Google Makes Life Easier for Deaf People

March 5, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Posted in disability, Tech Talk | Leave a comment

From GIZMODO: Today, YouTube is rolling out automatic captioning for all videos uploaded to the service, using Google’s speech recognition service.

There are many reasons for captions on every video: ESL viewers, people in other countries, searchability, not wanting to disturb others, loud locations and automatic translations to other countries.

The captioning won’t be perfect, since Google’s speech recognition isn’t perfect, but it is really, really cool, and is sort of one step toward the goal of speech to speech recognition in real time that Google is aiming for.

I feel like the future is finally coming true. When I was young, speech recognition and the electric car were promised every few years, but it seemed that no significant progress was ever made. Finally, the future is now !


FLYING CARS, airbags for pedestrians, high tech speed bump, and a new toy to maim yourself

May 13, 2009 at 1:48 am | Posted in Tech Talk | Leave a comment

tech talk tuesday

United States High-tech Speed Bump Detects Damage To Army Vehicles:

United States Study Says Minicar Buyers Sacrifice Safety:

“Consumers who buy minicars to economize on fuel are making a big tradeoff when it comes to safety in collisions, according to an insurance group that slammed three minimodels into midsize ones in tests”.
looks kind of like a snowboard with motorcycle wheel
North Carolina NC’s Xcite Bike Blurs Line between Motorcycle and Skateboard:

“It seems like humans are always looking for a new and exciting way to maim themselves. We always feel the need to push our limits to the extreme and completely blow convention right out of the water. It was from this attitude that the Xcite Bike was born”.

United Kingdom Parajet Skycar Gears Up for Production:looks like a dune buggy with a parachute attached

At the beginning of the year, the Parajet Skycar made a record breaking journey from London, England to Timbuktu in Africa. Since then, Parajet International has been working hard to find another company to help the produce their little piece of automotive goodness. Now, they have finally been able to enlist the help of Rage Motorsports to produce the Skycar and bringing it to the public.

United Kingdom Hood Mounted Air Bag Could Provide Much Needed Protection for Pedestrians:airbags from under front hood

When the airbag is deployed, it will cover several inches across the bottom of the windshield as well as providing more coverage on both of the A-pillars. These areas have been identified as the most likely place to be impacted during a pedestrian/vehicle collision and it is estimated that this system could reduce serious injuries by about 50%.

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Cloak of INVISIBILITY, Emergency Vending Machines, Bendable Concrete, and Nuking your Cell Phone

May 13, 2009 at 1:41 am | Posted in Tech Talk | Leave a comment

tech talk tuesday

Japan Vending Machines in Japan Offer Free Drinks in Case of Emergency:

Major earthquake, flood, storm or other natural disaster in your area? Out of water and the roads are blocked? Japan’s famous vending machines have got you covered. Following a mutually beneficial agreement between Japanese vending machine companies and local municipalities, specially marked beverage vending machines that dispense drinks for free have been set up in public areas.

Michigan Bendable Concrete from University of Michigan:concrete bent by heavy weights

Traditional concrete is brittle and is easily fractured during an earthquake or by overuse.

By contrast, the new concrete composite can bend into a U-shape without breaking. When strained, the material forms hairline cracks, which auto-seal after a few days of light rain. Dry material exposed by the cracks reacts with rainwater and carbon dioxide in the air to form “scars” of calcium carbonate, a strong compound found naturally in seashells, said study co-author Victor Li of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

The flexible material is just as strong after it heals.

California Berkeley – ‘Invisibility Cloak’ Successfully Hides Objects Placed Under It:three perspectives of hidden object

A team led by Xiang Zhang, a principal investigator with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and director of UC Berkeley’s Nano-scale Science and Engineering Center, has created a “carpet cloak” from nanostructured silicon that conceals the presence of objects placed under it from optical detection. While the carpet itself can still be seen, the bulge of the object underneath it disappears from view. Shining a beam of light on the bulge shows a reflection identical to that of a beam reflected from a flat surface, meaning the object itself has essentially been rendered invisible.

