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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Manufacture Your Designs On Demand

Wired has a great article discussing on-demand manufacturing services and the businesses that are sprouting globally as a result. Design your own furniture and have it built when your customer orders it! No upfront costs, just provide the specs and collect the profit. Services like Cafe Press have been around for ages but now a new twist on this theme is turning homegrown ideas into real cash opportunities.

Think I'll get out the napkin and pencil and get to work...

Just Because I Wear Glasses Does Not Mean I'm A Nerd, And I Have The Science To Prove It!

A study published in the March edition of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, lays to rest the long-held view that people who are short-sighted (myopic) are socially withdrawn and conscientious, in other words a nerd. "In multivariate analysis with age, sex, education, and the five personality factors entered as predictors, openness was the only significant personality predictor of myopia in both samples," the researchers, who sound a little bit nerdy, wrote. "People who score highly on this [trait] tend to have a wide range of interests, are often well-educated and widely read," so I guess they are more likely to be geeks! hmmm. CBC has more.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Space Truck Practices Docking With Space Station

The European Space Agency's unmanned space freighter is practicing approaches and retreats in preparation for docking with the International Space Station on Thursday. The ATV is carrying nearly five tonnes of supplies for the ISS astronauts, and flies under the control of autonomous computers. "We've had the usual small anomalies; we're learning how to fly the bird - but nothing that has been really difficult," said John Ellwood from the European Space Agency. The BBC has more on the story here, along with an interesting Google Maps mashup that allows you to track the flights of both the ATV and the ISS... cool!

Dell Blu-ray Laptop For Under $1000

Dell has announced the inclusion of a Blu-ray disc player in it's InspironTM 1525 laptops, starting at $879. According to the press release "The Blu-ray player disc drive is fully backwards compatible, and will play as well as burn traditional DVDs and CDs. Consumers can also chose a Blu-ray burner drive, which is great for backing up and storing important files like digital photos, videos, financial records, etc. A Blu-ray disc will hold up to 50 GB of data, vs. 8.5 GB available on the typical DVD disc." The laptop comes with a 15.4-inch high definition wide aspect display at 720p resolution but also includes an HDMI port allowing you to connect to high a resolution display or HDTV. Oh and did I mention you can get it in an array of colors including the ever popular Sunshine Yellow!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

PEW Internet Report On Chinese Sensorship - Sensored?

This is an amusing little story, or perhaps it's only amusing in my head but I thought I'd share it. While looking for something to blog about in my rss feeds I noticed a new link from the PEW Internet & American Life Project, the title of which was "Most Chinese Say They Approve of Government Internet Control". Once I had navigated to the page there was the usual brief description which reads "Many Americans assume that China's internet users are unhappy about their government's control of the internet, but a new survey finds most Chinese say they approve of internet regulation, especially by the government." and a link is provided to the pdf version of the report. Clicking on the link produces a 404 Page Not Found error... coincidence? It's a stretch, I know but that's just how my mind works sometimes. rss links here. pdf file not found here.

Adobe Launches Free Online Version Of PhotoShop

Adobe, the king of photo manipulation software has decided to offer it's own free online version of Photoshop, to be known as Photoshop Express. Aimed at the common folk who just want to take some red eye out or add a little something to their photo, Express is also a move to keep people thinking about Photoshop. There are a number of free tools out there like Google's Picasa, iPhoto, and picnic cutting into would be Photoshop purchasers. Express not only allows for photo manipulation but offers online storage of 2 MB and an uploading tool that allows you to post your masterpieces to social networking sites like Facebook. Unfortunately the site is only available to users in the United States at the moment, but I'll monitor from time to time and let you know when it opens up elsewhere. New York Times article here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

World Of Warcraft Takes The Battle To The Courtroom

The creator of the MMO Glider program which performs key "in World" tasks automatically, such as fighting, is being sued by World of Warcraft maker Blizzard. The company is demanding that Michael Donnelly stop selling Glider and return all profits that he made from Glider sales. Their argument is that the program infringes upon their copyright because it copies the game into RAM to avoid detection by anti-cheat software. The claim is also that the End User License Agreement is infringed upon by anyone who uses the tool. I like his entrepreneurial spirit but I can't stand game players who use these kind of cheats... go get him Blizzard! BBC has more here.

