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 post@posterous.com (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.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Who's right about the Google carboon footprint?

Some say that the environmental impact of performing 2 Google searches is equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide that is generated by boiling a kettle for a cup of tea.

Google says those estimates are too large and in fact a Google search uses just about the same amount of energy that your body burns in ten seconds.

Who's right?

Longcat is looooong

One of the funniest memes I've seen on the Internet to this day, is LongCat. It all started when the owner of a strangely enormous cat has decided to post a photo on the Internet with his cat hanging in such a way that it'd seems as if it was in fact very long. See with your own eyes:

Like any other meme, this one (Longcat is long) spreaded through the net quicker than a virus. And the most amazing part is that, with it, we were able to witness some of the most creative anonymous contributions of the whole world.

For me, this image is one of the most spectacular things to represent the true spirit of the Internet Memes. Have a look.

There are more here.

Monday, January 12, 2009

USA's new visa waiver program: fuck privacy

Pardon my french, but this is exactly how it feels. Apparently the amount of control that US borders apply to foreign travellers were not enough and so all citizens of those countries for which no Visa was required (in which Portugal is included) are now required to request a pre-authorization to travel do the USA...starting today...

The pre-authorization is requested at this website, but the funny part is the privacy warning that you get once you enter it:

Besides not having any cancel button (as a possibility for you to "not agree" with these conditions) the warning clearly states that your privacy is not guaranteed and that any information that you enter there can be used by any US official in any means necessary.

For iPhone aficionados and chocolate addicts

Found here

Heal a broken bone in just some minutes instead of months

If you've ever broken a bone you know how much it sucks. And the worst part is not the braking part, it's the difficult and lengthy recovery process, which may take somewhere between a few weeks up to a few months depending on the bone and gravity of the injury.

To try and fix this hassle, a U.K. company, called RegenTec, has created a white powder that is designed to be injected into a person in order to speed up the healing process of broken bones. Of course, people won't be able to get out of the Hospital running right after an injury, but the idea is to at least improve the healing process so as to avoid a long recovery period and help the body grow the "new bone" faster.

For the more curious ones, the "injectable bone" is a mix of ceramic and polylactic acid. On the outside, it looks like white powder. When injected into the body with a needle, the higher temperature inside causes the two components to mix together to form a hard, spongy mass similar to bones in the body.

Source: InventorSpot

Friday, January 09, 2009

Crazy kid gets a Wii

I would be crazy too if anyone would offer me a Nintendo Wii for Christmas, but I guess this is a little too much:

Source: Engadget

Thursday, January 08, 2009

What if Mona Lisa was created by other artists?




Andy Warhol


There are more here.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Nicholas Negroponte predictions in 1984

Just watch this talk by Nicholas Negroponte and be amazed as most of his predictions (regarding CD-ROMs, web interfaces, service kiosks and touchscreen interfaces) in 1984 were absolutely accurate:

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Best apps for the iPod Touch

Hello, if you liked this post, please consider subscribing my RSS news feed. Thanks.

Update on this blog: read here.

And what better way to start the year than to show you my list of the best apps you can install on your iPod Touch. Keep in mind that this list is exclusive for the iPod Touch and not the iPhone. Since the iPhone has some features that are not available on the iPod Touch (such as GPS and phone capabilities), the advantages that could arise from apps using those features are irrelevant for the Touch. Hence, the warning of iPod Touch exclusivity.
Basically, this list comprises the set of apps that "survived" on my iPod Touch. Since the app store is easily accessible from the iPod Touch, I spend quite a long time browsing the latest available apps and try them out. I basically install everything with a slightly interesting description, but only those worth keeping, "survive" the "cleaning phase".
Because so many apps in the App Store are free, I seldom found the need to actually buy an app to get some interesting functionality running on the iPod. So, with fairness in mind, this list reflects (almost) only free apps and, thus may obfuscate some interesting apps that are really cool but that I didn't try because I'm too cheap :-)
It's also easy to perceive why so many of the chosen apps are games: the iPod Touch is in fact the funnest iPod ever :-)
Enough said. Off with the list (in alphabetic order):
  • Black Gold (free) - With the price of Oil behaving like a roller-coaster it's always interesting to keep an eye on the market value of these resources. Black Gold provides updated access to the current price of Crude Oil, Gold and Fuel prices.