Microwaving a cellphone is surprisingly cool:

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Colbert’s consolation prize, NASA nanosatellite, and Toronto student’s awesome space colony

May 13, 2009 at 1:36 am | Posted in Tech Talk | Leave a comment

tech talk tuesday

Brazil Brazil crackdown on sat-hackers bouncing ham signals off US military satellites:

“Brazilian radio-cops are handing out $20,000 fines to satellite hackers who bounce their ham signals off FLTSATCOM — an array of disused US military satellites — using them as range-extenders for purposes as diverse as trucker-chatter to avoiding the logging cops in illegal Amazon logging operations:”

space 20 Things You Didn’t Know About Living In Space:

“Exploding boobs, toilet target practice, the second birth…”

space 10 things you don’t know about black holes:

“Ah, black holes. The ultimate shiver-inducer of the cosmos, out-jawing sharks, out-ooking spiders, out-scaring… um, something scary. But we’re fascinated by ‘em, have no doubt – even if we don’t understand a whole lot about them”.

space 10 things you don’t know about the Milky Way Galaxy:

So you’ve lived here all your life – in fact, everyone has – but what do you really know about the Milky Way galaxy? Sure, you know it’s a spiral, and it’s 100,000 light years across. And of course, BABloggees are smarter, more well-read, and better looking than the average population, but be honest: do you know all ten of these things? Really?


United States Democracy be Damned: NASA Nixed “Colbert” ISS Node:

Colbert, we have a problem

“NASA has bucked the will of the people and named the International Space Station’s next module “Tranquility” instead of the rightful winner of the online voting contest, ‘Colbert’ (after the comedian Stephen Colbert)”.

But Colbert didn’t walk away empty handed.

Astronaut Sunita Williams, who ran the first marathon in space two years ago, announced on his show on Tuesday that Colbert would get something in the new node named for him – and it’s not the toilet, as had been rumoured. Williams said his name would grace the node’s treadmill, due to launch in August. The exercise equipment will be called the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill.

United States NASA Nanosatellite To Study Antifungal Drug Effectiveness In Space:it's the size of a loaf of bread

PharmaSat weighs approximately 10 pounds. It contains a controlled environment micro-laboratory packed with sensors and optical systems that can detect the growth, density and health of yeast cells and transmit that data to scientists for analysis on Earth. PharmaSat also will monitor the levels of pressure, temperature and acceleration the yeast and the satellite experience while circling Earth at 17,000 miles per hour. Scientists will study how the yeast responds during and after an antifungal treatment is administered at three distinct dosage levels to learn more about drug action in space, the satellite’s primary goal.

Ontario Toronto student’s space colony design wins NASA contest:Toronto high school student Eric Yam estimates his award-winning Asten space settlement design could be completed over a 30-year time frame at a cost of more than $500 billion US.

Yam’s description of the settlement runs 92 pages and includes detailed drawings using the free downloadable software Google SketchUp.

And it leaves no stone unturned, covering everything from emergency procedures to which foods will be grown on the station, based on their nutrient content.

Yam’s plan calls for 15 years of planning followed by 12 years of construction and another three years to make the settlement habitable. His estimated cost to build the station is $563 billion US.

The project even delves into how the society on the station would work and borrows heavily from Canadian policies, including adopting a tax regime based on the Canadian income tax system and deciding who lives on the station based a point system modeled on Canada’s immigration policy.

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Twittering using MIND CONTROL, Chip speed breakthrough, Conficker eye chart, hacking Macs, keyboard shortcut database, and what to do with a mini-server

May 13, 2009 at 1:27 am | Posted in Tech Talk | Leave a comment

tech talk tuesday

Tech Top 15 Ways to Extend Your Laptop?s Battery Life:

Computer Hacking Conficker Eye Chart: How it works:

“Many readers have been wondering what the easiest way is to determine whether their computer has been infected with the Conficker worm. Previously I’ve pointed them to this Conficker Eye Chart — and that recommendation still holds — but now I want to respond to further questions about how it works.”

Hack Alert Experts: Malicious program targets Macs:Computer Hackers can turn your Computer into a BOMB!

Mac computers are known for their near-immunity to malicious computer programs that plague PCs.

But that may be changing somewhat, according to computer security researchers. It seems that as sleek Mac computers become more popular, they’re also more sought-after targets for the authors of harmful programs.

California Hackers Weigh In: 8 Big Things to Do with a Mini Server:mini server

Tiny computers are everywhere—our cell phones, handheld gaming devices and set-top boxes, to name a few—so it should be no surprise that Marvell Technology in Santa Clara, Calif., one of the companies that makes the chips that go into such devices, managed to cram an entire home server into the SheevaPlug, a two-inch by four-inch (five- by 10-centimeter) box that plugs into any wall outlet and is almost indistinguishable from an oversize power supply.

