Sunday, 10 February 2013

Facebook's new Layout

Some say Facebook’s layout and design is dated, others find it complicated to use, especially when you compare it to other social networking sites like Google Plus or the recently relaunched MySpace. If you are tired of Facebook’s current design you may want to consider installing a theme like NewGenBook in your browser to give it a complete makeover.
The theme is available for all major web browsers except Internet Explorer, which means that you can install it in Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera. The developers plan to release a version for iPhone in the near future as well.
Once you have installed the extension in your browser or choice and visit Facebook afterwards, you will notice that the layout of the site changed considerable. The new theme uses a two column layout instead of Facebook’s three column layout. A side effect of this is that there is more space on the screen for the news stream or other contents.
facebook theme makeover screenshot
The left menu displays more or less all the menu items that the original layout displayed here. From access to Facebook pages, favorites and apps to photos, the profile and messages.  Only the design of the menu changed for the better. It needs to be noted that the extension does not change the functionality on Facebook. While it removes some items from the main news stream on Facebook, it does not add any features to the site.
The stream is not the only page on Facebook that has received a makeover, you will notice that the chat interface looks different as it is using a different background color and messages that look like speech bubbles.  Facebook also sports a new login and registration screen, and a couple of minor changes to the site’s layout and design. What is not touched at all by the extension are the profile pages and pages on Facebook.


NewGenBook gives Facebook a full makeover and while it is not changing any functionality on Facebook, it makes a couple of modifications like the removal of the right sidebar that users may like. If you spend a lot of time on Facebook, it may be worth a try.

An In-Depth Look at the NBA With the Most Innovative Technology Available

Fifteen of the league’s 30 teams have purchased a data-tracking camera system from STATS LLC that records every single movement on the court — the ball, the players, the referees, etc. — in three dimensions. The cameras can measure just about anything, and the teams that are using them best have moved far ahead in developing their own algorithms to measure whatever they wish — which team forces pick-and-rolls left most often, where corner 3s typically rebound when they miss, and how often a player accelerates from “jog” to “sprint” during a game.
(These are the subscribing teams: Houston, Boston, New York, Washington, Milwaukee, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Golden State, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Orlando, Dallas, Minnesota, Toronto, Cleveland.)
Teams hoard their own data like kids hoard candy on Halloween. But STATS was kind enough to send Grantland a giant pile of exclusive information from the 2012-13 season, updated after Wednesday’s slate of 13 games, on a few general categories STATS tracks for all subscribing teams. The data focuses on both the player and team level, including drives to the basket, post touches, and touches at the elbow areas. From that pile, here are some Friday nuggets for your perusal:

Holy Cow, James Harden

The Rockets average a league-high 29 drives per game, with STATS defining “drive” as any time a player dribbles the ball from at least 20 feet away from the basket into an area within 10 feet of the rim. Drives do not include fast breaks, meaning transition chances don’t inflate the insane numbers Houston and Denver are putting up.
The average team “drives” about 20 times per game, and the STATS numbers show teams generally score more efficiently on any possession in which a qualifying drive happens at any moment than they do in general.
Harden averages nine drives per game, which is fifth among players whose teams have the cameras. The top four: Tony Parker (10.8), Rajon Rondo (10.1), Russell Westbrook (9.3), and Jrue Holiday (9.2). As an aside, that Holiday number is a fantastically good sign for Philly. He ranked below average by this metric last season, and he’s piling up about twice as many drives per game this season, according to the 2011-12 data I’ve reviewed. Philly is still below average as a team in drives per game, which tells you how much heavy lifting Holiday is doing for a very limited bunch.
Back to Harden: Houston is scoring 1.51 points per possession on trips in which he drives at any time in the shot clock. That is easily the highest mark among all players in the 15-team database with more than a token number of drives. It is a mammoth number; keep in mind, teams average just about one point per possession overall. Harden has drawn a foul on one-third of his drives, which is among the highest numbers in the data set, and sort of amazing when you think about it.
Jeremy Lin is averaging 8.1 drives per game, ninth among all players, and even though he’s having a disappointing season, the Rockets are scoring 1.32 points per possession when Lin drives — about what the Spurs have scored on Parker drive possessions.
In other words: There is some merit to the idea of telling guys, “Put your head down, get to the paint, and make a play — any damn play,” especially if the team has skilled 3-point shooters and good passers driving the ball. The punishment will likely be a lot of turnovers, and Carlos Delfino, more empowered to drive in Houston than he might be elsewhere, indeed ranks among the most turnover-prone drivers so far.
And what of Harden? He has turned over the ball on just 4 percent of his drives, one of the lowest numbers in the data set. The dude is scary. These numbers paint him as even more valuable than we might think.
Denver is third in drives per game, though the cameras have recorded only 11 of their games (not including Thursday night’s destruction of Chicago). The Nuggets led the league in this category last season, and they are once again among the league’s half-dozen best offenses.
Of course, you have to have players and smarts to succeed doing anything. The Kings, Cavaliers, and Bobcats rank among the most prolific driving teams, and none of them can score. The Knicks and Warriors are bottom-10 teams and rank among the league’s best offenses.

