Coffee Geek: The End of the Barista?

Allow me to introduce you to George Sabados, he is an ex-barista, now a successful franchise, café business, and retail consultant as well as roaster trainer to the coffee industry. He is the former Executive Officer of the Australasian Specialty Coffee Association, and former Director of Barista College of Australia. He has judged at a number of national and World Barista Championship competitions around the world.

Mr. Sabados has ‘leet’ coffee skills, knows exactly how to create the perfect Espresso and make it perfectly every time; he has a great opinion article on CoffeeGeek: ‘Is this the end of the barista?‘.

The article is a breakdown of the latest ‘super automatic’ espresso machines gaining in popularity over the last several years that are increasing profits in the coffee houses and suprisingly finding customers accepting of this over the personality offered by the baristas. He doesn’t claim to know what the future holds for the barista profession, but does provide some insight into the coffee market that I was not aware of before.

Coffee Joke (as long as we’re on the subject)- 

Sign you may be addicted to coffee – It’s midnight and you’re weighing the pros and cons of making a new pot. 

More Retro Analog Watch Goodness

First, I told you about the very modern Bluetooth watch from Fossil, then the ultra-cool-retro Moonbase Commander watch.

Continuing on the theme of cool and potentially useless but geek-chic in watches, now Maywa Denki brings you a retro watch that goes above and beyond, it has an old style telephone rotary dial Retro Watch Blackon the face of the watch that you must dial in order to find the time.

In Japan, to know the time you can dial 117 and the voice on the other end will tell you the time in hours, minutes and seconds. This incredible watch from inventors Maywa Denki will do the same by using the dial on the face of the watch. Just dial 117 and a woman’s voice will tell you the current time in Japanese! This cool gadget can also be used as an alarm clock, and to give you information about using the three digit dialing Retro Watch blue2codes that directly link you to services — just dial the 3 digit code (e.g. 119 for fire, rescue and ambulance) and it will tell you the service associated with that number, a good way to check before you actually dial the number on a telephone itself. This watch fits any arm and is 24.5 cm long (9.5″), and comes with two tester batteries.

Jbox has it in stock, you can order it here and it’s only US$52. You can request an English owners manual as well, now that’s service! Of course, if you plan on actually using this watch, I guess it helps to live in Japan. Otherwise there’s no telling if your telephone time service is compatible with this phone or not, i’m not sure how extensible this feature is.


Found via TokyoMango

Word of the Day: Schrodinger’s cat

“Schrodinger’s cat” is simply an illustration of the principle in quantum theory of superposition, proposed by Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. To further simply the term, it’s a thought experiement, a ‘what if’ hypothetical question that essentially asks “When does a quantum system stop existing as a mixture of states and become one or the other?”

Schrodinger said:

“One can even set up quite ridiculous cases. A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following diabolical device (which must be secured against direct interference by the cat): in a Geiger counter there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small that perhaps in the course of one hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none; if it happens, the counter tube discharges and through a relay releases a hammer which shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid.If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the cat still lives if meanwhile no atom has decayed. The first atomic decay would have poisoned it. The Psi function for the entire system would express this by having in it the living and the dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts.”

It is typical of these cases that an indeterminacy originally restricted to the atomic domain becomes transformed into macroscopic indeterminacy, which can then be resolved by direct observation. That prevents us from so naively accepting as valid a “blurred model” for representing reality. In itself it would not embody anything unclear or contradictory. There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks.

Check-Mate for Indian Chess Player after Phone Ploy

An Indian chess player, Umakant Sharma, participated in the country’s qualification rounds to get into the national chess championships. And he was winning games…lots of games. Accruing points on such a furious pace over an 18 month period that India’s chess tournament officials were suspicious of Sharma and his rivals were bemused.

Sharma was finally caught cheating after all this time. How did he do it?

He had stitched a bluetooth device into a cloth cap that he always pulled over his ears. He was communicating through the device with accomplices on the outside who were using a computer and feeding his moves to him.

Sharma has been banned from the tournaments for 10 years.