United States Major Step Toward Faster Chips Achieved:

A team of scientists and engineers from Stanford, the University of Florida and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is the first to create one of two basic types of semiconductors using an exotic, new, one-atom-thick material called graphene. The findings could help open the door to computer chips that are not only smaller and hold more memory — but are also more adept at uploading large files, downloading movies, and other data- and communication-intensive tasks.

computer user Learn Better Keyboard Shortcuts at World Graphic

ShortcutWorld is aiming to make a comprehensive repository of lists that will have every keyboard shortcut for any given program. Already they have a pretty good list of programs going. Currently ShortcutWorld offers complete lists on Firefox, Winamp, Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Fireworks, XP, Google Chrome, CS4, and Outlook. That’s a pretty good start!

Wisconsin U of Wisconsin – Twitter Telepathy: Researchers Turn Thoughts Into Tweets:

Life-Altering Gadget of the Day: At the University of Wisconsin’s Neural Interfaces lab they’re using BCI2000, brain-computer interface software designed by neural injury specialist Gerwin Schalk, to convert thoughts into tweets”.

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California Electric Cars, Breakthrough from Singapore, and the G8 Environment Ministers

May 2, 2009 at 7:37 pm | Posted in environment, Tech Talk | Leave a comment

Italy Switzerland Glacial Melting Redraws Italian-Swiss Border, Hints at Future Water Wars:

California San Jose’s Electric Car Revolution:

Owning a plug-in hybrid car just got a little easier … if you live in San Jose, Calif., that is. If so, you can now drive your car downtown, park and recharge your battery by plugging into the power supply on a nearby lamppost.

California California Adopts Low-Carbon Fuel Standard:

“Regulators adopt first in nation standards to cut greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels”carbon footprint

The Air Resources Board‘s 9-1 decision is aimed at achieving a 10 percent reduction in motor vehicles’ emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and spurring commercial development of low-carbon fuels like hydrogen and cellulosic ethanol.

United States GM and SAE Team Up to Standardize Electric Vehicle Charging System:many cell phone chargers

Establishing standards and making sure everyone abides by them is not easy task. To help with this, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has set up a task force, currently under the designation of SAE J1772, to design and test a single charging unit that will be used across every platform, regardless of year, make or model.

Singapore Singapore Discovers How To Turn Carbon Dioxide Into Methanol!:CO2 into Methanol

The third smallest sovereign nation in the world has just made an enormous contribution to relieving the world’s debt to the environment. Singapore researchers at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) have discovered how to turn carbon dioxide into methanol…. Double take: They have found a way to make greenhouse gas green. Triple take: They took the biggest contributor to the world’s carbon footprint and converted it into a source of clean energy for the world. Astounding.

Italy G8 Environment Ministers Meeting in Italy – the Agenda:G8 2009

The 2009 G8 Summit will be held on the island of La Maddalena, Italy from July 8 to 10. In the months leading up to the Summit, the host country has organized a series of ministerial meetings, including the G8 Environment Minister’s meeting, which is being hosted by the City of Siracusa on the Sicilian coast, from April 22 – 24.

Climate change and the preservation of biodiversity are the two main issues on the agenda in Syracuse. The goal of the Environment Minister’s meeting is to “send out an important political message on biodiversity and to facilitate dialogue on the issue of climate change ahead of the Copenhagen conference in December of this year, where the debate is going to focus on the world’s “post-Kyoto” setup”.

The agenda for the meeting indicates that discussions with respect to new technologies to foster economic recovery and promote clean energy will be paramount. According to the official website, “the discussion is going to focus on how to promote clean energy technology in order to address the dual challenge of climate change and energy security”.

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Robot Children, Robot Researchers, Robot Pirate Deterrent, Robot Mind Readers!

April 14, 2009 at 9:27 pm | Posted in Tech Talk, Videos | Leave a comment

tech talk Tuesdayrobot edition
Using Virtual Stomachs to Regurgitate the Mysteries of Digestion:
Well, this first one is not actually a robot, it’s just a virtual stomach on a computer. But hey, robotic digestive systems have to start somewhere, eh?

“What can computational fluid dynamics teach us about the biggest gap in the science of nutrition?” “third in a series of six features on the science of food, running daily from March 30 through April 6, 2009.”

‘Adam’ first machine to independently “discovered new scientific knowledge”:

“It has already identified the role of several genes in yeast cells, and is able to plan further experiments to test its own hypotheses.”

