Monday, June 30, 2008

How old is the Internet?

Ever wonder how old is the Internet? Well, you can check here for the answer.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Eco-friendly gadgets

Lately, I've been posting on more eco-friendly technologies (such as the car that runs on water or the gadget that charges your cellphone while you dance) because I've been increasingly concerned about the serious consequences that may occur if Humanity doesn't find alternative sources of energy to end our dependency on fossil fuels.

And to continue in that wave of eco-friendly technologies, here's a list of some interesting gadgets/ideas to turn our technology consumption a bit more "green":

  • Solar Cells under Multi-touch displays - This is an idea based on the patent that Apple recently registered that stated their intention of creating a layer below the iPhone's display made out of solar cells. The idea is really insteresting as it allows you to leave your gadget on the sun to charge itself, but I still have doubts if it's actually a good idea to leave the gadget exposed to intensive heat :-)

  • Solar cell backpack - This one is obvious. This backpack receives sunlight and turns it into energy used to charge your gadgets inside, such as a laptop, cellphone or iPod.

  • USB-rechargeable battery - Forget about special chargers that you have to use to charge your batteries. This battery charges itself once connected to a computer's USB port.

  • Kinetic-based batteries - In the same line as the dance charger, this battery charges itself with the movement that a person produces while walking, which means that it doesn't need to be connected to an energy source directly to be then used in some gadget :-)

You can find more eco-friendly gadgets here.

Source: The Hottest Gadgets

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How to download musics from MySpace using Safari and "wget" (on Mac OS X)

DISCLAIMER: even though the instructions provided in this post may be (mis)used to download copyrighted material, this blog or its author do not support any piracy activities and cannot be held responsible for what others do with the knowledge acquired here. The author disseminates this knowledge with the sole purpose of allowing users to backup musics that MySpace's publishing artists already allow users to download, which is the case in the given example.

MySpace is a great social website that has specialized in providing access to a lot of musical material from musicians around the world. Some of those musicians publish their musics in their profile and even allow downloading them (as you can see in the figure below that shows the music box for Ani DiFranco), but for doing that you have to be logged in to your MySpace account.

But what if you don't have (or don't want to create) a MySpace account? Well, that's what I'm going to show you:

  1. First of all, let me remind you that this can only be done using version 3 of the Safari web browser and a small Unix utility called wget. To install wget in Mac OS X, check here (I tried using Firefox 3 but the Page Info's Media tab (Tools -> Page Info) does not show the necessary files)
  2. So, let's start. On the music box on the musician's profile (in this example, I'll be using Ani DiFranco's profile) click on the music you want to download and let it load entirely (you'll see it loading if the blue thin line is growing in the progress bar of the music player)
  3. Open the Activity window in Safari (Go to Window->Activity)

  4. Search for the file (or files, in case you've already load several songs) with a larger size (around 3 MB - may vary depending on the duration of the song) or you can search for the file with the address having some sort of combination of the words "cache" and "music". Then, double-click it.

  5. Safari will open a new window and will start playing the music that you just selected. If you take a look at the address bar, you'll notice that the URL points out to a complex address of an MP3 file. This is MySpace's cache file for the song you selected and can be downloaded directly.

  6. However, this cannot be done in Safari. If you try using the File->Save Page as... option, you'll notice that it's not enabled. That's where "wget" gets into play.
  7. After installing "wget", the command with the same name will be available on Terminal's prompt. Just copy the URL (until the "mp3" part, as shown in the figure above) and paste it after the command at the Terminal, as you see in the following figure:

  8. This will download the file and will place it in the current directory (In the figure, you can see that I did this in ~/Desktop)
  9. Then, just use the MP3 player of your choice and enjoy! :-)
Final remarks: the cached MP3 file is often of lower quality, so don't expect perfect CD quality whilst listening. Also, the downloaded MP3 file comes with no tagging information, so you'll have to fill in everything on the MP3 management application that you choose. I didn't try this in Windows so I don't know if it's possible. If you test it in Windows, let me know the result in the comments.

