Via @FastCompany | When someone Googles your name, what do they find? Is it a outdated quote from an ancient article in your college newspaper? Is it your blog dedicated to cute photos of ferrets? Or is it a bunch of pages about someone else who happens to share your name? So watch, listen and learn… This is a great little video to help guide you a long the way! Brought to you by Gina Trapani is the author of Upgrade Your Life and founding editor of Lifehacker.com. Work Smart appears every week on FastCompany.com.
While there’s a lot of work to push nanotechnology as the future of computer chips, good old-fashioned semiconductors still have a lot of life in them yet: and they’ve recently been given a boost with a radical new type of circuit element that incorporates both semiconductor and nanotechnology.
Its called the memristor, and if you haven’t heard of it that’s not much of surprise–they were only manufactured for the first time last year. Memristors are tiny electronic devices that change their electrical resistance proportionally to the current running through them–in contrast transistors “turn on” current when a small input voltage is applied. Unlike transistors, memristors don’t forget their state when they’re turned off, making them useful as non-volatile memory for example.
Now a team from Hewlett-Packard labs in Palo-Alto has demonstrated a hybrid transistor-memristor circuit for the first time, using a nanowire grid and titanium dioxide as a semiconductor. The resulting device had memristors at the nanowire junctions and was surrounded by transistors.
Why should you get excited about this? For one reason–a transistor/memristor paired assembly can be programmed to either behave like a traditional logic circuit, route signals across it or behave as a memory storage unit. And these are all tasks that require specially-engineered circuitry in existing chips. In other words, a memristor-chip could pack in much more processing power in the same area–and that’s the trend that our increasingly-powerful chips have been following for decades.
Yet more interestingly, since the memristor “remembers” what state its in, by doing a calculation with a group of the circuits and feeding back the output of a calculation to the same memristors, the device could effectively “self-program.” As HP spokesman Tim Williams puts it: “self-programming is a form of learning. Thus, circuits with memristors may have the capacity to learn how to perform a task, rather than have to be programmed to do it.”
And that’s one long-predicted goal of computing technology that may even enable synaptic-like responses. Your computer in ten years time may do some of your thinking for you.
Of all the demos at TechFest 2009, the one I’d pick to include in a future Microsoft product is the Social Views of E-Mail application. It looks like a basic e-mail tool, but it organizes and clusters messages based on social groupings instead of just time and importance. This video with Andrzej Turski gives you a quick overview of all the features.
Say you’re part of a jogging club with a colleague at work, the social inbox would group different messages into your jogging club folder and your work folder based on the other names cc’d on the e-mail. That’s just one simple example of how this app uses your friend network to organize information.
The creators of this social inbox have also re-worked the basic display and user interface for mail. Along with showing profile photos, when you open and read a message it gets displayed in columns similar to a newspaper or magazine layout. And you can reply to a message from directly underneath the original message, much like you do in Web-based comments or forums.
There are already a few tools that enhance other devices or software, like Fonebook, which syncs your Facebook contacts with Outlook. But most of your social information is still hidden from the other aspects of your daily routine. The next stage of social media’s evolution will come when it scales the walled garden of existing social network destinations and becomes integrated with the rest of the devices and applications in your daily life.