What Is That??

W00t!  Congrats to Paul White for guessing the last WIT picture.  It’s the back of a windup pocketwatch, showing the internal workings and the adjustment screws.

I’d offer you a prize, but my editor hasn’t approved of anything yet 🙄

So what brings us to our next picture?  All I can tell you is that if I keep staring at it, I’ll get double vision 😛

What Is That?

Well I need to get away from staring at my screen and enjoy some rare sunshine here 🙂  Comments!

A Plethora Of Links: May 9 ’07

RIM to Offer Plug-in for Visual Studio
IDG News Service
Research In Motion (RIM) will enable developers to create applications for BlackBerry phones using the .NET Framework.

Demand for Wii Overwhelms Nintendo
GameSpot
The astonishing popularity of the Wii game console has Nintendo with its nose to the grindstone to supply the demand.

Mac Share of Surfers Doubles in Eight Months
Computerworld
Analysis of Internet metrics indicate Mac OS X is close to or barely over 6 percent of all machines in the U.S. that connected to the Web in April.

Who Are the Linux Desktop Users?
DesktopLinux
A recent survey shows that your “typical” Linux client user is a fellow in his twenties, is computer savvy but may very well not be an IT pro.

Why Do Device Developers Prefer Debian?
LinuxDevices
A 2007 survey indicates that Debian was used in device-related projects by 13 percent of the survey’s 932 participants, roughly double the score of MontaVista.

Making ‘Minority Report’ Computer Navigation a Reality
CNET
Remember the Minority Report scenes in which Tom Cruise and others use their hands to manipulate data on giant computer screens? Oblong Industries has an operating system, based on human hand gesturing, that enables the user to explore in a 3D plane.

Sensor Sensibility
Science News
The mathematics of shapes is illuminating the structure of wireless sensor networks. “Imagine a future in which billions of tiny computers are embedded into buildings, streets, fields, or even our bodies.”

Switching From OS X To Vista

Nik Cubrilovic switched from OS X to Vista, was surprised the experience was a lot better than what he was led to believe and decided to stay with Vista. So where did Nik go wrong?

Why, having the balls to post about it on his blog of course, clearly knowing he’d feel the ire of the Mac community, that’s where he went wrong. Unless of course you’ve already donned the flame retardant suit that is. 😀 Good luck Nik.

Link

Found via OSNews

What’s Up With Live?

Windows Live

So what’s going on with Windows Live nowadays? More than I care to enumerate but let’s try to call out the low hanging fruit:

Windows Live Hotmail
Today we learn that Windows Live Hotmail launched worldwide after an extensive beta test that included 20 million users and sees the product supporting 36 languages! You can connect to your mail through the desktop mail clients like Outlook or via the mobile interface. Here’s the press release.

Windows Live Mail
There is the Windows Live Mail client that is succeeding Outlook Express and Windows Mail. Here’s a link to the team’s blog, you can sign up for the beta and download/install it today on XP SP2 and Vista from here. According to their PM on the blog, the public can download a beta version in a couple of weeks.

Windows Live Messenger
Here’s the team blog for Messenger. Hmm, new emoticons or bored Program Manager? You make the call 😀 Oh, do check out ‘Wendy the Mighty’ a Test Developer on the team as she describes in great detail what goes on in the life of an SDET.

Windows Live Dev
Hey, it’s no secret that if you get the developers on board the community and revenue will follow. View the Mix 07 sessions, Ajax tools, Gadgets, Search Macros, Live Data SDK and more.

Windows Live for Mobile
Brings Search, Mail, Messenger, Local Maps, News and Instant Answers to your mobile. Search via SMS! Mobile Downloads, too. Surf with your mobile.

Lip Read Me Now, Hear Me Better Later

Have you ever thought that you could understand someone a little better if you could see their lips while they’re talking even if you couldn’t hear them clearly?

Research by a Univ of California psychology professor and his graduate students have proven just that.

Eurekalert.org is reporting on their study and their paper “Lip-Read Me Now, Hear Me Better Later: Crossmodal Transfer of Talker Familiarity Effects” along with a few of the scenarios they ran by their subjects.

In the study, students watched a silent videotape of a talker’s face, after an hour the students were broken up into two groups. One group heard the audio tape only that came from that video, the other group heard sentences from a different talker, in both cases the audio was difficult to discern due to a lot of background noise. Both groups were then asked to identify as many words as possible.

The undergraduates who lip-read and heard speech from the same talker were better at picking out coherent sentences from the noise. Which leads to this analysis:

These findings suggest that when we watch a person speak, we become familiar with characteristics of their speaking style which also are present in the sound of their speech. This allows talker familiarity to be transferred from lip reading to listening, thereby making a talker easier to hear. These results have implications for individuals with hearing impairments as well as for brain lesion patients, Rosenblum said.

Link to Eurekalert, the site has details to find the published paper or to obtain a copy.

Found via Omniglot

Ubuntu For Mobile And Embedded Devices

Sigh, how many times have we seen this happen where one distro gets all the attention for a year or two or three, drowning out the others? Then is displaced in favor of the ‘new hotness’?