‘Adam’? What kind of name is that for a robot? Don’t those nerds at Aberystwyth University know that all robot names are supposed to begin with ‘R’. Let’s see, this is a robot researcher … how aboot … Researchatron!

Child Robot With Biomimetic Body Learns Social Skills:

“Meet CB2, aka, Child-Robot with Biomimetic Body. He is watching your every facial expression, interpreting, assimilating. You touch him tenderly while you smile; he assimilates the combined expressions. He’s a two-year old robot and he’s doing almost everything a two-year-old child does.”

Uhhh, another terrible robot name. Let’s see, … it’s a child robot … how aboot …. The RugRat 3000-B2. Yes! Awesome!

Honda demonstrates mind-reading robotic technology:

I guess I can pass on the robot name ‘Asimo’, but only because it reminds me of ‘Astroboy’. There’s a 3:30 minute video from Honda to introduce the new technology, which they admit is still a long way from practical application. The 40 second video below skips straight to the brain-control action.

Russia Russia unveils new anti-piracy weapon:
The number of pirate attacks along the east coast of Africa, specifically around the Gulf of Aden, has increased dramatically. Perhaps you’ve heard aboot this week’s Somalia Pirates saga involving a US freighter.
Engineers in Russia have developed a new weapon that uses water to ward off pirate boats. That robot should definitely have a name that starts with Rrrrrrr.

Previous Tech Talk:

Thirty Meter Telescope, Cyberspies, UN Digital Library, New Vehicle from Segway, and The Onion previews a new Video Game

April 14, 2009 at 11:24 am | Posted in Tech Talk, Videos | Leave a comment

tech talk Tuesday
Ontario Institute for Quantum Computing receives $50 million in federal cash first promised three years ago:

United States Twin Spacecraft To Explore Gravitational ‘Parking Lots’ That May Hold Secret Of Moon’s Origin:

United States Science Education: Who Needs It?: Apparently Americans do.

Texas Stunned Star Trek fans get early sneak peek at new movie:

Imagine that you are a stereotypically obsessed Trekkie. Would you just wet yourself if this happened to you? BTW, I bet those nerds could roughly approximate the percent of the Earth’s surface that is covered with water, in Star Trek IV.

British Columbia United States Scientists team up with B.C. firm to build biggest-ever optical telescope:the Thirty Meter Telescope

The TMT will be the largest optical telescope ever built, said Scott Roberts, the Canadian project manager for the joint U.S.-Canadian venture.

“What that means in practical terms is its sensitivity will be close to 100 times that of existing telescopes,” said Roberts, a mechanical engineer based at the National Research Council’s Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Victoria, B.C.

“So it opens up a whole new regime of possibilities for scientific exploration.”

United States Electricity Grid in U.S. Penetrated By Spies:

Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials.

The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven’t sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.

United Nations UN to launch online digital library for the world :

“The site, which will be launched on April 21 at the body’s Paris headquarters, will include manuscripts, maps, rare books, films, sound recordings, prints and photographs. The public will be able to draw on all of the material featured free of charge.”

United States The P.U.M.A. (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility):The P.U.M.A. (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility)

US carmaker General Motors is joining with scooter maker Segway to make a new type of two-seat electric vehicle.

The prototype, which will debut in New York, is aimed at urban driving. GM aims to start making them by 2012. The vehicle, named Puma, has a top speed of 35mph and can go as far as 35 miles on a single charge. It will use lithium-ion batteries.

I like this “snark-light” from Carl @ The Reaction: “See [General Motors]? If you had started on this path thirty years ago, even using just one percent of your annual revenues, you could have been poised to corner the market on this kind of vehicle. Instead, you find yourself piggybacking on someone else’s idea.”

Also Joel @ “It’s cute and I’d love to play around with one, but I sort of don’t even care anymore. All these interesting runabouts get teased, then never actually appear—or if they do, they’re overpriced and impractical.”

Estonia E-stonia:

Here’s a breath of fresh air for those of us keen on the concept of digital democracy… “A digital revolution is turning the tiny European nation of Estonia into a nation of Internet innovators. Estonians have put their digital identities onto their national identification cards, and much more.”

United States constructing a 3D model of the Earth’s mantle:

Though not yet at the halfway stage, the project is already bringing the rocky underbelly of the US into unprecedented focus. Geologists are using this rich source of information to gain new understanding of the continent’s tumultuous past – and what its future holds.

