A Sneak Preview – The Orb

Have you ever wanted to see a spectacular colorful display of lights spinning at a rate of 1600 rpms?  Then check out this beauty!  Here we have an ingenious design by James N. Sears, a designer and programmer of impressive talent.

 Orb Ring  Orb Earth

The Orb is a large plexiglass ring laced with a series of powerful multi-color LEDs, and mounted on a large mechanical arm.  Pair that with a formidable industrial motor, custom electronics and programming, and you have an impressive display of lights that can portray a striking array of visual effects.  According to the creator, it was a long journey to get where it is today, but the efforts were definately worth it in the end.

Score one for an artist with a cause!

DIY: Eletrical Chair

Knuttz.net has easy-to-follow diagrams to build your own electric chair. Hey, i’m just the messenger here, not sure why you’d want this, but if you’re electrically inclined or have a degree in electrical engineering you can plainly see the principles here and how easy this should be.

If that’s too much for you, then maybe you’re interested in the timeline for ‘old sparky’? It starts with the year 1881 and ends with 1989 and Ted Bundy’s demise.

Oh, and check this out, the State of Tennessee’s “Modular Electrocution System Manual“. The things you find on the net nowadays just doesn’t surprise me anymore.

Netflix To Offer Instant Access

In its answer to the ‘On Demand’ features from cable providers like Comcast, Netflix is experimenting with enabling its subscribers to stream and/or download movies in addition to receiving movies through the mail.

This Tuesday they’re unveiling its ‘Watch Now’ feature to a small number of subscribers as they test this on a smaller audience and slowly increase the size of the audience dog fooding on it until it’s general availability around June 2007.

To view the movies the user will need to download a lightweight program and should be able to watch 6-48 hours of movies per month.

The stock markets we’re closed at the time this announced, it’ll be interesting to see how Wall Street reacts.

For more details, try this USA Today Tech article on the announcement.

(D&D) Complete Scoundrel: A Player’s Guide to Trickery and Ingenuity

Fair Fights are for Suckers

There is a new book to be released tomorrow called “Complete Scoundrel: A Player’s Guide to Trickery and Ingenuity“, the link is to amazon, you can pre-order it. It’s hardcover, 160 pages and MSRP is US$29.95.

In a world filled with monsters and villains, a little deception and boldness goes a long way. You know how to take advantage of every situation, and you don’t mind getting your hands dirty. Take the gloves off? Ha! You never put them on. You infuriate your foes and amaze your allies with your ingenuity, resourcefulness, and style. For you, every new predicament is an opportunity in disguise, and with each sweet victory your notoriety grows. That is how legends are made.

DnD Complete ScoundrelThis D&D supplement gives you everything you need to get the drop on your foes and escape sticky situations. In addition to new feats, spells, items, and prestige classes, Complete Scoundrel presents new mechanics that put luck on your side and a special system of skill tricks that allow any character to play the part of a scoundrel. Tricky tactics aren’t just for rogues anymore.

 

Spam Update

Two things of interest in spam this week:

1. IT Security has a decent article on how to eliminate spam from your mailbox. It’s 10 fairly detailed steps, from how to test who’s spamming you to getting revenge on the spammer. You may already be familiar with most of them, there may still be a gem in there.

2. “Spam shows a sudden slide” is an article on itworld.com that tries to explain the noticeable decrease in spam the last few weeks. Some say it’s the spammers taking a holiday, some attribute it to the recent earthquake near Taiwan that pretty much severed their connection to the net. The article says spam is down about 5%, I have seen about a 50% drop in spam to my inbox. Let’s hope this trend continues!

 

The World’s Smallest Thinker

Using lasers, Korean researches have sculpted the smallest work of art ever, here’s the Live Science article with all the details including the mechanical engineering process to create this proof of concept before moving on to more interesting scientific projects.

What the researches did was to replicate Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’, but its only about twice the size The Thinkerof a red blood cell, about 10um in width. Though it’s so tiny the researches still had the fidelity to replicate the muscles seen in The Thinkers back and also see individual toes!

The original masterpiece by Rodin is approximately 6 feet tall, this version is about 93,000 times smaller.

What is the greatest medical milestone?