Holy Cow, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook

OK, so, you knew these guys were good. But Durant especially has gotten to the point where he can score at elite levels in almost every way imaginable. Drives? He’s racking up 4.8 per game, more than Kyle Lowry, Andre Miller, Paul Pierce, Carmelo Anthony, and Steve Nash, and Durant ranks among the 10 most efficient camera players in both points per drive when he finishes the play and points per drive overall for his team. He draws fouls almost as exactly as often as Harden when he drives.
Post-ups? Durant is 26-of-37 from the floor when he catches a pass within 12 feet of the rim, which is the current STATS definition of “post touch.” The Thunder average nearly 1.6 points per possession when this happens, a top-10 mark among camera players, and a stat that makes you think Durant should get more than the paltry 1.27 such touches he averages per game.
That’s the thing about Durant: Scroll through these categories one by one, and you'll say to yourself, “He should be doing this particular thing more often!” Then you realize you’ve said that for every category — drives, post-ups, elbow touches — and you just shake your head.
As for Westbrook, his numbers are merely “good,” but they also contradict the (dying) notion that he’s an irresponsible ball hog. Westbrook has attempted a shot on just half of his drives, a below-average mark for a high-scoring guard (and in general), and has coughed the ball up on only 5 percent of those drives.

Notes for Concern and Amusement on Drives

• Brandon Jennings, alleged seeker of a max deal, continues to rank only so-so by these sorts of metrics, and since the Bucks are a camera team, you can bet they know this. Jennings has recorded a ho-hum 5.8 drives per game, and the Bucks have scored just 1.06 points per possession on trips when Jennings does drive — one of the lowest numbers in the sample. Monta Ellis is both more prolific (about 8.0 drives per game) and a more efficient engine of team scoring (1.30 points per possession) when he does drive.
Ellis remains an underrated offensive player in this sense. He can bend a defense in compromising ways, and his passes have always produced a higher-than-expected number of shots at the rim and open 3s for teammates. It makes you wonder how good Ellis could be if he stopped shooting so many long jumpers (24 percent from deep on 3.5 attempts per game is basically sabotage) and learned to play acceptable defense.
• Goran Dragic shoots on just 36 percent of his drives, one of the lowest numbers in the league among all players recorded by the cameras. That seems awfully low for such a creative finisher. Paul Pierce (shots on 35 percent of his drives) and Deron Williams (28 percent, though in just 11 recorded games) also rank among the league’s dozen least likely shooters by this measure. Food for thought, especially for Williams, who clearly isn’t playing with the same in-traffic explosiveness he displayed in Utah. He hasn’t dunked the entire season.
• Evan Turner … oof. I’ve been cautiously bullish on Turner, mostly because he can do some things — slick interior passes through tight spaces, for instance — that are rare skills. He’s also developed a usable corner 3, huge for his long-term prognosis. But bad things happen when he drives to the basket. The Sixers have scored just 0.93 points per possession when Turner drives, the second-worst figure among camera players with a usable sample of drives. Only Eric Maynor, now benched, has been worse. Turner has shot just 18-of-43 on drives.
• Klay Thompson has turned over the ball on 16 percent of his drives, one of the 10 highest turnover rates among all players recorded by the cameras. That’s bad, but Golden State averages just 15.8 drives per game, 26th in the league. Even Stephen Curry averages only about three drives per game, which is fine, since Curry (unlike Jennings, another low-drives-per-game point guard), is a historically great 3-point shooter. Williams has turned it over on 17 percent of his drives, worse than Thompson, but the same sample size caveats apply here. Still: Williams’s max contract looks even more problematic by these numbers than it does by traditional stats or even run-of-the-mill advanced stats.

