Canadian Robot ‘Handyman’ Getting Set to Head to the Front Line in Space


Canada knows a thing or two about robots and space. Did you non-Canadians know that the robotic arm in the Space Shuttles was designed, built and delivered by the Canadians to NASA? It’s True.

Now they’re doing their part again to help build out the rest of the International Space Station in the form of Dextre, a $200Mil robot that will perform exterior construction and maintenance. The value here is that it means the astronauts will have to make fewer trips outside the capsules, enabling the ‘bot to do more of the grunt work, riding along the Canadian-built ‘mobile servicing system’ on the exterior.

Here’s some of the specs:

– Can be remotely controlled from the ground or the ISS

– Size is about 3.7 meters

– Lifespan is about 15 years

– Dexterous enough to manipulate objects the size of a phone book to a phone booth

redOrbit has much more information.

News Links: 2/25/08

Aliens Might Be Moving Stars to Communicate With Us
Universe Today
Move stars around into patterns? That’s pretty crazy stuff. Sure, but there isn’t any physical reason why it isn’t possible; it happens all the time when galaxies collide. Of course, a spray of stars hurled into intergalactic space at random is different from a great big peace sign.

‘Gravity Lamp’ lasts 200 years, never needs to be plugged in
A Virginia Tech student has won the Greener Gadget Award for a clever LED lamp that gets all of its power from gravity, which is a seriously renewable resource. Working kind of like a grandfather clock that needs to be wound in order to work, the lamp has a weight that’s raised up every day. As the day goes on, it slowly lowers, with that movement powering the LEDs.

Astronaut to Wear Boxer Shorts For Science, 2 Weeks Consecutive w/o Bathing
A Japanese astronaut will put on special boxer shorts and gym wear during his upcoming mission to see if the newly developed high-tech clothing can boost comfort levels on the International Space Station, Japan’s space agency said Friday.

Goolag Tool Lets Google Aid Hackers
Washington Post
The hacking group Cult of the Dead Cow has released a tool that should make Google hacking a little easier for novices. CalledGoolag, the open-source software lets hackers use the Google search engine to scan Web sites for vulnerabilities.

Tracing human diversity through the ages
San Jose Mercury News
A coalition of Stanford scientists has released the most detailed road map yet of human diversity, offering insight into the emergence and restless migration of the world’s populations.

14 “OTHER” Ways to Use RSS Feeds

RSS Applications

MakeUseOf has a great article that taught me a lot about how to make better use of RSS feeds by reviewing 14 interesting RSS Feed applications that consume your feeds in a unique manner, as opposed to consuming them in your same old feed reader.

I have probably close to 200 feeds I monitor and some of these applications just might make me a little more productive. Take for instance something like SendMeRSS which forwards my favorite feeds to my inbox.

Then there’s Pingie which sends them to my mobile via SMS, or SpokenText which converts my feeds to speech files and you can subscribe to them as podcasts!

Check out the full list of 14 other ways to use RSS Feeds.

Motivational: Embrace Diversity

The other day I posted the Cosplay Mosaic set of pics I assembled using an online tool from Big Huge Labs.

Below is a resulting ‘motivational poster’ I put together from another of their tools. Sure, maybe ’embrace diversity’ isn’t very motivational but it’s all I could come up with on the spur of the moment when I decided it would involve ‘Marta’.

Marta was the green Orion consort of Lord Garth in the episode ‘Whom Gods Destroy‘ from the Star Trek the original series.

Motivational - Embrace Diversity

The Bigger, Better, Faster SkyDrive – Exits Beta


The Live SkyDrive folks have increased storage capacity to 5GB and have removed the Beta tag which means the quality is finally there along with some improvements.

They’ve also opened up the service to accounts in these 38 countries now that the US, UK and India are done dogfooding on it:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Turkey.

Sign up or check it out for yourself, it makes for a great dumping ground for your pics or music that you can make private or share with the world or specific accounts.

Cosplay Mosaic

I’m experimenting with an online mosaic tool from Big Huge Labs, how does it look?

