Monday, October 30, 2006

Horseback Riding Machine

Horseback-simulation machines have become one of the hottest fitness trends in Japan, with a sharp rise in sales and a three-week wait for buyers to get hold of the Joba. The machines are heading over to the U.S., too. After renaming the Joba the “core trainer,” Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. began marketing it under its Panasonic brand in January, landing it in catalogs like Hammacher Schlemmer and a few U.S. fitness clubs.

Part of the attraction, for a country with an aging and increasingly sedentary population, is that a Joba workout doesn't take much effort. “I ride the Joba when I'm feeling a little tired because I can get exercise just by sitting on it,” says Fukatsu. Marketers pitch the machine, which was designed to fit into a living room, as something that can easily be used while watching TV.

But the machine does provide a workout. Using it for about 15 minutes a day, three days a week tones muscles, improves posture and increases metabolism, according to studies by Matsushita and a handful of universities. Fitness experts agree that the Joba can help work a limited set of muscles. Toru Nakayama, a Tokyo personal trainer who participates in jujitsu competitions, says, “It's better than nothing because it'll help tone the middle area and thighs,” though he adds that running is more effective for people who want to lose weight.


Critical Thinking Used for Voting? Are you Crazy?

This website will, in just 10 minutes, enable you to cast an INTELLIGENT VOTE regarding your current Senators and Representative in the upcoming 2006 national election in November. The system will build your political profile by having you read summaries of the most important issues voted on in the U.S. Congress in the past six years, and then allowing you to cast your vote. It then compares your political profile to the voting record of your Representative and Senators and provides a summary similar to that below:

Your Senator, Mr. Brown, voted in-line with you 20% of the time

Your Senator, Mr. Dough, voted in-line with you 50% of the time

Your Representative, Mrs. Smith, voted in-line with you 80% of the time.

From this, you will be able to cast an INTELLIGENT VOTE.

Lookie here. Sounds Neat.

Heard on Cranky Geeks

Friday, October 27, 2006

New Full Screen iPod

Mac Rumors has an interesting analysis of one of Apple's patents. The widely "rumored about" new full screen, virtual clickwheel video iPod could make use of an active, touch-sensitive border bezels that would allow one to control the ipod without smudging the whole screen like it would inevitably do with a virtual clickwheel on it.

At the same time that I find that idea feasible, apple's clickwheel model has some really great advantages; namely that you can scroll "forever" without stopping, unlike what horizontal or vertical bars would offer... maybe it would sense a back and forth movement as one continuous movement, the same as going round and round with a clickwheel?

Government vs. Politics

From the NY Times:
The commissioner of internal revenue has ordered his agency to delay collecting back taxes from Hurricane Katrina victims until after the Nov. 7 elections and the holiday season, saying he did so in part to avoid negative publicity.

The commissioner, Mark W. Everson, who has close ties to the White House, said in an interview that postponing collections until after the midterm elections, along with postponing notices to people who failed to file tax returns, was a routine effort to avoid casting the Internal Revenue Service in a bad light.
But four former I.R.S. commissioners, who served under presidents of both parties, said that doing so because of an election was improper and indefensible.
“We just spoke with commissioner on the enforcement issue in the gulf,” wrote Beth Tucker, the I.R.S. executive in charge of dealing with Hurricane Katrina victims, in an e-mail message to her team obtained by The New York Times. “He prefers that we do not resume any enforcement actions until after Dec. 31 due to the upcoming elections, holiday season, etc.”
Former Commissioner Jerome Kurtz, who served under President Jimmy Carter, responded, “Never, never, never,” when asked if he would have considered delaying broad-based enforcement actions like sending notices because of any election, national or local. “Oh my God, that is unthinkable,” Mr. Kurtz said.

Is this ethical and/or legal? I think the function of government officers, once elected, and employees should be to do their job, and not play politics abusing the government machine... sure, it may be hard in practice, but you have to have some standards... am I just too naive to think that?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Google Scares

Google is offering free, downloadable, scary books for Halloween. Lookie here.

Artsy Urinals

Now we need to see an urinal cake collection too.


Google Copies Your Hard Drive? Not really.