Tim Duncan, a New Kind of Offensive Hub

Guess who leads all players in recorded shots from the elbow. That would be Tim Theodore Duncan, a very respectable 37-of-81 (46 percent) on jumpers from the elbow. But here’s the interesting thing: He shoots only 37 percent of the time when he gets the ball there, which is not far above the league average for a big man.
The same thing happens in the post. Duncan nabs about 5.3 post touches per game, a top-15 number, but shoots on only about half those touches — right around Pau Gasol’s shot frequency. The Spurs score a very nice 1.3 points per possession when Duncan touches the ball in the post, and 1.1 points when he touches it at the elbow. This makes intuitive sense. The Spurs use both the post and the elbows a lot on offense, but they do so just as often for facilitating as for shooting.
You know who rates similarly in this way? The Wizards, and specifically Nenê. The Wiz are the only camera team averaging more post touches per game than San Antonio (the Grizz and Bulls, not surprisingly, are the top two when you broaden the database to non-camera clubs), and they use the elbow a decent amount as well. Nenê averages 7.0 post touches per game, second among camera players, behind only Nikola Pekovic.
But while Pekovic is a scorer, shooting a whopping 66 percent of the time he touches the ball in the post, Nenê shoots just 37 percent of the time he gets the ball there — one of the 20 lowest numbers in a sample that includes a lot of non-scorers who get the ball down on the block almost by accident.