You can read the full Reuters story on eWeek.

Word Of The Day: Cyber

Norbert Wiener (1894-1964) was an American theoretical and applied mathematician. He was a pioneer in the study of stochastic and noise processes, contributing work relevant to electronic engineering, electronic communication and control systems. Wiener is perhaps best known as the founder of cybernetics, a field that formalizes the notion of feedback and has implications for engineering, systems control, computer science, biology, philosophy, and the organization of society.

The word cyber, used in such terms as cybernetics and cyberspace, was coined in 1948 by Wiener when he wrote a book titled ‘Cybernetics’. He derived it from the Greek ‘kubernetes’, or steersman, which is also the root of the word ‘govern’. Here’s a quote from the book describing his new word:

We have decided to call the entire field of control and communication theory, whether in the machine or in the animal, by the name Cybernetics.

Wiener may have based his word on an 1830s French usage of cybernétique, which meant the art of governing.

Kimodo Dragons With Virgin Births

The BBC is reporting on some unusual happenings at the Chester Zoo in the UK.

Kimodo HatchlingScientists report two cases where female Komodo dragons have produced offspring without male contact.

Tests revealed their eggs had developed without being fertilised by sperm – a process called parthenogenesis, the team wrote in the journal Nature. One of the reptiles in the zoo is awaiting her clutch of eight eggs to hatch, with a due-date estimated around Christmas.

The following link is to the Wikipedia article on parthenogenesis if you’re interested in learning more.

Savvy Squirrels Outwit Trees

MSNBC science article:

To help ensure the survival of their species, spruce trees may try to starve off local squirrels by supplying them with very few seeds (eaten by squirrels as food for their own survival). When the squirrel populate is supposedly reduced to the point where the trees can be assured of some cones surviving to plantation for future trees, the trees will suddenly and unpredictably produce *thousands* of cones.

The cool thing described in this article is that the squirrels are counteracting this through behavior not quite understood by scientists yet. Read the article for details. Like good stock brokers, red squirrels  predict when the market will be flooded with seeds and then invest big by producing a second litter of young, a new study finds.

ASUS Releases New “Commando” Gaming Motherboard

Asus announced their latest offering for the gamer community. It’s the ‘Commando’;  the Commando provides extreme overclock ability for enhanced performance, and unique features to jazz up the gaming features and simplify the DIY process.

The Commando provides unmatched overclockability, taking FSB to 2.28GHz and memory up to 1,300GHz!!

Specification summary
CPU: LGA 775 Core2Duo, Quad-Core CPU
DDR2: 800/667/533
FSB: 1066/800
Chipsets: Intel P965 + ICH8R
6 SATA II 3Gb/s
Supports ATI Crossfire Graphics
SupremeFX Featuring ADI 1988b
Extreme Tweaker
LCD Poster
8 phase capless power design
Onboard switches 


    Asus Commando board

WarGames 2, Finally A Sequel In The Making

From Slashdot today we learn that the sequel to the 1983 classic “Wargames” has finally gotten underway and is filiming in Quebec. Matthew Broderick won’t be reprising his role, instead the hacker do-gooder will be played by Matt Lanter.

In this sequel, hacker Will Farmer (Lanter) cracks into a goverment super-computer named Ripley and engages it in an online terrorist-attack simulation game. Little does Farmer know that Ripley has been designed to appeal to potential terrorists, and certain glitches have turned made him paranoid.

Father of Yogi Bear Dies

From the AP:

Joe Barbera, half of the Hanna-Barbera animation team that produced such beloved cartoon characters as Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear and the Flintstones, died Monday at the age of 95. Mr. Barbera died of natural causes at his home with his wife, Sheila, at his side.

With his longtime partner, Bill Hanna, Mr. Barbera first found success with the Tom and Jerry cartoons. The antics of the battling cat and mouse won seven Academy Awards. Mr. Hanna passed away in 2001.

