Friday, April 28, 2006

Wicked Lasers

Wicked Lasers sells handheld high-power laser pointers capable of cutting electrical tape, lighting matches, popping balloons, and even cauterizing wounds (I'll leave that one to your imagination). Seems like one could get into a lot of trouble with one of these...

OhGizmo has a full review.


Live Action Mario [Video]

Lots of video links today. Happy Friday!

Link (via Joystiq)

The Art of Motion [Video]

Link (via Shawn Hogan)

Hey A-Rod! [Video]

Hey A-Rod, you're on TV!


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Dodecagonal World Time Clock

Here's a world clock from designer Charlotte Van Der Waals in the shape of a dodecagon.
Patented desk clocks with 12 slides, each with the name of two major cities; together, the 24 cities represent the 24 global time zones; to find the local hour in another time zone, simply roll the clock so that the city representing that time zone is on top.
Simple. Elegant. Functional.

Link (via BoingBoing)

How to see at night

Without the goggles, of course. Although we're not all that good at it, here are some tips on how to improve your night vision:
  1. Try not to stare. Use your peripheral vision instead.
  2. Keep your eyes adjusted to the dark.
  3. Practice.
  4. Scan, don't stare.
  5. Protect your night vision.
Follow the link for a more detailed explanation.

Link (via Digg)

The foam that ate Ellsworth AFB

The U.S. Airforce conducted a test of their new fire suppressing foam system on August 23rd, 2005.
The system had to be able to put down one meter (39 inches) of foam in four minutes or less. To that end, the system was allowed to generate foam for the full four minutes. It turned out that the system worked better than expected, practically filling the B-1B bomber with foam within four minutes.
Hilarious. I'm going to go test my airbags now.

Link and Link (sort of via BoingBoing)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006

The description below speaks for itself. It's a little bit of a long download, but well worth it. It is quite good, yet quite disturbing at the same time.
Not strictly a work of Machinima; Paul Robertson's Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006 is a masterpiece animation based on the graphic look and feel of platform handhelds. A kind of machinima recursion; where animations inspired by games have inspired animations. Paul's style did actually get him a job in the games industry, but he was obsessively animating these seductively disturbing game-inspired tales before making games. His work has been shown in many galleries in Australia, but until now hasn't found a big exposure online. For me, his non-interactive animations are more about what games ought to be than what a lot of games are. The kind of indulgence which triggers all the soft spots of delicious wrongness in a way Reality just doesn't appreciate.
Update: There was a little confusion about what to download. Try the torrent or the direct download.

Link (via BoingBoing twice!)

What the hell was that?

On April 4th of this year, a loud boom shook much of San Diego for a few seconds. I can honestly say that I didn't feel anything, but many people around here did. Apparently no one knows what caused the disturbance, so theories abound. The San Diego Union Tribune is trying to get to the bottom of it:
Whatever it was, it caused a woman's bed to shake in Lakeside. It created waves in a backyard pool in Carmel Valley. It set off car alarms in Kearny Mesa and rattled windows from Mission Beach to Poway to Vista. At various spots throughout the county, people reported a rumbling sound or a booming noise.
Many theories have surfaced, ranging from earthquakes, military training exercises, rocket launches, sonic booms, meteors, UFO's and top-secret spy planes, but none have any significant weight to them thus far.

Apparently, there have been two unexplained disturbances since January, with one in Maine and another in Alabama. Looking back further has turned up more:
There have been other similar unexplained events over the past few years. Something of the sort happened in Wilmington, N.C., on Dec. 20, 2005; Winston-Salem, N.C., on March 5, 2005; Charleston, S.C., on Aug. 1, 2003; and Pensacola, Fla., on Jan. 13, 2003.
Did you feel it? Do you have any information? The 'Trib wants to know.

Link (via BoingBoing)

Remove "Sort By Name" from your Firefox context menu

Earlier this month, I posted an entry complaining about how the context menu items "Reload Live Bookmark" and "Sort By Name" are too close to each other. After mistakenly sorting my Bookmarks Toolbar Folder yet again, I finally found a way to do something about it.

Disclaimer: Follow these instructions at your own risk. You may break your browser. Although I did not find an extension to do this, I'm pretty sure that using one would be a better approach than the one I'm taking here. If you are as annoyed as I was about this, then please, read on.