Some of the detail in these costumes is over the top. For instance, check out the medical eyepatch on the girl in #8.

 Mosaic of Cosplay(ers?)

Note: WordPress can’t handle encoding the Kanji characters for #1, 4, 13 below and i’m too tired tonight to continue trying to fix it up after having read through the WP support forums. If you have hints, i’m all ears, thanks! 

1. ???, 2. Tifa Cosplayer 8, 3. Cosplay – Ulala [Space Channel 5], 4. ??????????, 5. [AmeCon 2007] Cosplay Competition 6. Cosplay I, 7. Cosplay, Migilore, Dongdaemun, 8. TGS Cosplay – IMG_0733, 9. TGS Cosplay – IMG_0743, 10. ax06- soul cosplay 758114 11. Cosplay 2007 @ Down Town East_15-07-2007_131 – Version 2.jpg, 12. Cosplay – Yazoo [Final Fantasy Advent Children] by Sanerken 03, 13. ? ??, 14. Cosplay – Baafa, 15. [AmeCon 2007] Cosplay Competition 16. Cosplay – Riku [Kingdom Hearts], 17. Cosplay – Angel Sanctuary, 18. Yuna Cosplay, 19. Cosplay Taipei 2005 018, 20. AX2006-Soul Calibur-Nightmare-cosplay

The Women Of Sci-Fi And Their Provocative Poses: Jeri Lynn Ryan

Seven of Nine Seven of Nine headshot

I’m toying with a new topic, let me know if it’s over the top or not. It’s to show off some of our favorite heroines or villains in Sci-Fi, but in a little more provocative manner than usual.

In some cases their characters are provocative on screen, let alone once they’re in a private studio stripping in front of a camera. Take for instance Jeri Lynn Ryan, aka ‘Seven of Nine’ in Star Trek Voyager. I don’t know why she would have to resort to such provocative poses, she had us at her first tricorder reading.

jeri ryan Jeri Lynn Ryan

Jeri’s first two poses are fairly tame, the next two are questionable as to whether they are safe for work. And since we don’t want to get in trouble at work, here’s the thumbnails:

jeri_ryan Jeri Denim

What Is That?

Gratz to Henry Z for figuring out last weeks image!  Good job.  So continuing on, this weeks image is ready for your viewing (and guessing!) pleasure!  Let this one buzz around in your skull for a bit before you hazard a guess 😉



Top 10 Sci-Fi Books

This is my top 10 Science Fiction books of all time, in no particular order. However, if I had to be marooned on a desert isle with just one of these books (including the series of books it spawned), it would probably be either the Foundation series or Cryptonomicon.

