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Archive for December, 2008

Kinniku Man USB Warriors: NSFW?

December 25th, 2008 No comments


Image via Akihabara News.

I just saw that Akihabara News (akihabaranews.com, includes video) posted a full photo set of the new, cute little Kinniku Man USB Warriors. But it seems to me that if I were designing a humanoid USB device, I might not put the “male” end of the connector there — unless I meant it. Know what I mean? Or am I the only one who looks at these and thinks dirty… ?

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Hot Babes of the Periodic Table

December 25th, 2008 No comments

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Pictured: Chromium (Cr) is a Dancer.

Remembering 118 different elements now looks like trying to keep track of 118 sexy manga girlfriends, although that wasn’t the original intent behind the Japanese chemistry textbook “The Periodic Table: Learning Basic Chemistry through Moe.” The idea for making the periodic table more babe-a-licious came from female chemistry teacher at Tokyo’s Musashi Institute of Technology, Miyuki Mitsuda. InventorSpot tells us:

“Moe” is a Japanese term that describes the feminization of inanimate objects. Most commonly used in video games, anime and manga, applying so-called “moe anthropomorphism” makes most anything cute, girlish, sexy or all of the above. Even a topic as dry and factual as the Periodic Table of the Elements (…read more, inventorspot.com)

More images of the book can be seen at Akiba Blog (all images via).

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Pictured: Sodium (Na) is Baking Bread.

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Twitter Venn Diagrams

December 23rd, 2008 No comments

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Today Twitter — the micro-blogging service and social network — reinstated their name search function, which had been out of commission for a while. It was amusing for me to go to Google to find people on Twitter, and lots of us are glad it’s back. Especially when we can have fun with Twitter Venn Diagrams, and play with search term data using Twitter Venn. Data Mining writes,

Jeff Clark over at Neoformix has come up with a really simple but compelling application/visualization. For 2 or 3 keywords, it displays the venn diagram of search results over Twitter for the sets and their intersections. Of course, there is no reason why it needs to be pointing at Twitter – the data could come from anywhere. (…read more, datamining.typepad.com)

Twitter Venn was created by Jeff Clark. If you think his app is fun, check out Neoformix to see his other hardcore Twitter nerdiness including TwitArcs, Twitter Spectrum and Twitter StreamGraphs.

2000 Year Old Computer Brought to Life

December 23rd, 2008 No comments

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Image via Toolmonger.

The Guardian UK has a podcast interview with Jo Marchant, the author of Decoding the Heavens (a book about the Antikythera computer) — and you should definitely visit the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project’s website. But Toolmonger, one of my favorite and regular reads, describes the ancient computer — yes, it’s a computer that’s 2000 years old — and its reconstruction best:

In 1902 sponge divers discovered 81 fragments of an ancient, unknown tool at the bottom of the sea near the Greek island of Antikythera. Dated around the first century B.C., this early “computer” was the most complex technology of its time – and for another thousand years. Originally thought to be an astrolabe, the mechanism tracked and predicted the cycles of the solar system and the movement of heavenly bodies.
Beginning in fall 2005, a team of British and Greek scientists and researchers used innovative digital imaging and 3-D X-ray technology to take high-res pictures of the mechanism, inside and out, including detailed inscriptions that offer insight into the tool’s functions. Now a London museum curator, Michael Wright, has built a working replica – the first to incorporate all the details of the original, including the Greek and Egyptian calendars, markers indicating locations of the moon and five planets known to the ancient Greeks, and predictions of solar and lunar eclipses. (…read more, toolmonger.com)

Here’s video of Michael Wright with his model of the incredible, reconstructed Antikythera mechanism:

10 Most Fascinating Last Pictures Taken

December 23rd, 2008 No comments

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Looking over this detailed, researched list of 10 Fascinating Last Pictures Taken is a fairly intense experience: after all, it’s a “top ten” of the last photos ever taken of either a dead celebrity, or someone who died in a major catastrophe and their last photos were provided for public record. The last photo of Marilyn Monroe is bittersweet; the last photo of Princess Diana is heartbreaking and filled me with anger. Others are like the one above: #6 photographer Bill Biggart: it’s the last photo that came from his one digital camera before the second tower fell on him at the Twin Towers, 9/11. Listverse explains,

