Vivid Leads The Way

The adult entertainment giant says it will start selling downloadable movies that viewers can burn to DVD and watch on their TVs.  Wow!  This announcement came late last year, however no great strides have been made to bone up on this deal.  But…if you’re looking for technical innovation in the motion picture industry I’ve got bad news for you. Two companies, Cinema-Now and MovieLink, announced they signed a contract to distribute digital copies of videos online. The catch was that these downloaded copies could not be burned onto DVDs or copied in any way other than on the computer on which they were downloaded. Now Vivid Entertainment Group has taken the initiative a step further.

Vivid Entertainment Group

Vivid will distribute its adult movies, including all the special extras included on DVDs, through CinemaNow. The difference: Vivid’s downloaded files will be burnable onto DVDs so people who purchase the files can watch on their televisions, or portable devices which play DVDs. The price, $19.95 per movie, is roughly the cost of actual DVDs in stores. They’ve taken the next logical step in making thier business model workable, we can only hope that “legitimate” Hollywood will follow the adult industry.

Third World Dumping Ground For Worthless Computers

In the recent past, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a call out to people to donate their old computers and related equipment for the use in developing nations..  However, it seems that the majority of the equipment being received is useless or non-functional, resulting in being dumped in various locations ‘en mass’.  A report by Basel Action Network, a Seattle based environmental organiztion, claims that much of the used computer equipment sent from the United States is creating enormous environmental problems.

Computer Dumping

According to the report US corporations are avoiding recycling costs and making people believe that their used equipment is being placed for noble causes.

In various locations of Africa dumping of computer equipment has caused uncontrolled release of components, including cancer-causing chemicals and substances that disrupt human hormonal and immune systems. A typical computer and monitor contain several pounds of lead, plus toxics like arsenic, mercury, copper and cadmium according to the report.

Yeah, I’m not an enviromental freak either, but there is something to be said here.  Perhaps if the ‘developing nations’ want the equipment badly enough, they should also prepare for its waste disposal as well?  There are dozens of safe ways to get rid of various pieces of computer equipment without causing any enviromentally unsafe byproducts.  Only the future will tell.

GOOG Deactivates Googlebombs

In the “Official Google Webmaster Central Blog“, 2 google engineers describe the basic actions they’ve taken to finally prevent pranksters from being able to ‘game’ the google search analysis that drives traffic to one site.

One of the most famous examples was bloggers and web site owners collaborating to ensure the word ‘failure’ was associated with Bush. Geeks understand what’s happening here and take it as just the prank it is, but apparently there’s enough people out there that can’t fathom something more technical than the “on/off switch” assumed that these googlebombs were actually GOOG’s opinion, thinking they’ve altered the results in their database.

Well it appears GOOG has finally implemented an algorithm to specifically improve their analysis and prevent the 100 most well known googlebomb’s as well as detect future instances.

Check their blog post for more details.

 

Deus Ex Machina

Deus Ex Machina.

Do you know what it means? If you did, please leave a comment below telling me your little story of how and when you learned this, i have something for you if you’re the first response.

Before the history lesson, please allow me to provide a little aside:

You may have noticed, as I have that the latin phrase ‘Deus Ex Machina’ seems to be fairly popular in Hollywood. Well, let’s be honest, for the most part Hollywood isn’t that original and you see relatively similar titles of movies or TV episodes quite often, not to mention they’re churning out so much content (I call it drivel, the wife calls it entertainment), that there’s bound to be some duplication of titles, right?

But duplication of a latin phrase? I don’t think its coincidence that you see the phrase quite often that the producers are running out of english titles that they have to recycle latin? Latin!? I guess it’s just ‘cool’ and will add a little something extra to the movie.
Check IMDB’s TV episode match for the phrase here, this is what you get (this is just TV):

  1. “Stargate SG-1: Ex Deus Machina (#9.7)” (2005)
  2. “RahXephon: Twenty-Fifth Movement: God’s Uncertain Sound/Deus Ex Machina (#1.25)” (2002)
  3. “Waking the Dead: Deus Ex Machina: Part 1 (#6.3)” (2007)
  4. “Lost: Deus Ex Machina (#1.19)” (2005)
  5. “Berlin, Berlin: Deus ex machina (#4.16)” (2005)

