Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Stinky, the underwater robot

Wired has a fascinating story on how four young Mexican immigrants went up against the big engineering teams from MIT and other big names in the Marine Technology ROV championship.

$800 raised from local supporters goes a long way against the >$10.000 received in support by the bigger teams if you have imagination and dedication. The built Stinky from PVC tubes (it go it name after a marathon gluing session) and solved a last minute water leak the in a novel way:

"Excuse me, madam," he began. He wasn't used to approaching women, let alone well-dressed white women. He saw apprehension flash across her face. Maybe she thought he was trying to sell magazines or candy bars, but he steeled himself. He explained that he was building a robot for an underwater contest, and it was leaking. He wanted to soak up the water with tampons but didn't know which ones to buy. "Could you help me buy the most best tampons?"

Way to go Carl Hayden Community High School Falcon Robotics Club; Cristian Arcega, Lorenzo Santillan, Luis Aranda, and Oscar Vazquez!

Support them with the La Vida Robot Scholarship Fund


Smart trash

After smart toilets that come out of the ground,

it is time for smart trash cans:

The solar powered BigBelly compacts the trash and can contain10 times as much trash; reducing the number of times it has to be emptied, reducing pollution by the pick up trucks etc.

The really cool feature? It contacts the company when it is almost full to let them know it has to be emptied.

Via Wired news letter


Microsoft Reader for Pocket PC 2.4

Microsoft has released version 2.4 of Microsoft Reader. It contains bug fixes and a couple of new features:

  • Rotate books on Windows Mobile 2003 SE

  • Pan and zoom graphics

English, French, German, Italian and Spanish versions are available

Via Pocket PC eBooks Watch


Saturday, March 26, 2005


Transparent screen illusion

I have to bring my camera to the office after easter so I can make a transparent screen as well:

The best would be to have a high resolution web cam that can update the background image at run time. Difficult to get the perspective right but it be one cool hack.

Via [Boing Boing]

Friday, March 25, 2005


DIY RFID implant

A guy implanted a small RFID tag into his hand and posted the pictures on flickr.  The device is passive and stores an ID which he will use to open the car door, the house, log onto the computer etc. By operating the RFID tag into the hand he solved the main problem; loosing the keys RFID tag.

I would love to use RFID to automatically log into the computer as well but I am not ready to implant one (yet). Since the device is only a couple of millimeters it would be cool to have a passive RFID tag that can be embedded in a ring or a nice bracelet. It has to be waterproof of course so it never has to be taken off.

Synometrix makes wristbands but they are not waterproof:

They also make bracelets but fluorescent green is not really my color:

Maybe I should try to convince the local watch repair shop to insert RFID labels inside the watches I used the most?

Via [Boing Boing]


Solar Death Ray

Dreaming of world domination? Get started by building your own Solar Death Ray

The Solar Death Ray works by reflecting the light of the sun from 112
mirrors onto a single spot. Anything in the spot (the target) starts to get

Using some basic principles of Black Body Radiation, I estimate that the
Solar Death Ray can heat things up to between 500-600 degrees Celsius
(930-1100 degrees Fahrenheit) under good conditions

Several targets like a America Online CD, one rubber ducks and a mobile phone have already been eliminated and more target suggestions are requested

Via [Hack a day]


Chalk Mug messenger

Make sure your friends and colleagues get the message with the chalk mug:

Leave notes, insults or write messages for colleagues on the bottom your own the chalk mug. I wonder if anyone ever proposed via a mug before?

Neat gift idea.

Via [The Red Ferret Journal]



Thursday, March 24, 2005


Cappuccino art

I bet the Cappuccino in my local bar tastes just as good, but I have never seen Cappuccino and coffee look this good:

Via [Boing Boing]

Thursday, March 17, 2005


Instant shelter: just add water

The Concrete Canvas is a cool idea. The "building in a bag" is basically a tent impregnated with cement. Add water, inflate and you have an instant building:

A single person can set up the building in 40 minutes which is ready ready for use in 12 hours.

It is almost as easy to transport as a tent and as durable and secure as a portable building. At a quarter of the cost it's coolissimo!

Via [Wired]


Linspire Five-0

Lindows Linspire Five-0 has been released

The new release uses the Linux 2.6.10 kernel, KDE 3.3, Reiser 4 FS and comes with better WiFi and laptop support and a whole bunch of other new features

Monday, March 14, 2005


Star Wars: Episode III trailer

The trailer of Star Wars Episode III, Revenge of the Sith, is finally available to the public.

(Quick Time required)


SanDisk USB flash memory with fingerprint reader

SanDisk introduces the Cruzer Profile USB 2.0 flash memory with fingerprint reader:

The Cruzer Profile will start shipping mid April and come in two versions; 512MB ($99.99) and 1GB ($199.99). A very good price compared to some of the other readers on the market.

LexMark JumpDrive Touchguard
The Thouchguard is a bit dated as is USB 1.0 and only comes in a 256MB ($71) configuration.

BioDisk 2.0
The BioDisk is USB 2.0 and comes in several configurations but it costs almost twice as much as the Cruzer Profile; 128MB ($163), 256MB ($190), 512MB ($307) and 1GB ($462). 


Games for boring moments

Small, simple and entertaining Flash games for boring moments at I Am Bored. There is something for every taste:

  • Bumper karts
  • BMX
  • Paintball
  • Mini golf
  • Table tennis
  • 3d pool

A quick game of mini golf is a great time killer while waiting for meetings to start

Friday, March 11, 2005


Cat detector camera

Cat detector van camera. If you have a cat, you will love this cat door project:

I don't have a cat door, but I wish I could see what the cat has dragged up the stairs before I open the door. As time goes on I can tell when she is up to something by the sound she makes but once in a while she tricks me. You see: my cat believes that the quality of the food and the amount of cuddling she gets is proportional to the yuckiness of the stuff she drags home. If she doesn't feel loved enough she brings up lizards before she upgrades to larger animals like mice, birds etc if it doesn't work. She makes sure they are still alive when I open the door so she can be the hero of the day and run inside and grab them.

Via [Make]


MSN Start page and Sandbox

I don't know how I missed this URL before; it turns out that Microsoft has its own version of the Google Labs at the MSN Sandbox:

It covers the most important beta web software coming from Microsoft lie the MSN Toolbar, MSN Messenger 7, MSN Spaces etc. But, it doesn't cover more obscure features like the customizable Start pages they are playing around with at MSN (version 1, version 2). This is my customized version 2:

Looks very nice and having a customizable online start page that works from everywhere is pretty neat. But, to be upgraded from a neat, to Cool Or What rating, they have to make it work on Pocket PC as well!

Via [venkatna's WebLog]

Thursday, March 10, 2005


Akihabara in English

Akihabara often has the news first on the latest Japanese gadgets. The Akihabara RSS feed is in French which means that I miss most of the important stuff.

They finally have a English version of their site and a English RSS feed as well. Great stuff.

Thanks Mik

Wednesday, March 9, 2005


Is your neighbor blogging?

Find out with the new Blog Map feature Neigh Blog Map. Click the icon above to see my blog neighbors.

Steps to add the Neigh BlogMap to a .TEXT blog:

  • Register your RSS feed on the BlogMap submit page

  • Copy the Neigh BlogMap image to \images\NeighBlogMap.gif

  • Open Skins\YourSkin\Controls\MyLinks.ascx

  • Add the following link next to the RSS link

<asp:HyperLink ImageUrl="~/images/NeighBlogMap.gif" Runat="server" NavigateUrl= ID="NeighBlogMap">Neigh BlogMap</asp:HyperLink>

Believe it or not, I found an ex work colleague turned neighbor via the map.


Gmail on the Pocket PC

The new gmail "basic mode" works on the Pocket PC. The GUI is a bit cramped on my iPaq 4150 but it looks better on the latest Pocket PCs that work in landscape mode. The login is via https so it is safer than 3rd party services like  that post the user name and password in clear text.

There are some features that don't work on the Pocket PC web interface:

  • Sending attachments (limitation of Pocket Explorer)

  • Creating filters

  • Spell checker

  • Java Script features like auto complete

Otherwise it works like a charm. You can also try the basic GUI in a web browser by clicking the "basic HTML" link at the end of the page:

The only thing missing now is a gmail notifier for the Pocket PC that integrates on the Today screen.

Let me know, by commenting on this post or using the contact form, if you want a gmail account as I have several invitations. You can also check out the gmail spooler which has an unbelievable 450.702 invitations waiting to be shared at the time of writing.

Via [jkOnThRun]

Monday, March 7, 2005


Google Weather

Get the weather forecast on Google.Search forWeather City“ to get the current forecast: 

Like Google Maps, and other Google Local services, it only works for US cities :-(  There is one amazing thing about the Google Weather though: It was developed as a 20% project by one of the Google engineers. Being able to dedicate one full day each week to a personal pet project is a program every company should implement.

The feature is also available via Google SMS

Via [Google Blog]

Sunday, March 6, 2005


Play golf and tennis on top of the world

Burj Al Arab ******* (yes, 7 stars) apparently paid Tiger Woods $1.000.000 to hit golf balls from their helipad last summer:

Last week they got Roger Federer and Andre Agassi to promote the Dubai Duty Free Men's Open by making them “play” tennis on the helipad:

All of it in the “tiny“ helipad of one impressive looking hotel.

Thanks for the tip Andrea

Thursday, March 3, 2005


Steve Fosset and Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer made it!

After almost 3 days in a 7 feet long cockpit, sitting on a cushion during take-off and landing to get a good enough view and surviving on diet milkshakes, Steve Fosset successfully landed in Salina.

Yet another impressive feat made possible by Burt Rutan after Voyager was the first to fly non-stop without refueling almost 20 years ago in 1986.

Staying awake for more than 60 hours takes some preparation:

Three days before this particular attempt, he will go on a low residue diet of protein orientated foods like eggs to ensure that nothing upsets his digestive system and to dispense with the worry and inconvenience of mid-air of bowel movements. He will also be equipped with a pee bottle and a supply of diet milkshakes - which are low residue yet nutricious
When you are doing something at this level, your sleeping requirements drop a lot. On two occasions - while ballooning and sailing - I’ve been awake for just over three days. A pilot Steve Bede has also stayed awake for 71 hours," says Fossett.

"I will also get simulated rest which means staying very relaxed and still. I know how to relax and I also know that when I’m not getting much physical exercise, I don’t need much sleep," continues Fossett.

They were worried about the fuel consumption as the plane came up about 2.600 pounds of fuel short after taking of on Monday. But, thanks to good tail winds, they could continue:

"The range was going to be very close, said Jon Karkow of Scaled Composites, the firm which built the craft. "We had a moment of panic." He said as more data arrived from the aircraft, projections showed the fuel would propel the aircraft throughout its entire 40,234 kilometer (25,000-mile) trek.

"Knowing Steve, if he runs out of fuel short of the airport, he's one of the world's best glider pilots and the plane would be capable of actually gliding for 50 miles at the end," said mission sponsor Richard Branson, who heads Virgin Atlantic.

The web site had problems keeping up with the requests as it slowed down to a crawl. CNN wants money to watch the video but I found a free live feed on MSNBC.

More on MSNBC, CNN and the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer site

Wednesday, March 2, 2005


Hands-free binoculars

The world's first hands-free binoculars should be something for the people bird watching on Torrey Pines City Beach beach  (scroll down to the end of the page)

HiStar, Inc. has introduced its line of hands-free binoculars. The headset features a padded, adjustable headband and focus-free, wide-angle binoculars. Optional radio headphones are a welcome addition to this patented combination.

Thanks Mike


Steve Fosset is flying solo around the world

Steve Fosset goes solo flying again. Last time he was the first person to fly solo around the world in a balloon.  This time he is is flying solo, non-stop, without refueling around the world in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer made by Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites.

Flying solo for 66 hours is impressive. Check out the status on the Mission Tracking page. It shows the current position and even has a live cockpit video feed (Requires Real Player). At the time of writing, Steve is passing over Japan.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005


A different kind of Stephen King novel: The Colorado Kid

I love the older Stephen King books like Cujo and the ones that have less of a "supernatural" aspect. Looks like I am in for a treat as he will release The Colorado Kid for Hard Case Crime. The novel tells the story of two veteran newspapermen and their investigation into the mysterious death of a man on an island off the coast of Maine.

“Steve is an extraordinary writer, and as much a fan of classic paperback crime fiction as we are,” said Charles Ardai, Hard Case Crime’s editor. “We originally contacted him to see if he’d be willing to write a blurb for our line, and he decided that what he really wanted to do was write a book for us instead. We’re thrilled that he wanted to be part of Hard Case Crime and we’re very excited to get to introduce the world to the baffling mystery of The Colorado Kid.”
“This is an exciting line of books,” Stephen King commented, “and I'm delighted to be a part of it. Hard Case Crime presents good, clean, bare-knuckled storytelling, and even though The Colorado Kid is probably more bleu than outright noir, I think it has some of those old-fashioned kick-ass story-telling virtues. It ought to; this is where I started out, and I'm pleased to be back.”


Free Battlestar Galactica download on

The first episode of the remake of Battlestar Galactica can be viewed for free on The episode is free of ads, uncut and they have separate downloads for the deleted scenes.

Requires Real Player

Via [Boing Boing]