Notes of Concern and Amusement for Post and Elbow Touches

• It’s always good when the numbers back up your basketball crush. Which is to say: Marc Gasol is a beast by just about all these measures, albeit in a sample size of just 13 games, since the Grizz are not (yet) a camera team. I’d expect them to buy the system soon, given the analytical bent of their new management. But you’re damn right I’m throwing out sample-size concerns to praise Gasol. Side note: We need a good nickname for Gasol, one that hopefully bypasses “The Big X” format we use for too many big men. Suggestions? [Editor's note: C'mon, The Big Inquisition!]
Gasol leads the league in elbow touches, with about 10.62 per game, and that number has been up since the Rudy Gay deal. Gasol shoots only about one-quarter of the time he gets the ball there, which matches the eye test; he’s a facilitator for high-lows and baseline cuts, and he does that job very well. The Grizz score 1.2 points per possession on trips that include a Gasol elbow touch, the ninth-highest number in the sample. Another way to put that: A Gasol elbow touch is nearly as valuable as a Westbrook drive, and I suspect one reason the Grizz were willing to trade an offensive centerpiece like Rudy Gay is the belief that more elbow touches for Gasol will be a generally healthy thing.
Gasol’s post touches, unfortunately, haven’t been as prolific, which of course means the sample size is too small to be meaningful. (That’s a joke.) The Grizz have averaged only 1.06 points per possession when the big fella nabs a post touch, and that’s worse than it sounds, since post touches in this data set generally lead to more efficient outcomes than drives or elbow touches. (That’s in part because STATS includes any touch in the half-court offense inside 12 feet via a pass, which means it includes things like pick-and-roll lobs to Tyson Chandler. The company is working on sussing out more traditional post touches.)
• No sample-size chicanery necessary to sing the praises of David Lee. Lee is an insane 49-of-65 (75 percent) after catching the ball in the post, the main reason the Dubs have scored an elite 1.5 points per possession when he gets the ball there. That happens only 3.2 times per game, a below-average number, and lower than Spencer Hawes’s average for a post-allergic Philly team, but that judiciousness might be key for Lee’s efficiency. He was only so-so by this metric last season, and it can be tough sledding for him when he tries to face up and attack from the block in what amount to isolations.
He gets the ball at the elbow a little more, and the Warriors just scorch opponents when that happens. Lee ranks no. 2 overall, and no. 1 among camera players, in team points per possession on trips when he gets an elbow touch.
• Also beasting for the Warriors: the terrifying Carl Landry, just killing people from the right block on post-ups. Landry is 61-of-85 (72 percent) on qualifying post shots (which, again, can include dunks on cuts and things like that) and has drawn fouls on a quarter of his chances there — a huge number.
• Hilarious small sample-size theater: Tyler Hansbrough, in 13 recorded games, has drawn fouls on 50 percent of his post touches. He might be the league’s most unwatchable player, but he can put up points in a hurry on the right night for Indy.
• Hilarious confirmation of the eye test: If Kevin Seraphin gets the ball in the post, he’s shooting — 66 percent of the time, to be exact. He’s dished only six assists from the post in recorded games, and almost never draws fouls.
• Here’s one that surprised me: Serge Ibaka averages only 1.59 elbow touches per game, the fourth-lowest number among nearly 90 players with at least 40 total elbow touches. That’s lower than a bunch of guys no one would consider serious threats from the elbow or frequent recipients of passes there — Luke Ridnour, LARRY SANDERS!, Rondo, and many others.
But Ibaka knows what he’s there to do: shoot. He has jacked it up on 50 percent of his elbow touches, the highest such rate in the league. Ibaka has hit 41 percent from there so far, which is solid, but certainly not great. Lots of other frequent elbow shooters have been more accurate, including DeMar DeRozan, Durant (again!), Duncan, Brandon Bass, and Jarrett Jack, who is shooting a bananas 65 percent on elbow-area jumpers (17-of-26).
A lot of Jack’s shots in that area come off the bounce, and he’s an interesting example of a guy who has sustained a solid career in part because he’s very good at what is generally an inefficient shot — an off-the-bounce midrange 2.
• Speaking of Bass: He has zero post game, as you know. He’s attempted a shot on just 21 percent of his post touches, the lowest number in the league, including guards and bench-warmers.
• Hilarious confirmation of the eye test: Boris Diaw, always maddeningly shot-phobic, has shot the ball on just 38 percent of his post touches and a hysterical 9 percent of his elbow touches. That’s right around Jan Vesely in each category, and Vesely quite literally can’t shoot and doesn’t do much at all off the bounce. Diaw’s shot frequency should not match Vesely’s, even on a loaded Spurs team.
• Depressing confirmation of the eye test: Monta Ellis once again is among the league leaders in shot frequency from the elbow, and, once again, he can’t shoot from there. He lets it fly on 42 percent of his touches from that spot, a top-10 frequency, despite shooting just 39 percent so far.
• One last depressing confirmation of the eye test: In 13 recorded games — sample-size alert! — Roy Hibbert has shot the ball on 69 percent of his post touches, one of the dozen highest marks in the league. And he has made just 47 percent of his attempts, one of the 15 worst overall marks. If there’s one player in the league who really, really needs to step up his offensive game in the second half of this season, it’s Hibbert. He’s soaking up a lot of possessions on a bad offensive team whose bad offense is the one thing standing in the way of its becoming a really interesting threat to Miami.

