Xmas Gift for Geeks #1

Each day the next several weeks I’ll post another geek gift idea. This first geek gift on our list i’ve seen advertised on one of my favorite sites (The Daily WTF) for quite a while, in fact it’s great for non-geeks as well! Here’s #1:

Sumo Lounge Omni

Don’t call it a beanbag. Kick back and chill on this super-sized pillow by Sumo. The Sumo Lounger Omni can be used as a lounge chair, crash mat, floor pillow, loveseat; the possibilities really do go on. Sumo Beanbags are made from space age rip-proof nylon and come filled with top quality Sumo Beads. Omni is 4.5′ x 5.5′ and it only weighs 18 lbs! Available in 7 colors, it’s in stock now at a special price of $129 through Christmas. 

   Sumo Chair

Dino Nest For Sale – Eggs Included!

Want to get your significant other a one-of-a-kind holiday gift this year? As one expert states – “Dinosaurs are hotter than ever. It is a very collectible market especially for higher quality specimens”.

Now’s your chance to pick up an exceptionally well-preserved 65 million year old fossilized dino nest. To top it off, it even has some eggs broken open exposing tiny dino skeletons inside!

The nest is going up on the auction block soon and expected to fetch a mere $200K. Get the details on Reuters News.

   Dino Eggs


Scientists Levitate Small Animals

Scientists have previously experimented successfully with levitating small amounts of liquid or solid such as iridium and mercury in an attempt to find a method of transporting or storing corrosive materials without allowing the material to physically contact the container.

Now they’re upping the ante to levitating live animals and bugs, including ladybugs, a spider, ant, beetle and a fish! They levitated each for about 30 minutes without many issues with the exception of the fish not fairing too well being out of water so long (they did try adding water to the space via a syringe periodically!).

 levitate_fish  levitate_ladybug You can read the details and view larger pics on LiveScientist.

Police Track Reckless Driver on YouTube

Police took up pursuit in cyberspace after a young Norwegian posted on the Internet video of his wild car driving. Following an electronic trail that he left online, police caught him and slapped him with a real-life fine $1,300.

According to the videos the 20 year old suspect was posting, his speedometer would get to 150MPH/240KPH while cruising the Oslo highway.

Lesson learned – “loose lips sink ships”, or something like that. Seriously people, if you’re doing something naughty, either get really hardcore about ensuring your anonymity or don’t brag about it. 🙂

Instacalc Shareable Calculator

InstaCalc is a new, refreshingly different calculator. It’s also fast!

It’s not so sophisticated that you can plot equations, but you can do something on the order of a home budget, wesite bandwidth usage, salary, etc… There are basically two areas of interaction you have with the site.

One is the area you enter in variables, their value and sometimes equations in rows.

The second area is an alternative display method for results. If you’re comparing results you can have it converted to charts – Pie, Bar and Line charts.

Here’s an example for video game hardware sales.

New Clues Revealed in King Tut’s CT scan

When Egyptian scientists performed the first CT scan of the mummy of Tutankhamun, they turned up a key clue: Bone fragments from the pharaoh’s first vertebra, near the skull, were not coated with embalming fluid. This indicates the break occurred after the king was dead and is unrelated to his demise after all.

Also, a second clue was found by examining a major fracture in Tut’s left thigh bone. The femur had a thin coating of embalming resin around the break, indicating that Tut had broken his leg just before he died and that his death may have resulted from an infection or other complications. Another possibility is a fat embolism that could have acted like a clot to cause a heart attack.

Read the Seattle Times for all the (not so) gory details.

Asteroid’s Revenge

Remember the classic coin-op game Asteroids? Below is a screenshot of the original. Well now you can relive the game but with a twist! In this version *you* are the asteroid, out for revenge against the spaceships trying to avenge your brethern destroyed in the original 1979 classic. Asteroid’s Revenge is a flash based game hosted on Games Cheat Codes.

This game has pretty much all of the look and feel of the original, you turn and apply thrust to the asteroid the same way you did with the ship, your goal of course is to destroy the ships! The fun will last for about 2 minutes before it gets old, but if you were a fan of the original you at least have to try this out for that long (I didn’t see the UFO in that time, please let me know if you do). Enjoy!


