From Gecko Feet To Stickier Bandages To Zombies

Gecko Feet

When I lived in Hawaii, I would marvel at the cool geckos that would cross my field of view on a wall or a ceiling in the living room. Those buggers have some seriously sticky feet!

Welp, gecko feet have inspired MIT researchers to create sticky, waterproof bandages for surgical patients. But unlike the wily lizards, these internal Band-Aids are designed to stay in place.

Read MSNBC for the story

Speaking of lizards, did you see one of the best Super Bowl commercials from a few weeks ago? It’s the Sobe drink ‘Thrillicious’ lizards dancing as Michael Jackson’s Thriller video zombies (Sobe…Zombie, get it?). Yeah, weak association I know. :)

[youtube w9XfVzBgAN4]

When i first saw it was walking back to the kitchen for a round of snacks during a break in the Superbowl and caught just a hint of one of the lizards shaking himself just like the Thriller zombies. It was enough for me to do a double-take and immediately ‘rewind’ the DVR to get the full effect. I’ve always loved that dance, who would have thought rotting zombies could be so dexterous?

Paramount Pictures Creates New Mobile Entertainment Unit; Show Of Optimism

downloads

Mobile phone download speeds are getting faster every couple of years and this bodes well for those of you that enjoy multimedia on your smaller form factor devices. It also means that the entertainment power houses are better able to meet your thirst for more content.

Take for example Paramount Pictures and the new business unit they’ve recently announced called Paramount Mobile Entertainment that will rededicate themselves to us mobile junkies. This new business unit will focus on “developing mobile entertainment and alternative distribution models”.

As expected, they’ve lined up partners to distribute content like O2 UK, Hungama, At&t, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Nokia and Cellempower.

Link to mocoNews for the details.

Top 10: Tech News Topics I’m Boycotting This Year

I love geeknews

I’ve got my curmudgeon hat on again, but figured I’d start off with that nice pic above to put you in a good mood before I foul it up. :)

For the love of all that’s holy I wish the Tech News universe would just shut their traps (one could argue it includes me at times) on a handful of topics that have been beaten to death. I blame Scoble for having gotten everybody and their dog into blogging (like me), followed by the echo chamber causing the hot topics of the year to bounce around ad-nauseam with rarely a resolution, just more of the same cud coming about.

Another reason some topics become tiring is that they get beat down to the point where you figure there couldn’t possibly be anything more that could sustain it in the news. Only to find some enterprising blogger or reporter digs it out of the grave and plucks off a few more bits of flesh to place under the microscope, looking for life.

Below are my Top 10 Tech News Topics that I’m boycotting. I won’t blog about these unless it appears the thing is well and truly dead.

Newsflash: ‘dead’ as HD-DVD appears to be, hurray. One Tech Topic down and 9 more to go!

By boycotting them, I won’t read articles on these topics no matter how enticing they seem. In fact I’m boycotting Tech News sites that I catch listing at least 3 of the topics in the same week: goodbye Engadget, goodbye TechCrunch, and good riddance Gizmodo!

If you don’t recognize any of these topics count yourself lucky, without further ado:

10. OLPC (One Laptop Per Child)

Yes, the topic is somewhat important, it’s all about the children and developing nations. But I’m tired of hearing about Intel’s Classmate project competing with the OLPC $100, $180, $200 laptop, tired of hearing whether Windows or Linux should be the OS of choice, the app compat questions, the fact that a bunch of nerds bought it and hacked it, the conspiracy theories, etc…

I’ve played an OLPC and goofed on it, it’s like a Tonka Toy Laptop. Nothing special and nothing to see here, please move along, Thank you.

9. Municipal Wi-Fi

Maybe you’ve heard it as Municipal Wi-Fi or Muni Wi-Fi or Muni-Fi or Mu-Fi. I hear it’s dead or dying a slow and agonizing death. Good riddance. Thanks to Earthlink and GOOG and Chicago for bringing this vaporware ‘Wireless wants to be free’ system. In reality it’s been called a foolish effort proposed and run by underqualified private companies to cash in on the latest craze and push advertising via a new and virtually untapped source. And as soon as a lot of cities found out that “oh crap, you mean we have to pay to build out some infrastructure first?” the plans started falling out of favor faster than a politician in favor of pornography and free booze.