Washington State 3-D Printing Hits Rock-bottom Prices With Homemade Ceramics Mix:

“This story is, literally, stone age meets digital age: University of Washington researchers are combining the ancient art of ceramics and the new technology of 3-D printing. Along the way, they are making 3-D printing dramatically cheaper.”

Close Range Play the demo. Get the poster Thanks for the tip-off Red

Stay tuned for Tek Tok Tuesday, the Robot Edition

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‘Vampire Batteries’ in BC, Italian predicted earthquake, and liquid mercury

April 7, 2009 at 4:40 pm | Posted in LOL, Tech Talk | Leave a comment

tech talk Tuesdaythe mad scientist edition

UBC researchers develop ‘vampire battery’ powered by blood plasma:

Bwaa haa haa, Dr. Jayachandran “The Impaler” Kizhakkedathu and team develop a ” fuel cell that can generate power from a drop of human blood plasma. The discovery means that pacemakers and other implanted medical devices may one day be able to run on electricity generated by a patient’s blood, rather than on batteries that require regular surgical replacement.”

Scientist says he predicted Italy earthquake, was ignored:

National Post – “A powerful earthquake struck central Italy early on Monday, killing more than 130 people, making up to 50,000 homeless and flattening entire medieval towns while residents slept.”

This sad story also has a bit of Madness to it, but the good kind of mad. The ‘one day they will respect my theories’ kind of mad.

[Gioacchino] Giuliani claims to have predicted the quake by monitoring radon gas emissions. Last month, cars with loudspeakers drove around the area, broadcasting the researcher’s warning that a quake would soon strike. He was then reported to the authorities for making false alarms, and was obliged to remove his findings from the Internet.

The researcher demanded that he be given a formal apology. “There are people who must apologize to me, and they must have the weight of what occurred on their conscience,” said Giuliani after the earthquake hit.”

Cannonball floating in mercury:

And then there’s this guy. I don’t know who he is, but I think Interpol should keep an eye on him. He might seem charming and harmless, but any day he could turn into a mad scientist in an underground lair covered by an artificial lake of liquid mercury. You know, to protect his lair from cannonballs.

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BC Bait Cars and Electric Cars, Walking Houses, Cell Phones in India, and Simulated Mars Mission in Russia

April 7, 2009 at 9:47 am | Posted in LOL, Tech Talk | Leave a comment

Vancouver, BC Hydro, sign on to test electric car:

Bait cars upgraded as auto theft falls in B.C.:

Have You Walked Your Home Lately?:

“The Walking House is exactly what it sounds like, a house with steel legs that moves when the homeowners needs or wants it too. The best part of the house is that it allows homeowners to live and travel with their house without leaving behind a deep carbon footprint in the process.”

India – petition for phone companies to deploy equipment to disable mobiles on the roads to avoid traffic accidents:

OK, this story is more aboot social graces being encoded by law than it is aboot cell-phone jamming technology. But it still raises the issue of using one technology to cancel oot another:

The measures may appear extreme but have already won significant backing, including from The Times of India, the country’s most-read English language newspaper.

India’s mobile phone market is one of the few corners of the global economy to have remained impervious – so far – to the credit crunch. In January the country added a record 15 million subscribers, making its mobile network the world’s fastest-growing, with customers from poor rural areas driving the surge.

In cinema theatres across India audience members can often be heard chatting on their new handsets, discussing the plot of the film as it unfolds on screen.

Even doctors commonly answer calls while treating patients. “People think nothing of leaving their phones on or holding a long, loud conversation during plays, films and other public shows,” The Business Standard newspaper recently complained.

Russia locks up six volunteers for Mars experiment:

Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if the Russian Space Program told the volunteers that they were really going to Mars. They would have to get six volunteers gullible enough to buy the excuses aboot why there was gravity but no windows. Maybe the Russian scientists could wack the outside of the module from time to time with a broom and have a “meteor alert” go off inside the module, just to frack with the guys inside. Man, that would be sweet.

The hatch slammed shut Tuesday behind six volunteers from Europe and Russia who will spend three months isolated in a capsule in Moscow to simulate conditions for a manned mission to Mars.

The two Europeans and four Russians must now live in the cramped facility until the experiment ends 105 days later, allowing scientists to assess the effects of long duration space flight on their minds and bodies.

LOL Armstrong

And now just because we’re talking aboot space, I give you LOL Armstrong. You’re Welcome.