The partners, who teamed up while working at MGM in the 1930s, went on to new success in the 1960s with a series of animated TV comedies, including “The Flintstones,” “The Jetsons,” “Yogi Bear,” “Scooby-Doo” and “Huckleberry Hound and Friends.”

Why Gamers cheat

Forbes has an article on why gamers cheat, breaking down the reasons into 4 buckets:

There are four major reasons why players cheat in a game: they’re stuck, they want to play God, they are bored with the game, or they want to be a jerk.

It goes into detail on each of these and also explains why cheating is actually good for you.

The author is Mia Consalvo an associate professor in the School of Telecommunications at Ohio University. Her current research examines women’s game play, the economics of the videogame industry and pedagogical uses of games. She has just written the book Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames , to be released by MIT Press in 2007.


Do You PikiPimp?

Pikipimp allows you to pimp your pik. Upload a picture of a person, maybe yourself or your friend. Next, pimp it out with a beard, glasses, funny hat, scars, bruises, tattoos, body jewelry and much more.

Then you can preview it, download or save it to the gallery along with all the other buffoons.

Here’s mine. Link to yours in the comments.

Addictive World Map Game

I know you’re probably tired of the zillions of Flash based games on the net, for the most part I am too.

But here’s one I recently heard about that I find fun. Well I find it fun ’cause only a geek would really find something like identifying countries on a map of the world fun: World Map.

I knew I was pretty weak with the African continent, but looks like I need to bone up on my geography in Eastern Europe due to the many new states that arose from the USSR.
World Map Game

Get Your Own “Boom Box”

 Self Destruct USB Hub

Inject some urgency into your debonair character with the Self-Destruct button USB hub that is bound to elicit more than a telling glance from your co-workers. There is an aura around somebody who looks and acts dangerous, and what better way than placing this device on your desk? It looks like it was taken directly from a movie set with all the necessary trappings, with the added bonus of an additional four USB 2.0 ports. Pressing the big, red, round button will elicit a “Kill! Kill! Kill!” audio response.

Now is that not just the most awesome geeky device you could ever receive?

Take a peek at the real thing at GeekStuff4U.

Ring! Ring! It’s the Bananaphone!


San Francisco prankster Laird Rickard has figured out a way to make obnoxious cell phone use funny: he makes it look like you’re talking into a banana. Laird’s company Nanaco produces Cellfoams, squishy foam covers in wacky shapes that protect your phone, and more importantly, make you look silly when you’re talking on your phone instead of rude. Nanaco’s premier product is the banana shaped cell phone cover, playing off that classic gag of pretending a banana is a phone. It was hilarious when Groucho Marx did it and the joke is still, ahem, appealing today. Attractively priced at about $12 bucks at a variety of local retailers, this is a great way to make light of a technology whose convenience barely compensates for its invasiveness. If you were looking for a way to say “I’m just bananas about talking on my cell phone!”, this is it.

Spike TV Hosts the Video Game Awards

The awards show for Video Games is being hosted by Spike TV this year, the show will be broadcast tape delayed on Dec 13. If you’d like a sneek peek at a few of the results, here you go:

“The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion,” a fantasy role-playing game, was the top winner at the Spike TV Video Game Awards in Los Angeles on Friday, taking home five prizes, including “Game of the Year” and “Most Addictive.”
“Gears of War,” an alien shooting title, captured four honors, including “Studio of the Year” for developer Epic Games.
Nintendo Co. Ltd.’s new Wii video game console, which has wooed gamers with its intuitive one-handed motion sensing controller, took home the prize for “Breakthrough Technology.” 
Best Performance by a Human – Male: Patrick Stewart in “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion”
Best Performance by a Human – Female: Vida Guerra in “Scarface: The World is Yours” (Vivendi /Radical Entertainment) 
Critics’ Choice: “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” (Nintendo)
Cyber Vixen of the Year: “Alyx Vance” in “Half-Life 2: Episode 1” (Valve)
Best Original Score: “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion”
Best Graphics: “Gears of War” (Microsoft Corp./Epic Games)

Breakthrough Technology: Nintendo Wii