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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Dan Aykroyd Talks Spirits

Dan Aykroyd is not only involved in chasing ghosts he's also into spirits of another kind as explained in this video. "Joy in the form of a very pure alcoholic beverage..." when there's a party going on in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call?

Aykroyd's Crystal Head Vodka is truly a unique product though the website makes no mention of how you can acquire it. There is a new Ghostbusters movie coming out... I wonder? On that note, there is a lot of buzz about this being a viral video associated with the new movie or other projects but I've also found sites like this one that claim to sell the stuff, time will tell I guess.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Tech Down On The Farm

On a farm in Saskatchewan a Hutterite farmer has eliminated the need to get up for 3:00 am milkings by employing a little technology. Each cow in the herd now wears a chip that communicates with a central computer system. When a cow enters a stall the system recognizes whether it is due for a milking or ready for feed based on a historical profile that is stored for each animal. Not only does it tend to the animals needs but "It can take a sample of the milk and actually do a cell test," according to Phil Bourke, a veterinarian familiar with the system. "So it can pick up blood or abnormal colour in the milk. And if it is there it can divert the milk to a waste system." I love this story! This is the stuff that technology is meant to solve... Sympatico / CBC story here.

China Monitoring Skype Messages

Citizen Lab, a research group based at the University of Toronto, says its found a database of thousands of politically sensitive words which have been blocked by the Chinese government. "These text messages, along with millions of records containing personal information, are stored on insecure publicly accessible web servers," said Citizen Lab's report, entitled "Breaching Trust". The database contains in excess of 150,000 messages which included words such as "democracy" and "Tibet" and phrases associated with the Falun Gong a spiritual movement considered banned by China. Skype president Josh Silverman said China's monitoring was "common knowledge" and that Tom Online, Skype's Chinese partner, had "established procedures to meet local laws and regulations". "These regulations include the requirement to monitor and block instant messages containing certain words deemed offensive by the Chinese authorities," he said. While I'm sure most of us are not surprised at the Chinese Governments monitoring of communications by it's citizens, making such information public opens up a whole new debate. BBC News story here.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Canada's do-not-call List Overwhelmed On Day 1

On Tuesday Canada's national do-not-call list went into action and was quickly overwhelmed by Canadians trying to register. "At one point, 80,000 people were trying to access either the website or the phone numbers, said Denis Carmel, spokesman for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission." By 4:00 PM the website had received nine million hits while the phone system had more than 1.5 million attempts to call in, with just under 1.3 million phone numbers registered to the list. Once your number is registered most telemarketers can no longer call, but there is a 31 day grace period so expect your phone to be ringing off the hock until Halloween, if you were on of the lucky 1.3 million that is!

Get on the list here:

or call: 1-866-580-3625 or 1-888-362-5889

CBC Story here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wal-Mart To Get Exclusive Rights To AC/DC Version Of Rock Band

Wal-Mart has inked a deal with MTV that will see it get the exclusive rights to sell AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack in the United States through Wal-Mart stores, Sam's Club, and the Wal-Mart website ( In the deal, Wal-Mart will create a special area in each of its stores to display AC/DC's new album "Black Ice" and the Rock Band game, as well as other CDs, DVDs, T-shirts, and licensed AC/DC clothing. “If you want to be a physical band, you better make an alliance with a strong physical retailer,” said Steve Barnett, chairman of Columbia Records. “It’s a great way to sell the new album, the catalog, the game, merchandise and DVDs.” The game, is scheduled for release for all consoles in early November, and will reportedly cost less than most new games, selling for about $40 instead of the traditional $60 range. This price point works well for Wal-Mart which has always aimed to be a price leader. New York Times article.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hubble Telescope Stops Sending Data

A mission to repair the Hubble Telescope scheduled for two weeks time has been put on hold by NASA until it understands the problems experienced by the telescope over the weekend. The space shuttle Atlantis had been scheduled to rendevous with Hubble in two weeks, but a new unexpected problem with Hubble appeared on Saturday night and the astronauts would potentially have new repairs to contend with, repairs that haven't trained for. Because it will take time to identify the failed part and train the astronauts to repair or replace it, the mission originally scheduled for October 14th will be postponed until early next year. Discovery Channel.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Space Truck's Crash Zone Assigned

The European Space Agency's massive space freighter the 'Space Truck' will be destroyed in a suicide plunge today that could see about 100 pieces of the vehicle survive and fall to earth. The "entry zone" is a strip in a remote area of the South Pacific 2,700 kilometers (1,700 miles) long by 200 kms (120 miles) wide, said Mike Steinkopf, in charge of the operation at European Space Agency (ESA) mission control. "We [have] notified the competent bodies in order to prevent ships and airplanes going through this area during the re-entry phase," he said. Discovery Channel.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

MIT's Autonomous Wheelchair

MIT researchers are creating an autonomous wheelchair that can learn the locations in a given building, and take its occupant to any given place in reaction to a verbal command. "It's a system that can learn and adapt to the user," says Nicholas Roy, assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics and co-developer of the wheelchair. "People have different preferences and different ways of referring" to places or objects, says Roy, the aim is to personalize each wheelchair to its user and the user's environment. The wheelchair requires a first time guided tour to learn about it's environment, with the user providing verbal clues as to where it currently is. For instance, as the wheelchair is pushed around for the first time, the patient or a caregiver would say: "this is my room" or "here we are in the foyer" or "nurse's station." MIT News has the complete story here.