Friday, November 27, 2009

Google Wave Invitations

I've been using Google Wave for a while now and they were kind enough to send some invitations for me to distribute around. So, I have 3 left. If you want one, just leave a comment here or send a reply/DM on Twitter with your e-mail address.

Geek alert: I'll be using FIFO as the sorting protocol in case there are more candidates the number of invitations. Good luck :-)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How the use of technology can be so natural for us these days

My brother has recently had an experience that perfectly describes how technology can be so helpful and natural to use for most of us. It's quite amazing. Read it here.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

How to solve a wifi issue between Nokia 5530 and a Thomson TG787 router

So, my wife bought a Nokia 5530 Xpress Music phone and was very eager to try it, especially the Wifi since she could now connect to Facebook and e-mail at home without having to use my Mac or iPod Touch :-)

However, the experience was not that thrilling since the phone was unable to connect to our our home router (a Thomson TG787 provided by our ADSL provider).

After trying several different configurations (with WEP, WPA, WPA2, without encryption, etc...) and with other gadgets (iPod Touch and Nokia N80 could connect successfully to every configuration) I was very frustrated that I couldn't find a working solution.

At that point I went out and while at a shopping mall I was able to try some public wireless networks and it worked immediately. This increased my frustration to an even more absurd level. Back home, the problem remained.

It was only when, while using some Google-fu, I was able to find this forum post (in Portuguese) that I could finally solve the problem. Even though this post refers to the Nokia 5800 Xpress Music, the solution appears to be suitable for the 5530 model as well.

So, basically all you need to do is some Terminal action:

  • Open Terminal (on a Mac) or a command window (in Windows)
  • Run the following command: telnet
  • This will give you access to the router, but you have to insert the username (Administrator) and password (the password you defined)
  • Once an administration console appears, write: wireless qos config mode=disabled
  • Then hit Enter
  • After that (it takes a few seconds to compute) write: saveall
  • Then hit Enter
  • Just exit and you're done
The Nokia 5530 phone was able to connect to the home wireless network... success, finally!

Final note: I don't know exactly if this affects only this type of phones, but my Nokia N80 worked fine without the need to do this hack. Also, I don't know exactly what this hack does to your router so beware. So far, I haven't noticed anything different on all other devices, so I won't reverse it. By the way, if you need to restart your router, this configuration is lost, so you'll need to do it again.

An amazing moment in time

Did you notice that an amazing moment in time has just passed? And what moment would that be, you ask?

Well, have a look at today's date and time. The day is September, 9 of the year 2009, that is:

09/09/09, 09h:09m:09s

Cool, isn't it? The next moment in time like this one will only occur next year, on October, 10th of 2010.

Friday, July 31, 2009

A year ago...

Ahhh, a year ago I bumped into this lady in the most famous Ice Cream place in Cascais, Portugal. And as kindly as she is beautiful, she said to me: "Paaaarrrrdon!"

Ahh, beautiful 2008 Summer nights!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The invisible flash

Using the flash while taking some photos may be, in some situations, the only choice you have in order to produce decent lighting in a picture. However, most flash pictures are ruined because of the excessive light in the foreground and not enough light on the background.

In the ideal world of photography, a camera would be able to capture just enough light to make the picture perfect but not suffer from the disadvantages of using flash. Basically, what we need is an "invisible flash". But how can one produce such a paradox: a blast of light but that is not visible?

The answer is given by a student of the New York University, Dilip Krishnan and his advisor Rob Fergus. They have developed a dark or invisible flash which uses infrared and UV light to take photos in dark places without the nasty glare of a standard flash.

Basically, what they did was modify a light bulb to emit light over a wider range of frequencies (not visible at the human eye). They also changed their camera to adapt to these new conditions by using a set of filters to prevent the silicon image sensor from detecting infrared and ultraviolet rays.

This is not exactly new as this is more or less like night vision works. The difference is that, instead of having those photos where we all look like vampires, they managed to find a way to produce the correct colour balance by taking a quick colour image right after the dark flash image.

Even though the image produced in this second image is of low quality (grainy and unclear), the colours are correct. This allows them to produce a correct final image by using special software that combines the information from the photos (you can see the process on the 3 images above).

