TECH: Prototype Nokia Phone Recharges Without Wires

Yes.. You have read the title right: "Prototype Nokia phone recharges without wires".

Pardon the cliche, but it's one of the holiest of Holy Grails of technology: Wireless power. And while early lab experiments have been able to "beam" electricity a few feet to power a light bulb, the day when our laptops and cell phones can charge without having to plug them in to a wall socket still seems decades in the future.

Nokia, however, has taken another baby step in that direction with the invention of a cell phone that recharges itself using a unique system: It harvests ambient radio waves from the air, and turns that energy into usable power. Enough, at least, to keep a cell phone from running out of juice.

While "traditional" (if there is such a thing) wireless power
systems are specifically designed with a transmitter and receiver in mind, Nokia's system isn't finicky about where it gets its wireless waves. TV, radio, other mobile phone systems -- all of this stuff just bounces around the air and most of it is wasted, absorbed into the environment or scattered into the ether. Nokia picks up all the bits and pieces of these waves and uses the collected electromagnetic energy to create electrical current, then uses that to recharge the phone's battery. A huge range of frequencies can be utilized by the system (there's no other way, really, as the energy in any given wave is infinitesimal). It's the same idea that Tesla was exploring 100 years ago, just on a tiny scale.

Mind you, harvesting ambient electromagnetic energy is never going to offer enough electricity to power your whole house or office, but it just might be enough to keep a cell phone alive and kicking. Currently Nokia is able to harvest all of 5 milliwatts from the air; the goal is to increase that to 20 milliwatts in the short term and 50 milliwatts down the line. That wouldn't be enough to keep the phone alive during an active call, but would be enough to slowly recharge the cell phone battery while it's in standby mode, theoretically offering infinite power -- provided you're not stuck deep underground where radio waves can't penetrate.

Nokia says it hopes to commercialize the technology in three to five years.

Source: Yahoo! Tech

Now imagine harnessing this power technology for other uses.. like notebooks (power on the go), portable gaming consoles, PDAs.. The possibilities seem endless.


ARTICLE: Microsoft Outlook Memory Usage

I'm a bit paranoid about what runs in my computers. So as a force of habbit, I would sometimes fire up TCP Viewer (from sysinternals) or the native task manager. Believe me, paranoia (not too much of it) has its own set of advantages. From task manager you can see what's running on your computer.. and more.

One of the many advantages it brought is this observation I recently had. While trying to monitor memory usage of an application for a client, I compared data using Hobbit (now known as Xymon) client on the host running Windows XP. And found a bit of disparity between data points. The data points I'm talking about here had no relation to the application I was monitoring. It was the memory usage of Microsoft Outlook that the client was running, aside from the application itself. The memory consumption from Microsoft Outlook jumped from 4MB to 16MB five minutes later (hobbit's data points are sent to the server every 5 minutes).

That experience and the curiosity it brought got me to dig deeper.. But no sooner after I left the client, I forgot all about it. So later when I got home, I sat in front of my notebook and launched the task manager, that brought me back to the experience earlier in the day. I ran Microsoft Outlook next (I'm using Microsoft Outlook 2007) to monitor its usage. And what better tool to use for this than the task manager. I do not need any more monitoring as the task manager offers that data in real time!

Right out, task manager presented me with information that Outlook consumes about 20MB of memory. The personal folders (.pst) file associated to it is 27.2MB in size. The memory consumption of Outlook is presented in the screenshot below.

I was intending to replicate the scenario I witnessed in my client's office but I had no idea what was being done on the monitored host. And even more puzzling, how do I replicate the sudden memory drop/increase that I saw Outlook do.

So I went on launching typical office applications, browsed the web, and opened files.. anything to replicate the observation earlier. But Outlook memory consumption remained pretty much the same.. Until at last I hit paydirt -- I minimized the Outlook window and boom.. memory drop!

I restored the window and saw the memory consumption return. Minimized and replicated the previous observations. This must be how I saw it from my client's office.

So then, if you are running low on memory and you are running Outlook it would be best to minimize it to free up more memory. Or better yet, if Outlook is "idle" or running in the background, minimize it to make more memory available to the current application in focus.

I hope that by relating this little experience of mine you can put it to good use.


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