Crapple on Apple

Apple’s lawyers have gotten all DMCA on the OSx86 Project, a gaggle o’ geek that’s been working on porting Mac OS X to Intel-based PCs. The project’s forums have gone dark as the hosts figure out what info runs afowl of Apple’s IP. Sounds like somebody’s legal team needs to go hunting with the VP.

BTW: On the OSx86 Project’s blog page, on Tuesday, a hacker sent a secret message from Apple he had discovered encrypted within the innards of OS X:

Your karma check for today:
There once was a user that whined
his existing OS was so blind,
he’d do better to pirate
an OS that ran great
but found his hardware declined.
Please don’t steal Mac OS!
Really, that’s way uncool.
(C) Apple Computer, Inc.

Apple, we think our karma ran over your dogma.

[Via Computer World]

Moldies Here We Come?

While our Glorious Leader is freaked out over human-animal clone hybrids, I’m much twitchier about animal-machine conjugations — ever since I saw a roadkill rabbit mechanically reanimated into a creepy SRL robo-contraption [shudder]. But with robo-rats, fish-controlled robots, and robo-roaches skittering about labs and workshops worldwide, monstrous hybrids are already here.

The latest Frakenbot is based on a pretty nifty idea. It’s a robot that hijacks a slime mold’s (Physarum polycephalum) natural light-avoiding behavior, taking the robot along for the ride when it seeks out a moist, dark place to slither into. At the moment, this is done remotely — the mold is grown separately, on top of a sensor circuit that can sense as the mold moves away from light, The computer connected to the mold-sensor then wirelessly sends that movement information to a six-legged robot. This may seem to some like a rather elaborate way of creating a simple light-avoiding robot, but the longterm goal here is to understand how to make use of an organism’s natural behavioral routines to power and control future nano-scaled robots.

[BTW: “Moldies” in the title refers to the life-forms in Rudy Rucker’s novel Freeware, beings made out of a smart plastic and gene-tweaked molds and algaes that can make themselves into any shape/device desired.]

[Via Boing Boing]

Hands-On Review of the Nintendo DS Lite

Those eager-beavers over at Kotaku have the first (that we’ve seen) hands-on review of the upcoming Nintendo DS Lite. The Lite, for those who haven’t been following the portable gaming market, is Nintendo’s redesign of the chunky, ugly (chugly?) original DS, released about a year and half ago in the US. The Lite is, as you might have guessed, lighter. It’s also smaller and has some of the features repositioned – such as the microphone and power button, and the d-pad and buttons are firmer.

Most importantly though, the DS Lite has the improved screens that were recently debuted on the upgraded version of the GameBoy Advance and Micro. It’s the screens that really make the object drool-worthy for me – I would have bought a DS long ago, but when I first picked up a friend’s unit I just couldn’t get over how dim and lo-res the screens looked. The DS Lite is only available in (or imported from) Japan, starting March 2, but will be hitting the US in a few months.

Tip: Lik-Sang has it for US$170.

More 404 Fun

We like to recognize the efforts of those who toil in obscurity, and there are none who do more for less than the lowly 404 page programmer. Here’s to you, 404 coder – one day, the world will recognize your genius. Until then, only the lost will appreciate your efforts.

Recycle Your Cellie, Save a Gorilla

In trying to restore my faith in humanity after that whole robo-squirrel/talking stove breakdown earlier today, I bumped into this story from DC’s WTOP News. The Friends of the National Zoo are sponsoring a mobile phone recycling program.

Columbite-tantalite, or “Coltan,” is an ore, 80% of which is mined in the Congo, home to our hirsute brethren the mountain gorilla. Coltan (as in “Tantalum”) is used in the production of capacitors, which are used in cell phones (and many other electronic devices). So, the idea goes, by recycling all of our unused phones, the materials can be reclaimed, or still usable phones can be refurbished and sold in developing countries (with proceeds going to the zoo’s conservation programs).