Consumer watchdogs including the Electronic Frontier Foundation are urging a boycott of Google's new Desktop Search program, citing privacy concerns. Is it really too risky to use the program?

In a post on the EFF's web site, Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston paints an Orwellian picture of the new "search across computers" feature that's part of the recently released Google Desktop 3.0 program. The feature allows you to search across all of your computers provided you take several steps to enable the capability.

While Bankston's post raises a number of legitimate concerns, the overall tone of the message leaves little doubt that the EFF's warning is biased, offering neither a fair nor balanced assessment of the new Google desktop search product. "Google Copies Your Hard Drive - Government Smiles in Anticipation" reads the title, followed by a lead of "Consumers Should Not Use New Google Desktop."
The EFF is to be lauded for alerting users to potential privacy concerns and risks in using the program. It's important to think carefully about your privacy and the potential risks you're taking when using something like the search between computers feature. And you should take steps to make sure that you've fully examined the options that allow you to keep your data private, and take advantage of them.

But the EFF has a broader agenda, and its over-the-top call for a boycott of Google Desktop 3 is both disingenuous and does a disservice to a genuinely useful program. Don't get me wrong—I agree with the EFF's broader mission, just not the way they're tarring Google in pursuit of their goals.
There's no need to boycott Google Desktop 3. Think carefully before enabling the program's advanced features, but take disingenuous claims like "Google copies your hard drive" with a substantial block of salt.


Multicolored Twins

Brisbane twins, Alicia and Jasmin are part of an exclusive worldwide club because one was born white and the other is black.

Born five months ago to a mum of Jamaican-English heritage and a dad with a German background, the twins are remarkable because of the drastic difference in their skin colours.

From the NY Times:
The girls were conceived and born naturally. Experts say the odds against twins developing different racial features are astronomical.

"It's probably a million to one," geneticist Dr. Stephen Withers told The Daily Mail of London newspaper. "It's a terrifically rare phenomenon."

Thanks to M. Chow.

Hot Turkey Muscle

Hey fellow Floridians... if you like cars and want an excuse to take a quick travel to Daytona, they will have the Turkey Run (why is it called that?) car show with over 5,000 cars in November. Have fun and let me know if you're going...
The Turkey Run is the Southeast’s largest car show with over 5,000 muscle, hot rod and classic cars the fill the infield of the Daytona International Speedway and beyond!.

33rd Turkey Run is held in Daytona Florida
November 22 – 26th
1,000’s of Cars
Car Raffle/ Swap Meet

Plus it’s in sunny Daytona Beach in November.
Bring your family – they can come to the car show or spend the day at the beach!


Click for Area info.

Post soon to be sponsored by PPP

Police Sketch Experiment

In July of 2006, JibJab invited more than 50 sketch comedy teams to submit a short, comedy script based on a 'Police' theme. John Landis, director of classics like 'Animal House' and 'Blues Brothers,' chose six of the scripts in August and these selected troupes were brought together in Los Angeles to begin filming The Great Sketch Experiment.

Over three days in September, the six films were shot and now (...) the audience, will decide the winner.

The movies were directed by John Landis. Yes, you know him: Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Three Amigos!, An American Werewolf in London, Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video, Michael Jackson’s Black and White music video (the first to use CG "digital morphing" where one object appears to seamlessly metamorphose into another). I clearly remember all of these. The Michel Jackson videos were absolutely groundbreaking. Thriller basically created the music video as we know it now. Black and White caused a huge impact on special effects in general. This guy is huge.

The videos are loads of fun, check them out.

Thanks to Jan G.

P.S. Speaking of Animal House, Paul and Young Ron threw a Toga Party last Friday, including Otis Day and the Knights (a.k.a. actor DeWayne Jessie) playing. Landis' legacy still holds strong.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fox Limbaughed

His body visibly wracked by tremors, actor Michael J. Fox appears in a political ad that was the subject of widespread discussion on Monday after conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh claimed Fox was "either off his medication or acting."

More at CBS News.

Video of ad and Limbaugh's comments here.