Did you see that #1 on the list from the Stargate episode last season reversed 2 of the words – ‘Ex Deus Machina’. As I recall it had something to do with Ba’al incongnito on Earth after losing his ‘god-like’ powers in defeat, this will make sense at the bottom with the full explanation of what the latin phrase means, please bear with me…

Read more… →

Imagining The Tenth Dimension

This book looks amazing.  I encourage you to click over to this website and view the 11 minute animation that represents the core information of this book.  Rob Bryanton, though a new author to me, has made a name for himself writing theoretical texts in the past several years.  If the animation is an accurate representation of the book content, I’d call it a real page turner for the scientifically minded.  I’m going to order this book in the near future for sure.  If you have read this book, send me an e-mail with a brief review and what you thought of it as a whole.  I’d be very interested in hearing from you.

 Imagining The Tenth Dimension

On a seperate note, though, this author fancies himself a musical artist as well, having produced many vocal songs following the book concepts.  I’m not a professional music critic, but some of these songs are just plain awful.  I recommend that you stick with the written content, avoid the music, and you should be fine!

Hamburger Mouse?

Cylo Technology in Australia has developed this ergonomic mouse, that for the life on me, looks like a small hamburger.  Designed to utilize the different muscle groups in your hand, this mouse is quite effective in mundane and some specilized tasks.  But, as it’s target DPI is set to 800, gamers would be out of luck for it to be a gaming tool.  Honestly, without trying one myself, I couldn’t say if it would be usable or not.  It ‘looks’ uncomfortable to use for anything more than just a few minutes at a time, which precludes its use in any long term projects, etc.  Cylo Technology plans to have this badboy available by Q3 2007, at a hefty $120 bones.  Keep an eye out for it.

 Cylo-1

Word of the Week: Quine

In computing, quine is a program that produces its complete source code as its only output. For amusement, programmers sometimes attempt to develop the shortest possible quine in any given programming language.

Note that authoring the program to seek out and read its own source file to print is considered cheating.

Quines are named after philosopher Willard Van Orman Quine (1908–2000), who made an extensive study of indirect self-reference. He coined, among others, the following paradox-producing expression, known as Quine’s paradox: “‘Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation’ yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation.”

Here’s one example of a quine in BASIC:

10 LIST

I found many samples of quines in many programming languages from Gary Thompson’s site, include everything from Ada, Assembly, BASIC, LISP, Javascript, Logo, Perl, Python, Smalltalk and many, many more. Though it appears he’s looking for samples in some of the more, ahem, ‘classic’ languages like COBOL, and others.

References:

– David Madore’s personal collection and tribute page to quines.
– The quine entry of the FOLDOC

Geeks With Bling

Marché Noir’s Computer Key Rings are spring mounted to accurately reproduce the action on your favorite key – so you can hit it whenever you need to reboot your cool.  Most geeks I know like to wear jewelry, and this, my friends, is the penultimate in tech-wear!  As soon as I saw this, I begged my wife to let me get an “ESC” ring.  The answer is forthcoming 🙂  I can wish, can’t I?

Computer Key Rings

I’d be proud to wear a set of these to my next LAN party…I know I’d be the envy of the room!  Though the prices are nothing to sneeze at ($38-$50) I think they are reasonable considering the effort that goes into making these spring loaded wonders.  I’ll keep an eye out…maybe he’ll design a Apple or Windows key ring.

What is this?

I have fond memories in my childhood of trying to figure out puzzles and feeling a bit of warm self-satisfaction when I was able to figure them out on my own.  One of my favorite puzzles in particular was in a famous gaming magazine that had a monthly section in which they would feature several close-ups of objects, and you would have to figure out what they were from the visual perspective they provided.  I thought I would try something of the same, but geared only toward technology.  Below is a picture of such an object.  Please submit your guesses in the comments section, and the first person to guess correctly will have their name featured as the winner in the next puzzle picture!  (Geeknews staff are excluded)  Good luck!

What is this??

Financial Support For D&D Clubs!

Wizards of the Coast “Dungeons and Dragons” division is providing US$20,000 to D&D clubs in an effort to help continue, expand and perpetuate the roleplaying genre. This initiative is being billed as the “Expand your Role” Grant. (Clicky)
DND Table

Who is eligible?