BBC News informs us that the British Medical Journal is launching a competition to decide the greatest medical breakthrough. You can vote at the article choosing one of the categories. The categories are:

Anaesthesia, Antibiotics,Chlorpromazine, Computers, DNA, Evidence based medicine, Germ theory, Imaging, Immunology, Oral rehydration therapy, The Pill, The Risks of smoking, Sanitation, Tissue culture, Vaccines

Below is a drawing showing the chloroform inhaler developed by John Snow in the 1850s.
Chloroform Inhaler

Jetcast Broadcasting

Jetcast Logo

The folks over at Jetcast have developed a new service that provides a nifty way to broadcast audio and video over the internet. With their simple player, anyone can become a broadcaster, minus the costly equipment and massive bandwidth.

Jetcast is an optimized network, which is great for broadcasting. Every viewer in the Jetcast network is also a broadcaster or partial broadcaster. The original broadcaster provides bandwidth bursts for the first level viewers, and the first level viewers share their data that feeds other viewers. All the viewers construct a mesh network. Each viewer has a couple of neighbors who established a direct connection with it and shares data with its neighbors. All the while, everything is optimized using the Jetcast server farm.

After several hours of viewing audio and video channels, it seems that Jetcast lives up to its name. I didnt experience a single inturruption in service, nor any of the traditional “net-burps” or extensive loading times.

Although this service is still in its infancy, and by no means overshadows similar popular services, I’d keep an eye on them. I have a positive feeling that Jetcast will surprise us all in the near future.

Will The Real iPhone Please Stand Up?

Finally the iPhone is a reality. Well, it hasn’t really shipped yet so at least it’s confirmed for delivery on a future date. But over the last year and half or so there has been a lot of speculation among the Apple and mobile phone enthusiasts, so much so that they’ve been working on some concept designs in an effort to anticipate what the iPhone would look like.

At the bottom is a pic of the real iPhone, but immediately below is a gallery of concept pics found through an image search for ‘iPhone’. Some are pretty imaginative, others simply borrowed from what Apple has already shipped and they mashed together several Apple products. But if Apple has taught us anything, it’s to be prepared for the unexpected and to have your socks knocked off. Needless to say, the real iPhone is much much cooler than these concept devices.
Check these out.

iphone1 iPhone3. iPhone4

iPhone6 iPhone7 iPhone8

iPhone10 iPhone-9 iPhone2
iPhone5 iPhone8

The real iPhone that you can purchase this summer:

Real iPhone

Ugly Gadgets At CES

Tired of hearing about all the glitz and cool shiny new toys that will make it to your Chirstmas wish list in 12 months being demo’d at CES? Tired of seeing the latest slick, ultra-hip Apple *pod product of the year?

Take a tour of Wired’s gallery of ugly gems of mediocrity they’re seeing at CES right now like this VenMill Industries’ Skip-Away (i think it buffs out the scratches in your CDs). Now that i’ve been looking at it for a while it kind of has a 70’s retro thing going on.
CES Gadget

Word of the Day: Blibbet

Blibbet:

Blibbet is the name of the O-like symbol in the original Microsoft logo. A lot of old school Microsofties have fond memories of the blibbet. It’s been memorialized in the “Save the Blibbet” campaign and honored by the “Blibbet Burger” served in the MS cafeterias.

Here’s a mouse cake of the blibbet for ex-Microsoftie Rick Saada celebrating his birthday and some products of the time he worked on back in the day (like ‘Money for Bob’!).

From a cursory search of the net on the Blibbet, we learn that this was the second Microsoft logo and was itself replaced in 1987. Also, some blibbet fans like Larry Osterman recall thatwhen Microsoft announced that they would be retiring the blibbet, a number of employees mounted a fruitless “Save the Blibbet” campaign to retain the corporate icon.’

Microsoft Logo

Save Blibbet

Primera BravoPro SE Review

It’s 6am Monday morning, you’re exhausted from the all night brainstorming session with your co-workers, guzzling the nasty coffee from the company cafeteria, and you’ve got less than an hour until you have to stage a full presentation to company board members, complete with enough CD/DVD copies of your material to spread around.  What’s a tech to do?  Burning copies one at a time on your computer simply won’t do.  Time is of the essence here!

