GeekSpeak for 2010-09-25

Air Purification and a Whole Lot of Flapping

The Geeks Lyle, Al, Ben, and Miles cover the news and take your calls.

Guidebook for Evil Designers

This pattern library is dedicated to Dark Patterns: user interfaces that have been designed to trick users into doing things they wouldn’t otherwise have done.

Normally when you think of “bad design”, you think of laziness or mistakes. These are known as design anti-patterns. Dark Patterns are different – they are not mistakes, they are carefully crafted with a solid understanding of human psychology, and they do not have the user’s interests in mind.

The purpose of this site is to catalogue various common types of Dark Pattern, and to name and shame organizations that use them.

Air-Purifying Wallpaper

Who needs plants in their home when you can have the air-purifying Saratech Permasorb Wallpaper? Of course, it will be a while until it is perfect enough for the mass market to get a hold of it, but it definitely would do the job once it’s out there.

Developed by the German company Blucher Technologies, the Saratech Permasorb wallpaper “is embedded with thousands of tiny spherical absorbers, which are themselves filled with thousands of branching passages that resemble the interior of lungs,” according to Core 77. This technology absorbs and stores pollutants, making this the first ever air-cleaning wallpaper.

First Human-Powered Ornithopter

“Some people just dream about flying, at night in their dreams. I do,” said David Greatrix, a professor of aerospace engineering at Ryerson University. “Even though we have flying airplanes, it’s not the same.”

Reichert’s ornithopter flight, which lasted 19.3 seconds and covered 145 metres, is the first entirely powered by a human being. “This is the last first in aviation, and in many ways the most significant one,” said James DeLaurier, who oversaw the project.

“It was unreal,” Reichert, 28, said in an interview.

The flying craft, named the Snowbird, weighs just under 43 kilograms and has a wing span of 32 metres, comparable to a Boeing 737, though its weight amounts to approximately that of the pillows onboard a commercial jet. The Snowbird is made of carbon fibre, foam and balsa wood.

Terry Pratchett creates a sword with meteorites

“English fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett says he was so excited after being knighted by the Queen that he decided to make [his own sword|http://www.paulkidby.com/images/news/april2010-02.jpg] to equip himself for his new status.”

'Kindle-ization': Clearwater High Replaces Books with E-Readers

“The [Amazon Kindle|http://www.amazon.com/kindle] is untested as a textbook replacement in public high schools. Then again, so were books before [Gutenberg|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Gutenberg] invented his press.

“But as the 2,000-plus students at Clearwater High School received their very own, personalized Kindle e-readers Thursday, the embrace was rapid.”

US hunters shoot down Google fibre

“Google has revealed that aerial fibre links to its data centre in Oregon were ‘regularly’ shot down by hunters, forcing the company to put its cables underground.”

Mai Coffee Cup Speaker for iPod, iPhone and MP3

Mai Coffee Cup Speaker for iPod, iPhone and MP3 Players by Cyanics – MAI-IPS

In Court? Be Careful What You Post!

“Litigants in a court case beware! Your adversary may be allowed to view all of your postings, including private and deleted ones, if they bear any relation to the court case.”

Recorded Future - Media Analytics

See into the future, sort of.

Flapping into aviation history

Flapping into aviation history
Todd Reichert has achieved what’s believed to be an aviation first. The University of Toronto PhD candidate built a human-powered aircraft with flapping wings which he hopes has set a world record.

App Inventor for Android

Really cool — if you have an android device, you can use App Inventor to write applications for your phone or tablet. It only requires a conceptual knowledge of Object Oriented Programming, and you don’t have to learn a new language.