Photojournalist Bill Biggart was covering the events of September 11th and was tragically killed as the second tower of the World Trade Center came down. Four days later Biggart’s body was recovered from the rubble and his personal effects, including his cameras were given to his wife. Biggart’s widow later handed over the camera bag to a good friend and fellow photographer. She was convinced that no pictures had survived because the falling debris had blown off the backs of the two film cameras and the lids of the film canisters had been peeled back. His friend turned his attention to the digital camera that was covered by ash. The lens had been sheared off but when he opened the chamber that held the flash card he discovered it was in pristine condition. The card contained 150 pictures including the last picture taken shown above which is time stamped 10:28 am and 24 seconds. The time was 10:30am when the second tower came down.
Interesting Fact: When Biggart’s wife reached him on his cell phone shortly after the first tower fell. He told her not to worry, and would meet her in 20 minutes at his studio. “I’m safe,” he assured her, “I’m with the firemen.” It was the last time they ever spoke. About 20 minutes later, the second tower collapsed. (…read more, listverse.com)

Cupcakes Are A Virus

December 18th, 2008 No comments

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Image: the infectious logo of cupcake trasmitted diseases, Cupcake Camp.

It’s true that a couple of years ago, you could point a buttercream frosting covered finger at me and hold me partially responsible — saying, ha! you were there, spreading the cupcake meme in your sexed-up way, you. But it wasn’t just me — it was the cupcake blog Cupcakes Take the Cake. And then the craze hit, spreading like spilled batter across the interwebs to bring smiles — and addiction — to every unsuspecting, innocent baked goods enthusiast who even got near a cupcake photo on a laptop screen. Then Cupcake Camp came along and I thought we’d all get group treatment; but no — it only made things worse.
The meme was so infectious, even people who didn’t like sweets, had never baked in their lives, and especially the cooking-impaired tech scene was “into” cupcakes. I am not Patient Zero, nor am I Cupcake Mary. But I saw it happen. Now, everyone’s “so over” cupcakes yet the enthusiasm still rules. We’ve all been waiting, hoping for the next cute edible — macaroons were just not enough. There is only one explanation.
Cupcakes are a virus.
My final proof came today in the most nonsensical cupcake association yet: Android announces “cupcake” development branch (arstechnica.com). These people should probably be quarantined. It’s a prime example of one person catching a CTD and passing it around. But this time, it’s taking down Google. Think 28 Days Later, my friends. The exposure levels are off the charts with this.
Gizmodo tread lightly around the issue. Engadget openly wondered, “Google’s now gifted the world with a bunch of changes it had been developing in secrecy in a private branch called “cupcake.” Why “cupcake,” you ask? We’re not sure…” The details are at Ars Technica but read at your own risk — they openly state that CUPCAKE IS A GROWTH:

Over at the Android bat cave, there’s some interesting news going down. Today, Android announced the public release of its “cupcake” branch. This new branch offers a number of application enhancements, including bug fixes, a video recorder, the ability to save MMS attachments and more. System enhancements include better bluetooth support, better HTTP handling and, most importantly, a new JavaScript engine built on SquirrelFish.
Unlike the main Android trunk release, which is built on Linux 2.6.25, cupcake has been built on the updated Linux 2.6.27. Notably, the new system software offers basic x86 support and will allow third party manufacturers to develop and deploy their own handset-specific APIs.
Cupcake is a development branch rather than a release branch. According to the cupcake roadmap page, it remains distinctly a work in progress. This first release represents a big commit of changes since Android’s 1.0 release; future plans are for smaller updates as the cupcake changes stabilize. The announcement page emphasizes that cupcake is an outgrowth of Android’s roadmap; the roadmap allows for project forking with development continuing on in private branches, which is what cupcake is. (…read more, arstechnica.com)

Human Sized Heart Found at Car Wash

December 17th, 2008 No comments

I left my heart in… the car wash? This is another creepy one — especially when we find out that it’s fairly routine for car wash attendants to find “animal parts” at the end of the day when they clean up. I mean, we hope it’s from roadkill, right? Snip:

PAW PAW, Mich. (AP) — A human-sized heart found at a southwestern Michigan car wash has investigators wondering whether it came from a person or an animal. The organ was discovered in a corner of a manual wash bay at Soapy’s Car Wash, Paw Paw police said. The owner of the business found it Monday on the floor of the bay, according to WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids and WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo.
Police first took the heart to an animal clinic, where a veterinarian was unable to determine its origin. The next stop was a local cardiologist, who said while it was “consistent in size to a human heart,” he could not make a conclusive determination as to its source, said police Chief Patrick W. Alspaugh.
The chief took the organ Tuesday to Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital, where forensic scientists were to examine it.
“If it’s a human heart, that prompts the question, ‘Then where’s the body?’” Alspaugh told the Kalamazoo Gazette.(…read more, google.com)