But I digress before I can even start – LinuxDevices is reporting that Cononical is prepping a version of Ubuntu for mobile internet devices (MID) and will ship this October. Likely candidates for this will be UMPCs that have garnered so much attention in recent months thanks to Intel.

The LinuxDevices article has a lot of detail including the announcement on Ubuntu’s CTO’s blog post that:

It is clear that new types of device — small, handheld, graphical tablets which are Internet-enabled are going to change the way we communicate and collaborate. These devices place new demands on open source software and require innovative graphical interfaces, improved power management and better responsiveness.

Link to the article.

BTW, if LinuxDevices and WindowsForDevices aren’t in your feeds, they should be.

[edit: wow, I suck with typos, wish I had a proofreader :grin:]

Paralyzed Mice Walk Again

GrrlScientist at scienceblogs.com is reporting on test results in the field of regenerative medicine.  If it’s accurate then the future for victims of severed spines looks a tad more hopeful than before if treatment can start asap after the accident.

Snippet:

A group of lab mice were intentionally paralyzed by cutting their spinal cords. As a result, they ended up dragging their hind legs behind them instead of scurrying around as mice do. But a group of these mice have partially recovered movement in their hind legs without the aid of surgery or drugs, thanks to a new field of medical research known as regenerative medicine.

Link to the article.

The Razr Story: Now What?

Razr

For a business article, this one is an interesting and fast read from Chieftain.com. It’s behind the scenes of Motorola after the phenomenal rise in popularity of the Razr phone and how that popularity may have just set the company and the industry back for years. It also focuses on CEO Ed Zander.

Here’s a choice snippet:

Zander began to resent the notion that wireless carriers, rather than consumers, were his primary customers, according to former executives. This meant he had little control over pricing and distribution. He once burst into a meeting of the handset division and threw a pile of newspaper cellphone ads on the table, demanding to know why Motorola phones were selling so cheaply, according to someone who was present.

Executives told him carriers decide the price, and would go elsewhere if Motorola didn?t want to lower its prices.

“I love my job. I hate my customers”, Zander shouted, according to people present. The phrase became a favorite of Zander’s, these executives say, and he joked that when he eventually wrote his book, he would use it as the title.

Link to article

Conspiracy Sunday

I absolutely love a good conspiracy and can take either side of a conspiracy debate just to stir things up a bit. Here’s a little one you’ve probably seen before, maybe not. It’s UFOs being depicted in various works of art through history like this beauty of a disk shaped object below from the 15th century painting.

The Madonna with Saint Giovannino

Link to UFO Artwork

Peet’s Coffee & Tea – Guatemala Blend

Once in a great while I’ll stop at a Peet’s Coffee (as opposed to the usual: Starbucks) and try their coffee of the day. Drip coffee is just about the only thing i’ll get from the coffee shops, unfortunately some of the shacks in the parking lots around the country don’t do drip, in that case i’ll get an Americano which is kinda sorta close.

So anyway, I swing by Peet’s today and pick up a Large (as opposed to ‘Venti’, ahem) and the coffee of the day was from Guatemala. Wow, this stuff is good. Sometimes it’s a crapshoot just getting a random ‘coffee of the day’ and may wind up with something that’s just too bitter or sweet or acidic for my taste. Believe me, most of my taste buds were dulled by the military food / coffee / ‘bug juice’ for many years so you know it’s gotta be too far to the spectrum if i can’t stand it.

This Guatemala coffee blend is excellent, the beans grow in high altitude (5-6k feet) with rich soil from the region’s volcanic activity long ago (kind of reminds me of the Kona region and their coffee but I’m not comparing Guatemala to Kona, Kona is in a league of it’s own). This coffee is what the connoisseurs call ‘medium bodied’ and bittersweet with a clean finish.

If you enjoy coffee and you haven’t tried this, a bag of Guatemala is worth a try.

Peet's Coffee - Guatemala

Jessica Simpson Explains The Interweb

A good portion of the day is being devoted to attending a wedding, and the afternoon will be spent interviewing a developer over the phone for open positions on my team. So let’s get the daily post out of the way with something light and funny before I lose my Saturday.

Thanks to geeksugar for pointing out this hilarious clip of Jessica Simpson playing a fictional character ‘Jessica Sampson’ that is a news person trying to explain the internet to viewers.

[youtube Du6Eu4yZvp4 Jessica Simpson explains the interweb]

What is That??

Anyone else out there experiencing freakish weather?  It’s gone from sunny to cloudy and sprinkles, to torrential rain mixed with hail today!  I’m almost scared to go outside….  Well, enough of that.  Congratz to Xavier whom correctly guessd that the last WIT image was a sundial!  W00t!

Okay, so this week we’re going to explore a new image for your perusal.  Time is of the essence here, because I’m considering doing this twice a week, instead of just once.  I’ve got alot of pictures for you, so keep those guesses coming!

What Is That?

See you in the comments!

Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World

The National Review has an (old) interesting review of a book about the spread, growth, and death of languages around the world by Nicholas Ostler, a leader in the preservation of dying languages. The book is titled ‘Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World‘, here’s the obligatory Amazon link.

