Archive for the ‘Technology’ category

Great contest at Slate – Google Search

November 11, 2009

Oh, man. I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw some of the results of this contest.  Essentially, Slate asked readers to submit the best “less intelligent” and “more intelligent” autofill on the google query.

I liked the juxtaposition of “how do i destroy my jeans” and “how do i destroy the world,” but there are lots of gems in this.  Check it out.

Useless but cool

December 23, 2008

John Hart from Ann Arbor, MI made these nanobama images from carbon nanotubes before the election as a way of demonstrating his support for Obama. They’re totally useless, but are still fascinating. Each one is 1/2 of a millimeter wide. For more information, check out this link.

Each face is made of approximately 150 million tiny carbon nanotubes; thats about how many Americans voted in the 2008 presidential election.

Each face is made of approximately 150 million tiny carbon nanotubes; that's about how many Americans voted in the 2008 presidential election.

Telenovelas are the New Baywatch

August 14, 2006

In the LA Times this morning, there is an article in the business section about Intel‘s new Viiv multimedia technology. The gist of the article is that Intel wants to sell more PC’s built around its Viiv home entertainment technology, but, in order to do so, Intel is working with studios, networks, and internet portals to use the Intel technology to deliver programming through computers around the world.

That’s not what interested me, though. Rather, near the end of the article, the author discusses some of the specific examples of connections between content providers and content watchers that Intel thinks they might be able to enable. According to the article, there’s “an enormous appetite worldwide for dramas via broadband connections” and “Mexican soap operas seem to address the demand for content quite nicely.” The article continues by saying that “Asian TV viewers eat up the melodramas, which are full of the visceral passion and tragedy that characterizes home grown shows.”

carrusel

The “Carrusel” cast members love their Korean fans!

A 23-year old South Korean who is interviewed for the article says that she still remembers how much she loved “Carrusel” a Mexican novela that was dubbed into Korean that she watched when she was in elementary school. “The characters were all foreign so it was new to Korean children, and that made it interesting. But we didn’t know it was a Mexican TV show. We just knew it was a foreign program,” she says. And now, a remake of “Carrusel”, renamed “Vivian los Niños” has captivated a new generation of Koreans.

Apparently the Mexican media companies are well-aware of the appeal of their products, because Televisa, the largest Mexican media company (and also the company that made “Carrusel” and “Vivian los Niños”) produces more shows than it can broadcast domestically. The LA times article claims that Televisa “puts out 50,000 hours of programming a year, much more than American networks” and that the “shows are translated into 15 languages with dubbing or subtitles and broadcast in 70 countries.”

I’ve always been kind of interested in the Mexican soap operas that seem to be constantly running on the Spanish-language channels on my TV, but I never realized how popular they are around the world. I don’t know if any single telenovela will ever reach the same level of popularity as a show like Baywatch, which was syndicated in 148 countries, but it’s obvious that Televisa has found a formula that works for them. If the future of the home media progresses as many people think that it will (i.e. toward one portal/computer that delivers all of our radio, internet, television, and movie content), then the business model of generating a lot of content and letting the consumer decide which trashy novela to watch will continue to be successful, and Intel is smart to try to be in the middle of it all.

The internet is a series of tubes

August 11, 2006

I’m pretty sure we all know what Senator Ted Stevens said a couple of weeks ago about the internet when he was debating some net neutrality language should be included in a telecommunications bill (if not, click this link). Since Stevens, the longest-serving Republican Senator, said “The Internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a truck. It’s a series of tubes!” and “An Internet [sic] was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially,” I have come across quite a few parodies of Stevens’ idiocy on my series of tubes. A friend pointed me to this one, which happens to be my favorite so far. If you know of any others that are worth watching, please let me know. Just don’t send them all to me at once, because my tubes are pretty clogged and I haven’t had the internet man come by for maintenance in a while.

Ted Stevens

Don’t put those papers on the tubes that run into your computer, or they might smash them and block the flow.

Finally, someone using a robot the way a robot should be used

July 31, 2006

First off, sorry about the delay in blogging. I was busy quitting my job and got distracted from the more important things (like sharing worthless information with total strangers on the internet).

Anyway, on to the sharing…

I saw this article the other day about a Japanese researcher, named Hiroshi Ishiguro, who had created an android version of himself. It’s not really that exciting that someone has made a robot that looks like a human, because, in my opinion, we’re technologically deadened by the cool new gadgets that come out literally every week. Well, that and the fact that the free world has been run by an android for the last 6 and 1/2 years:

Bush the Robot

A couple of things about the Japanese android and his creator struck me as cool and interesting. First, the guy actually sends to robot to do his work – fullfilling the dreams of every kid who has had to mow the lawn, of every college student too hung over to go to the early morning lecture, and of every corporate employee who would rather be sitting at the beach instead of sitting in the weekly “customer service and support” meeting.

Ishiguro has set up the android to be able to mimic his voice, posture, and lip movements. It has a built in microphone and speaker system so that he Ishiguro can plug in his laptop from anywhere in the world and literally be the robot. So cool.

The second thing about the Ishiguro and his android that struck me is how they kind of look like the Japanese version of Christopher Reeve.
Robot and creator

A man and his robot – I’m pretty sure that’s the robot on the left, giving the “Blue Steel” look.

Heart Healthy Pork

May 17, 2006

That's right, folks.  Researchers at the University of Missouri have created genetically engineered pigs that they hope will produce pork chops and bacon that will be better on the ticker than normal pigs.  Most of us have heard of omega-3 fatty acids and the positive effects that they can have (reduced risk of strokes and heart attacks).  These omega-3 fatty acids are more prevalent in fish than in our other, more terrestrial meat sources.  However, now, thanks to the genious of biotechnology and genetic engineering, scientists have inserted the gene that converts omega-6 fatty acids (bad) into omega-3 fatty acids into fetal pig cells.  They cloned these cells and raised ten little piggies.  Six of the piglets had increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids. 

Apparently, pigs often have coronary heart disease and die younger than they should.  So a telling sign for these researchers will be whether these six pigs outlive their omega-6 rich clones and have fewer heart problems.  As an aside, it makes you wonder if the ham you ate this morning on your McGriddle sandwich came from a pig that had a heart attack.  That can't be good…

Netflix mailer

April 27, 2006

If you have Netflix, then you'll appreciate this info:

Have you ever wondered why the Netflix envelopes have those slots in them that shows the barcode? It especially bothered me, because I always forget to put the movie back into the envelope in the right orientation and the barcode never shows. Seems like such a waste…

But, people speculate that the slot is there not for envelopes that are mailed back, but rather for envelopes that are mailed out. With the barcode showing through, they can then store the movies in envelopes, ready to ship. For more on the evolution of the Netflix envelope and some of the economics involved see here.

Netflix envelope (see the barcode?)
netflix envelope