WhatIs.com Word of the Day Archive


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.

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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.


November 3, 2007  10:59 AM

Overheard: gPC is a gMOOT (get me one of those)

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
everex_gos.jpg I mean, really…did you ever think you’d see the day when you could go into Wal-Mart and buy a Linux machine for your teen-age daughter?

Key Features:

  • 1.5 GHz processor
  • 80 GB hard disk drive
  • DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive
  • gOS operating system
  • OpenOffice.org 2.2 software suite

There’s been a lot of press about the One Laptop Per Child initiative — formerly called the $100 laptop initiative till the price doubled and it became a $200 laptop — but here’s something just as worthy of attention that kind of snuck through the back door.

It’s a $198 computer called gPC and it’s being sold by Wal-Mart.

Everex built the gPC to consume less power (hence the name — the “g” stands for green). But the real reason the gPC is so interesting is that the operating system is Linux. It’s an Ubuntu-inspired variety the manufacturer calls gOS. The GUI is big-button user-friendly. Windows and Mac users will feel right at home.

This is huge. A new generation of kids is going to be introduced to an open-source computing environment where some of the apps are local, some of the apps are web-based and the kids won’t know or care which is which. These are the same kids growing up broadband, without a clue about what the “modem dance” is. Bong Bong.

The desktop comes with icons for Google’s suite of applications: Gmail, Google Docs and Spreadsheets, Google Calendar, Google Product Search, Google Blogger, YouTube, Google Maps, and Google News. It also provides easy access to Meebo for instant messaging, GIMP for image editing, the Firefox browser, Xing Movie Player, RhythmBox (an iTunes substitute) Facebook, Skype and the computer’s OpenOffice Suite.

Schools are going to love these puppies. So will small biz.

On the back end, the Windows vs. Mac debate will finally be moot. And help desks will have something new to drive them crazy.

I can just hear it now: “We are a Windows shop. It was bad enough that we have to deal with those Mac fanatics who insisted on polluting the environment with Jaguars, and Panthers and Leopards. Now we have to deal with Penguins too?”

The times, they are a’changing…

everex-gos_2.jpg


November 2, 2007  2:08 PM

Overheard: Underwater robot finds world’s largest treasure chest

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
paul_hamilos.gif “October 17, 2007. A Spanish warship forced a US treasure hunting vessel back into port at gunpoint yesterday as it tried to leave Gibraltar in the latest episode in a battle over what is claimed to be the world’s largest recovery of treasure from the sea.”

Paul Hamilos, Spain forces treasure ship into port in battle over fortune in pieces of eight

Ok, it’s not exactly a treasure chest. It’s a ship. At least I think it’s a ship. Lots of rumors surrounding this one.

To protect the location of the treasure, Odyssey, the marine salvage company, has code-named the robot dive “Black Swan.” The excavation of “Black Swan” site follows Odyssey’s successful excavation of the SS Republic, a shipwreck lost in 1865 off the US coast. The deep ocean robot excavation of the Republic wreck had a retail value of over $75 million. Black Swan is rumored to be worth $500,000,000. That’s one reason Spain is so interested.

I’m going to get my niece Alex a share of Odyssey stock this Christmas. Should be a fun one to follow.

CNN Money has more info.


November 2, 2007  4:34 AM

Tech Quiz: What are these people talking about? Nov 1, 2007

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
eavesdrop3.gif DIRECTIONS: These are real statements from real people discussing real technology in the blogosphere. I’ve removed one word from each quote. Can you still figure out what they’re talking about? Click on the link to see if you’re right! Then click your back button for another question.

1. I guess that if you want to earn more than $200,000 a year and work in IT, you’d better be a __________. Too bad Nicholas Carr thinks it’s a job that going to go away.
What are they talking about?

2. I have read that one of the driving factors behind Japan’s research and development in the __________ field was due to the fact that elderly Japanese people would rather be taken care of by one of these than by a foreigner.
What are they talking about?

3. Lately, of course, there has been some controversy around the efficacy of the Page View as the atom of Internet consumption — largely triggered by the penetration of __________ technology, which enables content to refresh on screen without serving a new Page View.
Whatare they talking about?

4. How much time are people going to spend scouring YouTube, trying to find a chuckle among all the junk, when __________ is offering recent episodes of shows like The Simpsons, Heroes and The Office for free.
What are they talking about?

5. Your __________ includes MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, forums, websites where you leave comments, etc. It is how your employers, clients, and customers will perceive you, whether it’s the “real” you or not. To them, it’s the real you. Period.
What are they talking about?