Previous LOLs:

Previous Tech Talk:

World’s Cheapest Car and the Colbert Space Toilet

March 27, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Posted in environment, Tech Talk, Videos | Leave a comment

10 Cool Clocks from

U.S. billionaire Charles Simonyi heading to space station aboard Russia capsule:

MIT Scientists Invent One-piece, In-wheel Electric Bicycle Conversion Kit:

World’s Cheapest Car Released in India:
Meet the Nano. Car of the Future? I’ll let you read the article for details. Canadians may be wondering, “why don’t we have any cars-of-the-future here?” Well actually …
ZENN Motor Company If you want to buy one though you’ll probably have to pick it up in the U.S. because this Canadian car company only has one retail outlet in Canada, in Quebec. The video gives details on why.

NASA might name toilet for Stephen Colbert :

Stephen Colbert asked his fans to vote “Colbert” for in a contest to name a new International Space Station module. “Colbert” received five times the votes of “Serenity”, the nearest NASA suggested name. However, NASA reserves the right to choose the final name. Graeme @ Nunc Scio warns NASA that they’d better name the module “Colbert” or face the wrath of the Colbert Nation. I think that they should do it because it will give NASA some street cred.

FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS: Oh Snap! NASA can be funny too Stephen.

As it became clear that “Colbert” was likely to win the popular vote, NASA insiders told, agency personnel floated the idea of naming the station’s new toilet “Colbert.”

NASA spokesman John Yembrick said the Node 3 naming decision would not be made until April and that the “highest voted names” were receiving the most consideration.

“As for the toilet rumor, we don’t want to flush away any goodwill by announcing something before we are ready,” Yembrick said.

The whole thing reminds me of the CBC’s Greatest Canadian Contest of 2004. Canadians could vote for the person that they thought were the greatest. Hal Anderson, a radio DJ in Winnepeg simply asked people to vote for him. For that reason, he is now “officially” the 34th Greatest Canadian to ever live. (He expressed regret after the results were in that he beat out Mr. Dressup).

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Homer Clock, Robo Carp, BC Street View, Gmail Unsend, and Awesome Keyboards

March 24, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Posted in Tech Talk | Leave a comment

Homer Simpson Clock:

Everyone’s favourite cartoon drunkard, Homer Simpson, enjoys a bit of clock watching too. There’s nothing he likes better than a nice cool Duff beer at Moe’s Bar after work. Why not let Homer do the clock watching for both of you?

The Homer Simpson Rotating Eyes Wall Clock is a brilliant novelty wall clock for fans of The Simpsons, and for fans of beer! You will notice a small bottle of Duff beer attached to the end of the seconds hand – as this tantalising treat ticks round, Homer’s eyes follow it’s every movement!

Robotic Carp Unleashed Into the Sea to Sniff Out Pollution:

How would you like to find one of these on the end of your fishing line?

Created by engineers at the University of Essex, they measure about 8 feet long, can swim at roughly 2.5kph and feature real fish-like undulating action. Each fish has its own navigation system, so they can swim around the port without human control. When their batteries are running low, they return to dock at the charging station.

That’s so cute! They swim back home when they’re hungry. “Robo Carp hungry master; please feed Robo Carp”.

B.C. company launches Google-like street view on its website:

Gmail Lets you Unsend Messages:

After enabling the feature, Undo Send works much like Gmail’s other “undo” features. When you send an email, you get a message confirming it has been sent, along with a link to “Undo.” This message lasts for 5 seconds, at which point you lose the opportunity to take it back.

While that might not be much time, it’s probably enough to pull back emails where you forget an attachment, forget to cc someone, or catch an obvious typo. As for emails you later wish you hadn’t sent because of the content, Gmail still can’t help you there.

14 cool keyboards reviewed by Walyou:
Moose Want.
Moose Want. Moose Want.
Somebody get for Moose!

Previous Tech Talk:

Two Significant Web Developments: Computational Knowledge Engine and Hand Held Digital Hologram

March 10, 2009 at 8:49 am | Posted in Tech Talk | Leave a comment
  • Wolfram Alpha Computational Knowledge Engine: Nova Spivack – My Daily Twine

    It doesn’t simply return documents that (might) contain the answers, like Google does, and it isn’t just a giant database of knowledge, like the Wikipedia. It doesn’t simply parse natural language and then use that to retrieve documents, like Powerset, for example.

    Instead, Wolfram Alpha actually computes the answers to a wide range of questions — like questions that have factual answers such as “What is the location of Timbuktu?” or “How many protons are in a hydrogen atom?,” “What was the average rainfall in Boston last year?,” “What is the 307th digit of Pi?,” “where is the ISS?” or “When was GOOG worth more than $300?”

