdray writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Forget the iPhone. I, for one, am waiting for the iSlate. It's Apple's forthcoming ultra-cool personal computer. In essence, it's an iPhone with a larger screen (8.5" diagonal) and no cellular component. The base model has 8 gigs of flash on board, two memory card expansion slots and a USB port for iPod connectivity. Bluetooth allows you to use a keyboard, but Apple's MultiTouch technology makes it mostly unnecessary.

From its release at MacWorld '08, couch surfing will never be the same. The entire family can sit in one room or many, streaming content off of their AppleTV, surfing the web, doing homework or playing games. But the real killer app is in the corporate world. It's the ultimate day planner. WiFi, penetrating nearly every meeting room, connects to corporate e-mail and CRM apps. Large-footprint applications can be comfortably run through a remote-desktop client, but basic Office-like productivity apps run locally (including Office). Suddently, meetings are a place where work actually gets done. Decisions can be made and acted upon all at once. Corporate productivity is up, making it easy to justify the $899 price tag. Laptops have become "old school."

So, c'mon Apple, get with me. Bring my dream to reality as only you can. There's nothing to stop you, and the market is ripe.

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Mac Tablet not from Apple?

jdray jdray writes  |  more than 7 years ago In a very strange move, the company Axiotron is planning to unveil at MacWorld tomorrow a tablet-style Mac "notebook" computer named the ModBook. Astute readers will note that Axiotron != Apple. Given Apple's secrecy on to-be-released products, combined with long-standing rumors of a Mac tablet, how can a company hope to survive with a product that's doomed to failure the minute that Apple releases a self-branded tablet? Of course, if Apple doesn't release a tablet soon, this re-packager might grab a share of the market from those desperate for this type of technology.

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