Source: The Mac Newbie

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dance to charge your cellphone

This is not a new idea (yep, when I was 16 I had a wrist watch that was built based on this concept - the simple swing of my arm while walking was enough to power the watch), but at least someone got the idea of using the technology for more recent needs. As a matter of fact, I often wonder why is it that so much (of my) energy is wasted while cycling in those stationary bikes at the gym.

Well, now it's possible to use our body's kinetic energy while practicing several activities (such as dancing, or something more suitable to your taste...) to charge gadgets, such as Orange's DanceCharge that allows you to charge your cellphone.

Source: Engadget

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A car that runs on water

A Japanese company has developed a car that runs only on water and air. Why isn't something like this shown on every newscast in the world? Doesn't this represent a step further to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels? Check the following video for details:

Source: TugaTrónica (Portuguese - check an English source here)

Friday, June 20, 2008

A cushion for that special position

Engadget may call it absurd, but I wouldn't go that far. Sometimes I prefer to be lying down while reading or working on my laptop but it's really not that confortable, specially for the neck. But looking at these pictures I think this might actually be a good way to solve the posture problems:

What do you think?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Firefox 3 Download Day Certificate

Did you help setting the Guiness record for most downloads of Firefox 3 in just one day? If so, then you can have your very own certificate. I've already got mine :-)

Source: bit.ate

Monday, June 09, 2008

YouTube just got more interesting

Here's an excelent example of how the new Youtube's annotations feature will revolutionise the way we deliver video content:

Sunday, June 08, 2008

How to make solar power more appealing

It is very important to find new energy sources that allow us to overcome the dependency on oil. But so far it has been difficult to find suitable alternatives. And one of the reasons behind this (but definitely not the most relevant one) is the fact that these new energy sources require huge installations that are not very appealing. Whether it's because they're big or ugly or uncomfortable, the fact is that most people don't like how solar power appliances look like.

That's why some people have been working on trying to make this technology look more appealing. Here are some examples:

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Quantum Superposition, or how can video games be creative

Imagine you play the same video game 1000 times. Then, imagine that you create a video where you superimpose all off those 1000 iterations into one single video game flow using the concept of quantum superposition. Also, imagine that you add a nice background music theme to make the video even more enchanting. Here's the result of doing just that using the popular racing car video game TrackMania:

Isn't this just amazing?

Source: Reality of Nature

Friday, June 06, 2008

Cool Web Designer T-Shirts

There's more here.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Finally, a search engine that we control

Wikia Search is a search engine that was inspired by the wiki-philosophy: you create, manage and enjoy the content. Basically, it's a search engine whose results are "brought" by the community itself.

So, while performing a search, if you don't like some of the results, just remove them. Or if you think that some other result should be added to a particular search, then add it. It's as simple as that. There's also a rating system that allows determining the order in which you would like to see results displayed in a search. And the good part is that these changes are not visible only by you. Your changes will reflect in everyone else's searches.

I guess that at the beginning this search engine will be somehow chaotic as everyone tries to "impose" their interpretation of search results, but as the community grows larger and larger, it's normal that we'll see an emerging effect that will bring more accurate results.

So, join in and start improving everyone's search results.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The key to my heart

The heart has ways that the mind can only wonder and maybe that's why most of the times it's difficult to understand people, in general. Especially women. But it look's like someone has found the "function" of the heart:

Don't believe me? Here's the result:

Monday, June 02, 2008

So, you thought your Bluetooth headset was secure?

More DIY videos at

Sunday, June 01, 2008

DVRs, TVs and infrared sensors

If you'd prefer to read this post in Portuguese, check this post at my other blog.

I've recently joined the new Tivo-like service in Portugal, which is called Meo (in Portuguese). The installation was done without any problems and the service was working perfectly. During that day, I tested all features and I was quite amazed on the potential of the service.

When my wife arrived home (she arrived around 8 P.M.. Yes, this will be relevant.) I wanted to show her the newly acquired gadget. Suddenly, the DVR box wasn't responding. The remote was sending the infrared signal (see NOTE for an interesting diagnosis tool) but the box wasn't receiving it. I had to be standing at about 1 meter (around 3 feet) for the DVR box to receive the signal from the remote and execute the desired action.