Seismic invisibility, bacterial gold and really, really big prime numbers

Alt-week peels back the covers on some of the more curious sci-tech stories from the last seven days.
Altweek 2913
The lure of gold, the unpredictable weather and the power of invisibility. What do these three things have in common? We'd argue their almost universal appeal to the human race. Science makes headway in all three of these areas in this edition. On top of that there's a really, incredibly, massive prime number. This is alt-week.
The hunt for gold's spun many a tale of rags to riches and even woven its way into our folklore. We bet, however, that (like us) many didn't know that gold production can take place at a microbial level, with much more than just the family farm at stake. Delftia acidovorans is a bacteria that lives in the biofilm environment found atop gold deposits. But, its luxurious choice of habitat also presents a real danger -- as gold ions are also fatally toxic to the bug. No biggie though, as the clever bacteria has turned alchemist, by creating a chemical -- a protein called delftibactin -- that converts the ions into gold nanoparticles. We know what you're thinking, and we're right ahead of you. So are the people behind the team that discovered this activity, with Nathan Magarvey from McMaster University suggesting that this could, indeed, have uses for the discovery and extraction of gold in natural sources. Given the tiny amounts that are being talked about, there'll be no worries about a modern gold rush, but, if harnessed correctly, it's thought the critters could play a role in recovery of, or as a biosensor for the shiny stuff in the future.
Altweek 2913
What's the biggest prime number you can think of? If like us, it's no bigger than 131 (okay, we even had to wiki that), then don't worry, you're not alone. There are, however, mathmatical minds that dedicate themselves to this very pursuit -- albeit with the use of technology. The largest known such number is 257885161 − 1, is 17 million digits long, and was recently discovered by a bunch of computers in Missouri taking part in the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS). Not sure how big a number like that is? Well, it reportedly took the computer array that discovered it 39 days to double check that it was actually prime. Our heads are hurting just thinking about that. The previous largest prime was apparently "just" 13 million digits long -- still some 12,999,997 longer than our best effort.
Altweek 2913
Invisibility is possibly the holiest of holy grails for many young (or once young) fertile minds. Sadly, it still seems like the cloak of our dreams is still some way out. Much of the current work in invisibility is concentrating on the visual aspect -- directing photons etc. Recently announced work at the Institut Fresnel in Marseille, France, however, has used a similar idea to create a "seismic invisibility cloak" that could help protect structures against earthquakes and more. The team drilled an array of 200 meter-deep boreholes, filled them with clay silt, and then set up acoustic monitoring of the area. To test their theory, 50 Hz waves with a 14mm displacement were emitted from one side, allowing them to measure what was received on the other. The result? According to the researchers, the waves were diverted away well, with almost nothing making its way past the second round of boreholes. The experiment is only designed to work with waves at a certain frequency, and there is the issue of dealing with where the reflections actually go (potentially other nearby structures?), but, for now, this represents a promising stretch in the right direction.
Altweek 2913 Seismic invisibility, bacterial gold and
Dutch researchers at Wageningen UR have published results of their work that repurposed mobile network infrastructure to provide detailed, real-time rainfall maps. By monitoring the water-induced attenuation between mobile transmitters and receivers a surprisingly accurate gauge of rainfall intensity was recorded. The work could benefit the measurement of surface precipitation in areas where radar is either not present, or not viable (assuming a mobile network exists there also). This could help the management of water resources, climate research and, of course, weather prediction. The team's example used just one Dutch national network to demonstrate the method, but are keen to stress that due to the proliferation of these Tx / Rx network links around civilised areas generally, there's a wealth of resource sat there untapped.

best valentine's day gift

Are you and your girlfriend or boyfriend known as the ‘geeky’ couple? Are you also having a hard time picking out aValentine’s Day gift for that special someone? Well, worry no more as I will list presents for the geekiest of technology couples.
1. 8-Bit Rose
Roses are arguably the most romantic flowers, but giving them every year seems a bit boring. This year, give your lover this pixel rose that looks like it has been taken out of a classic Super Mario game.
Buy it here.
2. Sushi USB Drive
Instead of treating your date to a dinner, buy some of these instead. No one can resist having at least one of these sushi shaped USB drives in their bag at such a cheap price.
Buy it here.
3. Tetris Lamp
This old classic game has now been turned into a multicolored lamp. With removable parts, you can stack this lamp any way you want!
Buy it here.
4. The Miniature Book of Miniature Golf
Paper-size your miniature golf experience with this book full of miniature golf! Each page includes a small, dented field carving for a tiny golfing experience!
Buy it here.
5. Car Remote Key Spy Camera
Cue the ‘Mission Impossible‘ music. This tiny camera, disguised as a car remote key, will let you live your dream of being a spy. Well, you’ll at least feel like it.
Buy it here.
6. Android Plush Robot
For all those Android users, this is a must have! This cute 9″ stuffed toy will fit perfectly on a girl’s shelf. This plush is also friendly for little kids as well.

Friday, 8 February 2013

New Developments in Solar Panel Technology

New Developments in Solar Panel Technology

Thin film solar
Photo via Walmart
As the world begins to transition from fossil fuel energy to more sustainable forms of power, interest in solar panels has grown exponentially. New solar panel technologies currently under development will make it easier and more cost-efficient to use on new homes, as well as for retrofitting older homes to solar power.

Understanding Solar Panels

Solar panels are composed of materials that collect sunlight for conversion into electrical energy.  They work by first absorbing the light, after which positive and negative charges are separated into areas of the cell. The separation creates voltage that is then transferred through electrical terminals for use in a variety of applications. In the past, the collection of light energy was done on individual silicon wafers. However, today’s solar panels are constructed much differently, allowing for a more efficient use of the materials and lower cost to the consumer. .