Any roleplaying club that is passionate enough to apply! Note: And must be governed or sponsored by a college or university!

How many Expand Your Role Grants are available?

A minimum of 15 grants will be issued to clubs.

How much financial support is available through the Expand Your Role Grant?

Clubs can apply for a grant amount ranging from a minimum of $50 to a maximum of $1,000. Applicants must provide a detailed budget for their anticipated costs.

How do I apply?

Using the online application provided (25k), tell them in 500 words or less how a Grant from Dungeons & Dragons will benefit the club, provide a brief background/history on the club, and describe how D&D has made a positive impact on your life.

Zombie Invasions!

In an effort to aquire some material for another article, I stumbled across this amusing site, called the “Zombie Preparedness Initiative”.  They present a lighthearted view on how to gear up for an imminent zombie incursion on the world.  You can find all sorts of advice here – from escape plans and safe encampment locations, to self defense and general life saving tips.

Zombie....RUN!!

Now, aside from the fact that I find this most humorous, and right up there with the UFO groups that litter the world, some people may find informative and useful information contained within.  All I can say, is that if zombies begin overrunning the streets, I’m most likely a goner anyways…so good luck with your zombie plans!

Virtual Freedom

Virtual Reality has been a well covered subject in the past two decades.  Prime examples of VR are in movies like “The Lawnmower Man” and “TRON”, TV shows like “VR.5” and “Harsh Reality”, and cult favorite books such as “Necronomicon” and “Otherland”.  All of these examples have one theme in common that reality does not…full freedom of unrestricted movement within a virtual environment.

VirtueSphere, Inc. is going to take us there.

Transparent VirtueSphere

The VirtuSphere platform is a large hollow sphere that sits on top of a roller-type base and allows the sphere to rotate 360 degrees. Wearing a wireless head mounted display, users can climb inside the sphere to fully interact with intuitive virtual landscapes. The VirtuSphere enables 6 degrees of freedom – one can move in any direction; walk, jump, roll, crawl, run over unlimited distances without encountering real-world physical obstacles.

I’m sold!  Send mine via Geeknews, please 🙂  Seriously though, this is an incredible achievement, and a immersive means with which to train soldiers, or have alot of gaming fun.  I’d recommend taking a stroll around their website, the applications for this technology are “virtually” limitless!  (Pun intended)

The Wii-mote, A Breakdown In Motion

Okay, so perhaps this is a stretch.  If in your infinately turmoiled mind you happened to think to yourself, “Just how does that thing work anyways?”  We have an answer for you.  Two writers from the New York Times collaborated to bring us a breakdown of the dynamics of the wii-mote innards, and just how it works the way it does.

Wii-mote Dismantled

 Not that the slideshow goes terribly in-depth on the controller, but at least you get an idea on how it functions in relation to the Wii and in the various games it controls.  I’ve never used one myself, but the die-hard Nintendo Kiddies I know say they wouldn’t trade their treasured console for anything…right up until the first time the Wii-mote strap breaks and takes out a TV, stereo, window, etc.  I’ll wait for someone to develop a type of ultra-sensitive motion detector for a console, so that way I can flail my arms about without the encumberance of holding a 2lb plastic missile 🙂

New Train Sim Up Ahead – Do You Care?

A new TrainSim is coming ’round the track!

For the love of all that’s holy, why?

What was the appeal in the original version?

It’s a train, it goes forward and it goes backward. You hook up box cars to it, you disconnect box cars from it. There’s different models of trains. Then you’re done, right? Right?

Don’t get me wrong, i’m not mocking the development team and I’m sure it’s a fine and accurate simulator, but rather where’s the intellectual stimulation or challenge here in participating in the sim? It appears to just be a method to engage in a mindless activity in an effort to dissipate some stress and watch interesting scenery. Perhaps as a form of meditation?

Are there really this many train enthusiasts in the world that the product can be profitable?

Train sim

MIT Makes In-Roads Towards Developing Real Spiderman

MIT’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN) claims in the Jan issue of “Nature Materials” that it has developed a process that delivers a material that emulates the elasticity and strong properties of spider silk that can be used in military products and even Spider-Man-like fabrics, not to mention fuel-cell cells and medical devices.

synthetic spider silkSpider silk is lightweight, flexible, waterproof and one of the toughest materials in the world. It’s also extremely difficult to imitate or produce artificially. To develop the materials, MIT started with tiny clay discs at about 1-nm in diameter. The researchers developed a process to embed these clay chips in a rubbery polymer to get to the consistency of the very small crystals that are seen throughout real spider silk. The high reinforcement of of the silk comes from these crystals, or in the case of the synthetic silk, it comes from the methods used to embed the clay disks. 

The end result is a “nanocomposite” of stiff clay particles dispersed throughout a stretchy matrix that is now stronger and tougher. The clay platelets are distributed randomly in the material. Consequently the nanocomposite material is reinforced in every direction and the material exhibits very little distortion even when heated to temperatures above 150 degrees Celsius.

This work is largely funded by the US Army, but interest in this silk doesn’t stop there. Manufacturers in various industries have been trying to be the first to create this artificial fiber since the 1990’s. Imagine weaving silk to create a bullet-proof vest that weighs a few ounces. Or a better fabric that absorbs your sweate and wicks it out as the ultimate in breathable clothing.

A Real HALO Suit

Canadian inventor Troy Hurtubise, is famous for creating the well known “Bear Suit” that was built to withstand the attack of a grizzly bear, and also proven to take to ramming of a moving vehicle.  Continuing on with this legacy, he has created a HALO like suit designed for use by soldiers in the Canadian and US military(s).

 HALO Suit

He has spent two years and $15,000 in the lab out back of his house in North Bay, designing and building a practical, lightweight and affordable shell to stave off bullets, explosives, knives and clubs. He calls it the Trojan and describes it as the “first ballistic, full exoskeleton body suit of armour.”

Now that’s what I call an impressive piece of hardware.  Even though he expects to make a living out of producing these suits, I’m curious what the DoD would have to say about it?  Also, alot of blogs, and the such have been tagging this as a suit designed off of the popular game “HALO: Combat Evolved”. Though this may be true, a few seconds of looking at the picture above will convince you that perhaps the funcationality might be the same as intended in the game, it bears little resemblance.  All that aside though,  if I could afford one, and I could fit my hefty butt into it, I’d get one just to trudge around my sleepy little town scaring the heck out of people!

Logitech® diNovo Edge™

If you put a premium on your keyboard having both function and style, here is the keyboard for you!  Logitech flew right past just mere functionality with its high-tech silent-spring keys, to the efficient touchdisk for alternate mouse control.  The navigation features of the Logitech keyboard are carefully designed to deliver premium performance, whether with a PC in the office or in the living room — using all the different flavors of Windows, even the upcoming Windows Vista operating system. The keyboard has a special start key that launches the Vista start menu, and an F-key search button provides one-touch access to Vista’s search feature. The Logitech diNovo Edge keyboard is expected to be available in the U.S. and Europe beginning in November. Its suggested retail price is a hefty $199.99

 

 Logitech diNovo Edge with charger   Logitech diNovo Edge side view

Now I’m a serious ergonomic freak when it comes to keyboards, and I find it difficult to “come down” to a standard keyboard when called for.  However, Logitech products have always served me well enough in the past, that I just might buy this unit.  The functionality alone makes the purchase well worth the consideration, and the slick lasercut plexiglass face, with brushed aluminum chassis makes this unit a practical showpiece for any person’s computer.  Regardless, I think i’ll wait until I can pick this up for under a hundred turtlebacks.

 

Running WordPress On Your PC

Geeknews.net is running WordPress. And thanks to this article from Geeks Are Sexy, my life has been made just a tad more sane.

You see, I’m a relative newbie to WP but i’m already a big fan. When I started hosting this site I settled on the Binary Blue theme, while I like most of its look and feel, i’m regretting some of its cumbersome features and would like to switch to a new theme.

The good news is that switching to a new theme in WP is so easy it’s almost ridiculous.

The bad news is that I have so many small custom changes in the php scripts and css files that I would have to invest at least 3-5 hours fixing up a new theme to replace it, meanwhile the formatting on the live site would likely be hosed or a little off-kilter until it was all cleaned up.

Welp, that article from GAS is a tutorial that walks you through the 9 steps to get WP installed and running on Windows XP, allowing me to tweak any new themes to my hearts content before transferring it to the live site.