It’s being tried anyway in a few cities with mixed success from Auckland, NZ to Mountain View, CA. Thanks, but no thanks. You keep your free Wi-Fi and i’ll stick with my private network through AT&T on my mobile since it’s suiting me just fine thank you.

8. Multimedia downloads/streaming (iTunes music/video, Zune Marketplace, Amazon MP3, Rhapsody, Netflix)

It’s music. It’s movies. It’s TV shows.

Someone uploads it.

You download it.

Sometimes you pay for it, sometimes you don’t.

You play it on the computer or a handheld device.

WTF else is there to it besides that? Why are we still talking about it?

7. HDTV/1080p or 1080i or 720p, you don’t really care

Jeebus, it’s just video.

Stop obsessing over the sourcefeed and how it’s going to impact your purchase decisions.

Stop obsessings over whether the TV is interlaced or progressive scan; you’re not going to discern a difference and don’t try to tell me you can because I’ll just nod my head in agreement and use my inside voice to call BS.

6. Mobile Phone usage on airplanes

I think most of us are in agreement that use of mobile phones on planes does not cause disruption of the plane’s navigation systems. The FCC created the rule so they wouldn’t have to get into the mode of testing every new mobile phone that comes out to ensure it can’t disrupt any model of plane in use today.

5. SEO (search engine optimization)

“Hey, my site sucks. What can I do about it?” I know, I’ll hire someone to optimize my site for me and bump my pagerank so I can make $0000’s a week in advertising like those other sites.

Look, odds are very very very good you’re not going to make money unless you have a killer idea and it’s unique. So stop wasting your time trying to play the pagerank game, GOOG has people that are smarter than you and they’ll figure out that you’re gaming the Search Engines.

Go to Live.com and search for “SEO Tips”, it’ll return 1.1 million results. “SEO Tools” = 2.6 million results.

If you really want to market your site go buy a book on the topic at Amazon or try hosting all your Pron pics or MP3s up there and make someone click through an advert first to get access. See #4 below.

4. RIAA / PirateBay / Torrent Sites

I am sick and tired of this topic.

This is nothing more than the 80’s & 90’s version of the software piracy activities, downloading cracked games or applications.

The thing is, in 10-20 years it won’t be music it’ll be something else people are downloading illegally, like maybe human souls.

The lesson learned here is that this is a cat and mouse game, there will never be a clear winner, it’ll slowly become a non-issue over time for one reason or another so take my advice and make it a non-issue now by stop talking it. For instance, stop talking about the grandma getting sued for her grandchild’s illegal acts.

3. HD-DVD/BluRay

Today I learned that Toshiba, largest supporter of HD-DVD, may be giving up on the format. This means Bluray wins, right?

Good. End of topic, let’s move on.

2. Twitter

OK, this one baffles me the most. Who the hell are these people that are ‘listening’ for you to tweet at them all day, every day.

This is like blogging on a micro-miniature scale. Why is this interesting? Why do some bloggers feel pressure to add a tweet channel to their site so we can all subscribe and receive their little mini blog articles while they’re sitting on the toilet or stuck in a traffic jam or waiting in line at the Burger King.

Why is it a good idea to mix the concepts of blog feeds and SMS and Instant Messaging into one application/service?

Get a life people!

BTW, this one could be tied into the #1 topic as well since Twitter is also considered a…

1. Social Networking Sites

As if the aggregators like Digg, Del.icio.us, Fark, Reddit weren’t enough social networking for a generation of Internet junkies, along came these havens for abuse:

MySpace, Bebo, FaceBook, Orkut and their ilk.

But it really started back in the day with classmates.com and SixDegrees.com, followed by Epinions as just an informal gathering of folks that may or may not have something in common and the level of interaction was kept to a minimum.

