"just plain cool" entries

@ETech: Wednesday Morning Keynotes

Another day, another set of expansive keynotes. John McCarthy, father of LISP, a giant in artificial intelligence, gave a sit-down high-level talk about Elephant 2000, a proposed programming language intended for transaction processing and electronic data interchange. He described Elephant in terms of its ability to capture "speech acts," which I'll define roughly as words that lead to actions. (One…

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DIY Multitouch with the Wiimote

If you will be missing Jeff Hahn's presentation at Etech next week, you can still make your own multitouch display thanks to Johnny Chung Lee and the Wiimote. Johnny has a number of sensor hacks on his blog, and just announced that EA Games has incorporated his Wii head tracking hack into an upcoming release….

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The LiveScribe Pulse Smartpen

The coolest thing I saw at our Tools of Change for Publishing Conference last week was the LiveScribe SmartPen. This amazing pen includes a microphone and an optical sensor that synchronizes the audio with any notes you take on special microdot paper using the pen. Touch the appropriate point on your notes to replay the relevant section of the…

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Marcel Proust, Alpha Geek

Tim recently sent around a recommendation for The Victorian Internet, Tom Standage's enjoyable look at a decidedly pre-Silicon Valley tech boom, although the inflated promises of that period (i.e., the telegraph will bring about world peace) remind us of some of the more outlandish dotcom-era claims. Tim's note about Standage's book (which I recommend as well) provides a good reminder…

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Visualization of names and words used by Presidential candidates

The New York Times has a really interesting Circos/Clusterball style visualization of the names used by US presidential candidates to refer to opponents in the debates preceding the Iowa caucuses. (Link) A graph of common words used by candidates in the debates is available as well: Link (via information aesthetics & visualmethods.blogspot.com)…

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OLPC and the Kindle

When I saw the OLPC I just had to tinker around with it. So on an hour train ride home I explored the little OLPC and was quite impressed.

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Life on the Ice

I imagine that many readers of this blog are fans of Kim Stanley Robinson's books, including Antarctica, so I thought I'd pass along news that Travelers' Tales has just published a collection of real life stories from Antarctic scientists and workers, entitled Antarctica: Life on the Ice. There's a nice review in the Antarctic Sun, the hometown newspaper of…

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Visualize your Internet use with Packet Garden

Packet Garden is an app that watches your Internet traffic and builds a private world that you can later explore. Packet Garden is open source software, written in Python by New ZealanderJulian Oliver. Runs on Ubuntu, Windows, and Mac OS X. For more by Julian, see his blog or Select Parks, the hub for open source game and art projects…

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Stephen Fry: Now Blogger and Gadget-Head

I love Stephen Fry. Fabulously intelligent, interesting, and brilliantly talented, he's the person I'd most like to meet. Given that the chances of our meeting stay at zero with every day I don't travel to Norfolk and trespass on the set of his TV show, I'm chuffed to discover that he has a blog. And not just a "today I…

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Biodiesel @ Burning Man and beyond…

As Brady mentioned last week, Biodiesel use skyrocketed at Burning Man this year by both the organization and individual participants. Groups like the Green Tortoise and the Burn Green Express even partnered with Bently Biofuels to provide on-site refueling for their vehicles and others (including mine). Most diesel-engined cars and trucks can run on biodiesel without any modifications other than…

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