My question is, even had he been off the medication, so what? The medication doesn't even cure the disease, it just helps ease the symptoms -- sometimes. So why smear the poor guy in any case?

Bulletproof Books

(...) Neil Cavuto [FOX] hosted a candidate who suggested giving kids thick textbooks, covered in Kevlar, to use to shield themselves when the bullets start flying (...)
Bill Crozier, a Republican running for the office of State Superintendent of Schools in Oklahoma, was Cavuto's guest. Cavuto introduced Crozier saying it is Crozier's belief that it's "high time for students to protect themselves" and thus he wants, "textbooks used as shields."


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Solar Depot

The Home Depot has teamed up with BP Solar to provide solar installation service to customers. It is offering (...) free, in-home consultations. California is also getting ready to make solar roofs mainstream. Renewable Energy Access reports: "When the clock strikes midnight on January 1, 2007, SB 1, California's new state law that provides $3.2 billion in funding to build a million solar roofs over the next ten years, will officially take effect. But in order for SB 1 to succeed -- and the solar industry as a whole to continue to expand -- it's time to start marketing solar power as an accessible, aesthetically pleasing, and cost-effective product to the average consumer, according to California Senator Kevin Murray."


This is great. I've heard, though, that government refunds are only given to people that use the services of specific contractors, who mark things up way too much and end up basically gobbling up the government grants... I hope that is not true, but...

Here's an article by my friend Lonnie Gamble (see photo), who lives totally off the grid:

Let's Redirect Iowa's $6 Billion Yearly Energy Expenses into Local Sustainable Projects (...) This article gives you a flavor of what could be done at the city level to save energy, reduce our dependence on oil, increase our dependence on the sun, and make our communities more interesting places to live. (...) The next step for any interested town would be to fund detailed feasibility studies of some of these ideas—$10,000 spent on feasibility and preliminary design work could yield millions of dollars in benefits.

I wonder how expensive solar shingles really are. There must be an easy-to-install, scale-economy relatively inexpensive solution.

Monday, October 23, 2006

More Piloting Skillz

Thanks to Jan G.

Shrimp Health Club

As seen (heard) on NPR's Wait Wait.

The Most Expensive Bottle Opener Ever

This ought to be really hard to do. Amazing control.

Ad Plug

I hope you're enjoying this blog. To help support it, do click on a few ad links every once in a while, it will ka-ching on my end. Greatly Appreciatted...

Rico Suave

This is so hilarious...

The amazing thing is hearing something from someone and being able to see a video, photo or information on it in less than 10 seconds.

Help Save Vegemite

From here:

Disturbing news reports are leaking out of Australia. Apparently U.S. customs has banned the importation of Vegemite into the United States. What will Aussies living here do without their favorite food?

This is ridiculous! According to

The great Aussie icon - faithfully carried around the world by travellers from downunder - contains folate, which under a technicality, America allows to be added only to breads and cereals.

As a vegemite user and supporter (I only have a couple of little ones in my fridge right now, darn it!) I hope this is not true. Marmite won't cut it.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Girl Predicts Father's Death

Hannah Kovalski, 6, told her teachers she dreamed about her father's airplane having an accident and falling two weeks before it actually happened. On the day of the accident, she told a nanny "Ju, did you know my dad's airplane has exploded?" -- before anyone knew about the accident. Coincidence?

From Globo's Fantastico, video here in Portuguese.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Traffic in India

The coolest thing is people in India (I've experienced it firsthand) don't get too stressed out about all this. Amazing.

Plan to throw one away, you will anyhow

Programming Quotations
  • It's hard enough to find an error in your code when you're looking for it; it's even harder when you've assumed your code is error-free.
  • If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilisation.
  • Programming can be fun, so can cryptography; however they should not be combined.
  • The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.
  • Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it.
  • Computers are good at following instructions, but not at reading your mind.
  • You're bound to be unhappy if you optimize everything.
  • These machines have no common sense; they have not yet learned to "think," and they do exactly as they are told, no more and no less. This fact is the hardest concept to grasp when one first tries to use a computer.
  • Good code is its own best documentation. As you're about to add a comment, ask yourself, 'How can I improve the code so that this comment isn't needed?' Improve the code and then document it to make it even clearer.
  • The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.

