Let’s Describe The World – WikiMapia

Many of us have heard of Wikipedia. Even more of us have heard and used Google Map’s functionality. Sure, sure, they’re both really cool. But what would happen if we left them alone in a closet together for a few minutes after playing spin-the-bottle? Would we end up seeing something like WikiMapia?

WikiMapia is quite similar to Google Maps, but it allows anyone to contribute, like Wikipedia. I personally added Earl Marriott and Peace Arch schools in the little town of White rock.

Another interesting application of AJAX, social networking and raw satellite data. Man I love collaboration! Check out the local White Rock attractions and add your own references. They’re vetted before being published. Or go to some other large city you’re interested in and see what other people know about the city.

This post is in honour of the Georgia Straight’s annual Best of Vancouver issue. A great idea that can now be tried globally using WikiMapia.

Wherefore Art Thou, Luigi?

We all have fond memories of those embarrassing skits, plays, talent shows and related spectacles that we were forced to participate in during our high school years – don’t we? Surely I’m not the only one? This video however shows some real chutzpah, with some great content. Certainly impresses me and I’m considered a senior of the gaming community nowadays.

Behold – a live interpretation of Super Mario Bros!

Google video starts with a Flash video (sorry about that), but allows you to download a non-Flash version if you try. If you’re running Linux it automatically offers a nice .avi file for downloading. Thanks Google – almost makes up for using Flash in the first place. Almost.

How Do You Like Your Bookmarks?

People are very familiar with the idea of bookmarking websites – perhaps they don’t have time to read them now, or they think the site will be frequently visited or helpful in the future. Whatever the reason, bookmarks are part of surfing the web for most people.

The way bookmarks are handled by the web browser hasn’t really changed in, well, over a decade. You create a bookmark, possibly specifying where in your bookmark hierarchy you want to store the bookmark. This hierarchy allows us to categorize and manage large numbers of bookmarks. Everyone who first starts using a web browser inevitably ends up with a bookmark list with hundreds of entries in it, making finding what you want difficult. Eventually we start to create folders and sub-folders, placing and categorizing our bookmarks as we make them.

Well, what if things were done a little differently?
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Gamers Unite – as Surgeons?

I knew my super-honed skills as a gamer lead me into a great career in computers (no, seriously, it did) but I think this article takes it to a whole nuther level. Their research (?) shows that gamers make better surgeons. Yup, there’s the proof – that Nintendo I bought decades ago wasn’t just a game console and a waste of time. No! It was a training tool, making me a better, stronger, more responsive … surgeon.

Now why didn’t I want to be a surgeon again?

Open Source is So Fricken’ Cool

I just went through a software experience that quite simply defines why I want to support and participate in Open Source Software projects rather than closed and proprietary ones.

I have an iPod for those that didn’t know. I run Ubuntu Linux for my desktop, for those who didn’t know. This means that I cannot run iTunes for getting my songs onto the iPod – it is Windows only. So I have been using gtkpod for this – an Open Source application designed to allow adding songs and things to the iPod. Essentially it replaces iTunes.

Now things get a little technical, so if you’re not interested please don’t feel bad.

gtkpod can only attempt to provide the same features as iTunes. Apple doesn’t share every little detail about how to interface with an iPod, and it certainly has more development dollars and time invested in iTunes. So the feature set of gtkpod lags behind iTunes. Up until now there is one feature I’ve really missed – album art. The ability to display an album’s cover on the iPod while its songs are being played – it’s the whole point of having a colour screen in my mind.

So I looked into the details and found out that the developers of gtkpod have actually got this working, but not in the version of gtkpod and its libraries that I am running. Enter the wonders of Open Source Projects.

Continue reading Open Source is So Fricken’ Cool

Public Service Announcement from Hitachi

Maybe you remember that PSA (Public Service Announcement) aired on T.V. in the 1980’s about how a bill becomes a law or some such? Anyhow, for some strange reason Hitachi has decided to follow in its footsteps in its announcement of a new technology to be used in storage products (read hard drives).

The technology behind it is mildly interesting to us geeks (you can start consuming the details at Ars Technica), but to consumers it means larger drives for cheaper. Simple as that.

However Hitachi wanted to make sure everyone understood it’s new technology product, so they made a nice cartoon for your learning needs.

I’m Only Here To Help

I know a few people who are currently slaving away in their academic dungeons, trying feverishly to finish some kind of ‘learned’ document. It could be some kind of monster thesis, or it could be some weekly assignment. These things can be tough, as often these people are thinking in the back of their minds that they may or may not want to publish these papers once they’re written.

So I want to help. I found a great service online where you can have your paper written for you, and it will be generated in a way that it is ready for submission to whatever body of approval you desire. It’s not going to be gibberish either, it will include images, citations, and all that other stuff that makes paper committees smile when they wake up in the morning.

There’s only one limit – it will only generate papers suitable for computer science academics. Sorry, but perhaps there is some special attribute of the computer science industry and it’s willingness to accept silly names and words for common things that makes this work so well. I mean really, what the heck is a CPU anyways? Can’t we just call it a ‘computer brain’?

If you’re interested in getting your paper made for you, go check it out.

If you’re curious about the veracity of the results, know this – a paper was created using this program and was accepted for a conference this year. Yes, the conference committee apparently read it over and thought it would be interesting enough and informative enough to have it presented at the conference. Quality stuff, I tell ya.

If you’re still in doubt, I could mention that the team behind this new tool is currently attending the esteemed M.I.T institute … or is that redundant? OK, just M.I.T.

Did I mention it’s free? I’ve even thrown together a sample paper, which you can view here

Can I Patent the Patent Process?

My recent acquisition of an iPod has lead me to a little thinking in terms of interfaces. I understood that nobody else could use the circular interface found on the iPod because Apple had a patent on it. I thought this was a little silly, and wanted to see the contents of the patent with my own two eyes. The US Patent Office offers a public search of all granted and pending patents through it website (found here).

I found an interesting article that took a look at some of Apple’s current patents, and my mouth fell a little agape. Apple’s patenting practises right now make me think that the patent process is simply broken. They have attempted to patent some amazingly simply things in an effort to (apparently) protect their intellectual property and innovation. As the article points out, they were smart enough to patent the trash icon you find on their desktop. Notices that Windows does not have a trash icon, but rather a recycling bin?

But things get a little sillier.
Continue reading Can I Patent the Patent Process?