  • GE’s Smart Grid Augmented Reality campaign: See a digital hologram in your hands.

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A Robot in Every Home witin only Six Years (In Japan of Course)

March 6, 2009 at 9:59 am | Posted in Tech Talk | Leave a comment

From The Telegraph in the UK: “School pupils are to be taught by the world’s first robot teacher in one of the most radical uses so far of android technology”.

“The humanoid was originally developed to replace a variety of workers, including secretaries, in a bid to allow firms to cut costs while still retaining some kind of human interaction.

Her creator, science professor Hiroshi Kobayashi at the University of Tokyo, had been working on a robot for 15 years. She is the latest example of robots spreading to every aspect of life in Japan. They already guide traffic, attempt to lure university graduates to sign up to courses and one is even being developed to provide company to Alzheimer’s sufferers.”

Man, I can’t wait to visit Japan.

EDIT: another interesting thing just happened. I got the photo from the newspaper links above. When I uploaded it to, the description information and tags were automatically filled in. So apparently, the image file had that information attached to it.


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Is It Crazay?

March 5, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Posted in Tech Talk | Leave a comment

Adapter for sticking fingers into electrical sockets: The

Vilcus dactyloadapter was developed specially for people who enjoy closing electrical circuits with their own fingers.”

Does it sound crazy to you that anyone would want to use such a product, because I know some people who would. From BDSM Glossary of Terms:

Using electricity in BDSM play seems a scary notion to most people, but it can easily be made safe provided two simple rules are followed: a) only use devices powered by low-voltage batteries, and certainly no main-powered appliances; and b) avoid placing any contacts above the waist (including hands or arms), as even small currents to the heart or brain can disrupt those organs’ delicate electrical activity with serious consequences. Popular devices include “TENS” units designed for the relief of muscle and back pain; and “Violet Wands” which use a radio frequency discharge, and can be used above the waist provided the face is avoided. Any form of this play can be dangerous .

Tiny Houses:, via :

Michael Jantzen of Tiny House Design has been using Google SketchUp to design a nine square foot house. The house includes a lavatory, sink, heater, bed, chair, fold-down table, and storage. The sleeping area is a loft inside the peaked roof.

Does it sound crazy to you that anyone would want to use such a tiny house? Because I would. I wouldn’t want to live in one full time, but I could see myself renting one for a week if I was traveling from out of town, or renting one for a night if I was from Surrey and had missed the last Skytrain. I think that there are lots of cases where a tiny private secure space would be practical.

This post has been brought to you by The Green-Stim 8000, another quality product from GreenWash Incorporated: we’ll stimulate real environmental change or our name isn’t GrainWish!

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Thursday ScratchTastic Intertubuals Roundup

March 5, 2009 at 6:17 am | Posted in environment, Medical, Politics, Tech Talk | 1 Comment
  • New Pro-Medicare President for the Canadian Medical Association

    Dr Jeffrey Turnbull’s election points to what may be a major change to come in the CMA’s influential political lobbying“.

  • World Water Day

    March 22 is World Water Day, and to mark this day, Council of Canadians chapters and allies are organizing activities across the country to promote water as a public resource and a human right“.

  • E-books are suddenly everywhere

    sync: “After a few years of being a very niche product for the early-adopter, e-books and their corresponding gadgets – the e-book readers – are set to explode onto the market.“.

  • AMPS ON ELEVEN !! – um, that is if we were using amps, which we’re not.

    Spinal Tap Unplugged coming to Vancouver

  • City hall lawn gets dug up for community garden

    “By converting part of the City Hall lawn into a community garden, Vancouver is walking the talk when it comes to producing local food.” Read the rest of the Press Release over at State of Vancouver.

  • Harper is a Fauxbama

    So says Jane Taber in The Globe and Mail. Thanks to Impolitical for the tip off.

  • Federal Court Judge orders Ottawa to help Canadians facing the death penalty abroad.

    Also from Impolitical, “The Harper government acted arbitrarily here and the judge called them on it. A good day for the rule of law“.

  • Vancouver losing fight with gangs, mayor says

    From the Globe and Mail:

    “Crime agency estimates say there are more than 120 criminal organizations at work in B.C. The number and the sophistication of the groups involved makes Vancouver the centre of organized crime in Canada, Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan said last month.”