Thanks to Tony F.

Brain Difference in Autistic People

Carnegie Mellon Researchers Use New Imaging Technique To Discover Connection Differences in Brains of People With Autism

PITTSBURGH—Using a new form of brain imaging known as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), researchers in the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University have discovered that the so-called white matter in the brains of people with autism has lower structural integrity than in the brains of normal individuals. This provides further evidence that the anatomical differences characterizing the brains of people with autism are related to the way those brains process information.


Link to Barry Kaufman's excellent book "A Miracle to Believe In" (pictured above, this link goes to the full text of the book) .

Invisibile Microwaves

"The concept that you can cloak something and make something invisible can now be demonstrated by this method," said Duke University physicist David R. Smith. "This is the first time where we show that you can actually take electromagnetic waves and wrap them around some region that you want to conceal and restore them on the other side."

The catch? For now the device works only in two dimensions and on microwaves. plus it is barely 8-cm wide. But it helps prove the concept.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

How To Put On A Bra

How To Put On A Bra 101 - video powered by Metacafe

Holly Valance, in Dead or Alive

Sucked In

This guy gets sucked into a jet engine... and lives. I'd seen this on TV some time ago.

More here:
"What you see in the video is a trainee checking the position of the launch bar in the shuttle and then moving away from the aircraft. The guy that gets sucked in his trainer and goes in to double check the launch bar position. He made a mistake by walking straight toward the nose gear which put him in front of the intake. He should have gone behind the intake and looked forward into the shuttle. All of this is happening with the engines at full throttle, by the way."

"I was attached to VFA-15 onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt during that deployment in 1991. This occurred just after Desert Storm. He did survive and I'm surprised the editors of that video didn't include him climbing out. What allowed him to survive was the design of the A-6 engine (the J-52). It has a long protruding 'bullet' or cone that extends in front of the first stage fans. When he was sucked in, his arm extended above his head which caused his body to wedge between the bullet and inside wall of the intake. Lucky for him, his cranial and float coat were sucked in first causing the FOD'd engine which prompted the pilot to cut the throttle (commanded by the Shooter who moves into the frame kneeling and moving his wand up and down). It took almost 3 minutes for him to push his way out of the intake after being sucked in. Needless to say, I don't think he was seen on the flight deck for the rest of the cruise."

Olbermann: "Death of Habeas Corpus, Your Words Are lies, Sir"

No comments... transcript here.
The president has now succeeded where no one has before. He’s managed to kill the writ of habeas corpus. Tonight, a special investigation, how that, in turn, kills nothing less than your Bill of Rights. Because the Mark Foley story began to break on the night of September 28, exploding the following day, many people may not have noticed the bill passed by the Senate that night.

Perfect Moment Snapshot - Walrus

Goran Ehlme's shot of a walrus feeding on clams on the sea floor is a whirl of grey; the animal's face is seen poking through a cloud of disturbed sediment.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Influential non-people

From USA Today:

Allan Lazar, Dan Karlan and Jeremy Salter — have ranked the 101 "most influential people." (...) [that] exist only in the imagination. (...) The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived (Harper, $13.95, paperback original)

Some from the list:

1. "The most famous killer of the last two hundred years," The Marlboro Man.
2. "Big Brother" of George Orwell's 1984
4. Santa Claus
18. Mickey Mouse
26. Cinderella
43. Barbie
44. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
48. G.I. Joe
51. Bond, James Bond, 007
55. The Ugly Duckling
60. Batman
85. Luke Skywalker

More at (official *cough* sucks *cough* site).

I don't know... GI Joe? Buffy? I don't have the full list, but here are some suggestions:
Spock, Michael Valentine Smith (Stranger in a Strange Land), Prof. Langdon (Davinci Code),... any suggestions?

Has Google already made money on the YouTube deal?

Apparently Google stock gained after the YouTube purchase announcement an amount of $4 Billion. Subtract the amount they paid, $1.65 Billion, that's a gain of $2.35 Billion dollars or about a 142% profit on your investment. Not a bad purchase when you look at it from this angle...