Not anymore, today there’s an expectation that you actually interact on a regular basis, share more information on yourself. These sites are monitoring so much of your activity (including when you’re off their site) that the social networking sites like MySpace & Facebook are routinely subpoenaed for legal and criminal investigations or being used by police, probation and university officials to prosecute users of the site or use the information in court.

To top it off, social networking sites are releasing their own APIs, so now they can host business applications or other interesting methods of deploying malware to your PC or opening up whole new avenues for abuse of your identity.

Some people see these behemoths of social networking as ‘the new internet’, yeah much like AOL was it’s owned walled garden internets, look how that’s worked out for them.

Let’s just pray that this fad collapses under it’s own weight soon. Especially after what i’ve seen inside the Second Life universe, god help us.

Valentine Blog Spam: Final Update

This is the final update to the post V1agr4 Spam Is Old And Busted, Valentine Spam Is The New Hotness on the 10th of Feb where I talked about a new and troubling trend (I like using that phrase). In the first follow-up I informed you the Valentine spam was coming in pretty strong leading up to the big day.

Of the four questions I posed we can now answer some of them, and it’s interesting:

1. Q: How quickly will the ‘valentine’ keyword fall out of favor by the spammer(s)?
A: Pretty quickly, the Valentine specific comment spam fell out of favor as if a switch had been thrown. The last one came in at 11:49PM EST on Valentine’s Day (er, evening). Nice!

2. Q: Will it slow or stop in the few days leading to Thursday?
A: No, the trend of receiving 40+ per day kept up until the final night.

3. Q: Will it continue up to that very day when it’s basically too late to capitalize on the holiday searches because the blog may not be crawled in time?
A: Interestingly yes, the spam continued that day. That may or may not be odd depending on how you look at it. The spammer might get lucky and one of the spiders from GOOG, Yahoo!, Live might crawl my site that day and if one of the comments makes it through it would have an impact on Valentine keyword searches of the same day.

4. Q:If this spammer is targeting blog comments in blogs located primarily in the Western civilizations, then I suspect they will transition to the next big holiday after Valentines which is Easter. So, assuming this ‘ad campaign’ i’m watching is relatively successful enough for him/her to continue the trend, when will I see the first ‘Easter’ related spam comment?
A: This is to be determined, we’ll watch the spam for interesting trends and will keep you informed.

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull

Oh yeah!  Another epic adventure with every man’s favorite hero is due to release in theatres May 22nd.  Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones is THE MAN, adventurer, lover, archeologist, and professor.  Who wouldn’t love the guy??  I grew up watching the first three movies and had endless daydreams of being just like him:)  I cannot wait for this to come out…

Here’s the trailer, for your viewing pleasure 8) (Only available on Yahoo!)

Geek Links – 2/14/08

Art/Lit:

Top 10 Literary Graphic Novels [List Universe]

Strong/weak verbs and meaning in English … [Mr-Verb]

Science:

Quantum Dots May Be Key to Cheap Solar Energy [Green Tech Gazette]

New Pterodactyl Species Found in China [UnRegistered News]

Nanoscience Instruments has Launched a New Line of Silicon Nitride Probes for Atomic Force Microscopes [Nanotechnology News]

Fun:

Putting the Apple Store geniuses to the test [TUAW]

Environmentalism in 1666 [Environmental Graffiti]

Etched LED Glass Door [TecheBlog]

Samurai Dog Armor [Neatorama]

Technology:

Linux role in botnets studied [ITWire]

Firefox 3 B3: Lots of Fire, Not Enough Fox [Microsoft-Watch]

Red Hat: JBoss to capture half of middleware market [Linux-Watch]

Take advantage of multiple CPU cores during file compression [Linux.com]

Section 31, The Black Ops Group In The Starfleet

podcasts and podiobooks

If you’re not familiar with ‘Section 31’, it’s the black ops group in Star Trek that is seldom heard of or referenced in the ST series. They are tasked with the missions that Starfleet doesn’t want you to know about, frequently it means their agents having to cross the moral line that Starfleet would have you believe they walk. Wikipedia has a couple pages on this organization. Missions include assassination, sabotage, retrieving new technology from other races…you get the drift. It’s not that they are bad, but they’re willing to sell their souls to the devil for the betterment of the human race.

