Sunday, December 20, 2009

Transform iPhone Into a Universal Remote

OK, so we know a thing or two about the "convenience" of using your iPhone as a remote control. For instance, using it to control Boxee was alright -- until we needed to make a call. Or we received a call. Not to rain on anyone's parade, but the idea of re-purposing your phone to act as a universal remote seems a little silly. But what do we know? Maybe you hold all calls while Jersey Shore is on anyways. In that case, Re could be your next favorite gadget. This bad boy lets your handset communicate with all your AV equipment via infrared, contains an extensive database of devices, and can learn from any IR remote. If that weren't enough, New Kinetix promises regular updates to the app -- and your typical remote can't do that! Compatible with the iPod Touch as well, there's no word yet on a price or release date, but we're expecting that we'll be getting plenty more details come CES time...more

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cooky Robots

Cooking robots aren't exactly anything new (even if they haven't yet been perfected), but they generally come in the form of humanoid robots or, at the very least, robotic arms in order to be more adept in the kitchen. JST's ERATO research division has taken a decidedly different approach with these so-called Cooky robots, however, which are tiny, wheeled bots that scurry about your countertop and work as a team to make miso soup for you. As you might have guessed from the image above though, they aren't quite entirely autonomous, and require that you both label all the necessary ingredients with special cards, and pre-program things like cooking time and temperature. They'll take things over from there on out though and, as you can see in the video after the break, the results do at least appear to be edible.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This Is Your Data on Silverlight

Here's an interesting video that gives you an idea of what working with data on the web can be like using Silverlight. The company is Data Applied, and if you can take the robotic narration you'll see some interesting data visualization examples. There's a link to sign up and try crunching your own data for free. I tried it out with and it's definitely worth a look. One nit I have is the mouse wheel deepzooms the data rather than scrolls the list. But there are interesting analysis you can run, like pivots, tree maps, forecasts and correlations. If you're a data viz junkie, you'll find a lot to keep you busy. (

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Quantum Algorithm Promising Superfast Search

Quantum computing has long dangled the possibility of superfast, super-efficient processing, and now search giant Google has jumped on board that future. New Scientist reports that Google has spent the past three years developing a quantum algorithm that can automatically recognize and sort objects from still images or video.

The promise of quantum computing rests with the bizarre physics that occurs at the subatomic level. Different research teams have worked on creating quantum processors that store information as qubits (quantum bits), which can represent both the 1 and 0 of binary computer language at the same time. That dual possibility state allows for much more efficient processing and information storage.

To take an example cited by Google, a classical computer might need 500,000 peeks on average to find a ball hidden somewhere within a million drawers. But a quantum computer could find the ball by just looking into 1,000 drawers -- a nice little stunt known as Grover's algorithm.

Google has been using a quantum computing device created by D-Wave, a Canadian firm. But a lack of information about how D-Wave's chip works has led to outside skepticism regarding whether it does indeed count as a quantum computer... read more

Friday, December 11, 2009

MIT Gestural Computing

MIT Media Lab, home to Big Bird's illegitimate progeny, augmented reality projects aplenty, and now three-dimensional gestural computing. The new bi-directional display being demoed by the Cambridge-based boffins performs both multitouch functions that we're familiar with and hand movement recognition in the space in front of the screen -- which we're also familiar with, but mostly from the movies. The gestural motion tracking is done via embedded optical sensors behind the display, which are allowed to see what you're doing by the LCD alternating rapidly (invisible to the human eye, but probably not to human pedantry) between what it's displaying to the viewer and a pattern for the camera array. This differs from projects like Natal, which have the camera offset from the display and therefore cannot work at short distances, but if you want even more detail, you'll find it in the informative video after the break. (

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Top Ten Traits of Highly Successful People

