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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Air Traffic Controller Uses SMS To Guide Crippled Plane's Pilot

A quick-thinking air traffic controller from Cork, Ireland guided the pilot of a twin-engined Piper that had lost all onboard electrical power, communications and weather radar to a safe landing using only text messages. The pilot of the troubled craft attempted to use his cellphone repeatedly to raise contact with Kerry airport, where he had left, and when unsuccessful he made brief voice contact with air traffic control at Cork. When voice contact was lost the air traffic controller sent text messages to the pilot informing him that he had a radar signal on the aircraft and that Cork would allow them to land. "In this incident the positive and proactive initiative of the ATC controller, who, on realising that mobile audio communication from the pilot was intermittent, quickly switched to texting his instructions instead," said air accident investigator John Hughes. I hope this guy gets a raise! Well done... = Piratre Bay For Magazines

Here is a site that is in the news a lot this morning... launched in late July and encourages users, of which it has more than 16,000 at the moment, to "upload. share. archive." high quality digital scans of magazines that they've purchased. Of course you have to think copyright infringement the moment you open the site, but the problem for North American magazine publishers is Mygazines is registered in the Caribbean and hosted in Sweden, by the Stockholm-based PRQ which is owned by the founders of Pirate Bay. Tracking down those responsible or even putting preasure on the domain registrar or site host is nearly impossible.

With a quick search of the site I turned up the August edition of Wired that I just paid $5.99 plus tax for... but then again if I didn't buy it I wouldn't be able to build upon my Wired Art Collection, and besides, if we frequent or other such sites we put the publishers at risk and threaten the very content that we enjoy.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Speedo Fastskin LZR Racer - Not Your Fathers Speedo

As of Wednesday Speedo Fastskin LZR Racer had captured 42 or 48 swimming medals at the Beijing Olympics and since the LZR was unveiled in February, over 60 world records have been broken. According to the Globe and Mail "...Speedo enlisted the help of NASA scientists to sculpt the company's Pulse material into a shark-like second skin that reduces the drag on a human body in the water by as much as 10 per cent. Speedo created 3-D scans of more than 400 of the world's top swimmers in an effort to determine the shape of their bodies and how best to improve their aquatic movements." Loren Chiu, an associate professor of biomechanics at the University of Alberta says “They looked at fish and sharks and tried to recreate a surface that is similar to what they would have on their skin,” he said. “It's similar to the non-stick frying pans you use to cook your eggs. If you have a smooth surface, then instead of water sticking to the suit, which would cause friction, it slides along it. With less friction, the athlete then is able to move faster.” The LZR is expected to be made available to the general public this fall at a cost of about $550.00 (US).

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Partial Lunar Eclipse On Saturday

Discovery Channel is reporting that there will be a partial lunar eclipse on Saturday starting at at 2:23 p.m. EDT and best viewed from most of Africa, Eastern Europe, central Asia, India and the Middle East. With maximum eclipse occurring at 5:10 p.m. and the whole thing over at 7:59 p.m. those of us in North Americas will be largely out of luck.

The Ultimate Big Screen TV For XBox Players

Think your 50 inch Plasma TV is great for gaming... how about a game of Gears on a 50 foot movie theatre screen? Starting Friday Cineplex Entertainment is going to rent it's theatres to gamers, during down times when movies are not being shown. For $179 plus taxes up to 12 gamers can share a theatre for 2 hours and play either their own XBox 360 games or choose from a select library of games at the theatre. Of course XBox 360 can only accomodate 4 players at a time so you'll have to take turns. "It takes it to a whole new level when you see the game on a screen that's more than 50 feet wide," said Pat Marshall, Cineplex's vice-president of communications. "If they wanted to book a four-hour window, we could certainly go later in the evening," Marshall said. "If the theatre manager has the staffing, they could go till two in the morning." Now if the theatres only sold Red Bull and offered XBox Live connectivity... CBC coverage here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Google Answers Questions About Maps Of Georgia In Response To Users

It appears as though Google has been fielding a number of questions about the Google Maps rendition of Georgia and it's neighbours Armenia and Azerbaijan, all of which have only high level photography and no detail regarding cities or roads. In it's defense Google has posted this comment on the Official Google Blog (Cross-posted from the Google LatLong Blog) "...we never launched coverage in those countries because we simply weren't satisfied with the map data we had available. We're constantly searching for the best map data we can find, and sometimes will delay launching coverage in a country if we think we can get more comprehensive data."

