Spy Camera Sunglasses

Coolest spy sunglasses ever!

ThinkGeek has these sunglasses with an embedded 1.3 megapixel camera and remote control shutter built-in. The ultimate in "cool as shit" spy gear that would have made me "cuckoo for cocoa puffs" in sixth grade. It’s no fair that kids that have $100 will get a chance to wear these in school, museums and other places where cameras just aren’t allowed.  The sunglasses also allow you to enjoy your music via MP3 playback. Built-in earbuds allow you to play James Bond music as you take photos.

CGI Flash-Animated Woman

Creepy woman.

I just went to a website that features an incredibly lifelike and creepy CGI flash-animated woman that follows your mouse with her eyes, blinks, and smiles.  I guarantee you that everyone that sees her will exclaim "wow, that’s pretty cool!"  The Brazilian design firm that created her did a fantastic job.

Check it out if you have some time.  What I really like about the animation is that it appears to be truly random.  She doesn’t have that many facial movements, but they all seem to be very well randomized.  At this rate it seems we are very close to having virtual actors that appear lifelike, not like Buzz Lightyear.  Via BoingBoing.

Kilobyte Comic

Via xkcd.

The war for the next-generation video format war is over. Last week, Toshiba officially announced that it will no longer manufacture HD-DVD players, making Sony’s Blu-ray technology the victor. I feel really bad for some of my friends that bought HD-DVD players in the last couple of months. I will now be waiting for Microsoft to release their Blu-ray add-on for the Xbox 360.

It seems that until now very few people seem concerned about disappearing bee populations. Well, Haagen-Dazs is warning that 40% of their flavors need fruits and vegetables that are pollinated by bees. This means that premium ice cream prices will go up and flavors may disappear altogether. Bottom line, if you like ice cream you should consider donating to bee population research. Contact the UC Davis Department of Entomology at (530) 752-0475 and ask how you can help financially.

CrackBerry Baby
Creepy baby image from All Media. Via BoingBoing.

Here’s a video on how to open a standard padlock with a pair of scissors and a soda can. Take that MacGyver! I am very glad this kid didn’t go to my high school. I wonder why some gyms and high schools still use these locks. Apparently, unless you have a shrouded shackle or hidden shackle padlock, your stuff is toast.

I have had a Palm Treo 650 for the last two years and it has served me well. I used it to check work email, keep contacts, check my calendar. Basically, I used it for all of the Outlook functions without having to turn on my computer, which isn’t very practical just to check my availability for an appointment. The Treo was a big clunky device that had poor sound quality, low battery life, and a small screen with a weak backlight. It was so poor as a phone that I still carried a Motorla Razr as my phone.

About three days ago, I upgraded to the BlackBerry Pearl 8100 and the device is nothing short of amazing. It is small sleek, has a great high contrast color screen, good sound quality, amazing battery life, and even great native third-party apps, like a GoogleTalk and Gmail client. Best of all, the built-in camera is 1.3 megapixels and has great image quality. With all of these features built-in I am going to get rid of my Razr and carry just one device from now on.

After two years I saw the Treo as a necessary tool that I simply tolerated. After only a few days with the Pearl I can honestly say that I love it. I understand the strong emotional attachment that a lot of people have for their BlackBerries and understand the term CrackBerry intimately. I can’t put this damn thing down!

Scientists now believe that birds have special molecules in their eyes that allows them to literally see the Earth’s magnetic field within their normal field of vision. This becomes particularly helpful for the birds when migrating long distances. It is likely that the magnetic field looks like dark or light spots or lines within their normal vision.

Well, at a very small scale anyway. Scientists have found that when water in two beakers is exposed to a high voltage, a floating water bridge forms between the beakers. The water stream can be as wide as 3mm in diameter and as long as 25mm. It’s interesting that while water is everywhere in nature, some of its unique properties are still a mystery. Via BoingBoing.

The first emoticon in an electronic message was sent by a Carnegie Mellon professor 25 years ago today.

MC Frontalot just made a sweet video of his new Nerdcore song, “It’s Pitch Dark.” That’s right it’s funky fresh Zork universe humor for all of those old enough to remember the Infocom games. What is a grue? Well, if you have to ask you probably won’t understand this video.

Halo Costume

Some guy is selling a fully articulated Master Chief costume on eBay for $5,300. With costumes that look this good, I am surprised that people haven’t made live action fan films about the Halo universe. The guy selling the costume didn’t make it, but I am sure whoever made this costume spent a lot of time on it. Alas, you have to be really serious about Halo to drop this kind of money on a freaking costume. But think about how cool, and lonely, you’ll be on Halloween!

The reference International Prototype Kilogram (IPK), a cylindrical shaped piece of platinum-iridium alloy that is stored in Sèvres, France, just outside of Paris, has mysteriously shrunk by 50 micrograms. The kilogram remains the only unit of measure based on a physical artifact instead of fundamental physical properties that can be reproduced in different laboratories.

Scientists are unsure what has caused the main prototype to become lighter, although the fact that it has been cleaned more frequently than the other “sister” official prototypes suggests that it is losing mass through the cleaning process, which cannot be perfect because it is physical (not frictionless) in nature and the prototype is stored in air (not in a vacuum). Interestingly, the weight loss is equivalent to the weight of an average fingerprint.

Currently, there are proposed future definitions for the kilogram that will render the IPK obsolete. If you are a total geek, you’ll thoroughly enjoy the proposals which vary from counting atoms of silicon and gold, to the weight of a huge number of electrons in a vacuum, to measuring the mass of an object with electricity passing through it. The IPK’s days are numbered.

Audi R8

Audi USA is putting together an event called the Audi Driving Experience that will feature Audi production vehicles on a race track and professional driving instruction. The event will be in San Francisco on September 12th through 16th, November 27th through 30th, and December 1st through 3rd. The best part is that it will be held at Infineon Raceway and for a lucky few, or those willing to pay extra, will include a lap on the track in the Audi R8 sportscar, pictured above. Needless to say, I am already registered for a session on November 28th.

According to scientists in the field, a major breakthrough in artificial life is likely to come in 3 to 10 years. Artificial life in this instance refers to creating life, protocells, in a petri dish using only chemicals found in DNA. This research may lead to man-made life forms that may assist in solving problems like finding a cure for cancer or getting rid of toxic waste and green house gases. If we could create a single cell from scratch that would be nothing short of amazing!

The Difference
This explains why I was different than the other kids, and always injured.

Well, many people are trying to activate their iPhones without going into contract with AT&T for two full years of cell phone service. They basically want a touchscreen, widescreen, web-surfing, kickass iPod, and to forget about the phone features. However, there’s no easy way to do this. The preferred method is to fail the credit check by entering 999-99-9999 as your SSN and then setting up a $50 prepaid plan. Once the prepaid minutes expire you have an activated iPhone without phone service!

Many Apple iPhone customers have been experiencing activation problems over the last three days. Some customers that bought their iPhones on Friday have still not been able to activate their phones. Without activating the phone, the clock alarm does not even work, making it a really expensive paperweight. iStone.

Much of the blame goes to AT&T for not being prepared for the deluge of activation requests on their activation servers. I for one will not buy a first generation iPhone. There’s a big difference between the “leading edge” and the “bleeding edge” and I for one will let others bleed until the bugs get worked out.

I may be going to the Apple store later today to check it out, but I am definitely not buying one.

PillCam

I thought this was a Photoshop contest joke when I saw it, but it’s real! There’s a pill equipped with two cameras, one of each side, a battery, and a flash that you can swallow to get 2600 images of the inside of your Esophagus in about 15 minutes. Sure, I bet you’re thinking that’s huge pill to swallow (pun intended), but it’s less invasive and more comfortable than the “camera on a stick through your nose” endoscopy that has been the norm for almost 20 years.

In 1957, a few folks in Oklahoma thought it would be a good idea to bury a brand new car, a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere, in a concrete time capsule for 50 years. The concrete structure was built to withstand a nuclear explosion, but apparently not seeping ground water. The car turned into a rusted mess! Check out the cool photos of it being unearthed. Even cooler are the photos they took when they buried it.

The new Google Maps Street View feature is crazy cool! Check it out!

Here’s a map of online communities that looks sort of like the sweet maps that came with the Infocom Zork video games. Geek out!

Self-Righting Object

Weeble Wobbles are played out! Recently two mathematicians from Hungary designed and built an object that rights itself without a weighted bottom. The mathematically constructed object (made of wood and pictured here) has just one stable and one unstable balance point. The object is like a pinched sphere, with a high, steep back and a flattish bottom.

The scientists noticed that their self-righting object looked like a turtle, but have measured several dozen turtles and found that turtles are nearly self-righting but need to kick their legs a bit to come all the way around. Since all of the self-righting objects the scientists have found are smooth and curvy, they wonder if it is possible to create a self-righting polyhedral object. They are offering a prize to the first person to find one: $10,000, divided by the number of sides of the polyhedron.

The scientists are guessing that a self-righting polyhedron would have many thousands of sides. So the prize might only amount to a few pennies. Smart!

PM PC Review from 1982

Here’s a link to a Popular Mechanics article that reviews the top 6 personal computers of 1982. On their comparison test were the Apple II, the Atari 800, the original IBM PC, the Commodore PET 2001, the Radio Shack TRS80 Model III, and the Texas Instruments 99/4A. Most of these machines came with two floppy drives and hard disk drives were sold separately. Personal computers, with a hard drives, had an average cost of $1,900 in 1982. That’s almost $4,100 in today’s dollars! PCs were so expensive at first that they were out of reach for most of the middle class. To put it in perspective cars were about $10,000 in 1982, so a PC was one fifth the price!

However, kids like me could buy used ones pretty easily a few years after their release, when new models made the older models less desirable. My first personal computer was a modded Atari 1200XL (it had an Atari 800XL OS ROM) that I bought used from a friend of mine, with all his software, back in 1985. He sold it to me because his family had bought an Apple IIC. I don’t remember how much I paid for it but it was less than $300 and I was pretty excited about it. Mostly because I could play Karateka and the Zork Trilogy in the comfort of my own room. These early computers were a lot of fun. Via BoingBoing.

You can’t pretend to be an Internet expert and use a Hotmail account at the same time, according to a Spanish consultancy firm. I have to agree with that, since I work for a large consultancy myself. I would never put a Hotmail address on my resume, but then again I have my own domain. Via BoingBoing.

I personally believe that the future of UI design will include touch technology and voice recognition, much like what Tom Cruise uses to search through precog data in Minority Report. This amazing video found on the MacRumors site shows a demo of multi-touch screens being developed by a company called Perceptive Pixel. It’s simply amazing–check it out. Via Knowing.net, thanks Larry.

Web 2.0 Video

I just found this amazing video created by Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University. The video explains the evolution of the web from its humble HTML beginnings to the introduction of XML, RSS and beyond.

It explains Web 2.0 in just under five minutes. It flows extremely well. It is a work of genius that deserves some sort of award. It should at least be nominated for something.

Intel announced a parallel processor that would give business and consumer machines teraflop performance. The super chip, which is the size of a human fingernail, would consist of 80 cores and would have the same power consumption as today’s processors. Now all we need is for all programmers to learn to write for an 80-core processor and things will be great.

Apple is warning iPod and iTunes users not to upgrade to Vista due to compatibility issues.

Zap-X Sports Sedan

Zap has teamed up with Lotus to create an electric sports car (pictured right) to compete with Tesla Motors and Wrightspeed. The Zap-X will be a $60,000 sedan, will run 350 miles per charge, will attain a full charge using a standard outlet in about 10 minutes, and do zero to 60 miles per hour in 4.8 seconds. Additionally, the car will have a theoretical maximum speed of 155 mph and sport 644 horsepower! Forgive me if this sounds to good to be true. If electric cars continue to make this much progress, the Audi A4 I just bought may be my last gas-powered car.

I remember standing in line to purchase a copy of Windows 95 when it was released at the newly built CompUSA store in Torrance, California. It was a warm August evening and no breeze. There were at least 400 people there lined up to buy only about 300 copies of the new operating system. Excitement was in the air and people couldn’t wait to get home to load up their 486DX/25 machines with the new OS. I was up all night installing it.

Most of the people lined up were running DOS 6.22 with Windows 3.11 and were eager for a change. For one, Windows 3.11 did not support TCP/IP built-in. Most people that accessed the Internet had UNIX shell accounts running a program called TIA over dial-up lines using the SLIP protocol. People also used the Mosaic, and later the Netscape browser to access the web, and Eudora for email. My ISP was Netcom, which was acquired by Mindspring, which was eventually acquired by Earthlink.

Windows 95 was a huge leap forward. It had built-in TCP/IP and PPP protocols to access the Internet through dial-up. This eventually meant the end for TIA, as Internet service providers started to provide PPP modem banks that no longer necessitated the use of a shell account. Those were the glory days of personal computing. Windows 95 was a big step forward and was an eagerly anticipated media event.

Contrast this with last night’s release of Windows Vista. Although there are big improvements in this new OS, mostly in security and graphics, it’s not much better than a well-patched installation of Windows XP Professional. People out there are happy running Windows XP and don’t want to learn new menus and graphics. Some may not want to upgrade Windows because they don’t want to upgrade their hardware. Either way, people are resistant to change.

Last night, the crowds of people never showed up. Granted, there wasn’t a huge marketing blitz featuring the Rolling Stones song “Start Me Up” like the Windows 95 launch. Ultimately, I think Microsoft knew that users would never line up for only a slight improvement, no matter what commercials they ran. Deep inside, Microsoft must know that it has lost its magic and it will never be 1995 again.

The old adage that “no two snowflakes are alike” is likely false, according to scientists. However, your chances of finding a like pair are infinitesimal.

Here is a backstage photo set of stormtroopers at the Rose Parade.

MC Router, First Lady of Nerdcore

Although the nerdcore subgenre (hip-hop hardcore + nerds = nerdcore) is a few years old, it may gain critical mass now that a new documentary about the movement is seeking distribution. Nerdcore for Life is a new documentary that sheds light on the most popular nerdcore artists and their lives. The trailer for the film has garnered over 600,000 views on YouTube.

MC Router, pictured here, has a famous beef with Wired Magazine for running a story about nerdcore (issue 14.09) and stating there’s “even a few ladies” on the scene without giving her any props. Click on her picture to hear “Unwired” on her Myspace page, it’s her rap rebuttal to the Wired story. Damn, even if you may not like her rap style you gotta admit that she has one of the sweetest tattoos ever!

I am completely fascinated by nerdcore and would love to see the film be entered and shown at the next San Francisco International Film Festival. Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing whether the film was even entered prior to the December 15th deadline for the festival. In any case, I sent the director and producer an email about the festival and can only hope that he follows up with the festival organizers. I wish him the best of luck in getting his film shown and distributed. For more on nerdcore go to nerdcorehiphop.org.

Post-holiday rush to use new iPods and iTunes gift cards crashes site.

NASA says that they are looking for international support to start building a permanent base on the moon by 2020. By 2024, they would hope to have a permanent rotating crew on the base at all times, like we currently maintain on the international space station. The base would be built on one of the moon’s poles where it could take advantage of increased sunlight for power and would be used to stage trips to Mars and other destinations. Kick ass!

The Daily Nugget now has tagging functionality and is displaying tags for entries that I’ve tagged since the release of Movable Type 3.3 on July 13th. There’s just no way I am going back to tag all of the entries on the website through June 2002. In any case, the “popular tags” cloud can be found on the left sidebar as well as a link to an index of all tags on the blog. This should make it a lot easier to find things. Enjoy and let me know what you all think.

Canon Powershot G7

I love my trusty Canon Powershot G2 and still take some amazing pictures with it. But I am totally lusting over the newly announced Canon Powershot G7. I may have to sell some equipment to get one of these next month when they hit the stores.

Pluto's Revenge!?
I hope that Pluto is not too upset about its recent demotion. Via BoingBoing.
Adios Pluto

The International Astronomical Union voted a set of rules defining just what a planet is and what it isn’t earlier today. Many had thought that the definition of a planet would be expanded to include 3 new planets. However, in a surprising turn of events, the new definition of planet has demoted Pluto to “dwarf planet” status. Now the solar system has officially 8 planets, putting to rest controversy that has surrounded Pluto since its discovery in 1930.

An excerpt of the official definition of a planet, as decided by the IAU is as follows:

“a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a…nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.”

Since Pluto has an orbit that overlaps that of Neptune, it is automatically disqualified since it has not “cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.” Wow, I never thought that the solar system would grow or shrink during my lifetime. I guess you’ll have to tell your kids, “when I was young there were actually 9 planets, but we ‘dwarfed’ one of them.”

Free Google WiFi in San Francisco hasn’t happened yet, but apparently free Google WiFi in Mountain View, its hometown, may happen much much sooner. Google has spent a measly $1 million of its $10 billion stash on the project to give free WiFi at DSL speeds to the netizens of Mountain View. Let’s not all hold our breath for the San Francisco WiFi network, since it may never happen.

Last month in a conference in Japan, a Dell laptop exploded on a table while onlookers panicked. Luckily, the owner of the laptop did not have it on his lap or it would have been, “Adios, amigos.” And by “amigos” I of course mean “balls.” A couple of days ago in an office in Vernon Hills, Illinois, another Dell laptop caught on fire, smoked up an entire office, and had to be put out by firefighters. After these two incidents it is clear that I just don’t have big enough balls to own a Dell laptop. Ultimately, I may have small balls, but I’d certainly like to keep ’em.

Note: I had a Compaq laptop firmly on my lap, and close to my balls, while I posted this.

Scott McNealy announced today that he is stepping down as CEO of Sun Microsystems after twenty years.

Technorati founder, David Sifry, has posted his quarterly State of the Blogosphere address. It is chock full of information regarding the growth of the blogosphere over the last three years. Technorati now tracks 35.4 million blogs and the blogosphere is doubling every six months, that’s faster than Moore’s law! The blogosphere is 60 times bigger than it was just three years ago. Currently a new blog is created every second of every day and 19.4 million bloggers are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created. Check out the post, if only for the cool charts and graphs.

I started The Daily Nugget in June 2002 and if memory serves me correctly there were only about 500,000 blogs at the time. Even back then, people marveled at how fast the blogosphere had grown from just a few thousand blogs in 1998. Blogger was launched by Pyra Labs in late 1999 and helped spark (pun intended, get it pyra and spark) the blogging craze. Movable Type was launched nearly two years later. Movable Type’s server-based software is what I use to run The Daily Nugget today.

While I was going to school my posts fell off to about one per week. According to Technorati, only about 3.4 million bloggers currently update their blogs weekly. Based on that figure, I would assume that only 20% of those bloggers update their blogs daily. Either way, whether The Daily Nugget is updated weekly or daily, it is part a rare group of “old school” blogs that are still frequently updated. I would like to thank my readers–all 23 of them–for making it all worthwhile.

Battlestar Galactica wins Peabody Award for excellence in electronic media.

In order to weed out comment spam created by spam bots, I know require a passphrase to be typed into each comment form in order to validate the comment. Since almost all spammers use bots, rather than coming to your site to type in the comments themselves, this eliminates all the bot generated spam in the comments. Another new feature is the ability to subscribe to an email notification of new comments for a particular entry. This will allow people to track blog entries much like threads in a community forum.

Check these features out and let me know what you think.

Apple released software today that allows Windows XP to run on Intel-based Macs. I think it is safe to say that Apple’s journey to the dark side is complete.

A-SS Video Game Rating

Industry ratings board approves A-SS rating for bad video games.

I just recently upgraded to the Motorola RAZR V3 phone and wanted to see some cool color apps on it when I stumbled on Google Local for Mobile. Google Local is the official name for Google Maps. I just tried it and it is simply awesome. I know this is old news for many, but if you have a color phone and have not tried this application, you are missing out. Just type in “google.com/glm” into your phone’s browser to download the application. Check it out.