scientists are clever

I suffer from a condition that makes me sneeze when exposed to grow-lamps or the sun. For years people tried to tell us sun-sneezers that we were allergic to pollen and it was a coincidence that we sneezed outside. But we all knew that the sneeze started in the eyes somehow, we felt the sneeze trigger in our eyes.

I did a little research into this, and some scientists gave it an official name: Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst Syndrome. I can put that on my resume.

Apparently one in four people are affected by ADCHOO (get it?). I’ve only ever met like 3 people with it. Steven claims to sneeze when he combs his hair.


email makes me feel special

I’m in the market for a refurbished iBook for school next year. And I’ve been weeding through offical Apple dealers comparing prices and deals they offered. I had a lot of questions to ask too, I was impressed when my first question (“will you ship to Canada?”) was answered in 4 minutes from one place. That was great. I was happy, and asked a few more questions, they were pleasant to deal with and helped me out. Then they sold out of the model I wanted (I think it was already sold out, the site just wasn’t updated, they since updated it when I asked).

So I went to the Little Mac Shoppe and talked to the friendly staff (I think his name was Dale), and they let me play with an iBook (and the coolest damn USB-lightbulb I’ve ever seen). I saw on their site that they rented Macs, but it was too expensive for somebody just trying to see if they got along with OS X.

I decided to continue my efforts via the internet, and I was disappointed that when I emailed questions to them, I didn’t get replies within a day, and then in two. I understand if they can’t have somebody sitting there watching the inbox all day, but I would have expected them to check at least once a day. That sort of turned me off as a customer. Even though no malice was intended (as I said, my real-world visit was great) the email cold-shoulder made me and my business feel unwanted. Maybe this is how 8 year olds on ICQ who got my contact feel when I don’t get back to them in the first minute and they begin wondering “why do u hate me rob?? a/s/l?”.

So I’m remaining hopeful that somebody will read my question about whether or not the LMS is able to hook me up with a tasty, factory refurbished G3/600 iBook.

UPDATE: After speaking with the good Mac people, we’ve determined that there is a strange technical issue that is keeping me from getting mail them right now. They tried to be prompt, but the Man had other ideas. Furthermore, they have expanded their ways of being contacted to use some IM methods too. Cheers.


minifigs and baseplates

My passion for those wacky plastic bricks was rekindled a few months ago. I’m sure that most people have a fond memory or two about time spent with Lego. There is something so satisfying about the slight resistance, then click of two tiny bricks. Not to mention the enormous pride of completing a project, whether or not you used the instructions. I investigated a little bit and found many facinating places created by the online Lego communty.

The first of these, was BrickLink. Originally BrickBay, the name had to be changed when somebody noticed the similarity between the two. This place is an amazing resource for any avid builder. You can pick a little store that somebody who catalogued all thier Lego set up, and fill your boots with anything you need.

This leads me to my next discovery, the LDraw project. These dedicated people are in the process of (and have taken a good chunk out of) entering every Lego piece in existance into a library that can be used by various CADs (my favorite is MLCAD), and so you can build your own things virutally. That’s totally not as fun as hands-on. But you have access to way more bricks, AND, you can always order your pieces up if you do something genial. It’s also great for home-brew kits and instructions.

The last spot that amazed me was a community server to hold pictures of people’s work, Brickshelf. I have trouble finding good stuff by just browsing the site head-on, but I did follow this link to a crazilly well-done StarWars piece.

In closing, I’d like to say that the plural of Lego is Lego. Not Legos. Wierd kids said that. Don’t be wierd.


fancypants keyboards

As I read Ars Technica, I came across a post and then a discussion about fancy new keyboards. The following caught my attention and facinated me:

Projection Keyboard

In the future, this will be used on the moon
This little device was the first one to catch my attention. Sadly, they don’t seem to discuss the technology used in its creation. Effectively, it will project a little keyboard onto a flat surface, and as you type on that, it will detect your keystrokes. Yahoo seems to have a better picture of it than the actual site of the producers, who only seem to have artist’s renderings of the device. They do claim to have “resolved technological hurdles” in order to create this device. So we’ll have to wait and see.


Looks comfortable
I’ve seen a couple variations on the Senseboard some are little finger-grabbing rings, etc. Apparently they’re supposed to sniff the ways your hand moves (Senseboard claims to use AI to assist in this process). I wont believe this until I try it. If this worked it could be great because people could type anywhere (no flat surface) with no over-bulky unit. If these things ever shrink along with the rest of technology, maybe we’ll all have them. There’s a thought. If keyboards became so easy to carry around and we all had them, would public phones remove their dirty buttons? Same with Interac machines, or drive-throughs.

Half Keyboard

Looks comfortableFinally, this Sinbad-approved little keyboard brags of simple one handed usability that can be picked up in a handful of minutes. The way it works is you get a left-side of a keyboard, and if you want to use a key on the other side, you hold spacebar and it works like shift. Tapping spacebar will still provide a space. The part I found cool, was that it mirrored the right half of the keyboard. So the P and the Q share a key. I guess the brain finds it easier that way. They have a nice little How It Works section which is worth playing with (they have Flash!). They even have what seems to be a one-hand simulator where you can test your skills with your own keybaord. Try it, it’s fun.

