Tuesday, September 30, 2008

2 years of "The Tech In Me"

Ok, no need to do a big fuzz about it, but I just would like to remind you that this blog celebrates today, two years of providing the best info on the tech world. I would like to thank all of the faithful readers that follow the blog through the RSS feed, and also to all of those that find the blog cool enough so as to provide comments on the posts. I'm always glad to hear from you and I seriously hope that you can provide any suggestions that will allow me to improve the blog and its posts.

And what's the best way to celebrate this journey than to remind some of the best moments? Check out here some of the posts that I think are worth a second visit:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

CrossSlide: javascript slide-show animations

If you're looking to put some slideshow animations of your photos on a website but don't want to spend too much time working with Flash or other complicated web development tool, have a look at CrossSlide. It's a simple jQuery plugin that implements in Javascript some common slide-show animations, enough to give your site that special touch without all the work.

The Jedi Gym: insanely funny

Wait until the end... it's worth it:

Monday, September 22, 2008

Just in case somebody pushes you into a pool when you're on your way to a meeting

The title doesn't actually reveal the proper value of a technology like this. Remember, this video is just an extreme example. Imagine what it would be like to have a suit like this when you're on your way to meet a client and you have to go through intense rain while walking a few blocks on the street.

This is a Nano-Tex Resists Spills suit and the all idea, as it will be clear to you once you see the video, is to offer a way to avoid those kind of episodes that can ruin your work day: like a coffee spill when you bump against a colleague on the corridor or when a truck goes by, sending that puddle of water right into you...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

(Un)Motivational Posters

Do you like those posters with inspiring messages of success and happiness? Yeah, me neither! But I do like that other type of posters that prefer a more ironic and demotivating approach to award you with some words of wisdom. That's why I created a blog just for that.

If you're a fan too, then pays us a visit...here.

Portal Prelude: the fix for the Portal junkies

No, this is not a new release from Valve to continue the great game Portal. But you can imagine how a huge Portal fan like me, was excited to hear about this project.

The game is being developed by a bunch of French Portal fans as an independent, totally-free and non-for-profit release and the hype that goes with it, is certainly well deserved, given the teaser they posted on the official website:

Portal: Prelude, as its name states it, is an unofficial prequel to the game Portal. Its story revolves around the pre-GlaDOS epoch, even before she was plugged in. At this time, test subjects were monitored by real Aperture Science employees whose work was tedious, lengthy and repetitive. This is why they decided to build a great artificial intelligence that could both replace them in these difficult tasks, but also take responsibility for many other tasks within the complex and compete with Black Mesa's superiority. All employees of the Aperture Science complex are now eagerly awaiting GlaDOS. Maybe even a little too eagerly, as the upcoming events will tell...

The game development is not being supported by Valve, but they know about it and don't have a problem with it, as long as these guys don't make money out of it :-)

So, for now, all we have to do is drool while watching the trailer and wait for the release... but let's hope it won't be long.

The new Microsoft ad: I'm a PC...as a bunch of other people

So, Microsoft has decided to ditch Seinfeld and the all idea of "Microsoft and the future" and went on to adopt a new approach in their marketing campaign, where they focus on the idea that there are a lot of PCs out there and that, in spite of the stereotype created by the "I'm a PC" guy from the Mac ads, they can achieve great things. See the ad for yourself:

Even though the ad itself was made on a Mac, I still think it is better than the previous approach of placing Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld on a "higher level of the society" that is trying to "connect with the simple people".

However, it is still not there... because they show all these people but they still don't say why do they use Windows and not other operating systems. Maybe they use it because they have to, maybe it's because they don't know the alternatives, or maybe they are in fact not happy with using Windows but are too afraid to switch to Linux or Mac. And most of all, they don't show how all those people react when they get a BSOD and loose their work :-)

Source: The Mac Newbie

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Magellan: yes, I tested one!

Now that the Magellan Initiative (Magalhães in Portuguese) is set to kick off soon, I used my secret connections to have access to one of these tiny laptops and test the operating system that will probably be included in the new educational gadget.

Don't ask me for details because I cannot divulge anything... for now (as the Portuguese Government hasn't made any final decisions yet). I'll just leave here one of the pictures I took:

Regarding the laptop itself, I was very pleased with it. It's small and made of plastic but then again it's made to be used by small children. It's not as light as it should and, taking in account that kids already have to carry a lot of books to school, they should have looked into that issue. But the top handle is very handy and will allow kids to carry the computer everywhere on their hands instead of their backpack.

When Photoshop Pros have some free time

There's more here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Samsung Omnia i900: Now this is some cool unboxing

Wow, the guys at Samsung really took their time on this one! I imagine the kind of work that it takes to shrink people to that size and then stuff them into a small box like that :-)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Google: the good years

It's been 10 years since Google was founded as a company and it's now far away from the simple idea from a couple of PhD students from Stanford. The Google Operating System blog posted a nice set of 10 videos about Google's history to honor this celebration. It's worth a watch.