EU: “More than half e-mails are spam, originator is US”

Unsolicited e-mails continue to plague Europeans and account for between 50 and 80% of all messages sent to mail inboxes. Yesterday, an EU Commissioner called on their governments to step up their fight against spam, spyware and other illegal online activities and implement EU rules to improve Internet safety. Duh.

An EU report found that only two EU nations — the Netherlands and Finland — were making progress with enforcing the 2002 law to crack down on spam.

Here’s the last piece of news that is not surprising:

The biggest culprit of EU spam remains the United States, which accounts for 21.6% of spam coming into the 25-nation EU. China is the second-biggest producer with 13.4%, while EU member France is third with 6.3%.

[Read the AP wire for more details]

Doctors Test Implant to Block Strokes

The AP wire is reporting on medical geeknews tonight:

“At least 120,000 Americans a year suffer strokes because of a common irregular heartbeat – one that’s on the rise, hard to treat and can shoot deadly blood clots straight to the brain. Now doctors are experimenting with a new way to prevent those brain attacks: a tiny device that seals off a little section of the jiggling heart where the clots form.”

[Read more at Townhall.com]

Outlook’s New Junk E-mail Reporting Tool

I’m using the Tech Preview version of Outlook 2007 at home. This version is pretty good at identifying junk e-mail (i get about 20-30 a day depending on how generous the spammers are feeling that day). I’ve always wished I could help the effort of refining the junk mail filters, especially for the few pieces of junk that make it through to my Inbox.

Well now I can. Microsoft has a new plug-in “Junk E-mail Reporting Tool” for Outlook 2003 and 2007; it allows you to report junk mail to Microsoft and its affiliates for analysis to help them improve the effectiveness of their junk e-mail filtering technologies.

It’s a quick and simple MSI you can get from here, note that it does *not* require a WGA check. After install, there will be a new icon on your toolbar, simply highlight the offending message, click the icon and the message will be forwarded to abuse@frontbridge.com with the offending mail as an attachment so the good guys can read the header as well.

Note that Frontbridge merged with Microsoft earlier this year to help form some of the security features of Exchange Hosted Services.

CIA Revamps It’s Online Recruiting Site

The CIA is trying to dispel a few myths about the agency and trying to recruit more would-be agents at the same time.

They have a new personality test on their public site, as you take the quiz they dispel some of the typical misunderstandings people have about the agency. If you’ve ever worked with spooks before you know that they’re just regular ‘joes’ for the most part.

I took the quiz, the site analyzed my answers and told me my personaliy trait was more of a “Thoughtful Observer”. Some potential results included “Daring Thrill-Seeker”, “Innovative Pioneer” among others.

If you’re interested in looking at the job openings, go here and find the area of interest to you near the bottom of the page, or you can view all open positions.

 cia quiz


Sleep a thing of the past?

I’ll be the first to admit a good snooze is a most excellent activity.  But – drugs like Modafinil, CX717 and Rozerem all but remove the need to sleep, allowing for nearly a full 24 hour waking period without any sleep deprivation effects.  Studies submitted by many pretigious research facilities mark these drugs as a building wave of the future.

Sleeping Ideas

What I find strange is why anyone would want to fight off a natural function like sleep.  I know what you’re thinking too – “If I can shorten my time in bed, I can produce/work more!”, which is a classic way of trying to get that promotion or raise you want, right?  In my opinion…sleep performs a much deeper fuction than just resting the mind and body.  It provides you with a creative outlet though your thoughts and dreams.  Michealangelo and Albert Einstein are both classic examples of genius that proclaimed that some of their most brilliant ideas were born from dreams.

In essense, I suppose the promotion or pay raise might be worth popping a few pills.  Alas, I shall stick with my good old night time ritual of sleeping a good eight or so hours and let my mind wander freely.

[Found via New Scientist]

More Wristwatch Goodness From Tokyo

TokyoFlash.com (Home of Unique Japanese Watches) is really pushing the retro look with this one.

Straight off the wrist of a Moon Base Commander from a 1960’s Sci-Fi classic, this watch features all the things that you’d expect. Flat metal panel, cryptic flashing lights, carbon fibre style strap and display that looks like it’s gauging your oxygen level.

For an LED watch it’s not short on features either. It has time with AM & PM modes, Month, date and day-of-the-week. Plus an auto light up function every 15 mins between 6PM & Midnight (which can be activated/deactivated as required). There are a range of suitably Sci-fi light patterns using the 3 LED colors.