Heard this comment from Wil Harris on TWiT.

Piracy as a Business

"So we understand piracy now as a business model," said Sweeney [president of Disney-ABC Television Group] in a recent analyst call. "It exists to serve a need in the marketplace specifically for consumers who want TV content on demand and it competes for consumers the same way we do, through high-quality, price and availability and we don't like the model. But we realize it's effective enough to make piracy a key competitor going forward. And we've created a strategy to address this threat with attractive, easy to use ways to for viewers to get the content they want from us legally; in other words, keeping honest people honest."

Image from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Smell This


Exactly what gives rise to new car smell? The answer, not surprising to chemists, is a complex mixture of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), primarily alkanes and substituted benzenes along with a few aldehydes and ketones.

Nearly every solid surface inside a vehicle is a fabric or plastic that is held together in part with adhesives and sealers. Outgassing of residual solvents and other chemicals from these materials leads to a dilute sea of VOCs floating about in the passenger compartment. The same holds true for new airplanes, homes, and offices.

New Car Smell is Going Away

But that unmistakable new-car smell may soon be heading the way of the rumble seat: Recent research linking it to a toxic cocktail of harmful chemicals is spurring efforts by Japanese automakers to tone down the fumes.

Japanese manufacturers have become the first to set an industrywide goal of reducing cabin concentrations to within government guidelines. The push could spur similar action by U.S. and European rivals, making interior air quality an emerging auto safety issue.

I've also heard that different markets react differently to the new-car smell, as in Europeans tend to like less new-car smell and Americans more, but couldn't find a link on that.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

MythBusters' Top 5 Videos

See videos here.


One week after Google announced it was buying YouTube, several media companies have banded together to investigate whether YouTube is vulnerable to legal action over copyrighted material on its site.

According to the Wall Street Journal, lawyers from several media companies, including News Corp., NBC Universal and Viacom, say that YouTube could be liable up to $150,000 per unauthorized video. Executives hope the possibility of legal action could prompt YouTube to improve terms it offers the media companies.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Battle of the Album Covers


 Thanks to D.Brown

High-Def Runs Home

The HDHomeRun - Networked Digital HDTV Tuner dual input box takes in two off-the-air high-def signals or unencrypted cable and streams it to any computer in your network. Pretty cool and decent price-point for $170.

The image above is completely unrelated. The box itself looks ugly. :-)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

It's all in Your Eyes

Cool optical illusions. No, the above is not moving.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Asta la Vista Reinstalling

With a retail version of Windows XP, there are no restrictions on the number of times you can transfer the software from one computer to another in your household or office. That's about to change for the worse in Vista, with only one lifetime transfer allowed. It makes the outrageous price difference between retail and OEM copies even more difficult to justify.
Yet another reason to stick to Windows 2000...?

Free Emerson (and more)

 Here's a podcast with essays by the great Ralph Waldo Emerson, from learnoutloud.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Pvt. Joe Bowers (Luke Wilson) is a soldier chosen to take part in a secret military scientific experiment in which he will be put into induced hibernation for one thousand years. Bowers is chosen for the assignment because he is statistically the most average man in the Army; however, Bowers is forgotten a few decades into the experiment, and when he wakes up in the year 3001, he finds himself living in a society where intelligence has taken such a landslide he's now the smartest man in the world. What will Bowers do in a nation where an unremarkable man is elevated to the level of a genius? Produced under the title 3001, Idiocracy also stars Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, and Stephen Root. More, Showtimes.

Critics at Rotten Tomatoes.

Thanks to Senta M.

Darth Vader Impersonation

Very interesting: Darth Vader Impersonator Impersonator Produced by Sean Cole w/ Benjamen Walker for "Your Radio Nightlight".
This piece was truly a collaboration, the sort I hadn't been a part of before. Ben called me and said he was doing a show called "The Dark Side" in two weeks and would I want to write something with him. He had a sketch of an idea about a Darth Vader impersonator who was pathologically obsessed with the character, even after his obsession had alienated the people who allowed him to live his dream.

More here. Listen here.