I'll leave here just two that I think are quite remarkable:

Inside the Google machine (TED conference):

The Google work environment:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Google: early years

If you have a more scientific interest on the origins of Google, check out the original paper by Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page when they were still PhD students at Stanford University.

Are you a nerd, a geek or a dork?


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

LHC: yes the end of the world is here!

Breaking news: In spite of CERN's latest efforts to avoid a catastrophic event with the Large Hadron Collider, they were unable to prevent the formation of a black hole that will suck all of the Earth's matter. Check the last images sent by the webcam here.

So, run for your lives before the black hole reaches your city...

(Ok, don't panic, this is just a joke...like if I would have enough time to blog about a black hole...)

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Super Mario Bros. Theme music sheet

By now you've probably realized that I'm a huge fan of the Super Mario Bros. console game, and especially, its theme music. If you're a fan too and always wanted to play the theme in your favourite instrument, check out the music sheet here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

How to fix iTunes video playback that crashes your Mac

Every now and then, while playing some video podcasts and movies on iTunes, when the mouse hovers the movie (to trigger the appearance of the controls), my Mac completely freezes and I have to do a hard-reset. I couldn't figure out what caused this...until now.

If you remember, a few months back I posted a nice tip on how to enhance FrontRow in order to watch all kinds of video files, instead of just Quicktime files. This included installing Perian, a component plugin for QuickTime that adds native support for many popular video formats.

What I failed to notice is that this component somehow conflicts with video playback on iTunes and was the cause of these crashes. But since it only happened ocasionaly with certain video files I wasn't able to find the relation between the two applications.

But today, as I was doing some maintenance on my System Preferences, I notice the Perian section and decided to have a look and suddenly everything made sense: Perian makes some changes so as to allow playback of different video formats, right? So it must deal with video codecs, right? So, it may be related to the video crashes on iTunes... I decided to remove Perian and "voilá"...everything seems to be working just fine in iTunes now. At least, the videos that frequently crashed my Mac, now work like a charm.

Friday, September 12, 2008

In case everything goes wrong, LHC has Gordon Freeman

As you might have heard, CERN has created the Large Hadron Collider, the largest science device ever built with the intention of understanding some of the most fundamentals aspects of the origins of our Universe. The science experiment had its first try on September 10th, but the real thing will be fired up in a month from now.

Criticized for not offering any guaranties as to the safety of this kind of experiment, CERN decided to take immediate action and deployed a well-known fail-safe system: hiring Gordon Freeman.

This is still under a whole lot of secrecy but I was able to retrieve a photo that proves that Gordon Freeman is already on location, supervising the whole thing, just in case the experiment creates a wormhole into another dimension in which huge, ugly, slimy extra-terrestrial beings jump through with the intention of dominating Earth:

UPDATE: as a reader pointed out in a comment to this post, if Gordon Freeman is there, then G-Man is probably there too... And in fact I digged a little deeper in my secret archives and found this image that proves that G-Man is also among the scientists in the LHC:

(It helps to be a Half-life fan to understand this post) :-)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Google Calculator got the hiccups

What the hell??? Do the following in Google:

399 999 999 999 999 - 399 999 999 999 998

Check out the result...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How to turn Firefox into Google Chrome: part II

As if the use of extensions to turn Firefox into Google Chrome wasn't enough, now you can use Chromifox, a theme that will give your Firefox that bright and soft blue look as in Google Chrome.

Source: Lifehacker

Funny stuff: the new version of the Microsoft/Gates/Seinfeld ad

The first version was no fun, this one is better:

Source: bit.ate (in Portuguese)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Spore Origins for iPod: my review

As soon as I knew that a version of Spore was released for 5G iPods, I "ran to the nearest" iTunes store and purchased the game (here). This is what I've been playing for the last 2 days (that is, whenever I have my iPod around and have some free time to kill).

Spore Origins is more of a teaser than an actual game, but it is still great fun. It allows you to play the first stage of the newly-released game Spore, a simulation-based game (kind of like The Sims) that allows you to control a living being from its micro-cellular stage up to a level where space exploration takes place.

For now, I won't be playing Spore as it was only released for Mac OS X Leopard and since I only have Tiger installed, this will have to wait until I upgrade. By the way, if you're one of the lucky guys that is already playing Spore, check out the cheat codes for the game.

But we're here to talk about Spore Origins and I have to say that I didn't have this much fun with my iPod ever since I purchased iQuiz. You start the game as a small organism which has to survive by eating smaller organisms and staying away from larger ones. But as you keep going and collect DNA points, you're able to "evolve" your organism and add some features to it, such as enhancing its movement, defence or attack capabilities.

