Overheard: Word of the Day


November 9, 2007  10:31 AM

Overheard: Origins of dogfooding a product or service

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

Lorne Green’s famous Alpo campaign — “It’s so good, I use it myself.” In the TV commercials he would hold up a perfectly marbled sirloin steak before the camera.
lorne_green.jpg

November 8, 2007  5:24 AM

Overheard: Stuart Scott is no longer with the company

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
stuart-scott.jpg Microsoft’s confirmation, and the timing of Stuart Scott‘s departure, shows that the situation is different than the usual “wants to spend more time with the family” routine.

Kevin McLaughlin, Microsoft Fires CIO Stuart Scott For Rules Breach

That’s too bad. Stuart Scott has seven kids. That’s him in the picture, not Kevin McLaughlin.


November 8, 2007  5:13 AM

Overheard: Cone of silence is tempting, but illegal

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
matt_richtel.jpg “The jamming technology works by sending out a radio signal so powerful that phones are overwhelmed and cannot communicate with cell towers.”

Matt Richtel, Devices Enforce Silence of Cellphones, Illegally

The radio frequencies used by cellphone carriers are protected, just like those used by television and radio broadcasters. The Federal Communication Commission says people who use cellphone jammers could be fined up to $11,000 for a first offense.


November 8, 2007  4:00 AM

Overheard: The Android has no clothes

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
mitch-wagner.gif “Google’s announcement of the new, “Android” smartphone platform had less substance than a fashion show at a nudist colony.”

Mitch Wagner, Google’s Android: The Greatest Vaporware Smartphone Ever


November 8, 2007  2:24 AM

Contest: Degrees of freedom

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

How many degrees of freedom (DOFs) does the flute-playing robot from Waseda University have?

Leave your answer in the comments and I’ll send somebody with the right answer a TechTarget shirt. Check back Friday, November 9 to see if you won. There’s no real reason for doing this contest. I just have shirts and thought it would be fun. :-]

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/0wDZI15tiR0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]


November 8, 2007  1:47 AM

Overheard: Six degrees of freedom

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

Typical industrial robots feature a 6-axis configuration, or six degrees of freedom. Toyota’s trumpet-playing robot has 29 degrees of freedom.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/L5akbOKGSFM" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

The robot’s right hand has three DOFs to manipulate the trumpet. It has a Pentium III processor as the main CPU and a Linux RT/OS. Toyota has already developed nearly 100 robot-related patented technologies and plans to commercialize humanoid robots by 2010.


November 6, 2007  2:33 PM

Overheard: Open source hardware mashups

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
peter_semmelhack.gif “I found myself holding one Lego block in one hand and another Lego block in the other and wondering, why couldn’t this block be a GPS and this block be a wireless modem and stick them together to get a wireless GPS?”

Peter Semmelhack of Bug Labs, as quoted in a blog post by David Cohn

David Cohn writes: Bug Labs hopes to do for consumer electronics what Web site mashups have done for the Internet, provide the means for anyone to create their own product. What they will start selling in the fall are the BUGS or the base piece of hardware that can be adapted to include any number of modules that snap into the baseboard like jigsaw pieces. The various add-ons, like a GPS device, a camera, an LCD screen, or keyboard, can be mixed or matched to produce as many gadgets as the consumers can dream up. With 80 potential plug-ins to choose from the BUG could become the foundation for any number of niche gadgets.


November 5, 2007  12:41 PM

Overheard: The nice thing about standards

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
andrewtanenbaum.jpg The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from.

Andrew S. Tanenbaum

Andrew Tanenbaum is best known as the author of Minix, an open source OS with a user interface that’s similar to Unix. Tanenbaum created Minix as an educational tool — he’s a professor at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. The best known academic use of Minix was when Linus Torvalds used the Minix platform as inspiration for a new operating system, which he called Linux.


November 3, 2007  10:33 PM

Overheard: It’s very cool — military transport

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=5349770802105160028" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

Watch what happens when the guy kicks this thing.

BigDog, as this robot is known, is powered by a gasoline engine. That’s the buzzing you hear on the video. It’s got an on-board computer that controls locomotion and uses sensors for joint position, joint force, ground contact and ground load. It’s got a laser gyroscope for balance and a stereo vision system so it can see where it’s going. Inside it’s got more sensors to monitor BigDog’s hydraulic pressure, oil temperature, engine temperature, rpm, battery charge etc. So far, the robot has successfully trotted at 3.3 mph, climbed a 35 degree slope and carried a 120 lb load. It’s being developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA.


November 3, 2007  2:46 PM

Overheard: Robot goats will save the planet

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
big_belly.jpg robotgoat.gif

Forget about how old you are. Which one would you rather throw your trash into? The Big Belly municipal trash compacter that looks like a FedEx box, or the robot goat?

I’d rather feed the goat. So would the folks in Spokan, Washington. So would the people in Tokyo.

Spokane’s Riverfront Park garbage Goat was created by artist Paula Turnbull. You put litter in front of the goat’s mouth, and a vacuum sucks the trash in and compacts it. The metal goat appears to eat the litter, making grumbling noises and providing entertainment while you keep the environment green. Spokane’s had their goat since 1974.

Edogawa Kyotei took the idea one step further. Get it? FUR-ther.

Ok, I apologize. I will grow up. Right now.

Here’s the story: Edogawa Kyotei is a race course for hydroplane speedboats. It’s a popular tourist attraction in Tokyo. The drivers are professional and the crowd bets on the winners. It’s similar to horse racing in the United States.

If you’ve ever been to Saratoga for the races in August, you know that the grandstands and grounds are covered with losing tickets. People watch the race, check their ticket when its over, jump up and down if they win, or throw their ticket on the ground if they lose. It’s the same at Edogawa Kyotei.

So the managers at Edogawa Kyotei brought in a robot goat to encourage the crowd to keep the park clean.

The genius part is not that they added fur to their robot.

The genius part is that they started a viral marketing campaign to spread the message that feeding the goat a losing ticket — any losing ticket — would improve the person’s luck on future bets. They added more fun to the fun and got a cleaner park.

Sure beats the threat of a $100 littering fine.


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