BravoPro SE

Enter the new Primera BravoPro SE Autoprinter.  This sleek, compact unit saves the day by rendering a small portion of your desktop into a crazy fast mass producing CD/DVD factory.  With a few clicks on your computer, this disc duplicator produces stunning color, highest quality discs that scream professionalism and organization second to none.  Whether you just want one copy or dozens, the BravoPro SE can independently fabricate unique disc tasks while you’re away taking care of other business. 

Burning and printing media for business has never become easier.  Simply select the files you want to copy and print, choose the amount of discs to be produced, and lets the job runs its course.  With high speed 16x DVD+/-R and 40x CD-R recording, and integrating dazzling high color 4800i printing capacity, you’ll have state of the art quality media ready to be distributed at a moment’s notice.

The BravoPro SE doesn’t stop there either, oh no!  Primera pulled out all the stops with first rate internal componentry, such as Primera’s patented “Accudisc” Technology.  This includes precise electronic coding and software that carefully control the disk picking, using a modern LED optical system, opting out of conventional mechanical componentry.  Benefits of this unique technology include preventing feeding more than a single disc at a time into the recording drive; a common problem plaguing other comparable disc picking systems.

Primera outdid themselves this time.  Being the big brother to the BravoPro II was no small issue, and this unit pulled it off in no uncertain manner.  In my opinion, the BravoPro SE delivers amazing professional results at a price you can’t beat. ($1400)

Read the excellent review by Lonewolf over at ExtensiveMods.Com.

Visit Primera and check out disc printing nirvana! 

Star Trek: The Animated Series, Remastered

Star Trek The Star Trek animated classic from 1973 is back, digitally remastered and features the voices by William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan and George Takei. You can read the excellent and lengthy review on Scifi.com, then go out and drop your US$55 to get these 22 episodes.

Snippet from the review:
“Star Trek: The Animated Series is the last of Star Trek’s episodic television adventures to make it to DVD, and the resulting digitally remastered four-disc set is a time capsule—one with 22 more journeys of these legendary characters, frozen in time asST_TAS two-dimensional animation cells. The 22 episodes immortalized here offered a way for Kirk, Spock and McCoy to gallivant through the galaxy once more, before the events in the movies.”

Here’s the link to Amazon for the DVD.

An Introduction to Planetary Defense: A Study of Modern Warfare Applied to Extra-Terrestrial Invasion

Is an alien attack possible? Of course it is. Statistically speaking, almost anything is possible. The better question to ask is “what is the possibility of an alien attack”?

That is the beginning of a serious scientific book called “An Introduction to Planetary Defense: A Study of Modern Warfare Applied to Extra-Terrestrial Invasion (links to Amazon). It contains a lot of the strategies, tactics and alternatives to assemble missions to mount an effective defense on a planet-wide scale in the case of an alien assault.

The authors and contributors all have experience and/or degrees in aerospace and involvement in some aspect of the space program, from the SpaceLab to designing experiments in space for the Space Shuttle crews. So all four authors bring an incredible amount of serious space science to these questions. Dr. Taylor has a variety of experiences working for the Department of Defense and NASA. Dr. Boan has been an active member of the space community for over a quarter of a century. Dr. Powell is a professor with specialties including space trajectories, attitude dynamics, and numerical analysis

This book provides a serious look at defending the planet in the event of an extra-terrestrial invasion. Travis Taylor, et al, have written the definitive book on the defense of earth against a potential alien incursion. Whatever your beliefs on the subject, the book serves as an important primer on the potential future of warfare on every level. It is tightly grounded in current day realities of war and extrapolates thoughtfully but closely about future potentials. It should be on the reading list of anyone who is serious about national security and the future of war.

The authors carefully make their case from every angle beginning with the statistical probability of an alien invasion. Chapter two discusses possible weapons, tactics and strategies for defense. This is followed with a look at what might motivate such an attack. And finally, who should know about preparations for defense, what a first and subsequent responses should be, and how we should be preparing and funding our defense.

Planetary Defense

NES Retro DVD Player

Amidst my random wanderings on the net, I came across this website featuring a very cool NES MOD.  One of the website owners, Brandon, decided one day to rip the guts out of an old NES and replace it with the internal workings of a standard DVD/MP3 player.  The results, while mudane looking on the outside, are quite ingenious.  The DVD tray pushes out through the NES cartridge flap, and closes the same way.  While controlled by the original DVD player remote, Brandon wired the on/off switch to the NES power button.