This is where the game gets really interesting, because the level of flexibility allows gamers to create the strangest organisms that you can imagine. Check out a demo video:

But these changes in your living being should not be made lightly as they will determine its success throughout the following levels. For example, I had to restart the game because I didn't "invest" in defence capabilities and got "stuck" in a level where these were crucial for my organism's survivability.

I know what you're thinking: being an iPod game, it can't be that interesting because the controls are very limited. Well, it doesn't feel that way, I assure you. The click-wheel, as with everything with the iPod, is very intuitive and it feels like a normal joystick in a typical 2D game.

Even though this game is just a way of opening up your appetite for the real deal, you can still have some real fun while in the train/bus on your way to work.

Fully recommended!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

No Google Chrome for Mac? Don't worry, Firefox will do just fine

At first I was somewhat sad that Google didn't release a Mac OS X version of their new open ultra-mega-super-sweet browser, Chrome. Well, why shouldn't I? They even published a nice comic book that explains how they came up with it.

But then everything went back to normal when this Lifehacker's post reminded me why it's so great to have extensions in Firefox. :-)

Anyway, this won't stop me from trying the Mac OS X version of Google Chrome as soon as it's released. I'm actually looking forward to it. Well, let's wait and see...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Seinfeld/Gates/Microsoft ad

As I posted before, Seinfeld was being recruited by Microsoft to be a part of the new marketing campaign to try and take down the negativity brought by years of those "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads. And even though Jerry Seinfeld was once part of one of Apple's "Think Different" ads, he accepted the offer from Microsoft (after all it was $10M, who wouldn't?) and crossed to the "dark side".

The following video seems to be the first ad of the new Microsoft's marketing wave. However, this feels more like a teaser, since nothing much is divulged. Basically, Seinfeld assists Bill Gates in buying some nice shoes at affordable prices (like if any of them needs it) and in exchange gets a glimpse of the future at Microsoft...See for yourself!

I sure hope there's more to it than this, because I don't quite see how this is going to change people's perception of Windows. It is basically trying to create a hype for the upcoming Microsoft technology (Windows 7?) in a attempt to divert people's attention from the failure that was Vista.

Let's wait... for now! :-)

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Internet unites against a XBox Thief

There's a lesson to be learned here: the Internet, whatever way you look at it, can be very powerful when people unite...so don't mess with it...

Source: College Pork

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Mythbusters' RFID hack shut down by credit card companies

When TPTB knew about a new episode of the Mythbusters that was going to reveal the RFID hack that allows you to easily scan credit card information (while it is still on your wallet), they summoned their large army of lawyers who absolutely made it really clear to Discovery that they were not going to air the episode. And because Discovery is an ad-supported channel, obviously, they backed down.

Check out the report from one of the MB's team members:

Wouldn't it be great if, instead of using vast amounts of money to create an army of lawyers to keep consumers in the dark about this "glitch", the large credit card companies use that money to create more secure ways of payment?

Source: Engadget

WTF: Microsoft patents Page Up/Down functionalities????

Can someone explain me how this one slipped through: Microsoft has not only filed for, but actually received a patent that essentially amounts to Page Up / Page Down functionality.

And it's not even the 1st of April...

Source: Engadget

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Songsterr: Learn how to play guitar online

I know how difficult it can be, sometimes, to find good guitar tabs to learn music from. Luckily, for all guitar fans out there, I found this great website, Songsterr, that, not only has great tabs, but it has a great on-line software that allows you to reproduce the tab by playing the exact notes at full speed or half-speed, allowing you to easily pick up the chords and playing techniques for specific tunes.

Have fun :-)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

We use Macs because we want to...not because we have to

CNET's "The Open Road" blog has come up with a diagram that shows an interesting behaviour in web search regarding operating systems (Blue = Microsoft; Red = Linux; Orange = Apple) for the last 90 days:

In case you're wondering, the A mark corresponds to the day when iPhone 3G went on sale and the B mark corresponds to the day when iPhone 3G was announced. But the interesting behaviour is not related to iPhone 3G. It's that noticeable valley-shaped lines for Microsoft and Linux (Blue and Red lines, respectively). And before you ask, those valleys correspond to weekends.

So, what does this means? Well, this is somehow speculative, but it seems that Microsoft and Linux users only "deal" with their operating systems during the week, when they are working, i.e., when they "have to". On the other hand, if you look at the orange line (corresponding to Apple-related searches), you'll see that this is stronger during weekends, exactly when people tend to do things they "want to", instead of the things they "have to" do.

Bottom line... it looks like Apple has figured out how to make us "want to" use our computers, by making it simple, fun and intuitive.

Source: The Mac Newbie

Monday, September 01, 2008

Retro-blogging: best posts of September 2007

Previously, on "The Tech In Me":