Also check this  Jack Mangan piece out, includes a cool audio clip at the top, hit play: 
Hear! An exhibition duel between Darth Vader vs. Gandalf! Witness! Another exhibition of, um, something, between Molly (from Neuromancer) and Batman! Behold! The bracketed 8-character elimination tournament!

Thanks to Senta M.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Comedian Joe Rogan

Heard Joe Rogan on the radio this morning.

Interestingly, his real passion is being a comedian (some funny video clips here and here) but he has had some real success with Fear Factor (which he really lucked out to get) and commenting UFC Mixed Martial Arts (turns out he's been practicing martial arts [video clip of him knocking a guy out with a choke hold] since he was small and also practices jiu-jitsu so he actually knows what he's talking about).

I didn't even know he was a comedian. He sounded a little bummed out about that aspect of his career although it's definetly been by common standards a very successful one.

Ramen Noodles

Funny comedian/ singer/ parodist Craig Carmean [Warning: Heavily Flash based site]. Damn him! I can't get the Dirty Sanchez song out of my head.

Google Billboard -- old news but still cool

Some people at work just told me they had not heard of this.

A billboard placed this week [not] in the heart of Silicon Valley posed a complex mathematical question that most commuters on Highway 101 would need Google to crack.

Turns out the search-engine heavyweight--which was behind the anonymous, stark-white ad with black lettering--only wanted to lure the math-minded who wouldn't need Google's database in the first place, and give them a job.
In a kind of geek "Jeopardy," the billboard read:"{first 10-digit prime found in consecutive digits e}.com." The answer,, would lead a puzzle-sleuth to a Web page with yet another equation to solve, with still no sign the game was hosted by Google.

Mastering that equation would lead someone to a page on Google Labs, the company's research and development department, which reads: "One thing we learned while building Google is that it's easier to find what you're looking for if it comes looking for you. What we're looking for are the best engineers in the world. And here you are.

The Secret Failures of Microsoft

Considering how many industry giants have partnered with Microsoft in WMA and PlaysForSure--including WalMart, Napster, MTV, WMA hardware makers, and RIAA
label members--it would appear that Microsoft is a leader in successful consumer
electronics technology. That’s not the case.
All of these partners hooked up with Microsoft simply because they had no idea of what to do on their own. Few even experimented with their own independent technology plans; they simply picked Microsoft because the company seemed like a safe bet at delivering technology. They obviously didn’t do their homework.
The big secret they missed is that Microsoft hasn't ever earned significant profits in the consumer hardware business, nor has its executives proven any business acumen in delivering what consumers want in hardware or creative entertainment, excluding,
of course, Microsoft's impressive and highly sophisticated keyboard and mouse

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tyra of the same old life? Get a call from Tyra

Get a call from Tyra Banks, my favorite moustachioed top model. Holla!

thanks to M. Chow

Pole Smacking


Flavor of Sound

Our product - the Soundflavor™ Recommendation Engine - provides recommendations of songs that match the musical, lyrical, and cultural aspects of reference songs, playlists, or specific search criteria. The engine personalizes recommendations by considering personal taste, their friends' tastes, and the various ways people use their music.
Soundflavor runs on top of iTunes, you select a playlist and get recommendations with the same "flavor". Haven't tried it yet, but sounds interesting.

Update: Blah! Requires M$ .Net; I'm not installing it to try this, so ciao to this...

Kite Wind Power

Researchers in Italy have high hopes for a new wind-power generator that resembles a backyard drying rack on steroids. Despite its appearance, the Kite Wind Generator, or KiteGen for short, could produce as much energy as a nuclear power plant.

Here's how it works: When wind hits the KiteGen, kites spring from funnels at the ends of poles. For each kite, winches release a pair of high-resistance cables to control direction and angle. The kites are not your Saturday-afternoon park variety but similar to those used for kite surfing -- light and ultra-resistant, capable of reaching an altitude of 2,000 meters.

KiteGen's core is set in motion by the twirl of the kites; the rotation activates large alternators producing current. A control system on autopilot optimizes the flight pattern to maximize the juice produced as it sails on night and day. A radar system can redirect kites within seconds in case of any interference: oncoming helicopters, for example. Or small planes or even single birds.

