Optimus Keyboard to be out ‘Real Soon Now’

 If you’re not familiar with the Optimus keyboard, each key is programmable and is made up of Optimus KBLEDs. You can easily change the QWERTY layout to suit your needs, can quickly change from english characters to any other language since the keys are simply LEDs and just standalone displays.

Anyway, this thing has been piquing my interest most of the year and now we learn that that pre-orders will be taken on Dec 12. I’ll get one only if there’s a ‘natural-style’ layout ergonomic version, I spend most of my day typing already and much prefer it to the standard style KBs.

View many more pics and some additional information about the Optimus 103 KB at the developer’s site here.


[See Engadget for more details]

Retrocausality a thing of the Future….or is it the Past?

University of Washington physicist John Cramer is experimenting with splitting photons in such a way that he hopes to find evidence of a photon going backward in time.   “It probably won’t work,” he says.

Photon Splitting Lasers

“But even if it doesn’t work, we should be able to learn something new about quantum mechanics by trying it.”

Time travel?  Well, it may not be theoretically possible, but I’ve got to give this guy kudos for “Fluxing his Capacitor”!  I, for one, will look out for this scientist’s future work.

[Found via The Seattle PI]

The Bionic Man Remembered

While covering the Iraq war, BBC producer Stuart Hughes lost his leg. His new prosthetic foot is so advanced, it may even allow amputee soldiers back into battle. A few weeks ago, he became one of the first people in the UK to be fitted with the world’s first “intelligent” prosthetic foot.

Bionic Foot

Some researchers believe the current generation of bionic limbs is just the beginning. They are working towards the day when man and machine are seamlessly integrated.

Regardless of the good intentions this technology implies, I can’t help but think how “Cyborgs” would effect our society.  I would be interested in hearing your opinion!

[Found via BBC News]

Wireless Energy Transfer?

Ipod down to its last few minutes of power?  Laptop die during your latest Battlefield 2142 clan match?  These things will soon be a thing of the past, claims Marin Soljacic of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Soljacic and his colleagues propose introducing a short gap in a metal loop and attaching two small disks at each end. When electrified, such an object has a natural, or resonant, frequency that results from current flowing back and forth along the loop from one disk to the other.  More here.

Energy Transfer Discs

“The results are strongly encouraging but the real test of the thing will be experiments, which we are working on now.”

I know I could find a handful of uses for this technology right now.  If it does come to light, it will certainly revolutionize portable device usage.  Time will tell!

[Found via Scientific American]

The Air Guitar Lives

Research Scientists in Australia have developed a high tech shirt that creates sounds depending on the wearer’s movement.  Using this shirt thats hooked up to sensors and computers, it allows the user to mimic the classic air guitar stance and use one hand to set chords, while the other creates music with a plucking motion.

Air Guitar Shirt

Now how cool is that?!?  I could have used this thing when I was a teenager in highschool and trying to impress the girls!

[Found via Guardian Unlimited]

James Bond is God


Yes, you heard it from me.  Ever since writer Ian Fleming created James Bond in 1952, every man’s dream has been to step into those superspy’s shoes and take out some bad guys, or foil some evil plot.  Through the cinematic history of Bond films, the character has stayed the same, even though several actors have played the part.

Now you can relive those dreams and watch the famous intros to those movies.  These intros are legendary in that many a singer have made their fame with the association of the movies.

Go!  Watch!  And remember…..

[Found via Cityoffilms.com]

Iranian Drone Keeps Tabs on U.S. Carrier?

US aircraft carriers travel the seas in the middle of a Battle Group, protected by Cruisers, Iranian Drone videoFrigates, Submarines and fighter aircraft 24 hours a day when underway, there’s nothing more important than protecting the carrier. It should not be possible to penetrate this protective sphere without detection.

Defense Tech is covering an announcement from Al-Alam’s Iranian TV news that the Iranian Military successfully deployed a drone aircraft that stalked a US aircraft carrier recently and went undetected. You can watch the amazing 4 minute video on GOOG.

 Here’s a quote from Defense Tech:

The television’s anchor said the film, the property of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, showed a vessel from “the US fleet in the Persian Gulf”.

“A source in the Revolutionary Guard said the drone carried out its mission without US fighter pilots reaching it,” the television said.


Flat Light Bulbs!

CeeLite has developed a nifty new light emitting panel that with minimal AC application, will light up large volume area.

 CeeLite Light Panel

CeeLite even claims that their panels consume less energy per light hour, and produce more candle power than current incandescent, neon and florescent lighting.

Now I don’t know about you folks, but I find this incredibly cool.  With literally limitless applications for this technology, it won’t be too long before we see this as a common domestic light source.

[Found via Sci Fi Tech]

Top Super Computing Sites for November 2006

Looks like NEC’s Earth Simulator fell off the Top 10 list after topping at #1, now at #14.

Topping the list right now, and still reigning champeen, is the US Dept of Energy site in Livermore, Ca running the BlueGene eServer Blue Gene Solution from IBM with 131,072 processors.

Here’s the rest of the Top ten. Want to know more about how the list is compiled? Here’s the details on the process to determine the who, what and how.

History of Computer Chess (video)

It’s not ‘new’ news, but in 2004 the Computer History Museum in Mountain View held a panel discussion on the History of Computer Chess, you can watch the technical discussion on Google video here.

The thing that has always fascinated me about computer chess programs is their relation to AI advancements and the future possibilities in that area. I’m still waiting for my personal ‘agent’. If you have any interest in Computer Chess programming here’s the Beginners page at GameDev.net.

Sargon IIIAnyone remember the classic Sargon on the Apple // or Z-80? Good times!

From the site:

Playing chess by computer began in the early 1950s, nearly as soon as computers became available.  As a human activity, chess is believed to require thinking, yet in 1997 a massively-parallel supercomputer, drawing on over four decades of continual advances in both hardware and software, defeated the best human player in the world.  Does playing chess require thinking? Or is human thinking perhaps a form of calculation, parts of which a computer can mimic? What is the tradeoff between knowledge and search? Was Claude Shannon’s 1950 prediction that studying computer chess might lead to applications in other areas fulfilled? This panel, comprising seminal contributors to the solution of this challenge including two of AI s leading pioneers will discuss these and other questions as well as the origin and development of computer chess and what it tells us about ourselves and the machines we build.

Mensa’s Holiday Gift Guide

Mensa is the organization that really does care about its members but especially its members lesser gifted friends and family. They have a Holiday Gift Guide to help you find that special something for your specially gifted ‘know-it-all’.

They’ve identified gifts for your brianiac child, food for your brain like chocolate sushi, cool gadgets, games and construction kits for gravity tools like a trebuchet ($29.95) and a catapult!

Of course they’ve got magic (though not Magic: The Gathering thank god) and IQ Tests. And last but not least, there’s the 365 Mensa Brain Puzzlers Page-A-Day Calendar for you to buff up that IQ. 😉

Microsoft Launches Social Networking Site for Devs

Microsoft recently launched a social networking site for IT pros called Aggreg8. The purpose of the site is to become a MySpace-like forum for developers to share scripts, tools, or best practices, or even to just connect with others within the profession.

Users can collaborate with fellow devs through existing workgroups, or they can create their own. Storage space will also be provided in the groups to allow users to post messages and files, and share events.

From Kevin Remde’s MSDN blog announcing the site:

Aggreg8 is a site for IT Pros to mix-n-mingle.  It’s like a “MySpace” (or a Windows Live Spaces) for IT Pros, complete with working groups on various topics that IT Pros get excited about.  You can setup a profile, join groups, enter posts, add favorites, share content, mix, mingle, and learn.”


Space Shuttle Computers May Not Gracefully Handle New Year Transition?

Wow, seems that as the shuttle Discovery is being hauled out to the launching pad to prepare for an early December launch, we learn that NASA has no idea what the on-board computers will do during a new year transition from Dec 31-Jan1.

They can not say with a high level of confidence that the computers will handle that transition gracefully, in fact there is enough worry that they are mitigating it by trying to ensure they land on New Year’s Eve. Or in case something happens and they need to remain in space ’till the new year, NASA is devising a strategy to hack together some procedures to work around the problem though they don’t indicate they know yet how they’ll do it. Here’s a quote to inspire confidence from a Discovery astronaut:

“We’ve just never had the computers up and going when we’ve transitioned from one year to another,” said Discovery astronaut Joan Higginbotham. “We’re not really sure how they’re going to operate.”


Overclocking out of the Factory?!

Remember back in the day overclocking was all the rage and it was a battle between the geeks trying to squeeze out more than the warranty justified and the cpu manufacturers trying to find ways to prevent you from overclocking? Then we learned that mom and pop shops were delivering generic PCs to customers with overclocked cpus and charging more?

Well look where we are now thanks to Gateway and their new FX530. Gateway will deliver to you an overclocked machine out of the factory! Here’s a quote from their page:

Just say no to DIY overclocking and let us do it for you! We’ll factory overclock your Intel® quad-core processor.  Yep, you read that right: factory overclock, which is something that most other major PC manufacturers don’t do.”

So there you have it. Why risk overclocking your cpu and potentially hosing it when Gateway will overclock it on the factory floor *and* give you a warranty?

Billion Tree Campaign

Professor Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate for 2004 and founder of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement, has planted more than 30 million trees in 12 African countries since 1977.  When a corporate group in the United States told Professor Maathai it was planning to plant a million trees, her response was: “That’s great, but what we really need is to plant a billion trees.

treesOut of that idea comes the Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign with a goal of combating global warming (assuming there really is global warming 🙂 ).

I have to be honest with you, I’m no tree hugger, but I really like this idea!

Dominate The World!

Check out this new, entirely web-based Risk clone.  No downloads necessary!  This game is well designed, and executed with a style all it’s own.

 Grand Strategy

You play at your own pace, with games lasting anywhere from minutes to weeks!  It only takes moments to learn the interface, and is very user friendly. 

Join the struggle to conquer the world by wresting your enemies countries from their grasp, and stomping them into submission!

[Found via LinkSwarm]

Happy Birthday Intel 4004

The chip that started it all is approaching middle age. Back in November of 1971, Intel publicly announced the world’s first customer-programmable microprocessor and started an electronics revolution that changed our world. For more details, here’s the wikipedia page on the i4004.


Produced: From late 1971 to 1974
Manufacturer: Intel
CPU Speeds: 740 kHz
Architecture: pre x86
Socket: 16 pin

Adobe Donating Flash Code to Mozilla

From Betanews:

“Adobe announced today that it was donating its Flash scripting language engine to the Mozilla Foundation, where it will become an open source project called Tamarin as well as being integrated directly into the Firefox Web browser. Adobe is opening up its ActionScript Virtual Machine, which forms the core of Flash Player version 9. The most recent release in June added improved debugging, faster start times, full runtime error reporting, and better performance.”