I’ve been really enjoying the site Neat-O-Rama – lots of very fun articles, clips, pictures.
Microsoft releases their super-cool Surface technology. A large touch-screen surface you interact with. While people have been doing several things like this for years – this is the first commercially available product (vs. super-expensive one-time custom builds). One was in a bar table and the whole bar used laser-lights that would interact with whatever was set on it.
Another cool invention was a non-touch digital butler you hang on the wall. When integrated with your home via sensors, it updates you with all kinds of events that are happening around your house.
Full kudos to Microsoft on putting all these together in a great looking package. Head over to their site and see the demos. The interface interaction is very much like the one you see in the movie Minority Report. But in my mind, enhancing device interaction is even better – everything from putting digital cameras on the surface and having the pictures appear/download onto the surface from it, to cel phones, to video, to zunes swapping music by simply surfing through the piles of songs/images that come off and dragging them over to the other devices on the table, etc.
Only 2 downsides: it will cost $5000-$10,000, and people are already fretting over possible patent lawsuits on multi-touch displays by various individuals/companies (Jeff Han http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/65) – not the least of which was Apple where Steve Jobs mentioned their touch-tech was patented 3 times in a row during his talk when he announced their iPhones.
Still, this has been something just waiting to come and has finally arrived. I just hope our antiquated IP laws don’t kill great things like this before they even take off.
Oh happy day! The 91st running of the Indy 500 was on Sunday. It was kind of an anti-climactic running this year with it stopping for several hours of rain delay and then being called after more rain 50 or so laps before the end. However, local Oregon hero Danica Patrick got 7th. She is from Lake Oswego and has gotten a reputation for being a fiery personality. She got her start racing carts at a cart track my old boss practices at just a few miles from here.
But I love watching the race – more now than before. Mostly because I grew up in Indiana and it always brings back fond memories of finishing chores with my brothers/dad, or having a BBQ or some-such while the tv or radio played the race in the background. On days during the race, if you drive through Indianapolis, you can easily hear the race 25+ miles away from the track. The thunder and roar of the Indy cars is that loud. It’s called “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” because it still has the largest attendance and worldwide radio/television audience of any single-day sporting event.
Even as a kid, you could see the state bend itself as Indy approached. We had neighbors who’d paint their trucks with ‘Indy or Bust’ and drive down. Radio stations go nuts with their latest hair-brained Indy contests (on contest involved singing “Up, up and Away in my Beautiful Balloon” for 3 hours in the porta-potty’s at the track). One fellow shaved the radio station’s call letters in his hair, etc. Folks would talk before and after about the race. But it really was always about getting together and watching the race, BBQ-ing, having a few beers, and enjoying the first big event of summer together. Makes me all nostalgic.
On a different note, a lot of Linux folks raised money to get the Linux penguin put on one of the cars. Unfortunately the Linux car #77 was the first to crash and finished dead last. There’s some irony there for you race fans.
After being to their repair depot 2 times, my new HP laptop’s problem of overheating and randomly shutting itself off is still occurring. The third time is the charm and now they’re building me a new one. I got a free upgrade out of the deal, but I still would just rather have had this one working. It’ll be 2-3 weeks for them to build me a new one.
Kudos to HP for building the new one. They could have easily said: “Sorry must be software or your applications or whatever” and not done anything; much like some poor apple folks got when their MacBooks exhibited similar problems. So, as long as it ends well, I’ll be happy.
I woke up this morning to this news on the radio:
A beaver running loose on the freeway caused traffic delays in Lake Oswego this morning. The beaver ran up and down the 217 on-ramp from I-5 NB until ODOT workers managed to trap him in a barrel. He was then set free in the woods just off the freeway.
Link even has video:
I finally settled on a HP dv2000t for replacing my old laptop and ordered it with a $200 discount coupon. For just over $800, I got a Core2Duo, 14″ widescreen brightview display, dvd+rw, 1.5 gig ram, 120gig hd, nvidia 7200 graphics card, and Vista Home Premium. I got it a week earlier than planned (it was FedEx’ed from their China manufacturing site). They are super-sleek and nice looking laptops. I really liked the 14″ displays and their bright glossy finish. The wireless remote that hides in the PCIe slot is a nice touch and the fact you can watch DVD’s using the surface touch buttons without actually having to boot the machine is super cool.
Alas, after a week of use, it would randomly and instantly power off in the middle of watching videos or playing games. I figured out that anything that got the system hot would cause it to happen, not unlike what some MacBook users were experiencing (http://macbookrandomshutdown.com). I called support and they graciously offered to fix it. They paid for next-day shipping both ways – and I only lost my machine for a total of 5 days. When I got the machine back, it did some weird driver reloading at startup. I checked the device list and the nVidia 7200 was gone and the cheaper/slower Intel 945 was in its place. Sigh, they’d put the wrong motherboard in it.
Worse still, I couldn’t use the system re-install disks in it since ‘the hardware didn’t match’. Stupid locked OS install disks. I call support and back it goes again. Sigh. I certainly hope they fix it this time. The case got escalated (not by me even), and I was promised that if it wasn’t fixed this time, I’d get a new machine. I will hand it to HP’s customer service – they are good at not stonewalling you and do the right thing for the customer but I just want my working machine back. Can’t wait to get to really using it.
The Thoracic and Cardiovascular Institute at Michigan State University presented a paper at an annual meeting in Denver that says iPods can and do interfere with pacemaker operation – up to and including causing the pacemaker to stop functioning altogether when held anywhere from 2-18 inches from the device.
Now, iPods are all the rage, but I for one have just never been sold on them. They are slick and I like the wheel interface; but they are overpriced and don’t do what I need. I bought a 2gig iRiver that also has a FM RADIO, is about 1/3 the size of an iPod so I can run with it, RECORDS mp3’s off any source – including recording a radio program (which I do all the time), and runs on a single AA battery for weeks – all for $69. For this price, you could barely get a refurb shuffle with none of those features.
But what I marvel over is how amazing Apple is at its marketing and image control. They have a CEO that is in dutch for some stock backdating, MacBooks with exploding batteries (well, everyone had that for a while), have the industries most vicious reputation for suing and prosecuting bloggers that out info about upcoming products, people with bending and warping laptop cases because of heat and corroding connectors, is notorious for denying problems then later quietly offering replacements, were just labeled by Greenpeace as the most eco UN-friendly computer company (after IBM and Dell for heavens sake) when even Al Gore is on their board of directors(!). They’ve also been catching flack from the security community because they don’t announce known security holes and ETA’s for the fixes (you did know they have security holes and have been quietly patching them right?), and now iPods that might actually kill you. Yet they are still seen as the most forward-thinking, user-friendly company for the creative class out there.
The fun part is that I doubt this even makes the slightest dent in their image.
I got one of those Snapple drinks with the ‘Little Known Facts’ under the cap. Well, it claimed that:
The only English word that rhymes with spaghetti is confetti.
Well, I believe that ‘machete’ also rhymes with them both. Still, one might argue that spaghetti, confetti, and machete aren’t really English-rooted words. But it does make me a little more optimistic about my rarely-flexed syllabic balladry skills. Guess you can’t believe everything you read on a bottle-cap.
Conan O’Brien made a trip to Intel in Santa Clara – one of the oldest sites – and it’s pretty funny. The building he was in is by far the ugliest/worst I’ve ever seen (our buildings here in Oregon are much better/more colorful/newer/etc)
Still, it’s quite funny and a lot of the cube-land jokes are pretty good.
Had the flu for the last solid week. Ugh. It started with a night of aweful cold chills and sweating, then 2 days of body aches, then it moved to my head for conjestion, coughing, and ears plugged up by fluid. After 7 days, it’s finally broken. I’ve heard of two other people who have now gotten this same progression of misery – so be on your lookout and know it’ll knock you out for a whole week.