So the next time you visit the National Zoo, empty that desk drawer of old phones and drop them off at the Visitor’s Center, and make Dian Fossey proud (actually, Dian Fossey would have probably ripped your head from your shoulders for having a pile of cast-off cellphones in the first place, but that’s neither here nor there).

[Via Textually]

Talking Stove? We’re DOOMED!

First the vibrating robo-squirrel, now this: a stove, announced from Sanyo, that offers “voice navigation.” The stove allows you to download ringtones over the Net that play to alert you to things like a completed meal, a boiling tea kettle, etc. The stove also offers voice tutorials for newbie cooks. Just what I freakin’ need, my stove launching into “My Humps” to let me know that my ravioli is ready!

Okay, I’m out. Somebody hit me in the head with a frying pan. No, really. I think this one just put me over the top.

[Via Popgadget]

“Rocky? Bullwinkle on Line 2”

Oh those precocious scamps at MIT’s Media Lab, what’ll they imagineer next? Perhaps a phone-screening robo-squirrel? Too silly to be true? Gotta be a prank? Nope, real as rain.

Stefan Marti is working on a robot (housed inside of a stuffed animal) that can receive your mobile phone calls, talk to the caller, consult a “friends” list, and even read your body language to determine whether to put the call through to you (via a built-in speaker phone) or politely send the caller to voice-mail. If the robo-squirrel thinks you should take the call, he starts vibrating with varying levels of intensity depending on a determination of how much you might like to talk to the caller. So, if he’s rockin’ so hard, his fur starts flying off, it’s probably FiestyNrrrd, that hot grrrl you’ve been chatting up on MySpace. Of course, she’s gonna dump your ass like a roaming call when she finds out that you have an electronic furry screening your calls. Even a riot grrrl knows when the techno-fetishism’s gone too far.

Geek TV: Before the Dinosaurs

If you didn’t get a chance to see Discovery’s “Before the Dinosaurs” broadcast this past week, you might want to add it to your TiVo WishList. It’s definitely worth the disc space.

Like “Walking with Dinosaurs,” this BBC-produced speculative doc uses state-of-the-art animation, animatronics, and other F/X, oh yeah, and some actual science, too, to paint a picture of what the world might have been like from the Cambrian period (530 million years ago) to the Permian (250 MYA). The production is just incredible, the content is like something from a very effective horror flick: sea scorpions as big as a man, giant spiders the size of bowling bowls, dragonflies the size of eagles, 10-feet long millipedes, lightening that literally makes the sky explode, drought that kills off 90% of all life on Earth, proto-dinosaurs the size of large insects, pre-mammalian beasts that digest vegetation by rolling river-rocks around in their guts. Crazy.

Like a lot of these BBC/Discovery “science” “documentaries,” this is more about the geeky thrill of generous extrapolations of real science and fossil record than it is sticking to known evidence, but keeping that in mind, it’s still a lot of fun and it certainly gets the point across that life had a weird and wondrous backstory before the dinos showed up and it was likely one inhospitable place to grow up. And you thought downtown Fallujah or a south Texas quail farm was a dangerous place to be!

Mousey the Robot Video

While perusing the lovely new Make site, I discovered this video of my Mousey the Robot project, as demo’d by Phillip Torrone. It shows his dog chasing the bot around his kitchen. Pets and miniature robots — always a good time.

Other Mousey items posted here:
Mousebot Revisited – Monday, January 30, 2006
Robots – Update to Street Tech’s Robot Project Pages – Thursday, December 08, 2005
Make in the Boston Globe – Friday, November 11, 2005
Me and Mousey on G4TV – Monday, July 25, 2005
Mousey’s Papa Found! – Sunday, May 29, 2005
Mousey the Junkbot Sample Pages from Make – Thursday, May 19, 2005
Make Vol. 2 is Out! – Thursday, May 19, 2005
Robot Book Parts Bundles – Tuesday, March 22, 2005