The technology is not yet perfect but it definitely looks pretty promising. To know more about it, you can check the website here.

Source: Engadget

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Anti-paparazzi gadgets

Adam Harvey, a student of of Interactive Telecommunication at New York University has created a new gadget that will probably be the next sensation of all those paparazzi-harassed celebrities: a purse with a flash sensor and flash.

So what does it do? It's simple. The purse contains a sensor that is triggered by any flash going off, and it instantaneously fires its own flash, completely ruining paparazzi shots.

Source: core77

Monday, July 20, 2009

Creative USB flash drives

There are more here.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Turn your pictures into a miniature model

By now you've probably seen around the Web some of those pictures that look like miniature models but are in fact pictures of real places that were just modified to look like it. Here are a couple of examples of photos that I tilt-shifted to make it look like a miniature street filled with small cars:

Looks nice, right? And you don't even have to be a Photoshop genius to pull something like this. All you have to do is use This website is quite simple and allows you to create this kind of photos quite easily and without having to have that much of photography knowledge.


Monday, June 29, 2009

A few gadgets that I would love to see on my kitchen

Sauce Dispensing Chopsticks

People who love sushi like I do, know it's not easy to get all those food sculptures from a plate to the sauce dish and then to the mouth. Using these special chopsticks you can avoid some embarrassing accidents with the sauce and simply enjoy your sashimi.

D-Cell Battery Salt & Pepper Shakers

The D-Cell Battery Salt & Pepper Shakers are simply great. Not only you'll surprise your friends with such a neat gadget, you'll also be able to see how much “power” (or pepper) you have left through the power indicator panels so you know when to “recharge.”

Spinning Spaghetti Fork

It's not that easy to do all that spinning in a full-of-sauce spaghetti plate, so why not use this electrical fork and make things a lot simpler?

Sharky Tea Infuser

How cool is that? To have a shark swimming around in your cup of hot water, while the tea is getting ready. Pure awesomeness!

Portable Toasters

Here's a gadget that I totally dream off. I hate my toaster because I can never tell when the bread is done. Sometimes it burns the bread, other times it simply is not enough. How to know for sure? Well, do it manually with this portable toaster.

There are more here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Using the cars' weight to generate energy

Kinetic energy is not a new subject on this blog. I've already shown you how this kind of technology can be used to generate enough energy to power some parts of a nightclub or more simply, your MP3 player.

This time I bring you a great idea developed at a Sainsbury's supermarket in Gloucester, United Kingdom. This supermarket has installed kinetic plates in the parking lot that use the weight of shopper's cars to pump a series of hydraulic pipes, which in turn drive a generator. The figure below is quite self-explanatory:

Apparently, the kinetic system can generate enough energy to power the store's checkouts. While it may not seem as much, it sure is a great step towards a more green attitude.

Here's another picture at location:

Source: Engadget, Guardian

Friday, May 29, 2009

Interesting ideas/products that we may never end up using

The USB Fan Tie

The K-wine plate

The Strawberry plate

The Solar-powered tie

There's more here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Funny stuff: musical charts

Try guessing which musics these charts refer to:


Monday, March 16, 2009

The truth about cellphones

Friday, March 13, 2009

Rechargeable batteries with solar cells

Now here's a great idea: integrate a solar cell directly into a rechargeable battery so that it can recharge just by facing the sun.

The SunCat batteries were born when its creator wondered as to why "hasn't anyone made a battery with integrated solar cells" and answered: "The batteries should just bask in the sun like a cat and left for a while, in a sunny window, they would slowly recharge."

I think it's a great idea and the good part is that you can do it yourself... that is, if you can get around the necessary parts and have the skill to build them :-)

Just check the SunCat blog post for details, here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How Twitter was born

If you're curious about the history of Twitter,you may wanna check this post by one of its creators. BTW, this post has exactly 140 chars :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Twitter Charts

Ever wondered when do you Twitter the most? Twitter Charts allows you to have a nice graphically view of your most frequent tweets distributed by hours and days of the week. For example, have a look at my Twitter Chart:

You can easily see that I'm most inclined to Twitter during the weekdays in the morning and specially between 10 and 11 AM. By the way, those little dots between 1 and 6 AM are sponsored by my baby son's crying :-)

Friday, February 13, 2009

How using Microsoft Outlook can ruin your birthday cake

There are some bakeries that allow you to send personalized messages, to be placed in your birthday cake, by e-mail. A lady in NY found this idea very appealing and ordered a birthday cake over email. But as it turned out, the result was not the expected:

The problem seems to be have been caused by the fact that she used Microsoft Outlook to send her email but Wegman’s email system failed to recognize the proprietary HTML tags of Outlook and caused this oddly-looking cake.

