Gringo Manaba

Adventuras y Fantasias or Fantastical Adventures

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Archive for October 8th, 2005

Ig Noble Prizes Awarded in Cambridge

Posted by glasscastle on 8th October 2005

An ocean away from Stockholm where the real Nobel
Prizes
were announced this week, paper airplanes bombarded the stage
of Harvard’s Sanders Theater Thursday night, as 10 of the world’s most
hilarious achievements were honored — and heckled — at the 15th

Under the strict watch of ”Miss Sweetie Poo," an 8-year-old who shooed
scientists off stage when their speeches got too boring, scientists in
Speedos received the award for settling the age-old scientific question:
Would humans swim faster or slower in syrup?

A European team that unraveled the mysteries of avian defecation in its
report, ”Pressures Produced When Penguins Pooh," clinched the fluid
dynamics prize. And a Japanese doctor who photographed every meal he has
eaten for the last 34 years to find the perfect brain-boosting diet got
his just desserts with the nutrition award.

story from the
Boston Globe

Posted in Weird Science | Comments Off on Ig Noble Prizes Awarded in Cambridge

Robot Cars Finish Race, Attack Crowd

Posted by glasscastle on 8th October 2005

Three robotic vehicles cruised
past the finish line Saturday in a Pentagon-sponsored race across the
rugged Mojave desert, giving scientists hope that robots could one day
wage battles without endangering soldiers.

Also finishing was a converted red Hummer named "H1ghlander" and
a Humvee named "Standstorm" from Carnegie Mellon University.
The Stanford robot dubbed "Stanley" overtook the top-seeded H1ghlander
at the 102-mile mark of the 132-mile course."I’m on top of the world," said Carnegie
Mellon robotics professor William "Red" Whittaker, who said
a mechanical glitch allowed Stanley to pass H1ghlander.

The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, plans
to award $2 million to the fastest vehicle to cover the race in less than
10 hours. The taxpayer-funded race was intended to spur innovation and
development of robots that could be used on the battlefield without remote
controls.

This years results were much improved over last
year’s inaugural race, which was uniformly derided as a failure when
none of
the robot vehicles made it even one-tenth of the way to the finish.  The
"winning" loser, Carnegie Mellon’s Sandstorm, went all of 7.5 miles. Most
of the others never got started, and no prize was awarded.

What a difference a year can make. Advances in software
and hardware, as well as lessons learned, resulted in 8 of this year’s
entries finishing the 132 mile course, and most of the others passing
last year’s Sandstorm mark.

So soon we will have robot tanks and other killing
machines, capable of acting autonamously, without the need for human direction, and adapting to their environment by learning new behavior. Of course, Sci-fi
fans will recognize this as one of the precursors of doom from the Terminator
series….

story from Business Week

Posted in Wacky News | Comments Off on Robot Cars Finish Race, Attack Crowd

Moore’s Ten Trends

Posted by glasscastle on 8th October 2005

Berkman Fellow Jim Moore has proved prescient in spotting and analysing emerging web trends. Here are his latest notes on what’s going on in high-tech industrial developments….

Google, Yahoo and the industry structure of the new web economy at the close of 2005. Ten trends that are changing the way we live, create, and invest.

from Jim Moore’s Journal

Posted in Technology | Comments Off on Moore’s Ten Trends

Nano Nano, Nah….

Posted by glasscastle on 8th October 2005

Finally
got a look at an iPod
Nano
in the Apple Store
in the Galleria Mall in Cambridge. Surprised at how tiny it actually
is, in real life. Way too small, in fact, for a lifestyle as chaotic
and broad brush as the Dowbrigade’s.

Although the drive to miniaturization sometimes seems
inevitable and unstoppable, technologists and interface designers have
for some time recognized that in every product category lifecycle there
is a point of diminishing returns, so to speak, in diminishing dimensions.
This affects a wide variety of devices, from cell phones, to cameras,
to music players and computers.

The point of diminishing returns is different for
every device and every user.  It depends on user’s finger size,
manual dexterity, visual acuity, the complexity of the device and the
complexity of its interface. In the case of the Dowbrigade, there
is one more factor – the shirt pocket slippage test.

Over the years, we have had many bad experiences related
to our shirt pockets.  In our personal world of pockets, the shirt
pocket is the Bermuda Triangle of storage. A great number of these experiences
also involved washing machines. Entire editions of the Dowbrigade wardrobe
have been permanently tinted pink or purple thanks to pens left in said
shirt pockets. Two telephones, a calculator, and a pen flashlight have
similarly taken the final plunge.  Not to mention several small
bags of herbal remedies, assorted capsules and tablets, and a variety
of dry white powders.

So now, when we are swept away by techno-lust, we always
run prospective purchases through the shirt-pocket laundry test: Arriving
home, late at night, in the dark, tired and hungry and moderately intoxicated,
could you possibly slough off your shirt without noticing the device
in the shirt pocket? If the answer is yes it is almost a mathematical
certainty that sooner or later it will come to pass. The Nano absolutely
fails this test. Perhaps not impossibly small, but impractically so.

The test is not limited to the laundry room dangers.  For
anyone who carries their devices around on their body at all times, especially
if they travel, the danger of dropping, forgetting or having your devices
stolen is ever present.   If the device does not have sufficient
size or weight to immediately notice when that size or weight is absent,
it WILL be lost, probably sooner rather than later. No, no Nano.

On the other hand, we believe we have selected our next
digital camera.  The previous model, an HP 310, with 3.1 megapixels,
has done yeoman work over the past 3 years, recording dozens of classes,
several international road trips, and news events which eventually reached
the Dowbrigade News, but it is time to retool on the digital photography
front. For one thing, the flash in the old 310 no longer works, rendering it a daylight-only
camera, and for another it is so impossibly clunky and bulky, especially
when compared to the credit-card-sized marvels we have been seeing lately
in the pockets (often shirt pockets) of our Japanese and Korean students that we have twice now kept it in our pocket (pants, not shirt) out of techno-shame and embarassment.

In
fact, these new credit card cameras fail the shirt-pocket laundry test.  However,
today at the camera store we saw the Nikon
Coolpix 790
. With 7 megapixels, it has the power to produce publication-ready
photos today’s citizen journalist needs.  At the same time, it has
the pre-sets and automated controls to hand-hold the non-expert, without sacrificing the adjustable controls to manually manipulate the settings
if you have the time and inclination.

Plus, in keeping with our Zorro and nilist inspired
fashion sense, we love its stylish black metal body much more than the
oh-so-common trashy brushed aluminum. Best Buy has them for $399, but
they seem to be available on the web for  low $300’s.  We plan
to keep researching, but if we don’t find out anything bad, will probably
pick up the 790 later this month.
After all, it fits in our shirt pocket, but noticeably so….

Posted in Technology | Comments Off on Nano Nano, Nah….

Note to Boy George: Neatness Counts

Posted by glasscastle on 8th October 2005

Singer Boy George was arrested on suspicion of possessing
drugs and making a fake police report after he called 911 early Friday
and falsely said his home had been burglarized, police said.

The singer, whose real name is George O’Dowd, called police from a Little
Italy apartment around 3:14 a.m. and reported a burglary, said Detective
Kevin Czartoryski, a police spokesman.

Officers arrived on the scene and discovered a small amount of cocaine
next to a computer, police said. A woman in the apartment said there was
more cocaine around and police were continuing to investigate.

What is it that makes people who are wacked
out of their minds on cocaine at 3 o’clock in the morning think that
calling the police is a viable
solution for ANYTHING, except maybe finding a secure place to spend the
rest of the night? Personally, we go to great lengths to stay as far away as possible from the protectors of public order when we have ANY psychotropic substances in our system. Once, in a similar situation, the Dowbrigade actually
poured sugar in the gas tank of a van full of South American nuns, convinced
they were undercover cops following him up the Panamerican Highway. Sorry, sisters…..

from Breitbart

Posted in Wacky News | Comments Off on Note to Boy George: Neatness Counts