The best part? It’s only 9,000 Yen, with today’s currency rate that comes to US$76. How can you pass this up as a geek gift for Christmas?

  Moonbase watch

Teen Creates Fusion

Now I’m no avid scientist myself, but I find it incredible that a 17 year old High School student can build a nuclear fusion reactor in his basement.  And amazingly enough, the thing actually works.

 Teen Nuclear Fusion Reactor

After 2 years of scrounging parts and over a 1000 hours in research, Thiago Olsen finished construction of what he calls “The Fusor” (pictured above).  While this is not a scientific breakthrough, it does show the dedication and spirit of a young scientist in the making.  With this accomplishment out of the way at such a young age, who knows what he will be able to accomplish in the future?  Keep an eye on this one, folks.  I can almost guarantee we’ll be hearing more about this young man in the future.

[Found via Detroit Free Press]

Information Ring: Shake Hands and You’re Informed

Yanko Design has some interesting concept gadgets, like the “Information Ring”.

The idea is that you wear this ring on a finger, the ring operates something on the order of an RFID type device which contains some information about you, let’s say an equivalent of your business card.

When you shake hands with someone else that is wearing an Information Ring, the two rings sense each other’s proximity and exchange information about each user then store this other user’s data in its own ring. This is a great idea for people that travel a lot and make many business contacts or social aquaintences.

There is a card associated with each ring as well, this card is about the size and shape of an identification card. It downloads information from your ring allowing you to sift or browse through the contacts you’ve made.

The power source for the ring is provided by the wearer’s body temperature, so it doesn’t need any external interfaces.

Info_ring1    Info Ring2  Info Ring3

I didn’t see any way to purchase these rings so I’m assuming for now it’s a concept device. Please holler if you glean any more information than above.

London Invests in Cop Cams

The BBC is reporting that an experiment is underway in parts of London where select cops London Cop Camswill be outfitted with video cameras. The cameras are about the size of a ‘AA’ battery and mount to the side of the officer’s cap. It feeds the video to a tiny storage device worn in the cop’s utility belt.

The purpose of the experiment is to see if it helps in reducing unruly behavior on the streets as well as provide visual evidence of crimes in progress.

I’ve seen the military in Iraq wear these, as do special forces. Though they usually are transmitting the data back a headquarters for the commanders that are ‘directing traffic’ from the rear.

Stuff People Write On Money

Some people jot a quick note on money as a reminder to themselves, perhaps a “to do” list. Some do it to mark the bill as theirs in case of a dispute later as to what was really handed over to the cashier. Some doodle on a fiver. And then there are those that you just have no clue what was going through their heads at the moment they put pen to a twenty dollar bill.

Check out this gallery of slightly defaced bills. 

 Lincoln Hair




Mouse made of Rock

This has been making the rounds on other geek sites listing a Neko, a Russian design  studio as the creator of a mouse made of stone. Some are guessing it’s just polished rock as the outer shell glued onto plastic, but we can’t really tell until more information surfaces. I think it’s all plastic but would love find out it’s real rock.

I tried to find the original to link to or at least get some more information on Neko but failed. So you’ll just have to admire the nice photos below 🙂

Stone Mouse1   Stone Mouse2 

[Found on Make]

3 Scrabble Records Shattered by Two ‘Average Joes’ in One Game

I’m not a big Scrabble fan, but I’m aware of the several hundred Scrabble clubs and the professional Scrabble tournaments held around the country throughout the year.

On Oct. 12, in the basement of a church in Lexington, Mass., a carpenter named Michael Cresta scored 830 points in a game of Scrabble.

His opponent, Wayne Yorra, who works at a supermarket deli counter, totaled 490 points.

The two men set three records for sanctioned Scrabble in North America:

  1. Most points in a game by one player (830)
  2. Most total points in a game (1,320)
  3. Most points on a single turn (365, for Cresta’s play of QUIXOTRY).

‘Quixotry’ means a quixotic action or thought.

You can read the play by play on Slate with analysis of the most critical moves, here are views of the final board, one from a camera phone.

 Scrabble Camera Phone   Scrabble Final Board

Interested in starting a Scrabble club, finding a club or joining a club? Here you go.