Tag Archive: Technology

TV UniversityAnd how in Hell does one chose a major?

Via: Buzzfeed


The Rape Whistle UpdatedLadies, remember when you were at university, you were given a rape whistle, usually during Frosh Week? You were told to carry it around with you *just in case*. How many of you actually did? How many of you just looked at it and thought it was the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever seen? After all, if you’re being threatened by some knuckle-dragger, how likely was it that you’d be able to fish the thing out, bring it to your lips and actually blow loud enough to either a) attract attention or b) scare the bastard off?

I never carried one. My favorite form of protection was my very heavy dorm room key that I placed between the fingers of my clenched fist. I figured I would be able to hit whoever was attacking me in either the throat or the eyes with my mean right hook. Baring that, I had another couple of tricks up my sleeve that I was taught by some concerned male friends – neither of which involved going for the groin, and both of which, if applied properly, could seriously maim someone if I managed to connect.

Luckily, I’ve never had to use any of those techniques, but I am, unfortunately, in the minority on this one.

Well, the (not so) handy dandy rape whistle has been updated for the new millenium by the wonderful people at YWCA Canada.

The YWCA Safety Siren for the iPhone and the iTouch has a choice of 3 sirens that go off if either the application’s pink button is pressed, or the phone is shaken. The program then sends out an email to a safety contact listing your approximate location using Google Maps and calls a pre-set number to get help, again providing your approximate coordinates. But that’s not all this application does. The Safety Siren App also includes information of how to date and hook up safely, a guide to guys good and bad, and if the worst happens, it can provide a map of the nearest health and rape crisis centers.

The YWCA Safety Siren

Corinne Rusch-Drutz, YWCA Canada’s director of communications and membership development explains:

“We do ongoing programming for women and girls, we’re one of the largest service providers for girls’ programming and we’re certainly the largest provider of shelter for women in the country so it just seemed natural to connect young women with violence prevention on their phones because that’s where they live,”

“For us it was a perfect fit. That’s because they carry it with them wherever they go, and it’s private. And they’re more likely to look up content like the information we’re providing than they would on a personal computer which they may be sharing with somebody else.’’

For now, the application is only available for the iPhone or iPod Touch, but hopefully YWCA Canada will be creating versions for other 3G phones soon.

You can download the YWCA Safety Siren at the iTunes App Store.

Talk about making one feel old! PacMan turns 3o today! I remember playing it when PacMan just came out! I remember it as being ‘revolutionary’! Heck the whole concept of Ms. PacMan was revolutionary at the time. A video game starring *gasp* a girl?!?

PacMan for Google

Happy 30th Birthday PacMan!At any rate, Google decided to mark the occasion with a doodle as they’ve been doing since 1998 to commemorate special occasions. But WHAT A DOODLE!

The PacMan Google Doodle (try saying that 3 times fast!) is actually interactive. Launched at 11:oo AM today,  Google has swapped out the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button with an ‘Insert Coin’ button which starts the game if you don’t want to wait for it to automatically start after 10 seconds. You then can use either the mouse or the arrow keys to navigate your way through 256 levels of PacMan. That’s right, they didn’t just do one screen, they did all 256 levels of the original game, including the garbled kill screen.

Designers built the doodle using a combination of Flash, HTML JavaScript and CSS.

There’s even an easter egg. Let me know if you find it.

The doodle is available for 48 hours only and can be played on your PC as well as the iPad (surprisingly given the current situation between Adobe and Apple) and some smart phones, including Apple’s iPhone 3GS and the Palm Pre.

Have fun.

The new Inception poster is out!

Christopher Nolan's InceptionI love it! It’s Escher meets Hitchcock!

The concept for Inception reads like Duplicity meets The Matrix. What happens when corporate espionage is able to occur at the level of the unconscious? When thieves are able to enter the dreams of their targets, and extract valuable information:

Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb’s rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved.

Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossibleinception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming. This summer, your mind is the scene of the crime.

The power house cast includes Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger and Michael Caine.  I can’t imagine anyone giving a poor performance out of these actors.

I am so pumped to see this movie. Nolan is a master of this sort of film noir storytelling, and the concept takes this to a whole new level. The obvious question will be if he can steward a Ledger-esque performance out of one of his actors, and if so, which one? My bet is on either Joseph Gordon-Levitt or Ellen Page knocking it out of the park.

Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger and Michael Caine

Even an android with a positronic brain has issues with Windows.

Poor Data can't even get Windows 7 to work for him!Thanks Data! I feel so much better now.

IKAROS Solar Sail - JAXAThe idea of space exploration is nothing new. To people of my generation (gods! I sound like my grandmother!) it’s always been a given that someday people would be flying through space in huge metal cans discovering new planets and hopefully new civilizations.  To boldly go…..

For most geeks, space exploration is a staple part of our intellectual diet.

When we think about space travel,we think jet propulsion, fuel cells, dilithium crystals, antimatter engines, etc… All of these are essentially chemical reactions that creates thrust and pushes the space craft where the crew wanted it to go.

But did you know that there’s an alternative to sitting on top of a volatile mix of reactants that could blow you to kingdom-come should something go wrong?

It’s called the solar sail. A thin sheet of essentially plastic which harnesses solar wind to push it through space.

Okay, I can see you scowling from here. Solar Wind? The sun doesn’t produce wind!

Continue reading

It’s spring and with the warmer weather there comes the request that all mom’s dread. “Mom! Can I have a freezie?!? And some for my 20 0r so friends who’ve followed me home today?”

FreeziesFirst off, freezies in my house are usually 100% juice, except DH decided he would do the shopping at the end of the summer and came home with a giant box of jumbo, artificially flavoured, synthetic liquid. They made their way down to our freezer once I rolled my eyes and reminded myself once again that DH, being male, is not capable of making healthy food choices when confronted by puppy dog eyes and tragic pleas from our two daughters.

In the grand scheme of things, freezies aren’t *that* bad. There are probably thousands of worse snacks, but given how hard it is to get my kids to eat healthy, I’d rather avoid snacks that are essentially sugar and chemicals.

But I digress.

Science for kidsAs soon as the snow was gone and the sun finally graced the GTA with its presence, the aforementioned scene took place in our front yard. The crowd of kids meant that I could get rid of the junkie freezies sooner than I thought and could soon replace them with the healthier, 100% juice versions. Imagine my surprise when these things actually served a purpose and we were able to hold an impromptu Physics class in our driveway.

Here’s what happened.

DH brought the box from the basement freezer and opened it for the first time in front of all the kids. The kids, being kids, all wanted the same flavour of freezie, prompting him to have to go digging. What he found in the middle of the box were some freezies that were still liquid despite being in the freezer for the last 8 months. When he pulled these freezies out he squeezed the contents and they immediately began to freeze, crystallizing before our eyes. Because the freezies were coloured, we were able to get a really good idea how water crystallizes whilst freezing.

Why did this happen?

Freezies - Ready for the FreezerAnyone who’s ever tried to quickly chill a can of pop or a bottle of water in the freezer and had to clean the catastrophe once they remembered where they put the container knows that water expands when it freezes. What happened in our freezies’ case was that they were so tightly packed in their box, the packages in the middle didn’t have room to expand as they froze. In essence, they were forced to stay liquid due to the surrounding outside pressure and became super-cool fluid. When the box was opened and the surrounding freezies pulled out, the pressure was released, allowing the water inside the plastic tubes to expand and the contents to freeze right in front of our eyes.

How can I do this at home?

Frozen Ice TreatsI can’t promise you that if you buy the same brand DH did that you’ll have the same results with no effort.

Your best bet is to buy a box of freezies, open it to see how much room there is around the individual packages. Stuff the spaces with plastic bags or newspaper to get them packed in there as tightly as you can. Then re-seal the box, taping the lid closed as tightly as you can. Then, put the box in the bottom of your chest freeze, wedging it in a corner. Surround the box with frozen whatever, remembering to put lots of weight on top. You don’t want to give the freezies in the middle any room to expand and solidify. Wait until the next sunny day, pull them out and quickly see what’s up with the freezies in the middle. Hopefully they will still be liquid. Give the plastic tubes a squeeze or a shake to kick start the process and watch them freeze before your eyes.

So, DH’s impulse buy wasn’t that much of a disaster after all.  It allowed us to demonstrate a major scientific concept – the phase transition of matter from liquid to solid form to the neighborhood kids.

But if he thinks that means he’s going to be able to buy those nutritionally challenged treats on a regular basis, he’s got another thing coming.