6. To date, the Storm __________ has been used only intermittently, which is disquieting. What it means is that someone, somewhere, is quietly building a doomsday machine that can be rented out to the highest bidder.
What are they talking about?

7. Nolan Bushnell, founder of __________, called modern computer games “unadulterated trash.” You’d think a man who was made a millionaire several times over by the Chuck E. Cheese pizza chain wouldn’t be judgmental.
What are they talking about?

8. Last week at Storage Networking World, one of the hottest topics was __________. Every vendor promoted it, although it was often nothing more than the use of larger capacity disks or tapes to replace lower capacity disks.
What are they talking about?

9. At its most fundamental, __________ would enable service providers to establish tiered services — the classic platinum, gold and silver model — and prioritize traffic by the packet, depending on what the subscriber has paid for.
What are they talking about?

10. To effectively improve web service performance, you need to reduce the overhead associated with parsing, serializing, and transmitting XML-based data. __________ is an open, standards-based solution for doing just that.
What are they talking about?


November 2, 2007  2:20 AM

Overheard: Who earns the most money in IT?

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

I guess that if you want to earn more than $200,000 a year and work in IT, you’d better be a CIO. Too bad it’s a job position that Nicholas Carr thinks is going to go away.

Robert Half Technology has predicted the top 10 salaries for IT jobs in 2008. (Reprinted with permission.)

Title Low salary High salary
Chief Information Officer $126,750 $210,000
Vice President/Information Technology $112,250 $166,250
Chief Technology Officer $107,250 $165,250
Chief Security Officer $100,750 $150,000
Consulting/Systems Integration Director $93,240 $137,500
Consulting/Systems Integration Practice Manager $92,500 $125,500
Database Manager $88,750 $122,750
Information Technology Manager $86,750 $122,000
Data Warehouse Manager $90,750 $120,750
Applications Architect $87,250 $120,000

According to the press release for the 2008 salary guide: (which is an interesting read, of and by itself) “Information technology (IT) professionals in the United States can expect starting salaries to increase an average of 5.3 percent in 2008. Larger increases in base compensation are expected in high-demand segments such as applications and web development, network management, and database administration.”

The annual salary survey is based on an in-depth analysis of the thousands of job placements managed by the company’s U.S. offices. Robert Half Technology is a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis.

After looking at the survey, I think I want to be a security auditor when I grow up. It sounds important. Or maybe I’ll be a messenging administrator — kind of an air traffic controller for corporate communications. Those are both new jobs that didn’t exist five years ago.


November 1, 2007  5:43 PM

Overheard: Programmable Metallization Cell Memory

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
michael_kozicki.jpg “All the current limitations in portable electronic storage could go away. You could record video of every event in your life and store it.”

Michael Kozicki

There was a re-run of Dallas on today that had JR Ewing making a call from his car. He was wheeling and dealing on this big brick that was connected with a heavy pigtail to a box that sat between his bucket seats. It reminded me of the day we got our first minivan.

The minivan had a car phone. It sounds silly even to say “car phone” now. We pretty much spent the first day entertaining the kids by pulling into friends’ driveways and letting the kids call.

“I’m calling you from the car and we’re in your driveway — look out the window! See me? I’m waving!”

It was a dollar a call, but it was worth it. Boy, that was an exciting day.

That was twenty years ago. Now you see kids in third grade watching DVDs in the car as Mom drives them to Cub Scouts. That need for mobile technology is why Hulu is going to succeed.

Those kids are going to want to watch the latest Simpson episode on their cell phones and the little portable DVD players kids are using now are going to be as clunky as JR Ewing’s car phone.

Having all that video at your fingertips is going to require a lot of memory. And flash is pretty much hit its limit with the iPhone.

I predict the next disruptive technology is going to be ion memory. The technical name is Programmable Metallization Cell memory. It’s nanotechnology that’ll give you a terabyte of storage on a thumb drive.

Alexis Madrigal explains: Programmable Metallization Cell memory stores information in a fundamentally different way from flash. Instead of storing bits as an electronic charge, the technology creates nanowires, from copper atoms the size of a virus, to record binary ones and zeros.

The key enabling technology for the memory is nano-ionics, a field that focuses on moving and transforming positively charged atoms. In PMC memory, the charged atoms, or ions, are harnessed by applying a negative charge, which transforms them into copper atoms lined up to form nanowires.


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