Archive for May, 2008:
It was reported yesterday that scientists have developed tiny microelectrodes that can be implanted in the brain in order to control robotic limbs. The long-term practical application of this technology would, of course, be to provide artificial replacement limbs to humans that function as normal limbs would.
One impractical application would be to give perfectly healthy humans extremely strong cyborg limbs for combat or industrial purposes. You could even combine lab animals and robotic limbs to create deadly (and cute) cyborgs with robotic strength and animal reflexes ala the comic book series WE3 (soon to be a major motion picture). Personally, I welcome our new monkey cyborg overlords and plan on buying up stock in Chiquita just in case.
May 28 – A monkey has been able to control a robotic arm using brainpower.
With tiny microelectrodes implanted in its brain, the monkey could direct a robotic arm to pluck a marshmallow from a skewer and feed itself.
Well, the year 2000 has come and went and still I have no flying car or jet pack to use to get to the office every morning. I had almost given up hope of this happening in my lifetime until I stumbled upon a video of a Swiss man demonstrating a prototype jet wing that he flew for 10 minutes at speeds up to 186 mph. One of those bad boys could really shave some time off my daily commute.
May 14 – Known as ‘Fusion Man’, a former pilot has stunned crowds by flying a jet-propelled wing for nearly ten minutes at a peak speed of 300 km/h (186 mph).
Yves Rossy, a Swiss former military pilot and Airbus commander for Swiss airlines completed an official demonstration on Wednesday (May 14, 2008) in the Swiss Chablais region, where he was released from a plane at 2438 metres (8000 feet) with his wing folded.
He deployed his craft after a short free-fall and began his flight. After a flight of almost ten minutes, he deployed his parachute, folded the wing and landed at the Bex airdrome.
Zilok.com, a San Francisco-based peer-to-peer website designed to allow users to rent goods to each other, officially launched today. Whether you’re looking for camping gear, computers, cameras, party supplies, tools, gardening equipment, sporting goods, or dozens of other rarely used items, Zilok is hoping you’ll consider renting rather than buying. They give the example of a power drill, a tool that only receives an average of 12 minutes of use in its lifetime, as one item that may be more economical to rent rather than buy. Zilok claims that there are thousands of other items that people often buy to use just once. Besides being more economical to rent, the site claims that it’s better for the environment as well.
While I find the concept interesting, I’d be nervous to rent out my hundreds of dollars worth of camping gear, for example, without a significant deposit and some sort of legally binding contract. The site seems to have a much larger potential for scam artist abuse than even auction sites like Ebay. I suppose you could ask for a deposit equal to the value of your items to protect yourself from loss, but this would make it unlikely for anyone to rent from you. Still, it will be interesting to watch Zilok and see if they become the Ebay of peer-to-peer rentals.
On May 3, 2008, spam turned 30. For those confused by this, as the web in its current form wasn’t around 30 years ago, this is possible because the first spam actually predates the Internet. It was sent via Arpanet, a U.S. government computer network that was the predecessor of the Internet we know today.
The first spam message was advertising a new computer that had Arpanet capabilities built into it, and partial text of that message can be found below:
Mail-from: DEC-MARLBORO rcvd at 3-May-78 0955-PDT
Date: 1 May 1978 1233-EDT
From: THUERK at DEC-MARLBORO
DIGITAL WILL BE GIVING A PRODUCT PRESENTATION OF THE NEWEST MEMBERS OF THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY; THE DECSYSTEM-2020, 2020T, 2060, AND 2060T. THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY OF COMPUTERS HAS EVOLVED FROM THE TENEX OPERATING SYSTEM AND THE DECSYSTEM-10 COMPUTER ARCHITECTURE. BOTH THE DECSYSTEM-2060T AND 2020T OFFER FULL ARPANET SUPPORT UNDER THE TOPS-20 OPERATING SYSTEM. THE DECSYSTEM-2060 IS AN UPWARD EXTENSION OF THE CURRENT DECSYSTEM 2040 AND 2050 FAMILY. THE DECSYSTEM-2020 IS A NEW LOW END MEMBER OF THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY AND FULLY SOFTWARE COMPATIBLE WITH ALL OF THE OTHER DECSYSTEM-20 MODELS.
WE INVITE YOU TO COME SEE THE 2020 AND HEAR ABOUT THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY AT THE TWO PRODUCT PRESENTATIONS WE WILL BE GIVING IN CALIFORNIA THIS MONTH. THE LOCATIONS WILL BE:
TUESDAY, MAY 9, 1978 – 2 PM
HYATT HOUSE (NEAR THE L.A. AIRPORT)
LOS ANGELES, CA
THURSDAY, MAY 11, 1978 – 2 PM
DUNFEY’S ROYAL COACH
SAN MATEO, CA
(4 MILES SOUTH OF S.F. AIRPORT AT BAYSHORE, RT 101 AND RT 92)
A 2020 WILL BE THERE FOR YOU TO VIEW. ALSO TERMINALS ON-LINE TO OTHER DECSYSTEM-20 SYSTEMS THROUGH THE ARPANET. IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO ATTEND, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT THE NEAREST DEC OFFICE FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE EXCITING DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY.
You can read more about the history of spam by checking out Brad Templeton’s article on the history of the term.
For an enterprising few in the late 90′s, buying and selling domains eventually led to millions in profits. Those with enough foresight to register and sit on one-word dictionary domain names received huge payouts once the rest of the business world caught up with the web and realized they needed great domain names to compete.
Today, most of us couldn’t afford a one-word, high profile domain, but thanks to a new site called Fusu.com, we can buy shares in high dollar domains in order to profit when those domains are eventually sold. Fusu works like the stock market, with domain names replacing traditional stocks. You can sell your shares at any time, and they go up or down in value, just like on the stock market. Or you can hold on to your shares until the domain you are investing in sells, and then you’ll get a percentage of the sale price, which could potentially be a large profit (or loss).
It’s an interesting concept, but whether it will catch on with domainers or not is hard to predict. I do like the fact that you can make a small deposit to the site via Paypal, which allows those of us with Paypal funds from other online ventures to experiment without giving the site our credit card number or withdrawing funds from a bank account.
The Darwin Awards is a website that chronicles deaths that the site owner feels prove the theories of Darwin. The motto of the site is “Honoring those who improve the species…by accidentally removing themselves from it.” Depending upon your personality, you’ll either find the site extremely humorous or disgustingly morbid and inappropriate. Personally, I feel that if comedy doesn’t offend some one, it isn’t really funny. The site has been around since 2004 and excerpts from the site exist in several chain letters you may have received over the years. I make it a point to visit once a year or so to check out all the updates.
At $250,000 each to produce, hydrogen fuel cell cars are too expensive to be practical yet, but the technology does exist and it does work. These cars use no petroleum and emit zero greenhouse gases. The government needs to provide more incentives and rebates for hydrogen fuel cell research so the cost can be brought down to something more reasonable.
May 1 – General Motors calls it one answer to the problem of America’s heavy dependence on foreign oil– Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles.
The cars– still in development – use no petroleum and release zero greenhouse gases. They will be test driven for the next two months by about a hundred motorists in Washington, New York and Southern California– as part GM’s “Project Driveway.”
May 2 – Tesla Motors is opening its first car store at the launch of the new Tesla Roadster, the newest fully electric vehicle available in America.
The Tesla — a two seater– can travel 0 to 60 miles per hour in just over 3 seconds and over 200 miles on one charge– and has no emissions.