Happy Birthday SETIHappy Birthday SETI! The SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) program has been looking for life beyond our planet for 50 years as of April 8th.

The first modern SETI project was conducted by Frank Drake (of the Drake Equation  Drake Equation). As part of his graduate thesis he was sweeping the skies using a 85-foot radio telescope at an observatory in Green Bank, W.Va. He hoped to find a radio signal or other evidence of ancient extraterrestrial civilization. While his results were disappointing, it was the genesis of what would become one of the largest privately funded scientific endeavors in human history.

While astronomers have been faced by what’s been described as an “eerie silence” from outer-space, there have been some unexplained bursts of radio chatter from beyond.  The most famous would be the WOW signal detected by Jerry Ehman in 1977.  Ehman was using Ohio State University’s Big Ear radio telescope, when he came across some unexplained signals in the printout. Excited, he wrote “Wow” in the margins (World of Warcraft hadn’t been invented yet), which is how the signal got it’s name. The signal didn’t match any natural phenomena, nor could it be attributed to any man made broadcasts.  Ehman and others have continued to search for the signal, but its origins still remain a mystery.

Seeking Intelligent Life in the Milky Way - © Lynette CookSETI continues to fund multiple projects around the globe including searching for radio signals from space, constructing the the Allen Telescope Array, studying the martian biosphere, solid state chemistry and beaming our own radio signals out in hopes that someone, somewhere will hear them and make contact.

But not all of SETI’s endeavours are unaccessible to the public at large.  SETI@home is a project operated by UC Berkely and was launched in 1999.  The program allows users to download a program to their home computer that will run a signal analysis of data recorded at the SERENDIP IV instrument.  There are approximately 180,000 users running this program on over 290,000 computers.

SETI@homeAnyone can participate in the SETI@home, which means your computer may be the one to decode E.T’s message to humanity. How cool would that be? Find out more about SETI@home and how to participate.

The first trailer for the latest installment of the Resident Evil franchise – Resident Evil: Afterlife  is out.

I find it interesting that their main promotional hook is that it’s filmed using the same fusion camera system that James Cameron used for Avatar. Are people really going to see this because the 3D is as good as Avatar?

Remember a few years ago, when Disney’s traditional animation house was closed because the big wigs decided they weren’t going to make hand drawn animated movies anymore. The reason given at the time was that computer generated movies were doing so well at the box office, Disney wanted to focus exclusively on getting that specific piece of the pie.  Then their computer animated flicks underperformed, because who needs great stories, intriguing dialogue, engrossing character development when a computer can bounce a ball across the screen? Then along comes John Lasseter as head of Disney Animation, he places the focus back on the story being told, not the means and BAM! The Princess and the Frog comes out, it’s a hit and classical animation is hot again.

I predict the same is going to happen with 3D and it’s going to start with Resident Evil: Afterlife. Not that I think this will be a bad film, especially not with Paul W.S. Anderson back behind the camera and adding Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller to the mix. And I don’t think a studio is going to pull a Disney and insist that every film be in 3D.

3D FilmsI do think we’re going to start to see more movies coming out in 3D for the sake of being in 3D. That’s going to result in a decline in the earnings of 3D films as every George, Peter and Stephen jumps onto the bandwagon. Movie makers are going to get lazy, and depend on 3D to bring in the bucks and forgetting that 3D is just a tool that is supposed to serve the story, not the other way around.  The novelty is going to wear off, and movie returns are going to suffer as a result.  Because of the decrease in audiences and revenue, the industry is going to start wringing its hands and wonder where it all went wrong.

Resident Evil: Afterlife opens on September 10th, 2010

To be honest, I’m waffling between ‘Wicked cool!’ and ‘Someone has waaaayyyyy too much time on their hands.”

Enterprise NCC-1701DWhat you’re looking at is a 1 BILLIONTH (that’s 1,000,000,000) scale of the Enterprise NCC-1701D submitted to the The 47th International Conference on Electron, Ion and Photon Beam Technology and Nanofabrication Bizarre/Beautiful Micrograph Contest by Takayuki Hoshino & Shinji Matsui of the Himeji Institute of Technology.  They used a 30 kV Ga+ focused-ion- beam CVD and phenanthrene gas to build the model.

Yeah, I have no idea what that is either.  It’s still cool though.