Current Events

Long Live the Aibo!

aibo.jpg We are sad to hear news that Sony, in a cost-cutting measure, is shuttering the robotics division famous for the production of the Aibo robotic dog. They were a little pricey at $2,000 a pop but they were really sophisticated and quite ahead of their time. Sony provided a SDK which could be used to program emotions and face recognition software allowed the dog to respond to it’s owners.

We also will never get the chance to see 60 Aibo dogs dancing in unison to the Bee Gees. (6.6MB wmv file)

Current Events

Sony Reader shown at CES

Sony Reader

Gizmodo has coverage of a new reader from Sony based on technology licensed from eInk Corporation based up in Boston. Sony had launched an earlier version of this product, the Libre, in the Japanese market but it apparently never took off because of it’s restrictive DRM technology. Since I have to drive to work I’m no longer in the market for such a device but anyone that takes public transportation and finds themselves reading lots of printouts, a device like this could be a godsend.

While the device supports RSS, PDFs, JPEGs, and MP3 files (which, on the Sony site, they take pains to point out are unencrypted), it does not support WiFi and requires the separate purchase of a cradle which you hook up to your PC to transfer files.

Current Events

Wi- Fi enabled LCD Picture Frame


I’ve always been a big fan of ambient displays of information as a non-intrusive way of keeping up with the river of information that flows through our lives. Screensavers and scrolling images are one method which shows promise and in our new broadband, always-on world. PointCast was popular because people liked the concept but it was killed by IT departments because it was a bandwidth hog when bandwidth was still scarce.

eStarling makes an LCD screen that, once programmed via its USB port, can update itself via Wi-Fi. It accepts images from email or a Flickr RSS feed. The memory holds up to 30 pictures that are cycled through until new photos replace the older ones.

Some uses:

  • Give one to the grandparents and set up an email account for the device. Have the family email the lastest photos of the kids. You can configure trusted email accounts to keep photos of viagra bottles from making it into rotation.
  • Search a tag or group you like on Flickr, (ie. clouds or squared circle) and have the photo frame subscribe to the latest images.

Available on ThinkGeek. Thanks to Niall for the pointer.

UPDATE: Niall points to a similar device that boasts a larger screen and can connect to other PCs on a home network.

The Sounds of the Ocean

We’re eating breakfast and getting in the mood for the seashore. It helps to listen to the Monterey Bay Aquarium webcam with the sound turned on. If you plug it into your stereo and turn it up loud, you can hear the harbor seals.

Vertigo on the flatscreen

We all got a kick out of Google’s satellite view and enjoyed zooming around with Google Earth. This week Microsoft launches their service with it’s cool Bird’s Eye views of landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge.

But if you really want to knock your socks off, you have got to try Big Eye in the Sky Quicktime VR site. Photographer Ed Fink has taken 360 degree views from a helicopter and the results are stunning.

The $100 laptop

The MIT Media Lab has released photos of its $100 laptop designed for children in developing nations. It features a handcrank for back up power in rural areas, wireless access via a peer-to-peer mesh technology, and (much to the disappointment of Appple & Microsoft) runs Linux.

From the FAQs:

Why do children in developing nations need laptops?
Laptops are both a window and a tool: a window into the world and a tool with which to think. They are a wonderful way for all children to “learn learning” through independent interaction and exploration.

Why is it important for each child to have a computer? What’s wrong with community-access centers?
One does not think of community pencils—kids have their own. They are tools to think with, sufficiently inexpensive to be used for work and play, drawing, writing, and mathematics. A computer can be the same, but far more powerful. Furthermore, there are many reasons it is important for a child to “own” something—like a football, doll, or book—not the least of which being that these belongings will be well-maintained through love and care.

Initial orders are being negotiatiated with Brazil, Thailand, Egypt and Nigeria with each government purchasing at least 1 million units each. They are expected to start production early next year.

Mike Torres and his gadgets

While some of us talk about the upcoming convergence of television, PCs, and mobile, Mike Torres (Lead Program Manager for MSN Spaces) is living it. Right on Mike for blazing the trail!


GPS Moblogging, another first

Two years ago, my sister was moblogging with full GPS support (click Location Info) in Japan on Tokyo Tidbits. Now, a full two years later, her boyfriend has cobbled together several services and a bluetooth-enabled GPS device which talks to her Nokia 7610 phone to do the same thing.

Ah progress.

Department of Defense can’t keep secrets

The Pentagon recently posted a heavily censored document concerning the accidental shooting of Italian intelligence agent, Nicola Calipari, on their website but forgot that blocked out text in digital format isn’t really blocked out.

You can find links to the source materials at Memory Hole but the real news is that the Department of Defense can’t seem to keep it’s information classified.

GPS Photoblog

So totally cool. My sister has hooked up a GPS unit to her cell phone and is moblogging with coordinates. She did this before, back in 2003, but that was in Japan, high-tech gadget heaven.