    Also from The Globe and Mail:

    “This week, the RCMP publicly described a series of B.C. gang murders as a Canadian echo of the bloody feuds among the Mexican drug cartels, notorious for beheading their enemies and bribing corrupt local officials.

    President Felipe Calderon’s aggressive offensive against these criminal syndicates has unleashed the worst violence the country has ever seen as the cartels battle one another for turf and power. More than 6,000 people were killed in drug-related violence last year.

    Canada’s interest in the drug war also reflects, in part, intensifying U.S. concern, as the Drug Enforcement Administration steps up to assist Mexican authorities, and Washington acknowledges for the first time the U.S.’s role in the illicit transnational trade.”

This post has been sponsored by the British Columbia GreenWash Party. We’ll improve BC’s … image.

The Singularity

March 3, 2009 at 9:16 am | Posted in Tech Talk | Leave a comment

Let me tell you about the Singularity. If you haven’t heard of it before, it might boggle you a bit. The Singularity sounds like science fiction and, if it happens, will cause such profound changes that it really isn’t possible to predict what the world will be like after it happens. It can be difficult to wrap your head around things that are impossible to predicate.

The Human Nature thing to do is to dismiss such new information as something that will never happen or at least won’t happen for hundreds of years. That’s fine. I’m not trying to convince you that the Singularity will happen. I’m not trying to sell you on the idea that anything will or will not happen. I just want you to know that many real science type people think that this science fiction sounding thing will become science fact, just as many other things have done in the past five decades.

“The Singularity is an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly nonbiological and trillions of times more powerful than it is today—the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity.”

Basically, the idea is this: Everytime there is a significant advancement or “next generation” of technology, the generation after that comes quicker. For example, if it takes 20 years to achieve the “next generation” of artificial intelligence, then reaching the next step will take significantly less time, perhaps only ten years. The generation of technology after that will take less time and so on and so on. The level of technology increases exponentially.

What happens when technology becomes so advanced that it can take over designing the next generation of itself? What happens when the speed of advancement is no longer limited by the speed of human brains? That my friend, is the Singularity.

There’s a good reason that it sounds like Science Fiction. The world being profoundly changed by rapid advances in technology has been a topic of many science fiction stories. In the episode The Turk of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles John Connor describes the Singularity as the beginning of the war between humans and machines.

In my opinion, however, the Singularity is unlikely to lead to a dystopian future. Fiction such at the Terminator Series tend to anthromorphize technology for the sake of telling a good story. However, technology is not human or human-like. Humans have survival instincts; computers do not. Any technology that develops will develop from what you see around you today. As far as I’m concerned, saying that a CPU will evolve into a war machine is like saying that a chicken egg will hatch into a pteradactyl.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Singularity and deciding for yourself if it is likely to happen, there is of course the Wikipedia article. You can also consider the opinion of Ray Kurzweil.

Kurzweil is one of the world’s leading inventors, thinkers, and futurists, with a twenty-year track record of accurate predictions. Kurzweil was selected as one of the top entrepreneurs by Inc. magazine, which describe him as the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison.”

And check out They have many charts and news items that demonstrate that even though it may sound like Science Fiction, the Singularity is on track to becoming Science Fact.

Previous Tech Talk:

There’s a New Lake Ontario In Outer Space

July 31, 2008 at 2:38 am | Posted in Tech Talk | Leave a comment

If you don’t read the whole article, the lake has been named Ontario Lacus after Lake Ontario because it is the same size

Screw AI; just give me robo-muscles!

November 7, 2007 at 4:52 pm | Posted in Tech Talk, Videos | 1 Comment

Below is some video of HAL(Hybrid Assistive Limb) from Cyberdine.

At first I thought that it might be a joke because of course HAL is the short name of the computer from the Space Odyssey saga and Cyberdyne was the name of the company in the Terminator series that facilitated the rise of the machines.

But the cybernetic suit seems to be a real thing. The video is mostly about the creator, but it does include some footage of the suit increasing human strength.

Previous (mostly) Youtube Videos:

Why does some technology reach market before others?

August 1, 2007 at 4:03 pm | Posted in Rants, Tech Talk | 1 Comment
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whimsicalzephyr has posted about the wheelchair that can climb stairs.

Much like the electric car, this is a technology where every five years or so there is supposedly some big breakthrough but then nothing seems to happen.

And yet, fully functioning bionic arms are now commercially available.

Does that make sense? Isn’t there a larger market for a stairclimbing wheelchair? And shouldn’t a stairclimbing wheelchair be easier to make than a cyborg?

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