Research (...) estimates that KiteGen could churn out one gigawatt of power at a cost of just 1.5 euros per megawatt hour. That's nearly 30 times less than the average cost in Europe of 43 euros per megawatt hour.

From Wired, Thanks to D. Brown.

Biff Tune - Stop Asking These Questions

Have a question about Back to the Future for the guy who played "BIFF?" Yeah, so do a billion other people! Here's a song ... my little time saver!

Funny. Must really annoy the guy in real life. Actor Tom Wilson.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Scientists are planning to create a "frankenrabbit" by fusing together human cells with a rabbit egg.

It is hoped the "chimeric" embryos, which would be 99.9 per cent human and 0.1 per cent rabbit, could lead to breakthroughs in stem cell research which could one day cure diseases such as Alzheimer's or spinal cord injury.

The embryos will allow scientists to perfect stem cell creation techniques without using human eggs.

Seems weird...

Nuclear Tourism


Iran's hard-line president has ordered nuclear facilities opened to foreign tourists to prove that the nation's disputed atomic program is peaceful, state-run television reported.
Mashai said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued the order to show that Iran's nuclear program it aims to generate fuel, not weapons.

From USA Today

I Google, You Tube

Google Video is a bit of a flop, and I don't know how this plays into Google's strategy but... It seems Microsoft, Yahoo and News Corp. may also be considering the purchase.
Internet search leader Google Inc. (...) could announce a deal to buy top online video service YouTube Inc. as early as Monday, a source familiar with the matter said, following a spate of programming distribution deals that could clear legal hurdles to an acquisition,

The board of directors of both companies are meeting to vote on the estimated $1.65 billion deal, the Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site, citing an unnamed source.
Update: Done Deal! Google has purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion in a stock-for-stock transaction. I always find it a little funny to think of stock exactly like money, but there you go.

Bad to the Bone

 Women who regularly drink cola could be increasing their risk of osteoporosis, US researchers believe.

Their study of 2,500 people revealed drinking cola was linked with low bone mineral density in women regardless of their age or calcium intake.

But the work published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no such link in men. 

Light-up Clothing

Lumalive textiles make it possible to create fabrics that carry dynamic advertisements, graphics and constantly changing color surfaces. (...)

Lumalive fabrics feature flexible arrays of colored light-emitting diodes (LEDs) fully integrated into the fabric - without compromising the softness or flexibility of the cloth. These light emitting textiles make it possible to create materials that can carry dynamic messages, graphics or multicolored surfaces. (...)

The jackets are comfortable to wear, and the Lumalive fabrics only become obvious when they light up to display vivid colored patterns, logos, short text messages or even full color animations. The electronics, batteries and LED arrays are fully integrated and invisible to the observer and wearer. The jackets feature panels of up to 200 by 200 mm², although the active sections can be scaled up to cover much larger areas such as a sofa.

Saw that a bit ago, but it's still pretty cool.


Are Books Dead?

Sony has (finally) released  their eBook reader.

About the size of a paperback (excellent), weighing 9 ounces. It can carry about 80 books in the built-in 64Mb memory, and amazingly apparently supports not only Sony's memory sticks but also SD cards.

The display (eInk) is supposed to be very similar to reading on paper. High-contrast, pretty much no viewing angle issues, and it doesn't use any power to hold an image on screen, only to change it.

$350 seems a little expensive, but it's a cool device.

Will this replace physical books? Only time will tell. I do love books, especially old ones, and they can last a looong time.

Will archeologists be able to show anything from our times in a few thousand years?

Knots to Mess Around

You never know when knowing some basic knots can come in handy, this is a cool site to learn... I'd recommend at least the  double fisherman's, the prusik knot and the figure 8 loop follow through.

Ah, good old rock climbing days... not that I was ever that great a climber, but the best town in the world for in-city rock climbing is no doubt Rio.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Impressive - Fell From the 14th Floor and Survived

From Brazil'stv show  Fantastico (in Portuguese, translation and comments in brackets mine)
It all happened exactly two months ago (...) she drank a little wine and was cleaning a window [ok, not very smart], when she had a scare. [scare!?]


