Friday, October 31, 2008

How to get those MP3s you want for free

In order to save some money from MP3 purchases, you can always try to find some other means of getting those MP3s you want for free. Of course not all those techniques are legal, but what did you want? It's for free...

Lifehacker has made a nice post that gives some advise on this area. For example, you can try searching the MP3 you're looking for in the Web. If that doesn't work for you, you can always download the music you want from MySpace. How about borrowing your friends' CDs or using the web? Another possibility is to grab the audio from a video. The quality is not the best but most of the files are audible.

What are your techniques to get MP3s for free?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

1 year of being a Mac newbie

It's been a year since my first Mac has entered my life. I have to say the experience has been overwhelming and I never thought that switching from Windows to a Mac would improve both my personal and professional use of computers so much.

Through the next few days, I'll be reporting my one-year experience with a series of posts addressing the most important aspects that I've come across with and the lessons that I've learned.

Stay tuned!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Interesting and valid research: why some men never have a girlfriend

If you're one of those that lost faith in yourself because you can't seem to find the right woman for you, don't despair. A new study shows that there are valid scientific reasons for that:

  • Number of people on Earth (in 1998): 5 592 830 000
  • …who are female: 2 941 118 000
  • …in "developed" countries: 605 601 000
  • …currently (in 2000) aged 18 to 25: 65 399 083
  • …who are beautiful: 1 487 838
  • …and intelligent: 236 053
  • …and not already committed: 118 027
  • …and also might like you: 18 726
So, basically there are 18 726 women in the world that are right for you. But before you say: "Well that's quite a lot! I might get lucky!" consider that's 18 726 in 6 000 000. Which means that your chances are quite slim. As the author of the study concludes:
"At first glance, a datable population of 18 726 may not seem like such a low number, but consider this: assuming I were to go on a blind date with a new girl about my age every week, I would have to date for 3493 weeks before I found one of the 18 726. That's very nearly 67 years. As a North American male born in the late 1970s, my life expectancy is probably little more than 70 years, so we can safely say that I will be quite dead before I find the proverbial girl of my dreams. Come to think of it, she'll probably be dead too."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

DIY: how to create an invisible cable holder in less than 5 minutes

In my work desk, I have these loose cables coming from below that allow me to connect some of my gadgets to their corresponding chargers:

One is for connecting my Nokia N80, the other is to connect the Bluetooth headset Nokia BH-210. The grey USB cable is connected to a 4-port Hub where I connect some other gadgets such as my printer, a mouse and the iPod dock that you can also see on the image. This way, I can have all of these connected to my laptop by just using one USB port.

The problem with these loose cables is that they are loose...obvious, right? And because of that they're always falling, which means that then I have to go under the desk to fetch them and gently putting them back on top of the desk, hoping that they won't fall again.

What I really wanted was a way to maintain them easily accessible (and obviously not loose), yet not visible, in order to garantee a pleasant view of my desk.

I'm pleased to report that I achieved my goal, and the best of all is that I did it using simple objects that you can find anywhere and under 5 minutes.

What you'll need:

  • A hole punch
  • Some duct tape
  • An old business or credit card that you won't be using anymore (plastic ones work better)
  • A scissor or other cutting uttensil

Got everything? Good, let's start...

Step 1: Use the hole punch to make one hole for each wire on the business card. I'm using 3, as explained above, but this hack will work for any cable, such as network cable, laptop charger, etc...

Step 2: Using the scissor, cut a small passage between the edge of the card and each hole, as shown on the picture below. This will allow you to place the wires in the right place and still prevent the charger connector from falling.

Step 3: Using the duct tape, place the business card under the table and slide all the wires through. Some of the cables (such as USB) can be somewhat heavy, thus you'll be needing a strong enough duct tape to hold everything together.

Step 4: Marvell yourself with the beauty and simplicity of your new invisible cable holder:

I hope this will help keep you desk more organized too :-)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A banjo as a brain surgery instrument

Yes, that's right...the title is correct: a banjo can be used as a valuable brain surgery instrument.

Eddie Adcock is one of the pillars of Bluegrass Music. Recently he realised that a new found tremor in his hand could threaten his ability to perform professionally. So, he underwent brain surgery to treat the hand tremor and to test the success of the procedure, he played his banjo throughout the entire operation.

Surgeons placed electrodes in Adcock's brain and fitted a pacemaker in his chest which delivers a small current that shuts down the region of his brain causing the tremors.

Don't believe me? Check out the video:

Source: BBC News

Friday, October 17, 2008

Need to hide something?

What if you hide it in the least probable place? Watch the video and you'll understand...


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Anti-spyware software: the good and the bad

If I had a cent for each time somebody asks me what the best anti-spyware software is, I would have 15 cents. Ok, so not a lot of people ask me about that but it's still something that people are interested in. So, check out this nice post on which are the good anti-spyware softwares and which are bad.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The new Macbooks: the day after

So, I was more or less right about the outcome of yesterday's Apple event on notebooks (looking for the keynote video? Check here). Even though I think they should still drop the "Pro" nomenclature to describe a "larger" Macbook, the two notebooks now seem more alike than ever.
The new Macbooks

They now have the exact same aluminium case, glass display and button-less mouse trackpad. The differences come down to screen sizes/resolutions and in the internal components, wherein the Macbook Pro has a more powerful CPU, GPU and RAM. If you're looking for some pictures of the new machines "in the wild", check them here and here.

Regarding the common points, one of the most interesting aspects of the new Apple's notebooks is the multi-finger button-less glass mouse trackpad. With a set of new gestures (check a video here) this trackpad allows greater control of Mac OS X's features, such as picture navigation, zoom and rotation, app switching and access to Exposé. Also, the entire trackpad is a mouse button, which means that this might actually satisfy Greeks and Trojans. For those that don't like buttons in the trackpad...well, they aren't actually there. For those that do...well, it's there :-)

Another interesting aspect is the new case, which besides being made from a new innovative manufacturing process that is "greener", allows the new Macbooks to be lighter, stronger and slightly thinner.

The other aspect regarding the design of the new Macbooks is the choice of glass for the screen display (without a matte finish). This decision, I have to say, is quite disappointing. I've been using laptops for quite some time now and one thing I've learned is that glass displays are quite annoying when you're trying to use your computer outside.

Even though I like the innovation that Apple introduced with these new Macbooks, this one decision would be enough to keep me from buying one of these new notebooks. Well, at least until I have the chance to be face-to-face with one of them and check this new display's performance outside :-)

The older Macbooks and the Air

Apple has decided to still keep the older versions because they know that there are still some fans out there. For the Macbook, they kept the good'old white version (the most best-selling Mac ever) with a $100 price reduction and for the Pro, the 17'' version of the Macbook Pro is still there, which means Apple is still proud of that powerful notebook that is easy to carry everywhere.

The Macbook Air was not forgotten and it also got a boost on speed (new CPUs and GPUs) and storage (120 GB HDD for the cheaper version and a 128 GB SSD for the richie rich version).

About the other rumours

Steve Jobs has also made clear that there are three things that Apple won't step into, at least in the foreseable future:

  • Touch-screen notebook - The Mac that we're all waiting for, won't be one of Apple's priorities since Steve Jobs has made clear that "it hasn't made a lot of sense to" Apple.

  • Blu-Ray - Don't expect to see Blu-Ray drives in future Macs. Jobs described it as "a bag of hurt." I don't quite understand what this means, but he probably has his reasons for believing that.

  • Netbook - If you're into netbooks, be advised that Apple won't be entering this market in the short term. But at least, Steve Jobs has made clear that Apple will "see how it goes" and...who knows, perhaps Apple will finally release a $400 or so netbook.

About Steve Jobs' Health

No, Steve Jobs is not dead...yet. And it's good to see that he can still have some sense of humour regarding all the news about his health.

Source: The Mac Newbie

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Portal: Prelude available for download!

The fix for Portal junkies is finished and is available for download now. You can download Portal: Prelude from the official website, or use your favourite torrent client to download this torrent.

I'm downloading it now... Tonight's going to be fun :-)

Light bulbs as the new WiFi technology?

That's right, it looks like there're some guys at Boston University's College of Engineering working on low-power LEDs which could utilize an optical communication system to carry data wirelessly.

Using a technique which rapidly switches the LEDs on and off data transmissions could be made via imperceptible -- yet undoubtedly brain-scrambling -- flickering patterns, and each light would be its own network entry point at speeds of 1 to 10Mbps.

Why is this interesting? Well, as professor Thomas Little says: "Imagine if your computer, iPhone, TV, radio and thermostat could all communicate with you when you walked in a room just by flipping the wall light switch and without the usual cluster of wires."

