Uber Lego

The chaps and chapesses over at arstechnica have been looking at the new Lego and pronounced it good. Lego Mindstorms NXT review

And I quote: "The NXT brick can communicate with three other Bluetooth devices at any one time. This means that if you had four Mindstorms kits, you could create a mega-robot with four brains, twelve motors, and sixteen sensors—all of it coordinated through Bluetooth. The setup also works with cell phone and PDA Bluetooth systems, meaning that you can use your phone as a remote control or an output device."

Now that rocks. Beats my boyhood Capsela set into a cocked hat.

Story synchronicity

So, no sooner do you hear that: Airfix crashes and burns | The Register

But you also get to hear that Peter Jackson's to remake The Dam Busters.

As The Register adroitly puts it: "When Jackson first enquired about the film rights back in the 1990s, he was told that Mel Gibson had a plan to direct and possibly act in his own remake. Mercifully for cinemagoers, that never happened. The result would most certainly have been a U-571-style adaptation showing the Americans breaching the Möhne and Eder dams, in the process drowning an English army led by a sneering Alan Rickman on its way to massacre Scottish Highlanders."


Stars = profit?

Interesting New York Times piece analysing the relationship between big movie stars and whether their films are succesful or not.A Big Star May Not a Profitable Movie Make - New York Times

'Course, it starts with the schadenfreude-friendly news that Tom Cruise got dropped by Paramount pictures recently, but rather than simply putting the boot into the munchkin scientologist for the next 2000 words, it goes off and digs up some economics. Educational, but a pity really...;-)

Anyway, a quote:

"In one study, Mr. De Vany and W. David Walls, an economist at the University of Calgary, took those factors into account. Looking across a sample of more than 2,000 movies exhibited between 1985 and 1996, they found that only seven actors and actresses — Tom Hanks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Jodie Foster, Jim Carrey, Barbra Streisand and Robin Williams — had a positive impact on the box office, mostly in the first few weeks of a film’s release.

In the same study, two directors, Steven Spielberg and Oliver Stone also pushed up a movie’s revenue. But Winona Ryder, Sharon Stone and Val Kilmer were associated with a smaller box-office revenue. No other star had any statistically significant impact at all. So what are stars for? By helping a movie open — attracting lots of people in to see a movie in the first few days before the buzz about whether it’s good or bad is widely known — stars can set a floor for revenues, said Mr. De Vany."

[via boing boing]


Muse time

It's been a bit of a YouTube sort of day. And in honour of this weekend's Reading Festival, here's Muse's unhinged Knights of Cydonia with an equally unhinged video. Cowboys, robots, phasers, women on unicorns...what more could anybody want?

Ulysses 31 title sequence

Sometimes, just sometimes, nostalgia is all that it's cracked up to be.


Ecopod: Residential Recycling Trash Masher

One from Treehugger.
Treehugger: Ecopod: Residential Recycling Trash Masher

Quoth the site: "Designed by BMW Designworks USA, "The appliance houses a compactor, and provides an efficient way to crush, store and redeem recyclable beverage containers, specifically plastic bottles and aluminium cans. Consumers throw their bottle or can in the appropriate slot, step on a foot pedal, and enjoy the satisfying sound of compaction. The compacted container falls into an internal bin, which can be removed for redemption or curbside disposal. Each pod has storage capacity for approximately 50 crushed containers, while an upper compartment has additional room for glass bottles, newspapers and other recyclable materials. Everything neatly stored away and ready to moved to the next step in the recycling chain."

They also point out that it might go under a different name, ecopods being slang for biodegradeable coffins in the environmental community

Rock on, dudes

Guitar Shred Show - Mr.Fastfinger

Quasi mystical gibberish, excellent flash animation, and the opportunity to play stunt guitar via the keyboard. Oh yes, time-wasting at work was never this much fun when I were a lad.


Dolphins 'a bit thick'

Few things in life are as joyous as scientific research that goes against the norm, and this does that in spades by saying the dolphins have only got extra large brains for warmth Ignorance is bliss for dolphins | The Register.

Further, it concludes that the reason they're so happy all the time is because they're manufacturing industrial quantities of seratonin and are permanently blissed out.

Natch, this has upset a few people, but the researcher, Paul Manger, is sticking to his guns. "He argues that if dolphins were really that bright, they would jump over tuna nets instead of getting caught in them," quoth El Reg.


Shaking the Long Tail

A long but good 'un from Game Tycoon: Debating the Long Tail

The Long Tail is the latest marketing wheeze, which states roughly that with the internet, the sheer volume of possible customers means that the money is in the obscure items. Too many people are chasing the big bang big bucks...the real money is in selling Peruvian Progressive Rock or somesuch.

It's all generating enough heat that you can safely assume that the real real money is in consulting to companies on exactly this sort of subject, but it's interesting nevertheless.

Aliens prefer Firefox

If you're smart enough to navigate yourself through the vastnesses of interstellar space, then you're obviously smart enought to chose a decent browser too.


Now that's what I call progress!

"There are now more overweight people across the world than hungry ones, according to experts."

Read the joyful news here.


Hype, hype, baby

Always interesting, Gartner has released its 2006 Most Hyped list, with Web 2.0 at the top of a lot of entries. More on El Reg here.

Also rather likte the company's entertainingly over the top hype cycle, which goes as follows:

1. Technology Trigger: The first phase of a Hype Cycle is the "technology trigger" or breakthrough, product launch or other event that generates significant press and interest.

2. Peak of Inflated Expectations: In the next phase, a frenzy of publicity typically generates over-enthusiasm and unrealistic expectations. There may be some successful applications of a technology, but there are typically more failures.

3. Trough of Disillusionment: Technologies enter the "trough of disillusionment" because they fail to meet expectations and quickly become unfashionable. Consequently, the press usually abandons the topic and the technology.

4. Slope of Enlightenment: Although the press may have stopped covering the technology, some businesses continue through the "slope of enlightenment" and experiment to understand the benefits and practical application of the technology.

5. Plateau of Productivity: A technology reaches the "plateau of productivity" as the benefits of it become widely demonstrated and accepted. The technology becomes increasingly stable and evolves in second and third generations. The final height of the plateau varies according to whether the technology is broadly applicable or benefits only a niche market.


Torchwood delay?

Interesting rumours regarding new Who spin-off Torchwood and a possible delay due to HD cameras failing to work properly in low lighting conditions.

More here.


Internet timeline

A brief BBC timeline of the web:
BBC NEWS | Technology | Fifteen years of the web

Not bad, but it doesn't convey that awesome excitement from 13 years ago or whenever when you realised your computer was actually connected to one in Japan, then Finland, then the US. Or your first experience of broadband. Or the first time you used Messenger and talked in realtime with someone on the other side of the planet. Or that time you realised that pretty much the sum total of humanity's written and codified existence was available from a keyboard in the room next door.