GeekSpeak for 2009-08-29

High-Speed Tongue Sees UFOs

The geeks chat about tech news, covering a wide variety of bizarre topics. Join us for a full hour of tech news.

FireFox 3.5 Breaks some Add-ons - here is a fix

This add-on has some notes on how to modify add-ons to make them work with FireFox 3.5… probably.

UFO Sightings linked to UFO Films?

Documents from the Ministry of Defence released by the National Archives show the department recorded 117 sightings in 1995 and 609 in 1996.
This was also the year when television series The X-Files, about attempts to find extra-terrestrial life, was at the height of its popularity in the UK.
David Clarke, an expert on UFO sightings based at Sheffield Hallam University, believes there is a link between sightings and science-fiction.

See with Your Tounge

This is the most amazing thing:
Watch as Erik Weihenmayer experiments with the Brainport Vision Device, a revolutionary new technology enabling a blind person to see with his tongue. Mounted on Weihenmayers head is a small video camera which translates visual information to a credit card-size tongue display. Four-hundred tiny pixels present electrical patterns on his tongue, which Weihenmayers brain then interprets as a visual picture in three-dimensional space. Watch as he uses the device to read words and numbers on note cards, to play tic-tac-toe and stone-paper-scissors with his daughter, and to rock climb.

Wikipedia to Limit Changes to Articles on People

Officials at the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit in San Francisco that governs Wikipedia, say that within weeks, the English-language Wikipedia will begin imposing a layer of editorial review on articles about living people.

The new feature, called “flagged revisions,” will require that an experienced volunteer editor for Wikipedia sign off on any change made by the public before it can go live. Until the change is approved — or in Wikispeak, flagged — it will sit invisibly on Wikipedia’s servers, and visitors will be directed to the earlier version.

US Fed Government Says All Music Downloads Are Theft

“Nearly all US government employees and contractors are subject to mandatory annual information security briefings. This year the official briefing flatly states that all downloaded music is stolen. The occasionally breathless tone of the briefing and the various minor errors contained therein are funny but the real eye-opener is a ‘secure the building’ exercise where employees stumble across security problems and resolve them. According to the material, the correct response to an employee who is downloading music is to shout ’That’s stealing!’ No mention is made of more-free licenses, public domain works, or any other legitimate download.

Exo-Planet is Too Close to Sun?

The planet is known as a “hot Jupiter,” a gas giant orbiting the star Wasp-18, about 330 light-years from Earth. The planet, Wasp-18b, is so close to the star that it completes a full orbit (its “year”) in less than an Earth day, according to the research, which was published in the journal Nature.

Of the more than 370 exoplanets — planets orbiting stars other than our sun — discovered so far, this is just the second with such a close orbit.

The problem is that a planet that close should be consumed by its parent star in less than a million years, say the authors at Keele University in Britain. The star Wasp-18 is believed to be about a billion years old, and because stars and the planets around them are thought to form at the same time, Wasp-18b should have been reduced to cinders ages ago.

Crazy USB: Endoscope

An endoscope is a medical device consisting of a long, thin, flexible (or rigid) tube which has a light and a video camera.

Fire Door Efficiency

Researchers found that having an inanimate pole take up the space of a person reduced the number of time-consuming conflicts between people near the exit. Similarly, the pole’s placement slightly off to one side of the doorway reduced the time it took for a person coming from the other direction to turn toward the exit.

To test their results, the researchers went to the studio of a local TV station and watched 50 volunteers exit through a narrow door. They found that the crowd of real people closely mirrored the researcher’s previous computer predictions. Likewise, when they placed a pole to one side of the exit, the people were able to exit faster than when there was no obstruction at all.

Yanagisawa’s team was the first to put this into mathematical terms.

Physicists Create Perfect Coffee Mug

Fraunhofer Institute scientists have invented The Perfect Coffee Mug: One that absorbs the heat from your beverage, making it go down to a perfect temperature, and then releasing it slowly to keep it at that exact temperature for 30 minutes.

The key for this magic trick is physics and PCM—phase change material—an extraordinary substance used in construction and winter clothing. PCM is capable of storing and releasing heat or cold.

HONDA ASIMO FALLS DOWN STAIRS

HONDA ASIMO falls down stairs at a demonstration show.

Proves my point once again. Suspect your friend is s robot? Ask him/her to walk up some stairs!

Firefox 3 Location Bar May Embarrass You!

The number one reason for not upgrading was the new location bar, and the fact that it delved into people’s bookmark collections to suggest sites as they typed. No fewer than 25% of Firefox 3 refuseniks cited this as the reason they wouldn’t upgrade. In fact, almost all of the people who provided feedback had tried Firefox 3, didn’t like what they saw, and headed back to Firefox 2.

reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery Program

“Taking their lead from China, two Americans have opened the first US-based Internet Addiction treatment center in Fall City, Wash. — ironically close to Redmond (Microsoft’s hometown). The center, called reStart: Internet Addiction Recovery Program, is a 45-day treatment center where, for a steep set of fees, people can be cured of their addiction to the Web. After paying the $200 application fee, addicts are charged $14,500 for the 45 days, an additional $800 for a screening, and more for extra services, like kayaking ($1,575).”

Thinking of yesterday can make you happy today

The best way to make yourself feel happier is to think of something good that happened to you the day before, an experiment has found.

Volunteers who were asked to recall a pleasant event from the previous 24 hours got an instant 15 per cent boost in cheerfulness.

Other popular techniques, such as expressing gratitude or making yourself smile, also increased happiness levels but not by so much.

High-Speed Robot Hand Demonstrates Dexterity and Skillful Manipu

The Ishikawa Komuro Lab’s high-speed robot hand performing impressive acts of dexterity and skillful manipulation. Meanwhile, their video presentation at ICRA 2009 (which took place in May in Kobe, Japan) has an informative narration and demonstrates additional capabilities. I have included this video below, which shows the manipulator dribbling a ping-pong ball, spinning a pen, throwing a ball, tying knots, grasping a grain of rice with tweezers, and tossing / re-grasping a cellphone!

Comments: Sent in by listeners: robert.houge@gmail.com and nestor@fuzzy-math.com


This week’s podcast mention is [Scam School|http://revision3.com/scamschool]