Looks interesting, doesn't it?

Source: Engadget

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

On-line games for when you have some free time (Updated)

Here's some simple, yet fun on-line games that you can play when you have some free time:

White Jigsaw - A puzzle-based game but with an extra challenge: all pieces are white :-)

Pound Ice Walls - This one is too fun and addicting. All you have to do is click at the right time to blow up the ice walls.

Where's the cat - A simple shell game with a cat. The first levels are a joke but try play the last one.

Pointer - Guide your mouse through mazes without touching any boundaries or obstacles. Really addictive...

Levers - Try to keep it balanced using the available weights

Keys & Doors - Find the key and open the door. It's that simple...or is it?

Mass Attack - Create new weights and try to keep the scales balanced

UPDATE: added more games to the list

Bow Man - Hit the other guy with your bow and arrow

Amorphous+ - Slash those green balls

Accordion Hero - Do you think Guitar Hero is too rocky? Try this more popular approach...

Light Bot - This is more of a learning platform for early-programmers, but it's always fun.

Bike Mania - Looks easy but it's not. Keep going through those obstacles...

Crush 2 - Addicting escape game. All you have to do is keep the ball safe from getting crushed against the closing walls.

Jam Legend - Ok, Accordion Hero was just a joke. This one's the real thing. If you're a Guitar Hero junkie then Jam Legend is your fix. It's invite only and I only have two left (leave a comment if you want one) but once you're there, I guarantee you hours of fun and addiction.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The new Bond's theme music

After hearing so many people talking about how amazing the new Bond movie's theme music is, I decided to have a look at it. And indeed, the music is quite amazing. The combination Jack White/Alicia Keys didn't seem obvious when I first heard of it, but after hearing the tune, it makes you wonder why these two haven't worked together before.

You can check it out at the official website. Or you can see the video here (but the quality at the official website is better):

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Beta version of the Segway

Like any other interesting technological gadget or piece of software, the Segway also had its own beta version:

Source: Naurunapppula

Thursday, October 02, 2008

When you trust too much on your GPS

The GPS is without a doubt one of the greatest technologies ever invented. Let's face it, if we were to rely on something like Google Maps we probably wouldn't even be able to find our way from here to there or from the north of Portugal to New York.

Of course, GPS also has its flaws and limitations. But even with those, the GPS' weakest link still lies on the people who use it.

One clear example of this is the New York guy who trusted his GPS so much that he apparently thought it was perfectly reasonable to follow the directions directly onto a set of train tracks. Even though the man was able to get out of his car in time, he wasn't able to prevent a commuter train from slamming into the car a few minutes later, causing an hour and a half delay on the transportation service.

Don't worry, nobody got hurt...well, except for the guy's pride :-)

Source: Engadget

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Intelligent Service Coordination in the Semantic Web

It seems that everybody is talking about the new trend on the Web: whether they call it Web 3.0 or the Semantic Web, it's clear that techs from around the world recognize the need to advance the current state of affairs and make use of the potential that the Internet brings in terms of information and web service computing.

While some describe what the next Internet will be, others start to adhere to new standards. But what seems novelty technology for some, for others it has been the focus of their work for the last few years.

For the last 3 years, I've been working in an European Union-funded project (along with other 7 partners from 6 countries) with the goal of developing, trialling, testing and advancing the technology for Semantic Web Services using Intelligent Agents and Mobile Technologies.

Now that the project is over, we decided to write a book about the project and the lessons learned throughout the 3-year run.

Intelligent Service Coordination in the Semantic Web presents the design, implementation and validation of a value-added supportive infrastructure for Semantic Web based business application services, which we called CASCOM.

Here's a small description of the system:

For end users, the CASCOM framework provides seamless access to semantic Web services anytime, anywhere, while for service providers, CASCOM offers an innovative development platform for intelligent and mobile business application services in the Semantic Web.

The essential approach of CASCOM is the innovative inter-disciplinary combination of intelligent agent, Semantic Web, peer-to-peer, and mobile computing technology.

Semantic Web services are provided by peer software agents, which exploit the coordination infrastructure to efficiently operate in highly dynamic environments.

For those interested in a more scientific view of the Semantic Web and related technologies, you can check out the project's website or buy the book, which will be available soon for order at Amazon.