Please Share

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday Sales Overwhelm Some Online Retailers

The shopping carts were full on many online retail sites for black Friday, affecting the performance of several big retailers web sites. According to CNet's Rafe Needleman and his Webware blog. "Every year, we see a handful of Web sites that aren't ready for the holiday rush. The problems are in the shopping cart experience, where you cannot complete a purchase," Shawn White, director of external operations for mobile and Internet testing firm Keynote Systems told Needleman. Friday's traffic reportedly affected HP, Sears, Kohl's and Saks while on the flip side Walmart, Costco, NewEgg, Best Buy, Dell, and Apple all performed well.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hawking To Visit Waterloo Research Institute Next Summer

The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics based in Waterloo Ontario has appointed famed physicist Stephen Hawking to the position of distinguished research chair and as such Hawking will make a visit to the institute in the summer of 2009. "Stephen is coming here to do science and interact with the community of researchers at PI and hopefully to come up with new ideas that will push the subject forward," Perimeter director Neil Turok told CBC News.

"The institute's twin focus, on quantum theory and gravity, is very close to my heart and central to explaining the origin of the universe," said Hawking.

"I look forward to building a growing partnership between [Perimeter institute] and our Centre for Theoretical Cosmology, at Cambridge. Our research endeavour is global, and by combining forces I believe we will reap rich rewards."

The institute was founded in 2000 with the help of a $100 million donation from Research in Motion co-founder Mike Lazaridis, who gave an additional $50 million earlier this year.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Holiday Shopping Guide - Wired Style

Wondering what to get your geek for Christmas? Wired has put together the ultimate geek shopping guide. Regardless of where your geek's interest lays or what your budget is the "Wish List 2008" has you covered. Looking for practical? Go for the iRobot Dirt Dog Workshop Robot. Money is no object? How about the Lamborghini MurciƩlago LP640. Looking to buy Great Big Geek a gift? You'll never go wrong with Mimoco Star Wars Mimobot 1GB USB Flash Drive ;) Seriously though, check out the Wish List, if they don't have it there your geek doesn't need it!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Study Shows Mobile Internet Use Going Up, Fast

Neilsen Online has some, not so surprising, news regarding Mobile internet use in Britain. According to their number, 7.3m people accessed the internet via their mobile phones, in the second and third quarters of 2008. This represents a 25% increase over last year and compares to just a 3% increase in PC-based access.

"The fact that weather, sports, news and e-mail sites make up the majority of leading mobile sites shows that mobile internet is mainly about functionality and need at the moment as opposed to the more entertainment and e-commerce-focused makeup of the leading PC-based sites," says Kent Ferguson, a senior analyst with Nielsen Online.

Some interesting demographics:

25% of mobile internet users are aged 15-24 while the same group make up only 16% of PC based internet users;

23% of the PC based internet users are aged 55 or over while the same group make up only 12% of the mobile internet base.

BBC story here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Shaq Tweets

Looking for a celebrity to follow on Twitter? Not a Britney fan? How about THE_REAL_SHAQ? It seems that 7'1" Pheonix Suns star Shaquille O'Neal is trying to set the record straight regarding a Twitter imposter and decided to set the record straight by joining the ranks. “Somebody out there was trying to use my language and trying to speak for me,” O’Neal told the NY Times, sounding more amused than offended. “Rather than have that happen, I thought I’d do it myself.” The fake Shaq, Ward Andrews, says “I really didn’t have any intent to pull people’s leg. It was just to entertain.” What's really interesting here is that the fake Shaq was able to accumulate about 500 followers while the real deal currently has over 11,000! The New York Times article probably has a bit to do with that but then again perhaps its the writing... "A goal without a plan is just a wish, control your wishes Shaquille o'neal"

Monday, November 24, 2008

How Much Greener Are Rechargeable Batteries?

I just read a short article in Wired - 16.11 which asks "Am I doing terribly wrong by the planet if I use alkaline batteries instead of rechargeables? I mean recharging requires power, right?"

I've always just taken it for granted that rechargeables would be more environmentally friendly and never really put a great deal of thought into how much more green they may or may not be. According to this article, a 2007 study by Bio Intelligence Service (sponsored by a French rechargeable battery maker) claimed that wearing out a single rechargeable battery impacts the environment less by a factor of 28 times. Makes me appreciate them all that much more!

Guitar Hero Playing With Robotic Precision

Cyth Systems (San Diego) has built a Guitar Hero playing robot that uses a camera to see and recognize the notes flying by and pneumatic fingers to depress the buttons with great precision. You have to see it to believe it...

"We have 5 groups of pixels on the screen corresponding to the 5 notes we might need to play," says Ivan Gagne, Systems Engineer with Cyth Systems. "We relied on the light intensity of the pixels in each of those groups. We couldn't rely on the color of the notes because during the game all the notes turn bluish white when you activate star power. We also couldn't rely on the shape of the notes because, at times, they turn into stars. If that light intensity value exceeds a predetermined threshold, we know we need to hold down that key and actuate the strum bar after a predetermined delay while the note travels down the screen to the bottom "play line". If a note was there for more than ~1/4 second the machine activates the whammy bar to score additional points on the sustained notes. There's another threshold where the intensity has to drop before it can consider the note "played" and therefore ready to start playing another note. The imaging, the region of interest, and the light intensity functions were all built into NI's vision toolkit for LabView."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

British Firm Develops Sniper Detection Device

When a sniper's gun fires a palm sized device designed by Qinetiq, a British defence firm, uses four microphones, a gps, and a powerful microprocessor to calculate the location of gunman and verbally relay the coordinates to the soldier carrying the device known as EARS (Early Attack Reaction System).

"Knowing immediately where the shots come from means that it eliminates the confusion and allows soldiers to find cover and return fire. It helps to make combat scenarios, especially in urban areas, a lot less confusing. Everybody immediately knows what side of the vehicle or building to jump behind when taking fire." according to Don Steinman at Qinetiq North America.

According to the "After roadside bombs, snipers have been the biggest cause of the 301 British fatalities in both wars..."

I think it's great that these and other such technical advances are helping our soldiers in the field, yet it still amazes me how the insurgents still manage to inflict casualties despite it all.