We have all read about people who are successful briefly. They win a gold medal, make a fortune, or star in one great movie and then disappear.…These examples do not inspire me!
My focus and fascination is with people who seem to do well in many areas of life, and do it over and over through a lifetime. In entertainment, I think of Paul Newman and Bill Cosby. In business, I think of Ben and Jerry (the ice cream moguls)…As a Naval Officer, husband, businessman, politician and now as a mediator and philanthropist on the world stage, Jimmy Carter has had a remarkable life. We all know examples of people who go from one success to another.
These are the people who inspire me! I've studied them, and I've noticed they have the following traits in common:

They work hard! Yes, they play hard, too! They get up early, they rarely complain, they expect performance from others, but they expect extraordinary performance from themselves. Repeated, high-level success starts with a recognition that hard work pays off.

They are incredibly curious and eager to learn. They study, ask questions and read—constantly! An interesting point, however: While most of them did well in school, the difference is that they apply or take advantage of what they learn. Repeated success is not about memorizing facts, it's about being able to take information and create, build, or apply it in new and important ways. Successful people want to learn everything about everything!

They network. They know lots of people, and they know lots of different kinds of people. They listen to friends, neighbors, co- workers and bartenders. They don't have to be "the life of the party," in fact many are quiet, even shy, but they value people and they value relationships. Successful people have a Rolodex full of people who value their friendship and return their calls.

They work on themselves and never quit! While the "over-night wonders" become arrogant and quickly disappear, really successful people work on their personality, their leadership skills, management skills, and every other detail of life. When a relationship or business deal goes sour, they assume they can learn from it and they expect to do better next time. Successful people don't tolerate flaws; they fix them!

They are extraordinarily creative. They go around asking, "Why not?" They see new combinations, new possibilities, new opportunities and challenges where others see problems or limitations. They wake up in the middle of the night yelling, "I've got it!" They ask for advice, try things out, consult experts and amateurs, always looking for a better, faster, cheaper solution. Successful people create stuff!

They are self-reliant and take responsibility. Incredibly successful people don't worry about blame, and they don't waste time complaining. They make decisions and move on.…Extremely successful people take the initiative and accept the responsibilities of success.

They are usually relaxed and keep their perspective. Even in times of stress or turmoil, highly successful people keep their balance, they know the value of timing, humor, and patience. They rarely panic or make decisions on impulse. Unusually successful people breath easily, ask the right questions, and make sound decisions, even in a crisis.

Extremely successful people live in the present moment. They know that "Now" is the only time they can control. They have a "gift" for looking people in the eye, listening to what is being said, enjoying a meal or fine wine, music or playing with a child. They never seem rushed, and they get a lot done! They take full advantage of each day. Successful people don't waste time, they use it!
They "look over the horizon" to see the future. They observe trends, notice changes, see shifts, and hear the nuances that others miss. A basketball player wearing Nikes is trivial, the neighbor kid wearing them is interesting, your own teenager demanding them is an investment opportunity! Extremely successful people live in the present, with one eye on the future!

Repeatedly successful people respond instantly! When an investment isn't working out, they sell. When they see an opportunity, they make the call. If an important relationship is cooling down, they take time to renew it. When technology or a new competitor or a change in the economic situation requires an adjustment, they are the first and quickest to respond.
These traits work together in combination, giving repeatedly successful people a huge advantage. Because they are insatiable learners, they can respond wisely to change. Because their personal relationships are strong, they have good advisors, and a reserve of goodwill when things go bad. And finally, none of these traits are genetic! They can be learned! They are free and they are skills you can use. Start now!

Dr. Philip E. Humbert

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Square iPhone Payment System

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and the quiet startup formerly known as Squirrel are finally opening up a bit. The company now called Square, as we noted back in October, has launched a website for its iPhone payment dongle, although it's still in somewhat private beta testing. TechCrunch managed to catch up with Dorsey, who gave a brief overview of the product and then showed it off by charging $4 for a cup of coffee -- so it goes in San Francisco. See Square in action after the break. (