Looks like we’ll have to decide how dependant we are in that ‘tapity-tap’.


Google catalogues

I know it’s unusual for me to make posts about Google or any kind of web thing at all, but I can’t remain silent any longer. I wont attempt to use the word “semantics” because I don’t know what it means (I have since looked it up). With that being said, I will begin.

Maybe a month or so ago, maybe more, I noticed that on Google’s front page they spoke of that apparently would let me browse mail-order catalogues they have scanned. I was facinated, and amused. Tease me if you like if you’ve seen Fight Club, but since my girlfriend and I are getting an apartment next year, I went to the Ikea Catalogue and began perusing. It’s really quick, and offers a bunch of different page views. It will never replace the feeling I had at age ten, looking at Lego in the WishBook, but it’s still a fun service.

The ability to do a keyword search was quite interesting, and remarkably accurate considering they’re dealing with tiny-scanned-smudgy magazine font. I did get a few red herrings, but it made leafing more efficient.



it’s mooglicious!

They remind me of Lego spacemenTo my great wonderful joy, I was pointed in the direction of a cover band called The Moog Cookbook. These Space Rockers cover classic rock songs and some new (circa 1996) pop stuff.

They reduce Green Day’s “Basketcase” to slinky elevator muzak. Some other AOV favorites are Black Hole Sun and Hotel California (which I would like to add features the Popcorn lick at the end).

I totally dig this stuff, the Nirvana cover had me flailing my arms in an attempt to dance. This was only ever previously achieved by Joy Electric‘s Moogy* antics.Does anybody know of any other Moog rock like this?

* I like saying Moog. Moog.


I still wish I was an engineer

My first AOV post ever was concerning how I wished I was an engineer so I could take my monstrous robot onto television and beat on other robots. Nothing has changed, except for now people out there are living the dream.

There are now about three shows that deal with his, and I want to tell you why they suck and how they can be improved.

First I’ll deal with Robotica. I have many issues with this. But I’ll start with the positive. I like the short history of each competitor showing the construction process. Even though they all say “My robot will win because it’s powerful enough to pull my minivan in neutral”.

The problem is that people are treating this new type of competition as a novelty and have whacky commentators, flashy high-tech lights, and stat-screens that are useless. That Zappa guy bugs me, he’s too “Whacky and off the wall”. I’ve watched Robotica a few times and I’ve learned that there are a few reoccuring factors. There is maybe 10-15 minutes of moving robots. Maybe less. What there is no shortage of is awkward robots beached, stuck, or otherwise motionless. Wabbling or bumping awkwardly and jerkily about. Then the announcer always says “Whack! That robots seems to have a tran-tran- transmission problem! That’s noooooo good!” in a whacky and off the wall voice. It’s frustrating to watch toasters jiggle all that time in their little post-apocalyptic-esque gauntlets.

Just when I was about to give up on fighting robots for a few more months, I caught two or three episodes of Battlebots. That was more entertaining, but still has some rough edges. For example, there are no little cutesy competitions because they never work. It’s all robots beating eachother. I saw an amazing robot that did suck as far as what a BattleBot should do, but made up for all that by not looking remotely like any other robot. I can’t find a picture of it, but it was a 2 meter robotic snake. It was cool. The other robots actually worked. I saw strategy instead of wounded manatees. The commenting people were less whacky, they have BILL NYE as a scientific consultant. And Jay Leno competes with his robot too. I’m not saying you need celebrities to have a good show, but, in this case it works.

I’ve caught an episode of Robot Wars once. It was like 3am on PBS. It seemed like a less-exciting BattleBots. It had the Red Dwarf guy as host. I don’t know much more about it other than it was better than that Robotica crap with the sleeping robots.

Thank you for your attention.


RIP Dave Thomas, you made one tasty burger

1932-2002Dave Thomas, beloved founder and spokesperson of Wendy’s passed away last night from liver cancer.

I watched a biography about him once on A&E and he lead an interesting life. My favorite part was how he decided that paying sports heros and rock stars millions of dollars to sell burgers he said “Screw that, I can do it”. His work for orphans and adoption also indicates how he never sold out and forgot his roots.

He was a good fellow, he will be missed.


so, how about that there weather?

Merry Christmas.

With that out of the way I would like to tell the world about a fine use of Flash. I’m not as hugely into design as some of the readers around here, so try to think of me as an average Internut participant who found something that pleased him.

I am planning on a little trip up to Moncton tomorrow, and was curious as to what kind of weather I could expect. I checked a fine national weather site and to my delight they have a nice little Flash map of Canada with adorable (I’ll put my reputation on the line with that word) icons showing me the weather.

It was pretty and it worked. Cheers!