But the funniest part is the explanation of the bakery's employee: "we just cut and paste from the email to the program we use for printing the edible images, we are usually in such a hurry that we really don’t have time to check. and if we do the customers yell at us for bothering them."

Source: Digital Inspiration

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Original Air Fresheners

What if leaving a nice fragrance in your room only required you to blow on a balloon and then let it loose? Intrigued? Check the details here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The perfect gaming environment

Like these gaming setups? Check more here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What if software still shipped on 3.5'' disks?

Remember the days when installing a program on your computer required you to use several different floppy disks (usually between 3 and 5) in sequence? Now imagine that CD/DVDs hadn't been invented yet and Internet is still a mirage and you had to install all your programs using these floppy disks that could only store around 1,5 MB. Let's see what that means for current popular programs:

  • The "lightweight" browser Firefox - 36 disks
  • iTunes - 46 disks
  • Adobe Photoshop CS4 - 358 disks
  • Sims 3 - 1760 disks
Now imagine that you would pile up all these floppy disks. Just for the sake of curiosity, the Sims 3 packaging of 1760 disks would be as tall as 19 feet (more or less 5 and half meters).

Have some more interesting items to add to this list? Comments are welcome!

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Following/Followers dilemma on Twitter

I usually follow everyone that follows me on Twitter (except when it's clearly spam users), but there are a lot of people that use that nasty little trick to gain some followers: follow a lot of people and once those people follow them back, they stop following the people. This way, they can boost their ego (and maybe their dicks, I'm not sure) by showing off a huge difference between Following/Followers.

I don't really care about the number of followers that I have, but I do have to watch out for the amount of people that I follow, because an overcrowded timeline is useless since I don't have the time to read everything. And a good way to purge the Following list is to start by removing those "non-followers".

Since the Twitter web site doesn't allow having a cross-referenced view of the list of Following/Followers that would allow you to easily discover these "non-followers", I decided to make use of one of the available Java APIs for Twitter, Twitter4J, and create a small program that would give me that information.

So, if you're interested, download the JAR file here. You'll also need the Twitter4J JAR file: you can either download from the official website or you can download it from here.

To run the program, just type on a prompt terminal:

java -cp crossfollow.jar:twitter4j-1.1.4.jar dev.follow.twitter.CrossFollow username password

Just substitute username password with your data and you're ready to go. Also, you can run the program without providing the username and password, in which case, the program will prompt you for it.

Then, you'll get the list of the users that you follow that are not following you and for each user, the corresponding Twitter URL will be provided for you to then use as you pleased. The program does not change anything on your following or followers list. It simply provides the list as described above. It's up to you to perform the necessary changes directly on the Twitter website.

If this program gets successful, I might consider creating a real app for this, with a graphical user interface and all :-)

Any problems/questions/suggestions, please comment...

This software is distributed here freely and as open-source. It is done so as a means to ensure dissemination of technical work on a non-commercial basis. All rights therein are maintained by the author. It is understood that all persons downloading this software know that the software is provided AS IS and in no way the author is responsible for anything that may happen to your hardware and/or software on your computer or network. This software may not be re-distributed without the explicit permission of the author.

Why hasn't anyone thought of this before? - part II

In the category of "Why hasn't anyone thought of this before?", this week I give you: the transparent duct tape.

Why should you give your stuff that broken-like aspect with a coloured duct tape, when you can use this transparent duct tape that seamlessly re-attaches broken stuff? It's a mystery to me how these "oh, so simple" innovations keep showing up today when someone could already have thought of them years ago.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wii fail

The question is: why was he filming it? Was he planning on doing something special in that gaming session?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Why hasn't anyone think of this before?

