Harry’s Geek Roundup – Introduction to Fantasy

It’s late, I know. Grethe (My beloved Alienware M11x) is in for repairs. I’m only able to do this at all because I’m borrowing my Dad’s Mac. This is an awkward experience for both me and it.

Links to sources and more information hyperlinked to titles.

Swap your car for a lifetime travel pass?

Score one for public transport, reducing congestion, and generally bieng green. The Spanish town of Murcia has offered to exchange your car for a lifetime travel pass – as part of their campaign to reduce the number of cars in the city.

I love this idea, and I really wish more overly-congested cities (such as London) may want to consider such a thing. Although the advert annoys the hell out of me for saying nothing about their solutions. Still – its a grand idea. Its only a temporary scheme but I’m really hoping it works 🙂

 

Ooops, Tulalip?

No, seriously we didn’t mean to. It was a mistake. Honest Gov’

Here is the story: Microsoft on July 12th bought the domain www.socl.com and completely accidentally (and not on purpose), generated a few tiny ripples of interest when the website showed the above image dump.

It would appear that they are working on a social networking site (called Tulalip. Now say it with a mouthful of cheese) that also provides Internet searching capabilities of some kind, to ‘find what you need and share it’.

While its not too surprising that Microsoft want to hop on the social networking bandwagon along with Google+ seeing how much money Facebook is making. But am I the only one who find it hilarious that Microsoft are trying to be ‘social’. Its not really something they do.

It also makes me wonder if tulalalulalip will integrate in any way with their Xbox community? Think about it – the number of games with an integrated tweeting or Facebook posting feature is on the rise. Perhaps Microsoft will be creating something to point out what games you are playing to your friends? In an attempt to further advertise both them, and Xbox Live. For now we can only speculate apathetically while posting opinions on Tumblr (Yeah, I’m a social networking hipster in this respect 😛 Sue Me.)

 

Need a hand, Wesley?

The time I get to reference Mr. Butlertron (warning, some language) from Clone High has finally arrived! As the guys and gals at Georgia Tech’s Health-care Robotics Lab have created the PR2: A robot designed to be used to help disabled people. Unlike having a carer though, the PR2 can be directly controlled by the person, even if they have very limited ability to create inputs.

In the linked example (which contains a great video, that will make you feel a little warm and fuzzy) stroke victim Henry Evans is given a system of input, custom designed for him. It only requires him to do what he can: move his head, and one finger.

The Robots for Humanity project seems to have been making leaps and bounds. Thanks to the PR2, Henry has been able to pick things up, move them around his house, scratch itches and even shave himself (something he has hated having others do for him)

It put Rob1 in the mind of Roujin Z, but I hope it stays safer than that 😛

 

And this winner is… Serial Code DB4649T2006RS

July 16th held the world’s first Robot Film Festival, a festival celebrating the role of our Automaton friends (and future overlords) in film. True, there are no robot directors or writers… yet, but how about actors?

There were even awards: the Botskers (Robot Oscars), which came with refreshingly new categories – specifically for the event.

Visionary Futures: Moonrush

Ethics & Impact: Chorebot

Best Story: Out In the Street

Most Uncanny: Saturn

Scientifically Hardcore: Bio-inspired Flying Robots

Most Creative: Me and My Robots

Best Picture: The Machine

Best Robot Actor: Absolut Quartet

Best Human as Robot: Waiting For Name Assignment

Audience Award: Operation DaVinci

I love the ideas behind these categories: particularly Ethics & Impact, an award given for dealing with mankind’s relationship with machines. According to the website, the film ‘Chorebot’ won this for not only showing an owners attitude and ignorance, but for showing a ‘believable’ relationship between Chorebot and a dog. D’awwww, Marley and Mii.

 

Robocup 2011: Where moving 3 ft is the latest extreme sport!

Remember how we often mention how one of the hardest things about making a humanoid robot is getting it to stand up straight? Yeah… well…  this video kinda shows just how slow they can be if you focus on making them able to kick.

I’d really recommend looking around the website for a little bit – this event has been really well thought out and documented: photos, videos, livestream ect. Held in Istanbul, RoboCup 2011 is a chance for developers to prove that their machines have the best skills. There’s multiple categories: including from ‘small size robots’ to ‘the humanoid league’. Its all fun stuff, so give it a look 🙂

 

Robotic mouth synthesises sounds… and its SCARY AS $%*&!

Previously, to make a robot speak it would have to have pre-set words spoken by a human programmed into it. This device is trying to make a much more open-ended vocal system, by making the machine sing nursery rhymes by altering how air travels through a tube.

It may sound a little freaky, and it may look like a flesh-light trapped in meccano, but for Hideyuki Sawada and humanoid robotics; this is actually quite an innovation… albeit very much at the experimentation stage. Seriously sounds like that belong in very low budget horror films… *shudder*

 

WTF Award: Roger Tullgren

Thats right, a person has received this week’s WTF award. The reason being, he is apparently so addicted to heavy metal that he qualifies for disability benefits… yes, this is not a joke.

Tullgren, 42, applied for help at the Employment Service, and succeeded. On the grounds that he feels a genuine need to express his love of the genre through his look (long black locks, Ozzy Osbourne sunglasses ect), and his unstoppable need to skip work sometimes because he heard there was gig going on – The power of the mosh-pit compels him so! The man does Sweden proud 😛

Following observation from many psychologists, Tullgren gained a form that he intends to use in job interviews, claiming that he is not trying to offend anyone or confuse his interviewer with the way he dresses or acts – he has a genuine psychological addiction that just won’t let him not do these things.

Roger Tullgren gains our bamboozlement and respect(?) for being such a unique oddity that he, himself, claims our WTF award. Rock on.

Harry Bentley

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