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Australian Lawyer Serves Legal Papers Through Facebook

December 16th, 2008 No comments

Thanks to Nick who just sent me Aussie couple lose home via Facebook, where it seems an Australian lawyer used Facebook — that’s right, an online social network service — to serve legal papers, citing it as their “last known address.” It’s a precedent,and I think it’s seriously problematic. Like, I have *all* my Facebook notifications turned off, if only for shame of having a Facebook page at all. Snip:

A legal move believed to be a world first has opened the way for New Zealanders to be served legal documents through their Facebook sites.
Canberra lawyer Mark McCormack expects other courts will follow his lead after he used the internet to find a couple who had defaulted on a six-figure loan and serve them with a default judgment.
His action could easily be repeated on this side of the Tasman.
Crown Solicitor Simon Moore, SC, said using internet sites such as Facebook made perfect sense.
“In civil courts, there has always been the facility to apply for substituted service in cases where a defendant may be difficult to find or evidence suggests they are deliberately evading documents being served on them.”
Courts usually leave legal documents at a defendant’s last known address or somewhere they know family members are.
Mr Moore said the Facebook option was a novel way of serving documents and probably an effective option of bringing court action to someone’s attention. (…read more, nzherald.co.nz)

Bizarre Magazine’s Truly Bizarre Gift Guide

December 14th, 2008 No comments

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It’s probably too late to order anything, but the Bizarre Magazine Gift Guide (NSFW) has some of the truly weirdest, funnest stuff: like the cuddly Roadkill plushie toy above, or the other oddities like pubic hair dye, ball and chain handbag and terrorist teapot. Nice!
Not on the list, but should be: the Cat Playhouse.
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Suicide Tourism, Televised

December 13th, 2008 No comments

Well, now. Get a good assisted-suicide business up and running in Switzerland, who is so very Switzerland about the whole thing, and then British TV comes along and films one of your clients… and then *everybody* wants to kill themselves. God, posers! Okay, it’s not a trend, but it’s one amazing story — the plastic bags of helium are the real OMG about the whole deal… snip:

…Drawn by Switzerland’s reputation as a trouble-free place for foreigners to end their lives, more than 100 Germans, Britons, French, Americans and others come to this small commuter town just east of Zurich each year to lie down on a bed in an industrial park building and drink a lethal dose of barbiturates.
Now the country’s suicide practices are under the spotlight after British TV last week showed Craig Ewert, a 59-year-old Chicago man with a severe form of motor neuron disease, killing himself in Switzerland two years ago.
Other countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, and Oregon and Washington in the U.S., have recently passed laws allowing the incurably sick to seek out a doctor who — under tightly regulated circumstances — can hasten their death.
But only Switzerland, in a law dating back to 1942, permits foreigners to come and kill themselves, placing few restrictions on the how, when and why. Doctors have relative freedom to prescribe a veterinary drug for that very purpose
Five minutes after drinking a glass of water laced with sodium pentobarbital, they fall asleep.
Death follows about half an hour later. (…)
… Dignitas says it charges 10,000 Swiss francs ($8,300) for its services, which include taking care of legal formalities and arranging consultations with a doctor willing to prescribe the deadly medicine. The group says it pays its staff salaries and invests any profit in its advocacy and counseling work, which includes suicide prevention efforts.
Other such organizations in Switzerland say they are cheaper and do not charge the patient directly, relying instead on membership fees and donations.
“We need to ensure that there’s no economic incentive for these organizations to encourage people to commit suicide,” says Kiefer.
A small religious party is campaigning to ban groups from charging for their services — an idea which the pugnacious Minelli calls the product of “sick brains.”
Officials in the canton of Zurich threatened to restrict their activities by making doctors see each patient more than once, and by limiting the supply of sodium pentobarbital. So some groups hoarded the drug and Dignitas turned to alternative methods, coming under scrutiny this spring after it was reported they were suffocating people with plastic bags and helium.
The bag is placed over the head of a person who then opens a flow of helium, falls into a coma and dies “in 99.9 percent of cases,” according to Derek Humphry, a British author whose suicide manual “Final Exit” has sold at least a million copies. (…read more, sfgate.com)

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