I became a big fan of this organization when I stumbled on 3 seasons of audio theater portraying the various missions of this group over at Darker Projects.

Darker Projects puts together audio theater, somewhat similar to the old radio theater you may have heard as a kid, but this is classy stuff. It’s sort of like fanfic on a big scale, quality editing, great sound effects used from the original ST series all delivered via podcasts.

Darker Projects has a lot of dark theater (as in gritty, horror, sci-fi, not touchy feely) like Alive Inside which is an end of the world story with zombies and much more.

But by far my favorite of their shows has to be Section 31. It’s tagline is:

Space is dark. Let’s face it.

The universe of shiny, well-groomed Starfleet officers and the pristine starships of the United Federation of Planets where the Prime Directive rules and hopes for galactic unity of all species is an ongoing quest is reinterpreted in our vision of the reality of the Star Trek Universe. It’s not all “let’s be friends with our alien brethren”. Here the Federation has a dark underbelly and the daring crew of the Nosferatu boldly goes where Starfleet fears to tread.

I highly recommend this series if you’re a sci-fi geek.Try out a few minutes of this sample episode between the Captain named Delonna and the Klingon named Korg.

Name: Section 31 by Darker Projects
Website
Podcast subscription Link
Speaking ability: High quality, great sound effects.
Length: 20-30 min
Sample desc/link
BONUS: They have a new ST series called Lost Frontiers, it takes place soon after fall of Star Fleet, not too many years after ST:TNG.

Section 31

8 Keys to Instant Charisma

I wonder how many people see the title and think “ah, little known tricks in D&D, wonder if this is a loophole found in the 4e version already. 😛

I found this article 8 Keys to Instant Charisma at ‘The Best Article Every day’.

Some of the tips I was already aware of such as ‘mirroring’ the person you’re interacting with, I learned that little trick when I first started thinking about dating girls. Yes, i analyze everything.

What Is That?

So after a brief discussion, we’ve decided to put up WIT posts once a week on Wednesdays.  I have a TON of images I can use for your guessing pleasure, but I don’t want to deluge the blog with them!  Best to spread them out 😉

I always have a difficult time deciding which image to put up next, so I just assign random numbers to each, and use the next on in the queue.  And that, folks, is the pic you see before you now!  Ooooooh….shiny!

WIT153

Show some comment love, and give us some guesses 8)

Is Virtual Destruction an Art Form?

Games - PacMan

The designers at Criterion, makers of the “Burnout” series, understand a part of gamer psychology that is rarely discussed: gamers are thrilled by wanton destruction. Call it “physics porn.”

If you’ve never had the pleasure of playing the Burnout series as one example of destruction being a good thing, then you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Most crashes are pretty realistic in Burnout, but check this one out on youtube; unbelievable…but fun!

Read Wired news about the heart-stoppingly beautiful art form of virtual destruction and why we love it.

Green News Links

Green Earth

Global Warming to Kill 10,000 by 2012
Environmental Graffiti
A report released by the British government warned the country’s National Health System to expect thousands more deaths and complications from heatwaves, malaria, and contaminated water as global warming effects progress in the next five years.

Visual Guide to Recycling Plastics #1 thru #7
gogreencharleston
Most recycling programs only accept plastics #1 and #2, so being able to quickly identify them can be a time saver when sorting your recycling.

An interview with Google’s green energy czar
Grist
The phrase “to Google” has become synonymous with “to search.” But soon it may connote something altogether different: “to green.” That is, if the internet titan can successfully pull off its latest world-changing endeavor.

Rich Green Investors Like Solar
CheckTheMarkets
It appears that another covey of wealthy, Venture-Capitalists and Uber-Investors are going to be putting their money where they see sunny, money-making opportunities. Khosla Ventures, Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital and Bill Gross’ Idealab — are backing yet another new player in the increasingly hot market for large-scale solar power, pumping $50 million into Infinia, a Kennewick, Wash., company manufacturing a Stirling solar dish.