It’s an accessible book is not a technical linguistic study—meaning it’s not concerned with language structure but about the growth, development and collapse of language communities and their cultures over 5 millennia. In essence it is telling the history of the world through the rise and decline of languages; those that have been written down and which have spread geographically including Sumerian, Akkadian, Egyptian, Chinese, Sanskrit, Greek, Latin and the main European languages.

GNOME’s Mobile & Embedded Initiative

The GNOME Foundation announced last week the creation of the GNOME Mobile & Embedded Initiative (GMAE), and a software platform for user experience development across a wide range of device profiles. Here’s the site for this new initiative, to tell the truth it sounds exciting to me, a lot of the activities going on in the Embedded space and some in Mobile are generally where the ‘next big thing’ will come from in my opinion.

This graphic from the site gives a high level view of the GMAE platform:
GMAE Platform

From the press release:

The GMAE Mission

The GNOME Mobile & Embedded Initiative will advance the use, development and commercialization of GNOME components as a mobile and embedded user experience platform. It brings together industry leaders, expert consultants, key developers and the community and industry organizations they represent. The initiative aims to:

  • Increase community and commercial visibility of GMAE technology and participating organizations.
  • Coordinate investment in the GTK+ and GNOME platform, documentation and developer tools.
  • Increase development focus on the “mobile experience”, particularly the integration of GNOME desktop and GMAE technology.
  • Facilitate healthy development collaboration between participating organizations, the GNOME community and related projects; and between GNOME platform, desktop and GMAE developers.
  • Pursue standardization opportunities for the platform, and potentially at the user experience level.
  • Ensure that Software Freedom is a reality beyond the desktop, and available in the hands of users around the world.

For a list of the technologies under consideration and the founding organizations participating from the get go can also be found in the press release above. Partners involved span from Intel to Nokia to Debian and many more.

A Cure To The Common Keychain

Tired of dragging around that huge ring of keys everyday?  I know my life would be a lot easier if I had less keys to haul with me all day! 

Say Hello to Key-Port: An modular solution to your key baggage woes.

Key-Port 1  Key-Port 2

An all in one key fob… just get specialized blanks cut to match your car, house, boat, locker, etc. keys and the slot right in.  In the press kit it says that it is “created to complement your personal style and organize those jagged objects you can’t live without.” And currently under development are RFID for remote keyless entry (or anything else you can imagine – be creative here), Alarm Remote (for your car entry/alarms/etc), and Flashlight (mini LEDs!)… hey, where’s my usb key? Either way, i’m dying to get my hands on one to try it out, it would certainly work better to slip in a pocket.

Protect Your Mobile With Killpill

Killpill service

Killpill is a service and client application that protects the data on your WM device by performing a factory wipe on remote command by you. I know that enterprise systems such as the WM/Exchange can remote wipe a lost or stolen device and I think RIM can also enforce this through policies. But this Killpill service would be effective for power users like yourself that have sensitive data on the device, be it incriminating photos or financial data from your client, but don’t have access to these services.

After the remote wipe has been completed, you will receive a notification that your mobile phone has been wiped and your phone will return to factory settings.

If the SIM card is replaced on your mobile, you can track down your mobile by retrieving the phone number from the person who inserted the new SIM card. This feature is only available before you have sent a KillPill to your phone.

Killpill – Link

[via MSMobilenews]

Kryptonite On Earth

I was a bit skeptical about this one, but it turned out to be true.  An unidentified mineral was discovered in a Serbian mine, and sent off to researchers to determine its composition.  After analyzing the mineral, Dr. Stanley discovered its formula already existed in literary form.

Kryptonite

“Towards the end of my research I searched the web using the mineral’s chemical formula – sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide – and was amazed to discover that same scientific name, written on a case of rock containing kryptonite stolen by Lex Luthor from a museum in the film Superman Returns.

“The new mineral does not contain fluorine (which it does in the film) and is white rather than green but, in all other respects, the chemistry matches that for the rock containing kryptonite.”

Jadarite

Now the new mineral won’t be called kryptonite.  Instead, it will be called Jadarite, in reference to the location in Serbia where it was discovered. 

 

GarageGeeks – Too Cool

There are some amazing projects on GarageGeeks.

For instance the ‘Guitar Heronoid’:

A computer controlled android that plays Guitar Hero by doing real time video processing.

Or the ‘MotoTank’:

Take two motorcyles, cut them in two and connect them to a wheel. What do you get?? A tank! Each (half) motorcyle is completely independant with its own electrical and fueling system, while the streeting is common.

By far I think the ‘Real Pac Man’ is the best:

The main idea of this project is to take the oldest, most low-tech project and to build it in using as much technology as we can find. The board is RFID-enabled, and the pacman is mounted on a radio controlled car which is controlled by a cell phone using bluetooth *gasp*, which in turn drives the pacman in the game. So in fact, you’d be playing the physical pacman on the virtual board.

Real Pac Man

GarageGeeks – Link

[Found via MAKE]