Electric bike

08/14/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

One of the more interesting technologies that's beginning to makes its presence known (again?) is that of the electric bicycle. If you're familiar with the older moped or bromfiets technologies you'll know where I'm going with this. There're two major variations: fully automatic and power-assisted. The former is more closely related to a scooter in the sense that it's an autonomous powered vehicle where the rider needs to do little more than point it in an appropriate direction. The latter is an interesting bit of human-engineering: it won't work unless the rider pedals but at that point gives a bit of assistance. Hardcore cyclists will no doubt sneer at either option but I think it's an excellent way to persuade people to use something other than a car to get around.

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Owned today, lost tomorrow

08/13/07 | by Adam | Categories: Copyright

Link: http://www.boingboing.net/2007/08/10/google_video_robs_cu.html

Just another data point on why DRM is bad for the purchaser.

(Via BoingBoing)


Wind-up MP3 player

08/12/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

Link: http://www.ecodigital.co.uk/estore/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=66

This is a smart idea: the EMP-MX71 is an MP3 player (albeit bulky) powered by a wind-up motor rather than a standard battery. Naturally it was designed by the same person who came up with a wind-up radio, something else I thought was a good idea.

(Via BoingBoing)


That rather paints them into a corner

08/11/07 | by Adam | Categories: Macintosh

Link: http://www.mymacdealer.com/desktop/

In one of the first sentences on the page describing the Mac Pro, "MyMacDealer" uses the unfortunate phrase:

Fastest Mac ever.

Well, I guess that's it over for the Macintosh. 3 GHz and it's never going to go faster. Ever.

Fortunately though, MyMacDealer isn't the last word in Apple's development cycle as this verbal silliness isn't repeated on their site(*). Instead Apple does make this pretty daft statement:

your imagination has finally met its match.

Still, credit where credit's due as there's no reference to the "ultimate" anything. No, I lie:

It also gives you four PCI Express slots and lots of I/O options for ultimate flexibility.

The adverglish, it hurts so much. Make it stop.

* Well, actually it is, but they hid it in a meta description box instead of in clear text. They've done it before with earlier systems. For example:

“The new dual 1-GHz Power Mac G4 with NVIDIA GeForce4 graphics is the fastest Mac ever and the fastest personal computer ever for creative professionals,” said Philip Schiller, senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing.


The Tech Commandments

08/10/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Silly

Link: http://www.joyoftech.com/joyoftech/joyarchives/734.html

I'm not sure how I missed this Joy Of Tech comic when it was initially published back in, well, I'm not sure really, but it's a good 'un.


Gold Seal "Tunaesque" Salmon

08/10/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Reviews, Cooking

Here's something that might not last, and that'd be a bit of a shame: tinned salmon without bones.

It's Gold Seal's Flaked Pacific Pink Salmon, Skinless and Boneless. They have affixed an explanatory note to the top of the can:

NEW! Mild, tuna-like taste

Enjoy all the nutrition of salmon in a tuna-like taste and style. Try it in all your tuna recipes! Great for casseroles, pitas and sandwiches, or salads and spreads. Good for the whole family - kids love it!

Flaked Salmon that taste like tuna! Omega-3's without the fishy taste!

When I saw it on the shelf, I initially made a "yuk" face, but I don't know why. The mere idea of salmon without those awful bones in it seems like a wonderful idea. I think they probably should have pitched it that way (but I bet they sell the regular salmon, too :) Perhaps the entire pitch made me think that I didn't know what I was getting into ("am I being oversold on this?"). My head overrode my initial instinct and I bought a couple of cans just to try it out, but they did initially sit on the shelf for a couple of days.

Well, I finally decided to brave them by substituting this salmon in for tuna in a tuna melt.

You know what? It's pretty good. Surprisingly, it does taste a bit like tuna, though not as strong, and the salmon flavour is a mild aftertaste. It's barely pink, which does a bit more to further the illusion in a dimly-lit kitchen.

The finished "salmon melt" was pretty good, too. It was a little less dry than tuna in the chunks I hadn't broken up, and the taste stayed pretty much the same as pre-cooking, i.e. good and mild.

For those to whom it matters (not me), you don't get tuna smell in your pee, either :)

I hope it sticks around. I've avoided tinned salmon like the plague from memories of crunchy fish vertebrae and my poor wife has been slow to warm up to "good salmon" (marinated salmon filets) due to a similar sort of trauma. Nice to have a good experience with salmon in a can. Seems like somebody listened to the complaints about tinned salmon, though I do find it amusing that they seemed to want to address all of the concerns in a single product (at least that's what it seems like by choosing the tuna-iest salmon they could as well :)


"For the horde!"

