Blades of Glory Japan Style – A Robot that Skates!

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Fresh out of the labs in Osaka, a robot that can skate! Check out the Akazawa Plen website gallery page for videos of Desktop Hobby Robot Plen on a skateboard as well. Bluetooth-enabled and on sale now for $2,400.

Thanks to AI & Robotics blog for the pointer.

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Current Events

reinvigorate.net – shiny new stats app reborn

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I’m a bit of a stats nerd so I was quite pleased to see that a longtime favorite hosted stats package came back to life after going dark over a year ago. Reinvigorate.net has been reborn from the ashes and is now hosted by the fine folks over at mediatemple which should be able to handle any traffic people throw at it.

One of the unique aspects of the early version of reinvigorate that I’m happy to see is still part of the service is the tracking of visitors in real-time.

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Click on the image above for a larger view. You can see that reinvigorate has two large boxes that keep track of Active Visitors & Active Pages. There’s also a clean and simple dashboard telling you how many users you’ve had so far today (you can set your site’s timezone in the preferences), the average number of pages viewed on your site as well as information about referrals. I like this approach because it’s very easy to take in the health of your readership at a glance.

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Office

Sure the iPhone looked cool but at least you could touch this interface

We all gawked at the hermetically sealed display of the iPhone at the recent MacWorld show but the Smart Board was one of the cooler things I saw. Basically it was like a huge touchscreen display that your could write on with digital ink.

I’ve seen these used on CNN and ESPN but this was the first time I could play with one. It was totally cool to drag your hand across a map to scroll around and drag a corner of a box with your finger to make it bigger.

Smart Board by Smart Technologies

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Office

Is your website tasty?

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The Yahoo Publisher Network blog has an excellent graphic which describes how a crawler might look at a webpage if it was a voracious carnivore. This is Part II of a series that my colleagues Cody and Amit are doing on optimizing your site for advertising.

A Lazy Man’s Hack

Back in September I wrote about a quick and dirty hack which showed how you could use a service called favoritethingz.com to build a badge which would show a visual representation of your blogroll.

I never got around to finishing up the rest of the story. Basically, the 20-minute hack post made the front page of Digg and covered by Lifehacker so the downstream links & signups to favoritethingz blipped and they got in touch with me. Better than that, they basically took a look at my post and automated the whole thing so now when you go to their Blogz Badge page all you need to do is paste in a URL and they’ll do the rest.

Feeling real lazy? Head over to their del.icio.us badge page and give them your del.icio.us ID and they’ll create an image blogroll from your bookmarked pages. Small feature request on this one though – you should be able to feed it a del.ico.us tag so it limits itself to slurping down just a subset of your saved pages. I have hundreds (and I know people that have thousands) of saved links and a slideshow of all in thumbnail view is not that useful. On the contrary, a slideshow of my excellenceinadvertising tags would be useful.

Ah well, roll another snowball and let’s see what happens. 

Polaroid-o-nizer – creating an online version of a classic offline medium

deepthought.jpgAll sorts of fun this week with image manipulation. The Image-Rich Blogroll got a fair bit of play but there was some grumbling on that it was too manual. Yes, it would be good to automate this stuff I dream up – that’s a project for a rainy day.

Next on the agenda of cool web services that could be used in interesting ways is B3ta’s Polaroid-o-nizer service. Point it to any image file URL, type in some text and then hit the “Onize” button and they’ll generate a realistic looking Polaroid of the image.

There’s even a check box if you want to upload the image to Imageshack to have them host your image for you.

So if earlier this week the project was a graphical representation of your blogroll, how about using Polaroid-o-nizer to become your annotated feed of images you come across on the web?

– found while reading Pacific IT

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Office

How to Create a Thumbnail Blogroll, a 20-minute hack

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Yahoo! had one of its internal hack days [1] today and while work kept me from devoting enough time to work on an effort on the scale of last time, an email at 9am this morning did give me the chance to show at least something at today’s show-n-tell.

I’ve been thinking of picture-in-picture badges for a while now and like the concept of a blog’s sidebar acting as a portal to your editorial view of the world. Match this navigational concept to the fact that badges are becoming more and more like the online equivalent of wearing a branded t-shirt and colleague Cody Simms thought was there’s an opportunity for a badge which showed a collection of websites you liked.

So when I got an email from FavoriteThingz (no longer in service) that they have opened up their service to allow you to create multiple badges of just about anything you could think of, neurons fired off on a way to update the tired-looking plain text blogroll.

Faces of people you read like those you see on MyBlogLog (which is totally rad for its own reasons) don’t really work in the context of a blogroll when it’s faces of people you don’t really know. Japanese salarymen have a saying that your business card is your “face” and in much the same way, your blog is “your face” on the internet.

It’s not really a hack (more like a “hand-cranked mashup”) but it’s a cool concept just dying for a little scripting. So here it is, in five easy steps:

1. Go to the webpage thumbnail creation service, webshotspro.com, and enter the URL of a blog on your blogroll into the form on the page.

2. Right click on the 400×300 pixel image and save the image file locally.

3. Go to favoritethingz.com (no longer in service) and create a new badge. Click “add thingz” and “add items manually” on the next page.

4. Select “custom” from the dropdown and enter the blog’s title, URL, and “browse” to select the image file you just saved. Click “save & add another”

5. Repeat.

There you have it! Generate the code for the badge and copy it into your sidebar or anywhere else on your page for a cool looking interactive widget which is way more interesting than a long list of text links. For an example, check out how it looks on my blogroll page. (Favoritethingz, the service that hosted this hack is no longer in service.)

[1] Thank you Leonard & Chris Plasser for organizing a bang up Hack Day. I think I’m safe in saying that my hack was by far the least technically spectacular of the bunch. I had to leave early but did get the watch a few of the demos via the live feed and have to say that the hacks (over 100 by my count) this time around were even more impressive than before. The theme seemed to be, “simple yet revolutionary” – it’s amazing what you can do with a few lines of code these days.

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Office

Map Directions on your iPod

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iPod Directions is a cool little app that takes your Yahoo Maps (remember, we support multipoint and right-click location) driving directions and puts them in your video or nano iPod.

Note: I haven’t been able to get this to work with the Yahoo Maps Beta (I contacted the company several days ago but never heard back) but it works just fine on basic Yahoo Maps.

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Current Events

VGA on a Cellphone

vod904sh.jpgFollowing on my previous post on Tivo on the cellphone, if you’re going to do it, you’ll want one of these phones. True VGA on a phone has four times the resolution of the best screens out there as well as some other goodies:

It offers a range of advanced features such as a 3.2 megapixel camera; a Motion Control Sensor (for playing 3D games), and a Face Recognition function that authenticates handset owners by sensing their facial characteristics.

Another interesting feature is the ability to indulge in instant messaging with those in close proximity to you using Bluetooth.

Love the IM over Bluetooth!

Create your first head with GenHead

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Check out this tutorial on how to create a 3D head from two 2D photos. I never knew playing God was so easy. The company, Genemation, is also working on a new version of their GenCrowd software to generate, “thousands of synthetic copyright free photo-realistic heads by age, gender and ethnicity.” Something to do on the 7th day.