In the wake of the recent conflict in the area some Google Maps users have asked if Google removed the data but Google insists it was never there but says that it is learning from the experience saying that users have indicated that some data is better than no data, to which Google says "... we have started preparing data for the handful of countries that are still blank on Google Maps. Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, as well as other significant regions of the world will benefit from this effort..."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Radio Ratings Turning To Tech

For decades the radio industry has relied on select listeners to journal their radio listening on paper and submit these diaries for compilation into ratings that helped amongst other things to determine advertising rates. I've had occasion to participate in these surveys myself as recent as a couple of years ago. The industry seems to be catching up with technology now with new measuring devices called Portable People Meters, or PPMs. The PPM records inaudible signals that identify what radio station you are listening to, when you listened, and for how long. "Sometimes what you listen to isn't always what you recall three days later," said Greg Strassell, senior vice president of programming for CBS Radio. "Rather than guessing how listeners were listening, this is actual info we can use. This is why program directors are very excited." This seems like a much more accurate measure and one that is less painful for the participants! LA Times story here.

Olympic Fireworks Display Impressive But Faked, Sort Of.

The opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics featured an impressive fireworks display that represented a series of giant footprints outlined in fireworks, marching above the city from Tiananmen Square to the Bird's Nest National Stadium. The fireworks display apparently did actually take place , however the version displayed on television and on the giant displays in the stadium where in fact computer generated graphics, created over a period of months and inserted into the coverage electronically at precisely the right moment. "It would have been prohibitive to have tried to film it live," said an advisor to the Beijing Olympic Committee. "We could not put the helicopter pilot at risk by making him try to follow the firework route." According to the "Meticulous efforts were made to ensure the sequence was as unnoticeable as possible: they sought advice from the Beijing meteorological office as to how to recreate the hazy effects of Beijing's smog at night, and inserted a slight camera shake effect to simulate the idea that it was filmed from a helicopter."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Atheists Unhappy With Spore?

G4's The Feed blog is reporting that Will Wright was originally concerned with religious groups when he built Spore, but that the real criticism has come from the atheists! "I think our bigger fear was that we didn't want to offend any religious people; but looking at the discussion that unfolded from this thing, what we had was a good, sizeable group of players that we might call militant atheists, and the rest of the players seemed very tolerant, including all of the religious players." It seems that the atheists take issue with religion being associated with the "higher civilization portion" of the game. Why does anyone find it necessary to read anything into these games? It's a figment of someone's imagination and should be played and appreciated for the hard work and creative efforts that are involved... and why can't we all just get along?

Invisibility Cloak Nearer To Reality

Scientists at the University of California in Berkeley have developed, on a nano scale, a material that can bend light around 3D objects theoretically rendering them invisible. According to a BBC article "The new system works like water flowing around a rock, the researchers said.Because light is not absorbed or reflected by the object, a person only sees the light from behind it - rendering the object invisible. The new material produces has "negative refractive" properties. It has a multi-layered "fishnet" structure which is transparent over a wide range of light wavelengths." The research is of course being funded by the US government and if reproducable on a large scale could have many military and covert applications. This conjures up images of the Predator movies...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Donkey Kong Love - Lego Style

Check out what this Donkey Kong fan created with Lego! Impressive!

Turning To The Internet For The News

Video footage from inside the combat zone in the former Soviet nation of Georgia has made it's way to LiveLeak, this video shows a Russian fighter jet dropping a bomb on a Georgian city and what appears to be the aftermath on the ground with obvious civilian casualties. What I find interesting is that this is the first footage from within the conflict that I've seen. I'm not sure if this is because I am increasingly turning to the web for my news, or if main stream media has been slow to get footage out of the country.