Valentine Blog Spam Update #1

This is an update to the post V1agr4 Spam Is Old And Busted, Valentine Spam Is The New Hotness on the 10th of Feb where I talked about a new and troubling trend (i like using that phrase).

Since then, the incoming rate of Valentine spam has remained at about 40 per day now which is pretty impressive. I’m guessing the spammers are holding out hope that the keyword searches using Valentine in it are expected to continue during the week which is understandable. Regarding this question i had posed:

2. Will it slow or stop in the few days leading to Thursday?

The answer thus far is “no”, it has not slowed or stopped, though I’ll continue to monitor :)

I’m expecting it’ll continue through Valentine’s Day but not after. That will show how closely the spammer(s) are watching and trying to stay in step with the expected behavioral patterns of people.

If these guys/gals are really good they’d also be monitoring Google Trends to see what the search trends are and try to piggyback on those popular keywords or the 2nd and 3rd tier of popular keywords.

Your Solar-Powered Tombstone Has Arrived

Serenity Vidstone

Solar powered Tombstone?  What. The. Hell.

I learned of this interesting monstrosity gadget from groovygreen.com.

The Vidstone Serenity Panel is a video panel embedded in a tombstone for an added cost of $2000 and it uses a solar-powered panel. From the Vidstone site:

…provides families with the option of viewing a custom-created multimedia tribute at a loved one’s place of rest. This 7” LCD Panel attaches to most upright or slanted gravesite monuments, including gravestones, mausoleums and columbariums. At the mere touch of a button, a 5 to 8 minute video plays on the screen, recounting the most precious and poignant memories of a loved one.

It even comes with a head-phone jack. Let’s hope the tombstone doesn’t wind up under a tree where it’s shaded!

Marvel Universe Online Canceled

Marvel

Some folks were no doubt excited at the possibility of Spiderman and X-men rocking on the screen, cracking skulls and taking names. But it appears those fantasies will have to remain just that for now since Shane Kim from Microsoft Game Studios tells MTV:

I’ll confirm. Marvel and we have agreed to end development on the MMO. It was an amicable decision…. It’s just something that we felt that, for us and for them, it would be better if we ended development. Which is disappointing, because that had a lot of promise. But sometimes you have to make these decisions.

When asked what went wrong:

It’s a tough space. It’s a very competitive space. And it’s a space that’s changing quite a bit. …When we first entered into the development and agreement of the development of ‘Marvel Universe Online,’ we thought we would create another subscription-based MMO.

Kim goes on to beat around the bush on difficulties in trying to find the right model to generate revenue and be competitive in a World of Warcraft universe.

That article linked above also has inside info on Gears of War2, Mass Effect, Halo Wars RTS and Fable 2.

Windows Mobile Wins Over Sony Ericsson

Sony Ericsson

In a coup for Microsoft, Sony Ericsson for the first time will offer a smartphone that runs on the Windows Mobile operating system.

This is boding well for the Windows Mobile team whose worldwide market share has risen from 9 to 13% in just one year and 4 out of 5 of the world’s top handset makers are also on board with Windows. Though with Symbian dominating with a 48% share of every phone on the planet there’s a lot of room to grow for competitors in the mobile phone OS biz.

Technorati Tags: , ,

‘Green’ Robot Hits The Waves, Runs On Ocean Heat

Ocean Glider 

A new underwater robot has been test-gliding continuously beneath the 4,000-meter-deep Virgin Islands Basin since December, powered by an unlimited supply of ocean heat.

The seagoing glider, which uses thermal energy from the ocean to propel itself, is the first “green” robot to explore underseas. It draws energy from the differences in temperature between warm surface waters and the colder, deeper layers.

In the photo above, the glider is resting on at the surface in the Caribbean before it once again dives into the Virgin Islands Basin between St. Thomas and St. Croix.

The idea for the thermal glider was first conceived in the 1980s by Doug Webb.