Debora fell from the 14th floor and fell on top of a swing set on the building's playground. (...) it looked like it all would have ended there.


"We found here facing down on the ground. Since the fall was from so high up, her leg was on her shoulder", said fireman Marco Antonio Carched.

"She was talking rapidly, complaining of pains, wouldn't let us come close", said fireman Manuel da Silva.

It took 15 minutes to saw the swing off and put her in a stretcher. Very delicate work.

Exposed fractures, broken bones on jaw, spine, arms, legs, feet. Trauma to the brain, lungs and heart. (I believe she lost part of the left leg too). 20 days in a coma. But she is alive.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Moon Cake

Chinese Mid Autumn Festival or Moon Cake Festival

Moon Cake Festival: A Mid-Autumn Festival (Chung Chiu), the third major festival of the Chinese calendar, is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month. This festival corresponds to harvest festival s observed by Western cultures (in Hong Kong, it is held in conjunction with the annual Lantern Festival).

Contrary to what most people believe, this festival probably has less to do with harvest festivities than with the philosophically minded chinese of old. The union of man's spirit with nature in order to achieve perfect harmony was the fundamental canon of Taoism, so much so that contemplation of nature was a way of life.

This festival is also known as the Moon Cake Festival because a special kind of sweet cake (yueh ping) prepared in the shape of the moon and filled with sesame seeds, ground lotus seeds and duck eggs is served as a traditional Chung Chiu delicacy.

More here and here.

thanks and  happy Chung Chiu to Mei Sze

ASCII Clippy

Is there anyone who doesn't hate clippy?

Pretty funny.

More on ASCII art: click here.

Thanks to E. Brown.

Animated Gif Spam

(Image from here)

Just heard about this... apparently one of the new ways spammers are getting through filters (some systems have implemented OCRs or other systems to detect spam in images in messages) is to use an animated GIF to throw off the anti-spam software.

Can't these programmers get a real job?

Moreover, email was designed for text-only messages -- no pretty fonts or colors, no attachments. Anything fancy is a hack, and allows new exploits... but I guess the cat is out of the bag now...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Size vs. Technique - MMA

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu's Royce Gracie vs. ex-sumo Akebono. Size can only go so far...

I've met this other MMA figter personally - Wallid. Nice guy, he beats Royce Gracie in this video.

Beam me up Master Control

At long last researchers have teleported the information stored in a beam of light into a cloud of atoms, which is about as close to getting beamed up by Scotty as we're likely to come in the foreseeable future. More practically, the demonstration is key to eventually harnessing quantum effects for hyperpowerful computing or ultrasecure encryption systems. 


Saw this on ABC News this morning:
Fourteen-year-old Ben Underwood of Sacramento, Calif., is one of the few people known to use echolocation as a primary means of navigating the world on land. There's not even a hint of light reaching his brain. His eyes are artificial, but his brain has adapted to allow him to appraise his environment. He makes a "clicking" sound to communicate with objects and people around him.

Scientists have discovered that in the brains of the blind, the visual cortex has not become useless, as they once believed. When blind people use another sense — touch or hearing, for example — to substitute for sight, the brain's visual cortex becomes active, even though no images reach it from the optic nerve. Echolocation creates its own images.
I'd seen something similar on TV  a few years ago, this blind guy clicked and used echolocation to ride a bike, identify objects and even taught some other blind people how to do it.
This kid even manages to play video games, pretty amazing.

Here's an Wikipedia Article with some more links. The People article is better than ABC's.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Flash Folding

Saw this a while ago, but since we're talking about fast Japanese people... I actually have tried this and it works.

Japanease Folding Method - video powered by Metacafe

The Flash Stripper

Gotta love the Japanese people.


Stripping Idol - video powered by Metacafe

Virtual IM

Meebo does Instant Messaging that allows you to connect to various IM services (AOL, MSN, Yahoo, etc.) without the need of a local client. Looks pretty useful when you're not at your own computer. Incidentally, it received funding from the Sequoia Group, the same one that funded Google, PayPal, YouTube and more.

Thanks to Zeus P.

Sports News: