Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Reading books with the thumb thing

The Thumbthing makes it a lot easier and comfortable to read books with one hand. Just put the Thumbthing onto your thumb and place into the spine of the book. The two wings will hold the pages open more easily:


It is available online and in several stores in different sizes.

Monday, May 29, 2006


Convert old LPs and casettes to MP3

I have a lot of old vinyl LPs that I never play anymore. That should no longer be a problem with the ION USB turntable as is finally possible to convert LPs and cassettes to MP3 at a decent price:

You can plug it into a stereo or plug the USB cable into your computer and convert your vinyl to WAV, WMV and MP3s with the provided software. You can even plug a tape deck into an auxiliary port and convert your old cassettes. This product is compatible with any software that supports USB audio input sound cards - simply plug it into a spare USB port - it requires no special drivers for Windows (98,2000,XP) or Mac (OS9 and above).

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Earth's ozone layer appears to be on the road to recovery

Cool news from NASA:

People were understandably alarmed, then, in the 1980s when scientists noticed that manmade chemicals in the atmosphere were destroying this layer. Governments quickly enacted an international treaty, called the Montreal Protocol, to ban ozone-destroying gases such as CFCs then found in aerosol cans and air conditioners.


While the ozone hole over Antarctica continues to open wide, the ozone layer around the rest of the planet seems to be on the mend. For the last 9 years, worldwide ozone has remained roughly constant, halting the decline first noticed in the 1980s.
Whatever the explanation, if the trend continues, the global ozone layer should be restored to 1980 levels sometime between 2030 and 2070. By then even the Antarctic ozone hole might close--for good.

Monday, May 22, 2006


May 25th: Towel Day

If you have seen the movie, watched the TV series or read the books, make sure you bring your towel on Thursday 25th of May:

To quote from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical
value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.


Google SketchUp

Google SketchUp  is a free and easy-to-learn 3D modeling program that lets you create 3D models of houses, sheds, decks, home additions, woodworking projects – even space ships.

You can add details, textures and glass to your models, design with dimensional accuracy, place your finished models in Google Earth, share them with others by posting them to the 3D Warehouse, or print hard copies.

  • Click on a shape and push or pull it to create your desired 3D geometry.

  • Experiment with color and texture directly on your model.

  • Real-time shadow casting lets you see exactly where the sun falls as you model.

  • Select from thousands of pre-drawn components to save time drawing.  

Friday, May 19, 2006


Piaggio MP3

The Piaggio MP3 looks pretty much the opposite of a Carver with its two front wheels and one back wheel:

The two front wheels give exceptional front end grip, great handling and 20% reduced braking distance. It uses 12" wheels with large tires: 120/70 in front and 130/7 rear. Together with the innovative parallelogram suspension it provides a tilt angle of up to 40 degrees!

A locking system in the front suspension makes it possible for the vehicle to stand upright without using the central stand.

The Piaggio MP3 is available in 125cc and 250cc models

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Gekkomat: climb walls like Spiderman

It looks a bit bulky but the Gekkomat lets you climb walls like Spiderman as the vacuum pads make it possible to "cling to the wall" like a Gecko:

From the very start, the aim of this project was to give humans the ability to traverse horizontal or overhanging walls and ceilings as a Gecko. This should be done as naturally as possible with little hindrance and independently from outside energy sources. The project started with technical-physical calculations, followed by ergonomical design studies, computer-aided planning and experiments.

Today, the "gekkomat" is a fully autonomous machine which enables a man to move about on various surfaces (horizontal and overhanging). The technique is based upon a combination of vacuum and friction principles. The "gekkomat" is comprised of a central energy unit which is worn on the back of the "gekkonaut" and four vacuum pads attached to his hands and feet. So now it is possible: "To Climb like a Gecko"!

Cool Or What?


Cool Tool: HDClone

HDClone lets you make identical copies of hard disks and other media. Great for data rescue, mass installations or moving your data to a new HD. The Free Edition of HDClone offers all necessary abilities to copy a complete hard disk onto another, larger hard disk. The Basic, Standard and Professional editions offer higher performance and support a wider range of hardware.

HDClone copies the complete contents of hard disks and other IDE/ATA/SATA, SCSI, and USB media on a physical level. This allows to create even backups or copies of complete operating system installations smoothly. In combination with the special 'SafeRescue' mode of HDClone, this technique is also perfect for rescuing data in case of defective hard disks. Furthermore, HDClone works independent of partition layout, file system and operating system (i.e. it works with FAT, FAT32, NTFS, etc.). Thus, it also works with proprietary data formats which could not be accessed otherwise. Besides copying complete drives, it is also possible to apply it to certain partitions only.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Change what someone dreams about

This is as cool as it is scary: you make a person dream on purpuse and change what a person is dreaming a about.

Studies show that you can bring about a dream in another person. One way is by holding an open bottle of perfume under the sleeper's nose. Another is by whistling. A third way is by blowing air across the sleeper's face with a fan. Someone else can also affect the content of a sleeper’s dream. For example, turning on a light produces happier dreams. And darkening an already bright room can induce nightmares

Making someone stop dreaming is very simple as you just wake up the person. Be careful though, as going days without dreaming has nasty side effects:

dream deprivation produces anxiety, irritability, an inability to concentrate, paranoia, a ravenous appetite, depression, and even suicidal thoughts

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Google Notebook

Save clippings of text, images and links directly from the web browser using the Google Notebook:

The notes are private but you can choose to share your Google Notebook with the rest of the world by making it public. The Google Notebook overview has more information on the features.

I usually save text notes in Outlook and synchronize with a Pocket PC but being able to save and share images as well is pretty neat.

Monday, May 8, 2006


Pandora: the Music Matching Service

Pandora is a great service if you know which music you like and want to discover something similar.

Pandora is a music discovery service designed to help you find and enjoy music that you'll love. It's powered by the Music Genome Project, the most comprehensive analysis of music ever undertaken. Just tell us one of your favorite songs or artists and we'll launch a streaming station to explore that part of the music universe.

We take your input (artists, songs) and feedback ("I like this", "I don't like this") and use the Music Genome Project to create stations that play songs that are musically similar to what you've told us. That's it; only the music counts. We don't care how popular the artist is, who's backing them, and we don't care which genre bin they usually belong in. Only the music matters.

Pandora is available in a free ad supported version as well as a subscription based versions. The library is huge; ~400.000 songs from more than 20.000 artists. You can buy the songs you discover, if you wish, thanks to the partnership with Amazon and iTunes.

I threw some famous as well as unknown artists at it and I have spent the evening listening to lots of great music.

Thanks for the tip Paolo!

Saturday, May 6, 2006


There is plenty of oxygen on the moon

The lunar dust is a major problem for austronauts going to the moon. The dust is very small and with jagged edges that attaches to everything and is very abrashive. It partially wore its way through the outer gloves of the space suits of the first astronauts. The more they tried to brush it away, the more it worked its way into the fabric of the space suits.

The good news is that lunar dust is full of oxygen just laying around:

An early, persistent problem noted by Apollo astronauts on the Moon was dust. It got everywhere, including into their lungs. Oddly enough, that may be where future Moon explorers get their next breath of air: The moon's dusty layer of soil is nearly half oxygen.

The trick is extracting it.

Several teams are working on the challenge and they are already able to extract half of the oxygen from the lunar dust.

NASA and the Florida Space Research Institute, through NASA's Centennial Challenge, are sponsoring MoonROx, the Moon Regolith Oxygen competition. A $250,000 prize goes to the team that can extract 5 kg of breathable oxygen from JSC-1 lunar simulant in just 8 hours.

The competition closes June 1, 2008, but the challenge of living on other planets will last for generations.

Friday, May 5, 2006


3D Papercraft

Bored of making just paper airplanes? The 3D Papercraft site has a lot of 3D-Papercraft projects in many different categories; animals, town, lucky items, famous buildings, science, toys, origami, seasons & holidays, and of course, kids. Some of the animals, like the Golden Retriever is particularly easy to make. Just print the instructions, cut and bend:

The paper version of the Himeji Castle in Japan is a “bit” more complex but the result is impressive:


The 2 second tent from Decathlon

DecathlonQuechua brand has a cool 2 second tent:

No problems with hard ground, missing plugs and poles. Just release the tent and it unfolds itself in 2 seconds. The larger version is slower at 3 seconds but it has more space.

Thursday, May 4, 2006


Pink Panther 6 DVD box set

I recently got 6 DVD The Pink Panther Film Collection as a gift.

Peter Sellers is just fantastic in the role of Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau. The DVD set contains some cartoons, special features and the five first Pink Panther movies:

  • The Pink Panther (1964)

  • A Shot in the Dark (1964)

  • The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976)

  • Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978)

  • Trail of the Pink Panther (1982)

Great fun even though it does not include the latest movies like Return of the Pink Panther and Son of the Pink Panther with Roberto Benigni.


PHLAT: an improved user interface for Windows Desktop Search

PHLAT is a new interface for Windows Desktop Search by the Adaptive Systems and Interaction Team at Microsoft Research. PHLAT lets you easily specify queries and filters, integrating search and browse in one intuitive interface. In addition, Phlat supports a unified tagging (labeling) scheme for organizing personal content across storage systems like files, email, etc.

Read the Getting started guide to learn more about the new interface.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006


An extensible MP3 player for $8.50

It does not have the sexy looks of an iPod but it is cool anyway:

Evergreen's DN-2000 MP3 player only costs $8.50 and plays music from standard SD cards. It has everything you need: volume control, previous/next, start/stop/pause etc. No battery wasting menus. Just a simple, yet functional, MP3 player.

It should not take long before MP3 players are branded and given away like USB keys are today.

Via SciFi Tech