Foundation Foundation
By Isaac Asimov (1951)
This is the first book in the Foundation series, it’s sci-fi on a grand scale; one of the classics of the field. The main topic of the series is the concept that history repeats itself, even 30,000 years in the future. It’s about the theory of science and math and predicting human sociobehavioral patterns millennia in the future so that you can set into motion events that will counteract catastrophes that had been predicted long ago.
Starship Troopers Starship Troopers
By Robert Heinlein (1959)
Many consider this Hugo Award winner to be Heinlein’s finest work, and with good reason. Forget the battle scenes and high-tech weapons (though this novel has them)- this is Heinlein at the top of his game talking people and politics.
It’s written in the first person narrative, about a young soldier in a futuristic military unit equipped with powered armor. We follow the soldier in his career from recruit to non-comm to officer. All the while there’s an interstellar war going on between ‘the Bugs’ and mankind.
Dune Dune
By Frank Herbert (1965)
This book spawned 5 sequels, a big screen adaptation, 2 TV mini-series, a PC game, a board game and a handful of prequel novels.It’s Plato in spaceships meet the biggest nightcrawlers you’ve ever seen. to be honest though, I only enjoyed Dune and Children of Dune, after that I couldn’t take any more. But Dune is highly recommended.
Enders Game Ender’s Game
By Orson Scott Card (1985)
Set in Earth’s future where mankind has barely survived two invasions by an insectoid alien race, and the International Fleet is preparing for war. In order to find and train the eventual commander for the anticipated third invasion, the world’s most talented children, including the very talented Ender Wiggin, are taken into Battle School at a very young age to prepare for their future as leaders of the next war.
Forever War The Forever War
By Joe Haldeman (1974)
I’m into Military history and fiction. Joe Haldeman delivers war, war heroes and a command of battlefield tactical situations. This novel is perceived as a portrayal of his time in the military during the ‘Nam war but through a space opera filter. Is also considered to be a response to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (see above).
The story is heavy on action and contemplation during an interstellar war following an elite military unit, that because of time dilation caused by their space travel, the soldiers age months while the civilization on Earth advances centuries.
Hyperion Hyperion
By Dan Simmons (1989)
This is a pretty complex novel, it features multiple time-lines and primary characters journeying together on the eve of Armageddon. Each of these pilgrims carries with them a terrible secret and hope. The most interesting aspect of this book to me is that it’s basically 7 different mini-stories as you hear each tale that led the characters to this backwater planet in search of ‘The Shrike’.
Cryptonomicon Cryptonomicon
By Neal Stephenson (1999)
This long story is short on plot but insanely detailed to the point that you become deeply drawn into that story. It follows two time-lines, one is the WW II code breakers for the Axis powers and the other time is present day descendants of those code breakers trying to build a data haven but are led into a search for treasure.This book is a geek’s dream. Non-technical readers will find the book a little difficult to read.Funny note: the book describes a fictional operating system called Finux (Linus Torvalds is from Finland, get it?)
Ringworld Ringworld
By Larry Niven (1970)
Spawned 3 sequels. In the year 2855 we follow 4 adventurers (made up of 2 humans and 2 aliens) as they explore a mysterious ‘ringworld’ which is an enormous, artificial, ring shaped structure that surrounds a star.This is another one of those great Science books that masquerades as fiction to get you into Math and Physical sciences again!
Stainless Steel Rat The Stainless Steel Rat
By Harry Harrison (1961)
In the vastness of space, the crimes just get bigger and Slippery Jim diGriz, the Stainless Steel Rat, is the biggest criminal of them all. He can con humans, aliens and any number of robots time after time. Jim is so slippery that all the inter-galactic cops can do is make him one of their own.When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be just like the Stainless Steel Rat. He’s just like James Bond, but a nice bad guy. Sort of like a Robin Hood meets Luke Skywalker, only he doesn’t give to the poor, he keeps the goods for himself!
Birthright the book of man Birthright the Book of Man
By Mike Resnick (1982)
All 26 chapters are essentially complete stories of themselves, similar to short stories. Each focuses on a different profession in chronological order during a timeline of 17 millennia.It describes the history of mankind’s departure from Earth, conquest of the galaxy, its treatment of aliens, internal politics, the development and growth of the human species to the decline and collapse of the race.Think of it as an ultra-futuristic version of the Rise and Fall of Rome.

Satellite Shoot-Down Set: Intercept Near Hawaii; Debris Cloud Over Canada

Oh dear. The Danger room has all the gory details and the possible plans to take down the rogue satellite USA-193 on a death dive to Earth and a tank full of toxic fuel. It looks like the satellite’s momentum at the time of the shoot is taking it over Canada at 10:30 EST.

Let’s imagine worst case scenario here: The missile doesn’t get a good hit, the bird is winged, still contains exotic fuels and comes down over Canada as a result of this shoot, spraying the northern part of the continent with toxins. In that case, as reparations to the Canadians, should the USA give them Alaska to move to? After the oil has been pumped out of course, but then they can have it.

 Satellite Shoot Down

Google Doodle Contest

google doodle

If you’re a student and you have art skills, GOOG has a contest going on right now that enables you to get your doodle on their homepage for a day. Check out Doodle 4 Google for more details.

In the meantime, watch this neat little time lapse video of a google doodle being developed by one of their artists.

[youtube TOOY0xuQ3TU]

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


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 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,, 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 and, 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!)