Not much explanation is needed. Tool manufacturer Irwin has come up with a great alternative tape measure, Strait-Line, which has its own integrated marking tip, so you can leave a cut line with the other hand free. Plus, you no longer have to look like a carpenter with that pencil tucked behind your ear. Well, unless you like it...

Source: Core77

Friday, January 23, 2009

How to freak out your friends with a ligthbulb hack

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Invisibility cloak is closer to reality

This time it's not another camera/projection technology applied to clothing just to try and camouflage a person. This is a step closer to pseudo-invisibility, you know, kind of like Invisible Woman has the ability to bend and manipulate light to render herself and others invisible.

Scientists from Duke University have come up with a new type of device that is able to cloak an object from visible light. The device is made from a light-bending composite material that can detour electromagnetic waves around an object and reconnect them on the other side. That creates an effect similar to a distant mirage you'd see hovering above a road on a hot day.

But don't get your hopes up just now as this research is still far away from producing a cloaking cape as Harry Potter's. The foreseeable applications for this kind of technology will focus on eliminating obstructions to improve wireless communications or acoustic cloaks that could serve as protective shields, preventing the penetration of vibrations, sound, or seismic waves.

Source: CNet

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Things I've learned from my students

One thing I've learned this year whilst teaching at the University is that, apparently, the probability of having a hard disk failure on your computer is tightly linked to work assignments deadlines.

Let me explain how I reached this conclusion. I teach "Introduction to Programming" and at the end of the semester, the students have to deliver a work assignment. Usually, they have to develop a game in Java and this semester the decision was to implement a simple text-based Minesweeper.

Interestingly, as the deadline was becoming closer, the number of students that come up to me with an excuse to try and get an extension was massively increasing. But the amazing part is the fact that most students used the same excuse: hard disk failure that led to loss of work.

Since all students are honest and could never lie to a professor just to try to get an advantage over their colleagues (let's be naive about it) I can empirically conclude that the following applies:

Needless to say, this didn't change my position and no extensions were given.
It's Murphy's law :-)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Posterous: post anything to the web

Posterous is a new simple web service for when you need to post anything to the web to make it publicly available to anyone: photos, videos, MP3 and all kinds of files.

The good part: no signup is needed. Just send an e-mail to (remember to attach any files you want to post) and you'll (almost) immediately receive a reply with the address of the website where your files are posted.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A robot for all-terrain

Check out this amazing robot and its capability to adapt to completely different terrains:

Description from the website

"RHex is a man-portable robot with extraordinary rough terrain mobility. RHex climbs over rock fields, mud, sand, vegetation, railroad tracks, telephone poles and up steep slopes and stairways. RHex has a sealed body, making it fully operational in wet weather, in muddy and swampy conditions, and it can swim on the surface or dive underwater. RHex's remarkable terrain capabilities have been validated in independent testing at US Government Labs.

RHex is controlled remotely from an operator control unit at distances up to 600 meters. A video uplink provides front and rear views from RHex’s onboard cameras. RHex also uplinks navigational data from onboard compass and GPS and from payload sensors. A downlink allows the operator to control mobility and to operate mission payloads."

Friday, January 16, 2009

The alarm clock suitable for couples

This concept alarm clock by Johan Brengesjo (which is interesting enough to add to my collection of different alarm clocks) is an excellent idea for couples that have to get up at different hours and don't want to bother each other with different buzzing alarm clocks.

How? Well, a wireless rubber ring with an integrated vibration device is worn on the finger (the alarm clock has two-user settings and there's one ring for each person). When the alarm "rings" only the corresponding ring vibrates and the person can wake up by sensing the vibration. The light function and the snooze function are engaged by shaking your hand. Move your hand and the snooze gets activated.

Source: Hometone

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Do you want GMail stickers?

Do you like GMail so much that you just wanna shout it to the world? Then, this tip is for you.

Google created a set of GMail stickers that can be very handy and the good news is that you can get them almost for free. To get your own set of Gmail m-velope stickers, bookplate style stickers, and keyboard shortcut stickers, just send a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

Send me some Gmail stickers already
P.O. Box 391420
Mountain View, CA 94039-1420
United States

Google will then send your envelope back filled with stickers inside. Great!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

One Night Stand: the bed anatomy

There are more here.