Big League Athletes Get Behind Youth Sports Social Site is a social networking site for kids who play sports, parents, and coaches. According to the New York Times, "Young athletes will be able to set up a profile, post pictures, communicate with friends and share videos of games. Parents will be able to get practice schedules, coordinate car pools and find out which equipment to purchase. Coaches will be able to communicate with their players and parents, as well as learn about strategy and other skills." Big leaguers such as NBA stars Tony Parker and LeBron James, NFLer Payton Manning, and New York Yankee Derek Jeter are taking part. Jeter, in fact, has put some of his own money into the venture and will receive equity in the company in exchange for his participation, saying the equity position is “very important, because you can really feel good about something if you help build it.”

This is a site that should have been built long ago, parents, coaches, and athletes have been using a patch work of sites and tools to communicate schedules and coordinate travel for years. I take an abundance of photos during the hockey and baseball seasons and have recently found the file sharing site to be invaluable in distributing photos to parents and players alike. The real question is, will the athletes like being in the same social network as their parents? A central location for sharing information amongst team mates sounds like winner, at least for the parents.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Yahoo Supports OpenSocial

In a press release today, Yahoo! Inc. announced they have agreed with MySpace, and Google to form the OpenSocial Foundation "to ensure the neutrality and longevity of OpenSocial as an open, community-governed specification for building social applications across the web." "Yahoo! believes in supporting community-driven industry specifications and expects that OpenSocial will fuel innovation and make the web more relevant and more enjoyable to millions of users," said Wade Chambers, Vice President - Platforms, Yahoo!. The move is a bit surprising since the OpenSocial initiative was a Google brainchild, and the two are arch rivals. The press release quotes both MySpace and Google representatives but the real question is what does Microsoft think?

Robotic Play Fetch Machine - Ingenius!

For those who are skeptical of this whole robotics movement, this should lay all of your doubts to rest! I'll let the machine do the talking...

On the home front, I got a Roomba! More on that in a subsequent post...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sirius Gets DOJ Nod On XM Purchase

The U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) has approved Sirius Satellite Radio Inc.'s proposed $5-billion (U.S.) buyout of XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. but the purchase will still require the approval of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to close the deal. “The likely evolution of technology in the future, including the expected introduction in the next several years of mobile broadband Internet devices, made it even more unlikely that the transaction would harm consumers in the longer term,” the Justice Department said. The Globe and Mail has more details here.

Pimp My Scion - Toyota's Do-It-Yourself Custom Logo's

Toyota and New York based StrawberryFrog advertising and marketing agency have come up with a unique way to promote the trendy Scion, the boxy economy car aimed at younger, stylish drivers. A website called Scion Speak has been developed that gives Scion owners, and everyone else, the tools to create their own customized crest or coat of arms that can then be downloaded and turned into a window decal or custom paint job, at your own expense of course. “These guys love to personalize their cars, and we give them a tool to do that,” said Kevin McKeon, the executive creative director of StrawberryFrog in New York. I've tried the site and it works beautifully, it's obviously not geared towards my generation (and it hurts to say that) but I can appreciate the art just the same. My crest is an alley cat over a two tone shield, with a circuit board for wings, and a power button! More at the New York Times.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Atlanta Bar Owner Builds Robot To Disperse Homeless

The Bum Bot 2000 is a remote controlled security "robot" made by Rufus Terrill, owner of O'Terrill's bar in downtown Atlanta. The robot is pieced together with things found around the home but the menacing looking little guy has become an effective means of dispersing the homeless, drug dealers, and prostitutes who frequently bother the bars patrons. The robot is equipped with An infrared camera, a 2-million-candlepower spotlight, a homemade cannon, which squirts jets of cold water at up to 200 pounds per square inch and a microphone and speakers. Terrill warns the unwanted loiterers that they had better move along or they'll get wet. The video is relayed back to his bar where his patrons get a first hand view of the whole thing on the big screen. Perhaps Fox will pick up the feed, "bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do... tonight on Robo Cops..." This is a pretty proactive way of cleaning up the neighborhood, where nobody apparently gets hurt. Then again, the unwanted street element just moves on to another block... better to leave this kind of thing to the police? Terrill doesn't seem to think that's an alternative as he's busy building Bum Bot 3000 with an air canon capable of launching nets, oh my!

LA Times article here.