New Technology Extends Battery Life – University of Illinois engineers have developed an ultra-low-power digital memory much faster than similar available memory which uses 100 times less energy. It could give future mobile devices much longer battery life between charges (though no mention was made of application to electric cars). Today’s flash memory in mobile devices require high programming voltages and are slow. Higher-power phase-change materials (PCM) are seen as an alternative; their bits are stored in the resistance of the material, which is switchable. The researchers lowered the power per bit to 100 times less than existing PCM memory by focusing on size. Instead of the metal wires usually employed, they used carbon nanotubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair. Their energy consumption is essentially scaled with the volume of the memory bit. They can switch the bits “on” and “off” by passing tiny currents thru them. Nanotubes also boast extraordinary stability and are not subject to degradation as are metal wires. The bits are immune to accidental erasure from magnetic fields. Ultra-low-power memory could greatly cut energy consumption and the expense of data storage and super-computing. Chips can be stacked due to their running cool, which has not been possible before due to heat problems. They can also help small mobile devices – for example a typical laptop runs on more than 25 watts. The research results will be published in the upcoming issue of Science magazine.
Detroit Symphony Musicians’ Lawyer Indicted – Labor Lawyer Leonard Leibowitz, currently representing the on-strike musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and noted for his notorious negotiating tactics, was indicted in a Manhattan courtroom for stealing from his clients in the past, writing checks for himself and his wife for over $350,000, and committing forgery. He was charged with embezzling union funds and falsification of annual reports.
Yakov Kreizberg Dies – Russian conductor Yako Kreizberg died in Monte Carlo at age 51 of cancer. He was chief conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic and had been principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symhony for five years. He was the brother of conductor Semyon Bychkov and was music director of the Monte Carlo Philharmonic last season.
Home Theater Audio Tips – Some HT owners spend time adjusting their screen display for the best possible image, but fail to consider the audio half of the HT experience. Greg Robinson lists some good audio tweaks at Electronic House, and we’ll try to summarize: Although many new AV receivers, preamps and surround processors have some sort of automated setup wizard now, don’t depend on these test-tone-based calibration utilities to substitute for your own ears. (Frankly, I haven’t found one that works perfectly.) Use an inexpensive Radio Shack SPL meter and balance the multichannel calibration test tones on a DVD such as Digital Video Essentials, Avia, or my favorite – the Telarc 1812 Overture SACD. (My cats always search for the child whose voice introduces each tone.) Hold the meter upright and adjust levels until all channels including the sub(s) read the same from your sweet spot.
Speaking of subs, if you can’t put your sub close to your sweet spot, consider getting two and placing them in the front corners of your listening room. That can even out your bass response. When you set up the audio parameters in your AVR, it is usually best to select “Small” for your five (or seven) main speakers and at the crossover frequency to your sub(s) somewhere near the bottom low end claimed by the speaker manufacturer. For example, if the speakers claim 55 Hz low end, set your crossover for 60 Hz. Do this even with tower speakers that may claim lower bass extension. Experiment with different crossover frequencies for the smoothest possible blend from your main speakers to the sub(s). And don’t put squishy feet under your sub(s) – drain their energy into the floor with spiked feet or heavy metal cones.
If your front left and right speakers are near walls, have someone slide a mirror along the walls to the point where you can see the tweeter of your speakers. That place is where you should installed some sort of absorptive material to dampen first reflections from the speaker. The Philips grey foam panels are inexpensive and effective, and there are many others. Lastly, make sure you have your Blu-ray player and AV receiver properly set up to play back high-resolution lossless multichannel DTS-HD Master Audio. Some Blu-ray players will revert to poorer-quality lossy DTS audio if you have Secondary Audio Channel selected in the setup menu. This is especially important with the increasing number of music Blu-rays being released today.