08/04/07 | by Adam | Categories: Silly, Games

Link: http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/gaming/a69428/terrorists-train-using-world-of-warcraft.html

Warcraft? The Australians are worried about "World of Warcraft" as a terrorist training program?

You could try to sell me on "Counterstrike" or "Battlefield 2" where you can at least create virtual environments to practice in. Quoting an online game as pre-laid out as WoW as "an attempt to recreate simulated world environments" for terrorist training and coordination is nuts, and certainly doesn't give much confidence in the underlying thesis.

(Via The Boy Genius Report)


Parade of Foolishness

08/04/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Common Sense, Religion, Science

There's an extremely short blurb referring to Ham's creation museum over on Parade.

I wasn't expecting the comments section to be one of the strangest, most worrisome indicator of the intrusion of a new American Dark Ages I have seen in a long while.

It really does not matter how many times things are debunked. When the big things aren't understood, the nuances don't even have a hope.

I pulled out a representative sample of quotes, but be warned if you follow the original link that it goes on for pages and pages, and is festooned with 80% dyed-in-the-wool young earth creationist blether.

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What? Now?

08/03/07 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri

Link: http://jamesfallows.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/07/ok_im_a_sucker_fo_productivity.php

I'm not much for the various leadership, productivity and self-actualization gurus -- being obliged to read Stephen Covey’s "Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People" was a rather trying period -- but sometimes their advice isn't all bad. This one I like:

"two minute rule": if a task comes up that you think you're ever going to do (write a thank-you note, look up a reference, make a call), and if doing it will take less than two minutes, then you should always do it now. The rationale is that keeping track of it to do it later would take much more time than those initial two minutes, and delaying it will cause you mental friction in the meantime.

(Via Ezra Klein)


You wouldn't like me when I'm angry...

08/01/07 | by Adam | Categories: Silly

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2007/07/31/lefthanded.html?ref=rss

Well, that's nice.

According to various scientific papers, as a left-hander I "can think more quickly when it comes to tasks such as playing computer games or playing sports."

The downside is that I'm a bit more likely to go psychotic while doing so than the slower righties.


Of course, buried near the end of the article is the usual disclaimer:

The study leader, Dr. Clyde Francks, said in a statement, “People really should not be concerned by this result. There are many factors which make individuals more likely to develop schizophrenia and the vast majority of left-handers will never develop a problem. We don’t yet know the precise role of this gene.”

(Via Antigone)


UC Baby

07/31/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Announcements [A], Distractions

Dena found this one outfit in town that did "3D Ultrasound".

The concept was pretty interesting: getting a decent idea of what your baby will look like, while it's still in the womb.

If you haven't seen regular ultrasounds, there is a lot of activity on them, but the sound penetrates quite a bit, giving slightly disturbing images like a "zombie baby face" since the ultrasound is showing quite a ways into the nose before you can see other facial bits. See Dena's prior posting for our baby on a 2D ultrasound. That's a great thing to send to relatives, but what if you want to spread even more pre-love? 3D seems like a pretty nice way to do that.

What does the 3D trick entail, I wondered, on the way to the clinic? Is it a special kind of sound?

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Bringing Teh Funny

07/31/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Silly, Reviews

Link: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/07/were_all_gonna_die.php

I like a good turn of phrase. To wit:

I dislike crapping on sci-fi movies for 'bad science'. It's like crapping on Lord of the Rings for having elves and magic.

It's a movie. If there were ever to be a truly realistic sci-fi movie, it would be several years long and there would be thousands of boring characters all working tediously in small, underfunded closet-sized labs, and the only way to know we'd solved whatever problem would be to scour the peer-reviewed journals for a hint of a mention of 'oh, by the way, we saved the earth. Probably. But we need independent confirmation.'



07/30/07 | by Adam | Categories: Silly

Link: http://icanhascheezburger.com/2007/07/15/excellent/

I've been trying to avoid the whole lolcats meme thing, but this one got me on two counts:

1) It's funny.
2) I have absolutely no idea what the animal pictured actually is but it does a great Monty Burns impression.


Second hand goods are still legal

07/29/07 | by Adam | Categories: Copyright

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2007/07/26/kraft-euroexcellence-scoc.html?ref=rss

Kraft foods tried to use copyright infringement as an argument to prevent grey market imports of their chocolate bars into Canada. Canada's Supreme Court fortunately disagreed with Kraft's argument and disallowed their suit. Although the article doesn't go into much further detail other than citing the case as "unusual", this could have been a extremely far reaching decision. Had Kraft won, this would have been an opening for anything bearing copyrighted material (including trademarks based on what Kraft was using) to be restricted by the original copyright holder.

Think about this for a moment: any book, magazine, CD, clothing, hardware, in fact any physical media at all that bears or resembles anything containing copyright could no longer be sold or distributed without the express permission of the copyright holder. Anything.


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