1986 Mac Plus vs. 2007 AMD DualCore? WTF?

This is pretty audacious, interesting, funny, and probably proves the inherent subjectiveness of computer system performance comparisons. Dubbed: “The Most Outlandish Computer Comparison Ever!” Guess who wins?

The most interesting, and saddest part, is their conclusion:

“Is this to say that the Mac Plus is a better computer than the AMD? Of course not. The technological advancements of 21 years have placed modern PCs in a completely different league of varied capacities. But the “User Experience” has not changed much in two decades. Due to bloated code that has to incorporate hundreds of functions that average users don’t even know exist, let alone ever utilize, the software companies have weighed down our PCs to effectively neutralize their vast speed advantages. When we compare strictly common, everyday, basic user tasks between the Mac Plus and the AMD we find remarkable similarities in overall speed, thus it can be stated that for the majority of simple office uses, the massive advances in technology in the past two decades have brought zero advance in productivity.

“And that’s just plain crazy.”

We couldn’t agree more.

[Via /.]


Uber-Access Points Sucks Up to Six Signals

To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee: “‘At’s not an Access Point, *this* is an Access Point.” Geektechnique has the skinny on their fat pipe sucker (ah, so to speak). Called the Slurpr, it has six mini-PCI cards in it (and 4GB of CompactFlash) and is designed to lock onto six WiFi signals and aggregate their bandwidth into one “FreeLoading Broadband Canal.” Sadly, I rarely see six open access points in my neck of the woods anymore and using someone else’s broadband connection is tantamount to a crime. Mark at Geektechnique plans on selling the Slurpr for €999.

[Via Boing Boing]


Crazy Car Hack

When I saw this video (bottom of page) I thought it must be a put-on, another Infinite Solutions. In it, it’s claimed that you can extend the range of the keyless entry for your car by holding the keyfob to your temple (turning your cranium into an antenna booster). Easy enough to test. So I grabbed my keys, stepped outside, and tried it on our car. I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work! Why would you need to do this? If you can’t find your car in a parking garage you can scan the garage while beaming your wireless key into your head to try and flash your lights. Oh, like THAT’S not going to freak out the Muggles.

The linked-to page on Daily DIY has a bunch of other cool car unlocking tricks, like using the air pressure of a tennis ball with a hole poked in it to unlock a car (haven’t tried this one). Tres McGuyver.


Mr. Woo Builds Bots

Tim O’Reilly posted this really charming YouTube vid, on O’Reilly Radar, of a Chinese man who builds amazing robots out of his village’s junk, from tiny walking bots to humanoids that pull rickshaws.


Mousey Vid Shows Photovoric Behavior

I thought to do a search on YouTube for “Mousey the Junkbot” and found this video. It does a good job of demonstrating the bot’s photovoric behavior. On the Colbert Report, or at the Maker Faire, or other situs where Mousey has been demo’d, the light is too defuse, so the sensor action isn’t really demonstrated. The set up in this vid, where there’s a single light source and gradations of darkness around it, is perfect; you can clearly see Mousey’s tendency to want to “eat light.”

More Mousey links on Street Tech.


Total Noob’s Guide to Semantic Web

I was hired by a web consultancy, Project 10X, to write a couple of articles on semantic web technologies for a semantic wiki, called Alice in Metaland. The first piece, The Newbie’s Guide to the Semantic Web, is self-explanatory. The second item, Games in Context, looks at how semantic tools can be used in development to create software that developers have more control over, is more flexible, extensible, and can require fewer programmers, among other benefits. In the piece, I interview Rob Bauman, from CaraCasa Games, a Vancouver company, creating a game called Treasure Hunt: The Game, using Visual Knowledge, a semantic development environment.

Happy Mutant Handbook Tat

One of my favorite parts of The Happy Mutant Handbook was the “Urban Absurdist Survival Kit” with designs by the mysterious Ward Parkway, a.k.a. the incomparable Jim Leftwich. We all got to brainstorm ideas for the “kit,” and Ward did the amazing sticker art for it all (and the lion’s share of the content, as I recall). It was a popular part of the book. MTV even did an ad for itself using art inspired by the stickers. BTW: MTV, you scumbags still owe me $1,000. I helped create an ad for MTV and all I got was a stinkin’ MTV sweatshirt.

Anyhoo, love for the HMH and Ward’s stickers lives on. This guy liked the “EVOLVE: Support Mutation” sticker so much, he made it into a tattoo.

Looking over the Survival Kit again reminds me how brilliant these stickers are and how we should really try to get them online. It’s SO much easier now to actually make them into stickers (& T-shirts, mugs, etc.)

UPDATE: Ward just sent us a copy of the original sticker:


More on Sleep Hacking

I’m fascinated by various efforts I’ve read of folks trying to mess with their circadian rhythms to try and get more wakey time and to avoid drowsiness during the day. This piece, on dumb little man, reinforces something most of these articles say, the key is going to bed only when you’re tired and ALWAYS waking up at the same time. One of these days I’ll find the self-discipline to actually do this.

[Via Lifehacker]


Combots vs. The Battle Box

One of the many people I’m bummed I didn’t get a chance to meet was Simone of Suicide Bots/ Combots and the other folks from Combots. I saw them for the two days prior to the event working their asses off getting the Arena built. During the Faire, it was so crowded, you couldn’t get near the place. It *sounded* like fun.

One of the combat robot folks told me there’s quite the arms race going on between the robots and the lethality of their weapons and the integrity of the robot arena. This is driven home in the footage of the appropriately-named Last Rites shearing a 55-pound steel blade off of Brutality and flinging it across the Arena, punching a hole in one of the polycarbonate panels. Ouch. Maybe I *didn’t* want to get that close to the action.