So, I called the help desk and told them about the problem that I was having. They told me that the remote had a problem and that I should replace it in a store. And so I did. The next day, I went to a store with the remote and explained the problem again to one of the technicians. After doing some testing with my remote on their DVR box, the technician tells me that there isn't anything wrong with my remote.

So, I decided to go back home (around lunch time) and test the all thing again and to my surprise, everything was working perfectly. I thought: "Ok, last night the remote had a glitch but it's gone now". But at night the problem came back again. So, after a new round of calls to the help desk service and discussions with store technicians, they decided to send a team to my house to check out the problem. Of course, I told them that the team would have to go there at night, since the problem was only manifesting at that time.

And so they did. The next night, a technician went to my house and at first, everything was working (he arrived around 7:30 P.M.). At this point, my anger was starting to rise to dangerous levels. But as soon as the technician was starting to say (around 8 P.M.): "Ok, it seems that there's nothing wrong with this, so there's nothing I can do", the problem started to manifest again.

The technician decided to change the DVR box with a new one, but the problem remained. He was even more amazed than I was because he wasn't able to understand why this problem was occurring. We started thinking about interferences with other devices on my living room. I removed everything that could cause any interference at the infrared level (DVD Player, Playstation, laptop...) but still the problem remained. It was only when the technician placed the DVR box away from the television (about 3 meters away) that we started seeing some improvement (but it didn't solve the problem entirely).

The technician (very intelligently!!) concluded that the interference was caused by the television and that there is nothing he could do, that the only way to solve this was to place the DVR Box really far away from the television. Oh really? Thanks genius!!

But of course, I wasn't satisfied with this diagnosis, especially because the problem was only manifesting at night. So, after searching (for about 2 hours) the web for similar problems, I finally discovered what the problem was. But first let me tell you about what I've learned and what I've tried:
  • Infrared light is present in sunlight and fluorescent light bulbs (the ones usually found in kitchens) and so these sources of light should not exist in the same place as infrared devices - it wasn't my case
  • Having white walls directly facing the DVR is also not a good idea, because the light reflected on the wall (from various light sources, including the TV images) may also interfere with infrared devices - I have in fact a white wall on the back of my couch which is facing forward the TV and the DVR but that was not the cause of my problem
  • Other people have complained about the interference that some wireless routers cause in infrared devices - this wasn't my case and I find this very hard to believe as one is based on infrared light and and the other is based on radio signals
  • Some people have also complained that the excess of light in a room can cause interferences with infrared devices and that a bit of duck-tape over the infrared sensor of the TV or DVR should help filter the light sources - this wasn't my case
It was only after thinking a lit bit more about the fact that the problem only occurs at night that I decided to analyse the problem from another angle: check the settings of the TV to see if anything was changing at that time of the day. I didn't find anything that would explicitly change the TV settings at a certain time of the day but I did come across a very interesting functionality: dynamic light adaptation.

My Samsung LCD has this functionality to adapt the screen brightness and contrast according to the amount of light that exists in the living room. For example, if it's bright enough, the TV adapts to display a more bright and contrast image and vice-versa. So, I decided to turn off this option and guess what... everything went back to normal again.

I don't know the details on how this functionality affects the communication between the DVR box and the remote (maybe the TV's infrared sensor for this feature uses the same light frequency as the DVR box and remote), but now it's easy to understand why this was only occurring during that time of day (around 8 P.M.): because this was when the light in my living room (which is faced West) was changing because of the sun going down.

I've been using the system for a few weeks now (with the TV and the DVR standing really close) and since then, the problem has never occurred again :-) So, if you're having a similar problem with infrared interferences and you're unable to detect the source of the problem, remember to check your TV settings for any dynamic light adaptation.

NOTE: this tip works for all infrared-based remotes. To diagnose a problem with your remote, simply point it to a camera-based cellphone (or any other camera, such as a webcam or camcorder) and click any button. If you see a light blinking, then it's working properly. Because remotes work with infrared, this blinking light will only be visible in the camera and not at the naked eye.