Saturday, May 31, 2008

Another webcam-based tracking software

It seems that everybody is working on image tracking software these days. I've talked about several of these technologies, but there's a new one that sounds very promising. Cam-Trax allows users to control video games with any object that you desire. And you can do all of that with just a simple webcam. Check out the video for the details:

Friday, May 30, 2008

More Last Supper Images

Since my last post on "Last Supper"'s alternative paintings was such a success, I decided to search the Web for more of these interesting paintings:

The Simpsons:

Classic Video Games:




Thursday, May 29, 2008

Google is great, but what the hell is "cloud computing"?

In the past few years, the trendy term "cloud computing" has been used to denote a certain level of abstraction in the development of a large-scale system. Whenever you don't want to specify a certain part of that system, you call it "could computing". Google has been one of the main "users" of this term and one of its great examples is the recently launched Google App Engine. Basically, you can run your applications on this engine and everything (from scalability to robustness issues) will be managed by it. You don't know the details (hence, "cloud computing") but that's exactly the point of the thing: not to know.

But what happens if you ask the specialists about "cloud computing"? Will they know how to answer it? Is there only one answer? Check out the video below that may (or may not) provide some answers on it:

Source: CNET

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The first Olympic sprinter without legs

I'd like to think that my previous post on this subject somehow contributed to the recent decision of letting Oscar Pistorius qualify to the Olympics, but I'm not that naive :-)

But it's good to see that not everybody is as unreasonable as the International Association of Athletics Federations. The Court of Arbitration for Sport finally accepted that there is no difference between a double-amputee sprinter that uses a set of prosthetic legs and the Speedo-sponsored swimmers that use the Speedo LZR Racer Suit to get an aerodynamic advantage over their adversaries.

It may be the case that Oscar Pistorius doesn't even qualify to the Olympics, but at least he wasn't discriminated for being handicapped.

Let's see how the story evolves...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Point taken

If you don't get it, it's Hillary Clinton he's referring to...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Installing Office 2008 for Mac: part III

That's right, the problems with Office 2008 Service Pack 1 are not over. I'm now starting to notice some strange behaviours on my Mac whilst operating with Office 2008 apps:

  • Sometimes, when I open certain Word documents, they open as a new document... totally blank.
    • But if I then open the exact same file using the File-->Open menu, it opens perfectly.
  • I'm unable to run any combination of two Office 2008 apps at the same time.
    • For example, if Word is running and if I try to open Excel or Power Point, I get a crash report.
Check the following video that I did:

Source: The Mac Newbie

Friday, May 16, 2008

Installing Office 2008 for Mac SP1: Part II

It seems that the fan issue (running at 6000 rpm after the installation of SP1) that I reported two days ago, was just a coincidence. Yesterday I installed Office 2008 SP1 on my Mac and the CPU fans have run under 4000 rpm since then. So, what caused that sudden change in the fans' behaviour on this first install run? Well, that is yet to be determined.

But, anyway, the installation of SP1 did not went smoothly. After installation, I was stuck (as so many other Mac users) with the recurring appearance of the Office Setup Assistant when launching any of the applications in the Office suite. Even if you go through the wizard step-by-step and click Finish at the end, the application wouldn't start.

My colleague Carlos Serrão's solution (in Portuguese), which I detail below, did not work for me:
  1. Go to /Users/yourusername/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/
  2. Remove folder Office 2008
  3. Empty Trash
  4. Then, next time Setup Assistant appears, just keep clicking next and finish up to the end, and it shouldn't appear again
So, I had to look for another one. Luckily, there's always someone in the web that is happy to post a solution for problems like these. Just remove the following files:
  • /Users/username/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/Office 2008/Microsoft Office 2008 settings.plist
  • /Applications/Microsoft Office 2008/Office/OfficePID.plist
After you complete these steps, open any Office application, and then use the product key that is included with your original installation disk to complete the installation. This one worked for me.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Do not install Office 2008 for Mac Service Pack 1

Microsoft has recently released the Office 2008 for Mac Service Pack 1, which apparently fixes some of the issues that this Microsoft product presents on the Macintosh platform. However, my experience with it, hasn't been particularly interesting:

  1. I installed the SP1 and apparently everything seemed to be working well. Office applications were still behaving in the same way and I didn't notice anything different, except for maybe a slightly improvement in performance, but nothing drastic.
  2. But after a while, as my Mac became a bit hot (as it usually does, because of my CPU-intensive activities) the fans started working to compensate for the high temperature. Nothing strange here, except for the fact that suddenly my Mac, that used to be a perfectly silent machine, started making a noise equivalent to a 100 Km/H wind and it literally looked like it was going to take off into the air.
  3. After googling this issue for a while, I installed the iStat Pro widget, which reveals the behaviour of the laptop fans (among other things) in real-time. Apparently, the normal behaviour of a Macbook Pro's fans when working at full speed is around 3900/4000 rpms. But after installing SP1 my Mac's fans were now working at a top speed of 6000 rpms. No wonder I thought it was going to take off!
  4. I first thought that this was just a coincidence, but to be sure I totally removed Office 2008 (yep, Microsuck doesn't allow you to uninstall only the Service Pack... you have to uninstall the entire Office suite and reinstall it without adding the SP1) and reinstalled it.
  5. Surprise, surprise, no more 6000 rpms fans...
I have no proof that Office 2008 SP1 is the responsible for this issue, but it sure is a hell of a coincidence.

Anyway, I'm going to keep on working as usual (with the occasional CPU-intensive tasks) for the rest of the day, to check if the noisy fan issue comes back. If not, tomorrow, I'll install SP1 again and perform another set of experiences with the CPU fans.

Keep tuned for the results!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Top 10 most creative ways of playing the Super Mario Bros. Theme

I've been a fan of the Super Mario Bros theme ever since I started playing the game when I was a little boy. It's one of those tunes that once you get inside of your head, it's difficult to get it out... but in a good way :-) And it seems that I'm not the only fan, since it only takes you a little search around the web to find highly-creative fans playing the game's theme song in the most oddly ways.

To honour the game and its great theme song, here's my top ten list of the most creative ways of playing the Super Mario Brothers theme:

First of all an Honourable mention - Doing it With a Ruler - Well, this one is not actually well played but kudos for the imagination:

#10 - With Your Hands - This one does not produce the best sound but you've got to give it credit for this unique talent:

#9 - On a Church Organ - Not the best version but you cannot help to feel the chills when you listen to the them being played in a church organ. Well, it just gives that Phantom of the Opera feeling that always creeps me out:

#8 - Tuba Duet at a Bathroom - Simple, well played and creative enough to enter the list

#7 - Blowing on Bottles - Very slow, but you have to admire the perseverance and co-ordination between all the "musicians"

#6 - Using a Remote Controlled Car - This video was actually the one that started all of this. After seeing this I thought: "Ok, I've seen it all"

#5 - With a Drum Solo - This one is just a drum solo that accompanies the theme song, but you've got to agree that it's quite amazing:

#4 - Beatboxing Flute - Quite original and a whole lot better than if it was just played in a flute:

#3 - A Capella - No matter what people say, A Capella always brings a special touch to tunes, and this version is not an exception:

#2 - As a Broadway Musical Theme - This is an absolutely amazing adaptation of the theme, featuring cabaret-like sounds and melodic entries that give the tune a really special touch:

#1 - Two Guitars and Just One Guitarist - My personal favourite featuring a very talented guitarist that uses two guitars to perfectly reproduce the theme song. I also play guitar and I can easily understand how difficult it is to co-ordinate the two hands to do something like this:

Keep in mind that this is only my personal top 10. It may not reflect other fans' opinions. But I would like to ear about your opinions. Want to help me build the top 20 list? Suggest other videos on the comments!


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

iPhone in Portugal: this time is for real

No, it's not another one of my sightings of the iPhone, the iPhone is actually coming to Portugal by the hands of Vodafone. And Portugal is not the only one. Later this year, Vodafone customers in Australia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Italy, India, New Zealand, South Africa and Turkey will be able to purchase the iPhone for use on the Vodafone network.

Via Engadget

Monday, May 05, 2008

Phun: have fun with this physics engine

Who needs words when you got this wonderful video:

Phun is a physics engine that you can use to test basic concepts of physics and while you're at it, have a little fun :-)
It's available for Windows, Linux and just recently for Mac OS X.


Slow motion

Everything looks a lot more interesting if viewed in slow motion:

Retro-blooging: best posts of May 2007

Previously, on the Tech In Me: