SF-Fantasy-Mystery-Pulp-Spoof Twitter Novel

Harald Havas alerted me to a novel he’s writing and posting via Twitter. It’s what he claims is the first Twitter-SF-Fantasy-Mystery-Pulp-Spoof-novel.

Here’s the beginning of the tweets that he started last Spring, you can quickly get caught up to the tweets by starting at his web sit listed below:

Hans-Dieter was quite tall for a Znork. But the road through the Paloopah Swamps was arduous even for him. Silently he cursed the two-faced Twin-Znark. Just because his hoofs could cover the distance to Hot Patootie some Milli-Zeks quicker, the Chieftain always sent him. Though Anke, the female part of the Twin-Znark, tried time and again to help Hans-Dieter, Jochen her Second-Face always remained adamant. Squotch. Just some Micro-Zeks of self-pity and here we go, Hans-Dieter thought angrily to himself. His left hoof was stuck in a puddle of sweet, amber-colored Paloopah-goo.

You can find his stuff here:
and (German)

The Human Computer Interface of the Future for People w/ More Than Two Fingers

Good insight here from gizmag on why touch is and is NOT a good replacement for the mouse/KB:

Using a traditionally-placed desktop screen as a touch interface, even for short periods, places too much strain on a user’s arm. Touchscreens used in a drafting table configuration lessen the strain on the arms, but increase the chances of neck strain, as users are forced to look down at the display. And in either setup there is also the problem of the user’s hands obstructing the display. Miller’s 10/GUI overcomes these problems by splitting the touch surface from the screen, and using a touch surface similar to a drawing tablet that is large enough to accommodate all ten fingers.

10/GUI from C. Miller on Vimeo.

Is There A Connection Between Albatrosses and Killer Whales?


Graduate students attached still-image cameras to Albatrosses (a vulnerable group of seabirds) in the Arctic to monitor their habits as they travel hundreds of kilometers per day foraging. Retrieving and sifting through thousands of images leads us to believe there is a connection between these birds and Killer Whales of all things.

This is an interesting study, the results are not earth shattering by any stretch but I enjoy reading research articles from fields of study I’m not versed in yet are still readable.

Dyson Launches The Bladeless Electric Fan

 Dyson Fan

Who would have thought that after 125 years lacking in innovation for the electric fan that we’d one day have a bladeless fan to keep us cool? From the same folks that brought us the bagless vacuum cleaner we now have a safer, and dare I say, “cooler” fan.

Financial Times is reporting on the $300 device now launching:

The new fan works by drawing air into the base of the machine. The air is forced up into the loop amplifier and accelerated through the 1.3mm annular aperture, creating a jet of air that hugs the airfoil-shaped ramp. While exiting the loop amplifier, the jet pulls air from behind the fan into the airflow (inducement). At the same time, the surrounding air from the front and sides of the machine are forced into the air stream (entrainment), amplifying it 15 times. The result is a constant uninterrupted flow of cooling air.

Get Your Own UAV w/ 10Mega Pixel Camera

This has been out for most of the year so as far as news is considered it’s a old, but this little gadget from Lehmann Aviation is still very cool.
Have you ever wanted a birds eye view of your neighborhood without having to rent a plane, or wanted a more up to date set of those local aerial pics than what’s on the Google and Bing Maps? For just 13-19,000 Euros ($19-28k), you can have your own UAV system with a 10 Mega Pixel camera.
The battery life allows for a 40 minute flight time so you should be more than able to fully inspect a pretty large territory. It can be manually operated or programmed for GPS-based navigation.
You can find more on this at Engadget Español, or you can get it translated to English.

Sergey Brin Blows Smoke Up Your A**

Google Book

“Big Money” analyzes Sergey Brin’s NYTimes op-ed piece proclaiming Google has your best interest at heart in the Google Book Search project:

At least it’s an exotic experience. How many times have you had a man worth billions work so hard to whip out his Google, leak on your leg, and swear to God it’s raining? Today, Sergey Brin does his best to sell you the snake-oil that his Google Book Search project is an undiluted good for the world, all those annoying monopoly worries aside.

Or, if you’re a believer, you can read the op-ed piece by Brin and just for yourself.

Out With Solar Panels, In With Solar Shingles

Solar panels

From a Discover Magazine blog:

Forget those bulky rooftop solar panels–the hot new thing in solar energy could be rooftop shingles that convert sunlight into electricity, and that blend in seamlessly with the standard asphalt shingles that top most houses. Dow Chemical has announced that it will begin selling its Powerhouse Solar Shingles in limited quantities in 2010, with a full roll-out the following year.

Yes! I’ve been waiting for this, now all I have to do is convince my friendly neighborhood HOA to modify our CCRs to allow Solar Shingles! 🙂

Gizmodo: There’s No Excuse For This


Windows Mobile 6.5 comes with a new UI, an App Store and a new browser but Gizmodo says “There’s No Excuse For This”. Ouch, not the ringing endorsement we were looking for.

In other WM6.5 news, Sprint joins the Windows Phone party with their new phone called Intrepid which launches Oct 16 with this snazzy new OS. Microsoft has said to expect more than 30 phones running the OS by year’s end

BTW, last weekend I traded up from my Pantech DUO windows mobile phone to the iPhone. This gadget rocks!

A Replacement For iTunes App Search


If you’ve ever suffered through iTunes to search for iPhone Apps then I have good news.

There’s a new search engine focused on the emerging market of iPhone and iPod Touch applications and I love it. It’s called uquery and this is clearly head and shoulders better than what Apple provided in iTunes to support their ubiquitous gadgets.

The uquery index enables lightning fast searches not just by keywords but enables filtering by category, price range and rating.

I highly recommend bookmarking this site if you use an iPhone or iPod Touch.

Microsoft Office Plays Detective in New Novel


In "Crush," a crime thriller by chiropractor-turned-author Alan Jacobson, Microsoft’s Office suite plays a central role in helping track down a serial killer.

From CNET:

Without giving away too much of the plot, it’s fair to say that a certain PowerPoint file becomes a key piece of evidence, with a worker at Microsoft finding central clues within the document’s metadata.

Product placement aside, from reading the product description at Amazon, it actually looks like a decent mystery .

Chinese Inventor Builds Oil Barrel Submarine


Tip o’ the hat to the ingenuity and sheer guts it takes to build your submarine out of a couple of oil barrels and then try it out yourself.

I served on submarines for almost a decade, so i have some respect for what it takes to make those pig boats work. I’ll stick to the 688s over the oil barrel any day.

Via the Escapist which has more of the fun details, via China Daily.

BTW, in other submarine news – Christopher Fitzgerald died today. Who’s he? He’s the CIA agent that worked with Howard Hughes’ team to secretly raise the sunken Soviet sub K-129 off the Pacific Ocean in 1968. It was referred to as Project Jennifer, it’s a fascinating story, read about it on Wikipedia.

The Math of Golf

Solheim Cup 2009

I took up golf late last year and I’m slowly becoming a golf geek. After playing a par3 course first thing in the morning and then watching 4 hours of the Golf Channel to see the US team of women defeat the European women in the Solheim Cup today, I did a little searching through Youtube for golf instructional videos.

One of the gems I stumbled upon is this one from a high school physics project of an amazing golf shot. This is essentially the algebra behind the golf shot. Watch the video through the credits to see outtakes of the golf pro as he tries and tries again to make the shot.

Yet Another Online Dictionary


I stumbled across a site that describes itself as an “incredibly fast dictionary”. It’s known as definr (http://definr.com/).

The first question I asked myself is whether we need yet another online dictionary. Some folks use Wiktionary, much like Wikipedia it’s only as accurate as the folks making the entries want it to be, so most folks probably leverage something they trust: Compact Oxford, American Heritage, Merriam-Webster’s to name a few.

Yes definr is fast, blazingly so partly because it caches the top 10,000 definitions in memory. It also tries to guess what you’re typing as you’re typing a word to search, by the time you click Enter it’s got a definition at the ready.

The quality of the answers is ok, nothing to write home about when I compared some sample words to three dictionaries I trust listed above, but it’s better than some. While it’s not the best, it is worth taking a look at in my opinion. The value of seeing it propose possible words as you’re typing is interesting because it offers me an opportunity to discover new words previously unknown to me and that gets me excited because I’m a word geek. For instance, when I tried testing it’s ability to handle Gen Y lexicon such as “Fark”, by the time I got to the ‘k’ it offered the word farkleberry. Where the heck else would I have been offered an opportunity to learn about the farkleberry and sparkleberry bushes from eastern United States? 🙂

BTW, ‘Fark’ was not in the definr dictionary, this is a good thing. The database is based on Princeton’s open WordNet 2.0, believe it or not you can download this lexical database yourself.

The verdict? I’m going to stick with OneLook as my first stop for dictionary searches, but I’m adding definr to my browser’s search plugins as a quick/available alternative because I think it has promise and it offers me a learning opportunity.

UPDATE Jan 2015:

Samuel Chong from Pasadena City College has assembled an amazing collection of wordnets for many languages. Check it out.