I couldn't find an extension for this, and I didn't dig too deep into the developers documentation, but I did find something in the chrome/browser.jar file. In order to remove the option you need to edit a file in that archive.
  1. Backup the file browser.jar before starting. You may screw something up and have to start over. You should find it in the chrome folder, found under the Firefox install directory.
  2. Unzip browser.jar to a temporary folder. This file is an uncompressed archive that you can open using a utility like WinZip.
  3. Find the file content/browser/bookmarks/bookmarks.js in the directory structure you just created from the archive. You'll want to edit this file.
  4. Find the case statement referring to the context menu for an item of type "Livemark". Search for the following text:

    case "Livemark":

    It should start on line 308 or thereabouts.
  5. On the next line, you'll see a list of commands. Find the text "bm_sortbyname", (complete with quotes and the trailing comma). Remove it and save the file.
  6. Re-create browser.jar by creating a ZIP file from your directory structure. Make sure not to use compression with the archive. After creating the ZIP file, rename it to browser.jar and copy it to chrome directory.
That's it. The entry for "Sort By Name" is now removed from the context menu that comes up when you right-click on a Live Bookmark. I do believe that this is probably not the best way to do this, as this file gets updated when you upgrade your browser. You may have to repeat the above steps after an upgrade to get rid of it again.

Hopefully this will be the last time I accidentally re-sort my Bookmarks Toolbar Folder.

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Miller "Cold Can Technology"

Miller is working with a company called Tempra Technology to bring you self-cooling beer cans.
The specially modified cans use proprietary engineering to create a temperature drop that will reduce the I.C. Can contents by a minimum of 30° Fahrenheit in just three minutes. When activated, the all natural desiccant contained within a vacuum draws the heat from the beverage through the evaporator into an insulated heat-sink container. It is this patented vacuum-power which lowers the temperature so dramatically and quickly, leaving the beverage inside cold.
I love it when a plan comes together. Now they need to figure out how to do this with glass bottles.


Software glitch causes bomb scare at Atlanta airport

To keep baggage screeners frosty during their shifts, the baggage screening software at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport will display an image of a bomb or another dangerous device on the screen. This image should normally be followed by some text indicating that the image was a test.

Apparently, a software "glitch" prevented the test message from being displayed after it showed a picture of a bomb. The screeners, not knowing that they were being shown a test image, reacted by searching the luggage on the belt. When they could not find the device pictured, they assumed that it had already made it through security and initiated an airport wide alert, grounding flights and evacuating travelers from the airport for about two hours.

I suppose it's a good thing that the TSA reacted appropriately, but I'd hate to be the employee that called for the evacuation. Worse, it's probably not a good time to be working at the company that provided the buggy software. The airport was the nation's busiest in 2005.


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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Firefox Annoyance: "Reload Live Bookmark" is too close to "Sort By Name"

I love RSS feeds. I've saved a couple dozen Live Bookmarks into my Bookmarks Toolbar in Firefox for ready access to the latest news, views and other bloggery. They update periodically with the latest links, stories and the like, but they sometimes get behind.

As a result, I've been getting into the habit of right-clicking on the Live Bookmark and choosing "Reload Live Bookmark" to make sure I've got the latest and greatest links. Problem is, this selection is right above the "Sort By Name" command. I don't know what's gotten into me, but in the past two weeks, I've accidentally hit sort rather than reload about three or four times.

It's extremely annoying to have to re-arrange your bookmarks after grouping them by subject and placing my favorites up at the top. If I have to do that one more time, I'm going to look into the SDK to write an extension to remove that option. It's driving me crazy.

Update: Here's a solution.

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Friday, April 07, 2006

Word of the day: Schadenfreude

scha·den·freu·de (shädn-froid)
Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.
I also saw it defined as the joy of learning from other people's mistakes.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

That strange falling sensation

The Hypnic Jerks. That sounds like a good name for a band. Scientists have a sort of half explanation for that phenomenon where you startle yourself awake just as you fall asleep:
This strange falling sensation and muscle twitch is known as a hypnagogic myoclonic twitch or"“Hypnic jerk." If this has happened to you on more than one occasion, don'’t worry, you are not alone. Close to 70 percent of all people experience this phenomenon just after nodding off, according to a recent study at the Mayo Clinic.
Link (via Digg)

Top 87 bad predictions about the future

Here are some of the poorer predictions made over the years. Read and relish in the knowledge that hindsight brings us. Here are some good ones:
"If anything remains more or less unchanged, it will be the role of women."
David Riesman, conservative American social scientist, 1967.

"I am tired of all this sort of thing called science here... We have spent millions in that sort of thing for the last few years, and it is time it should be stopped.
Simon Cameron, U.S. Senator, on the Smithsonian Institute, 1901.

"... good enough for our transatlantic friends ... but unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men."
British Parliamentary Committee, referring to Edison’s light bulb, 1878.

"The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad."
The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford's lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903.

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
H. M. Warner, co-founder of Warner Brothers, 1927.
I think that Mr. Warner was onto something there.

Link (via BoingBoing)