  • Blue Skies Lite (free) - This game is absolutely fabulous when it comes to using the acelerometer. The helicopter is controled by tilting the iPod in the desired direction and missiles and bombs are fired by touching the screen in certain areas of the display. This free version only includes a few levels, but it's enough to get you hooked on it.

  • Brain Tuner Lite (free) - If you want to keep your brain in tip top shape then this game is for you. Basically, you only have to say whether or not each row represents a true statement. But you need to do this in as less time as possible. This way you can keep improving your scores and train your brain.

  • Cannon Challenge (free) - This game is very addictive. It's one of the first games that I installed and I'm totally hooked up on it. Mainly because it's so simple and yet somehow challenging. The goal is simple: destroy the yellow targets using the cannon on the left. All that you can control is the angle and speed of the cannon. Simple, right? Yeah, but it takes some time to master it...

  • Dactyl (free) - Just click on the bombs before they explode. Looks simple, right? Well, let's just say that the speed at which new potentially exploding bombs appear is close to a rat's heartbeat (in case you're wondering: 500 beats/min).

  • Facebook (free) - If you're into Facebook, one of the most popular social networks in the web, then this app is mandatory. It gives you clean and simple access to most Facebook features.
  • Google Earth (free) - that wonderful Earth navigability that you have on your computer is also accessible on the iPod Touch. And it feels even better with the multi-touch display.

  • iPint (free) - Totally useless, but since this was the first app I installed on my iPod Touch it's hard to let go. Plus, it's always fun to use when showing off the iPod Touch to nearby people. This app simulates a pint of beer that behaves pretty much like the real thing, except this one won't actually leave a stain on the floor when you spill it :-) It also includes a cool game for you to guide a pint from one side of the bar to the other, all by using the accelerometer.

  • Labyrinth Lite Edition (free) - Another game to show the excellent feature brought by the accelerometer. You just have to control the ball through the maze to reach the goal and avoid the holes. It feels just like the real thing.

  • Loops of Zen Lite (free) - Another Puzzle game. Simple, yet sometimes quite challenging. Loops of Zen requires you to connect all the symbols together so as to create a figure where all lines end in a circle.

  • Lumen Lite (free) - Excellent puzzle game where you only have to find ways of turning all the lights on. The free version only include a few levels but some are quite challenging.

  • Lux Touch (free) - If you like the board game Risk, then you'll love Lux Touch. That's it :-)
  • MazeFinger (free) - This cool game is very simple: just use your finger to go trough the maze as fast as possible. As it gets harder and harder, new obstacles will appear and the path will become more difficult. Plus, the visual and sound effects are stunning.

  • NetNewsWire (free) - For a long time now, I've been using NewsGator as my RSS feeds reader and, on my Mac, I use NetNewsWire to access those feeds (for offline viewing) and the synchronization process is quite good. Most naturally, on the iPod Touch I also use NetNewsWire. This way, no matter what channel I use, the feeds I read are always in sync.

  • TapDefense (free) - If you're into tower defense-like games, then you'll love this game. You have to defend your gate against the evil beings from Hell and for that you'll need to place towers across the path to slow them down and eventually destroy them.

  • Tap Tap Revenge (free) - Are you a Guitar Hero fan? Tap Tap Revenge is the solution for the iPod Touch. Just tap tap the dots at the sound of music and try not to miss :-)

  • Tweetie (2,39€ - $2.99) - I tried every free Twitter app available at the App Store and none (with the exception of Twinkle) is enough for the average Twitter user. While Twinkle may actually do the trick for most Twitter users, Tweetie is more complete allowing you to easily keep track of everyone you're following by clearly separating tweets, replies, messages and other parts of this social network (such as location-based tweets, trends and access to profile information).

This list is obviously incomplete and as I have the time, I will be updating it with new apps. So, keep tuned. Also, I welcome your suggestions and I thank you in advance by any help you can provide in improving this list.

Source: The Mac Newbie

Great Programming Quotes

“Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand.”

- Martin Fowler

“Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight.”

- Bill Gates

“Programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.”

- Abelson / Sussman

There are more here.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Computer prank: map the 'e' key to something else

If you've got an office colleague that's driving you insane, try this.

Retro-blogging: best posts of January 2008

Previously, on "The Tech In Me":

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year