Please Share

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Oblong Industries Minority Report Like Interface

Here is an incredible demonstration of g-speak an operating system designed by Oblong Industries Inc. that acts much like the computer system depicted in the Tom Cruise movie, Minority Report. The resemblance is no coincidence however as the Chief Scientist of Oblong, John Underkoffler, is also the MIT graduate who helped Steven Spielberg with the science vision on the film. Also of note is Underkoffler's involvement in Ang Lee's movie adaptation of "The Incredible Hulk.", but let's hope he doesn't figure that one out!

g-speak overview 1828121108 from john underkoffler on Vimeo.

Wife Files For Divorce Atter Husbands Second Life Affair

Recently a Japanese woman was jailed for killing off an online character in a virtual world and now a British woman is filing for divorce from her husband (both online and in real life) because of his sexual escapades in Second Life. Even though her husband has never met in person the woman with whom he has been having a Second Life affair with, Amy Taylor is ending their marriages both virtual and real. “It's cheating as far as I'm concerned, but he didn't see it as a problem and couldn't see why I was so upset,” To put things into perspective the two met online in 2003 and married in 2005 both physically and in a lavish Second Life ceremony. According to Ms. Taylor they spent as much of their time together in the virtual world as they did in the physical one. When she suspected her husband's Second Life avatar of cheating she hired a virtual private detective to catch him in the act. Oh my, what are these worlds coming to?

Globe and Mail article.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Canadian Taxman Goes After eBay Power Sellers

About two years ago the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) launched a probe into eBay Canada "Powersellers" to ensure that they were claiming all of the income that they earned. A PowerSeller receives various benefits from eBay Canada, there are varying levels and it takes about $3000 in annual sales to qualify. The probe focused on sales in 2004 and 2005 and involved about 10,000 people. The CRA now says that it is expanding it's investigation to include 2006 and 2007.

The CRA has been hampered by eBay's unwillingness to provide information, saying that the data is stored on eBay's servers in the US where CRA has no jurisdiction however last week the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed eBay's arguments.

"We're just alarmed by this," Andrew Sloss, eBay Canada's manager said in an interview yesterday. "I think everyone who values their privacy should find this alarming. This is a slippery slope. I mean, who will be the next people who will be the product of a government fishing expedition and have their privacy rights compromised?"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

3 LCD Producers Plead Guilty On Price Fixing

In a plea agreement filed Wednesday, LG Display Co. Ltd., Sharp Corp., and Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd., all makers of LCD screens, have agreed to co-operate in a U.S. Justice Department antitrust investigation currently underway. Deputy Assistant Attorney-General Thomas O. Barnett said “These price-fixing conspiracies affected millions of American consumers who use computers, cellphones and numerous other household electronics every day,” Each of the manufacturers have agreed to pay fines, the fine for LG (Korea) and it's American subsidiary amounts to $400 million, Chunghwa (Taiwan) will pay $65 million, while Sharp (Japan) has agreed to $120 million. For it's part Sharp said in a statement that After carefully taking into consideration the applicable laws and regulations, the facts and other factors, Sharp has decided that the best possible course of action would be to conclude the aforementioned agreement,” The big question now is, will the fines affect the cost of new LCD's? ;-)

Globe and Mail story.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Philips Creates "intelligent pill"

Dutch group Philips has created what it's calling an "iPill" capable of measuring acidity with a sensor to determine its location in the body. The capsule contains a microprocessor, battery, wireless radio, pump and a drug reservoir to release medication in a specific area in the body. The benefit is in being able to treat digestive tract disorders such as Crohn's disease by releasing its payload directly to the location of the disease thereby lowering the required doses and reducing side effects.

Globe and Mail story.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Google Uses Search Terms To Estimate Flu Activity In US

Google has launched a new site called Flu Trends saying that "We've found that certain search terms are good indicators of flu activity. Google Flu Trends uses aggregated Google search data to estimate flu activity in your state up to two weeks faster than traditional systems." Check out the trends here and how Flu Trends work here. I see that Maine is showing moderate activity, glad I got my flu shot!

Phoenix Lander Goes Silent, Mission Ends

Having not heard a peep out of the Phoenix Lander since November 2nd, NASA has determined that the resilient little rover has finally ceased operating and they are pulling the plug on the mission.

"We are actually ceasing operations, declaring an end to operations at this point," said Barry Goldstein Phoenix mission project manager. "However, since we've been surprised by the robustness of this vehicle, we're going to keep listening. As the orbiters fly overhead every two hours, we'll constantly turn on the radio and try to hail Phoenix to see if it is alive."

"This is an Irish wake rather than a funeral," said Doug McCuistion, director of the Mars exploration programme.

"We should celebrate what Phoenix and the Phoenix team has done and where it is going to take us in the future. [There were] a lot of lessons learned in this mission for us that will feed forward to future missions. We learned a lot about handling of soils, soil consistency, and how difficult it can be."

It has been fun following the story and receiving the twitter tweets from the Phoenix team! Perhaps we'll see the day when Phoenix rises again to hails from the passing orbiters?

BBC Story here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

YouTube And MGM Strike Deal

Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Studios (MGM) will be the first major movie studio to post full length feature films on YouTube. MGM will start off with some classic movies such as "The Magnificent Seven" and 10 year old television shows like "American Gladiator". The move would appear to be a good one for each side with YouTube trying to play catchup to Hulu and MGM struggling for it's very existence. “We believe in comprehensiveness, and we want to have deals with everybody,” said Jordan Hoffner, the director of content partnerships for YouTube. “We want to be able to give users the most content possible.” For their part, MGM's co-president Jim Packer says “We will have some long-form videos up on YouTube, but I don’t think that’s the platform to have 30 or 40 movies up at once,” and “I feel much more comfortable doing that on a site like Hulu.”

I must say, I'm a little excited to think that I might get to see some classics from my childhood but American Gladiator? Really?

NYTimes and CNet.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Honda's Wearable Assistive Walker

Honda has unveiled a robotic walking aid that they claim reduces stress on the legs and knees of the wearer and enables them to preform tasks by expending less effort. "This should be as easy to use as a bicycle," said engineer Jun Ashihara at Honda's Tokyo headquarters. "It reduces stress, and you should feel less tired." The device is computer controlled and looks like a bicycle seat with legs. Honda envisions it's auto factory workers donning the devices to enable them to perform their tasks more easily, this is especially important to the company considering Japan's aging population.
CNN has more detail here.