NES DVDNES DVD 2

I’ve had a bunch of ideas for modding equipment in the past, but I just don’t have the patience or the dedication required for such endeavours.  My hats off to you modders out there…go on with your bad selves, and show us how it’s done!

Are you a Mod Junkie?  Do you have an awesome new Mod you’ve made and want to show it off to the world?  E-mail us here at GeekNews, and tell us all about it!

Found via [MilkMyCow.com]

Robotic Dog Treat Dispenser, triggered from IM

Make magazine profiles a fellow (by the alias ‘Nbolt’) that wanted to be able to remotely give his dog a treat. So he came up with an interesting solution that includes a robot, an audio converter and MSN instant messenger running on a laptop in the house with the dog. When you see this thing you won’t quite think of it as a ‘rube goldberg machine‘ type device, but it is, erm…interesting.

When a user types ‘treat’ into the IM window, the other end of the IM conversation is running on a laptop tied into this configuration, then a device connected to the laptop is activated to generate a tone. That tone is the ‘trigger’ for the Lego MindStorms NXT robot to activate; it will then pick out a dog treat from a bin, then drop it from a table into the dog bowl, resulting in “one happy dog”.

The inventor says “I have also setup some basic commands so you can IM “sit” “come here” and “speak,” and see if she does them before giving the treat, but so far she doesn’t listen to any of them”.

Here’s the YouTube video of the end to end demonstration, with dog.

The Coolest Chair In History

The picture speaks for itself, folks.  This has got to be the most fascinating chair i’ve ever seen.  I would be proud to have this in my home, and show off to my friends and family as vigorously and often as possible.  For war enthusiasts and gamers alike, this would be the crown jewel or throne of any collection.

AK-47 Chair

This Throne of Weapons is a chair made entirely from decommissioned AK47 rifles that had been used in the Mozambique civil war. It was exhibited at the Herbert as part of a British Museum touring exhibition last year.

The pure fact of its coolness aside, I find this a remarkable tribute to the men, women, and children that fought for the right to maintain their land, and keep free of the tyranny that loomed before them. 

Found via [Hellinahandbasket.com]

CSI:Rome, Solving a 400 Year Old Murder

As rulers, art connoisseurs and financiers of kings, one family, the Medici family, survived for hundreds of cut throught years wheeling and dealing and forming alliances in old Europe, providing four popes and ruling first Florence then Tuscany from about 1430 to 1737.

Its most famous members include Lorenzo de’ Medici, or “Lorenzo the Magnificent”, who supported Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Sandro Botticelli. At least two Medici women — Catherine and Maria, who was Francesco’s daughter — married kings of France, and the Medicis’ former home, Pitti Palace, now houses an important art gallery.

Francesco de’ Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, ruled from 1574 until his death at age 46 on Oct. 17, 1587, 11 days after he fell ill and a few hours before his wife also died.

Rumors abounded that Francesco’s brother, Ferdinando de’ Medici, poisoned his brother and sister in-law, but the official cause of death was malaria after an autopsy had been performed.
3 scientists have looked into this mysterious death recently, collected evidence from the grave site and have announced their findings. Read the LiveScience article with all the backstory from the 16th century, the scientific studies, the evidence discovered and what the new official cause of death appears to be.

CyberDefender Corp. Donates Proceeds to Kim Memorial Fund

I just received a press release that you can also view here. It explains how and why the CyberDender Corporation is donating the first 30 day’s direct sales of its Early Detection Center Security Suite to the James Kim Memorial Fund.

From the release:

“Mr. Kim’s sudden passing is a reminder to us all of how important life and family is,” said Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications Alan Wallace, who was a friend of James Kim. “And, as James honored us all with his sense of purpose, we now honor him and his family with an award that we hope will carry on his sole mission – to care for his family.”

Officially launching at Showstoppers during CES/Las Vegas on January 8, 2007, the Early Detection Center is CyberDefender’s ad-free Internet security suite designed to provide rapid detection and protection against the latest fast-moving online security threats.