New Multi-Junction Technology

multi junction solar cell breakdown

Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory are working on a new triple-junction solar cell that could potentially break the 50 percent conversion efficiency barrier that has held back the widespread utilization of solar technology. Until now, the highest conversion efficiency achieved has been 44 percent. This new technology, in which multi-function solar cells within each junction are tuned to a separate wavelength band, promises to increase the efficiency significantly, theoretically to 87 percent at maximum. A combination of high band gap material and lattice matching helps to make this new technology possible.

Stick-On Solar Panels

Another interesting development comes from Stanford University where scientists have created the first peel-and-stick solar panel, an innovation that overcomes one of the drawbacks of traditional solar panels—their rigidity. This thin film material can attach directly to underlying materials, eliminating the need for additional fabrication on the substrate. This new type of panel uses silicon, silicon dioxide and a “sandwich” on a nickel film base layer. A thermal release tape allows the collection cells to be transferred onto the substrate easily.

Nanowire Solar Panels

A new method of producing solar panels uses nanotechnology to grow microscopic wires 180 nanometers thick from chemically altered phosphorus and indium. These wires are then etched with hydrochloric acid.  Though these nanowires are used to cover just 12 percent of a panel’s surface, they can convert 14 percent of the incoming light into electricity, boosting efficiency significantly. The cost for this technology is still to high at this time, but further development of production methods will help to make this a useful addition to solar panel options.

More Common Materials

Instead of materials such as indium, gallium and other rare compounds for the cells on solar panels, a scientist at the California Institute of Technology and a chemist from Dow Chemical are working to develop solar panels that use more common materials such as copper oxide and zinc phosphide to create simple roofing shingles that would be able to collect sunlight for conversion into electricity. This advancement would provide a lower cost option and easy installation for both new and existing structures.

Vodafone says 4G is for 'technology freaks', amid cash woes

Vodafone has seen its revenues slip, though the red-hued network insists it isn't losing customers to speedy 4G services.
Revenue dipped 5.2 per cent in the last three months of 2012, The Guardian reports -- the biggest fall in over three years. The cash drop comes despite an increase in customer numbers however, as Vodafone's total number of UK subscribers climbed 230,000 to 19.5 million.
Vodafone itself blames the decline on customers hunting for bargains elsewhere, with company boss Vittorio Colao adamant that paying customers aren't flocking to 4G.
"I haven't got reports of customers flying away to 4G," the embattled CEO is quoted as saying, going on to declare, "The kind of people who are going for it are technology freaks."
That seems a little unfair to me, as I'm sure most smart phone owners would jump at the chance to boost their browsing and download speeds. If 4G is of limited interest for now, it's because EE -- as the only company to provide the fast new technology -- is charging through-the-roof rates for it.
That will change later this year however, once the ongoing 4G spectrum auction is concluded, and rival networks can kick off their own services. Three has the right idea, having already promised that 4G speeds will cost the same as current contracts.
Three is using 1,800MHz spectrum it's buying from EE to forge its 4G services. It's not clear whether operators like Vodafone or O2, which are bidding in the 4G auction, will be able to offer 4G without a bump in prices.
What do you think of Vodafone? Is 4G really just for "technology freaks", or should everyone have access to speedy Internet? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.

Has Apple finally found a way to crack the Indian market?

FORTUNE -- Two data points from the subcontinent, where Apple's (AAPL) iPhone sales have been notoriously slow to take off.382018078647
  • At Asymconf: California last week, Paul Brody, IBM (IBM) vice president for electronic global business services, told attendees that he had just come back from India where mobile carriers are activating iPhones at the rate of 2,000 per day.
  • The Times of India reported Friday that sales of Apple devices -- especially iPhones -- have increased three or four fold in the past three months.
"Apple is doing what it did in China three or four years ago," Jayanth Kolla, founder of the research firm Convergence Catalyst, told theTimes. "They studied the market, learned consumer needs and suddenly went aggressive. From having about 30 people here six months ago, Apple India is now about 150-people strong."
The Times cites analysts who say Apple is pivoting away from its traditional reliance on local carriers and has begun aggressively marketing the iPhone directly to high-end consumers.