Read more about it at the Washington Post or TG Daily.

Learning From Podcasts: Foreign Policy After 9/11

podcasts and podiobooks

Want to learn and not have to attend school or sit in front of the PC and study or open a book and have to dredge through hundreds of pages of text?

Then I have an answer for you! Let the universities and learned experts in your field of interest come to you for free, via podcasts. Learn while you drive to work or while you’re working out.

One example is the UC Berkeley series they’ve made available for regular Joes like you and me to learn about Foreign Policy post-911. This series has 11 podcasts from the professor of the course as well as his guest speaker.

Topics range from “What terrorists want” to “War clouds over the Persian gulf”. But the most interesting download is #10 near the end of the course called “Day of Empire” by guest speaker Amy Chua discussing one of topics of her book of the same name (link to her book on Amazon).

Day of Empire is in-depth analysis of how hyperpowers rise to global dominance and how they fall, from the Mongols to the British Empire to the United States. I’ve been interested in the military and political powers throughout history since I was in high school and thought I had a good handle on the similarities between the previous powers and the USA today, But after listening to the sample link to this particular discussion posted below I came aware with new insight, some of which scares me even more about our future than I was before.

Name: UC Berkeley Course: Foreign Policy After 9/11
RSS: Podcast subscription Link
Web: Home Website
Speaking ability: Varies, depends on the speaker of the day.
Length: Long, roughly 50-60 minutes per session
Sample desc/link: Day of Empire by guest speaker Amy Chua (mp3)
Bonus: Download in either MP3 or RM format

Booting Linux In Under 40 Seconds

Linux

Power users of an OS will periodically obsess over optimizing aspects of their OS environment. Creating shortcuts to save 3 clicks, Turning off unneeded or unwanted services, tweaking the HOSTS file to reduce name resolution times, improving their graphics processing.

And then there’s the desire to reduce the time to get from an Off state to the point where you can interact with the shell. In other words, reduce the boot time. This is desirable no matter what the OS, but yesterday I came across an article that walks you through reducing the boot times for Linux.

In a nutshell, the author explains how to enable Hibernate on your Linux box, including rebuilding your kernel to add the Hibernate power management functions.

He also includes a youtube demo of his laptop’s 32 Sec boot cycle.

V1agr4 Spam Is Old And Busted, Valentine Spam Is The New Hotness

Spam

I gotta hand it to the spammers, they’re a smart bunch and I’ve been noticing a new and troubling trend for months now. It’s possible this is an old tactic and I’ve only just noticed it on Geeknews.

All week Geeknews has been receiving and catching dozens upon dozens of spam comments every day with ‘Valentines’ in the keywords.

No doubt they’re trying to drive up the pagerank of the sites they’re linking to as men and women worldwide are searching with that holiday keyword as we gear up to the big day, Thursday Feb 14 2008.

A couple of things I’m interested in monitoring here:

1. How quickly will the ‘valentine’ keyword fall out of favor by the spammer(s)?

2. Will it slow or stop in the few days leading to Thursday?

3. Will it continue up to that very day when it’s basically too late to capitalize on the holiday searches because the blog may not be crawled in time?

4. If this spammer is targeting blog comments in blogs located primarily in the Western civilizations, then I suspect they will transition to the next big holiday after Valentines which is Easter. So, assuming this ‘ad campaign’ i’m watching is relatively successful enough for him/her to continue the trend, when will I see the first ‘Easter’ related spam comment?

Note: I did receive one Valentine spam with what might be considered a crossover spam to Easter:

Happy bunny valentine

Here’s a small sampling of the Valentine spam comments caught just in the last 3-4 hours:

Quick free thoughtful valentine’s gifts
Recipe for valentine chocolate candy
Regalos para dia de san valentine
Geometry valentines poems
Funny valentines quotes
Sailors valentine gallery nantucket
Fun valentine gift for him
Simpson valentine
Gift golf valentine
Gift guy teen valentine
Gothic valentines e card
Hallmark best valentine
Happy bunny valentine