Our Latest Discovery

October 1, 2007  1:12 PM

What is the world’s first OLED television?

GuyPardon Guy Pardon Profile: GuyPardon

Try the XEL-1. Engadget has a great photo gallery for your viewing pleasure.

Today, Sony unveiled the world’s first OLED television. That’s organic light-emitting diode, for you acronym-o-phobes.

The TV is only 3mm thick, has a resolution of 960 x 540 (though it’s described as 1080p) and comes with a TV tuner. More impressive, however, is the contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 on the 11″ screen. The screen manages to be thinner than an LCD or PDP (plasma display panel) set because no backlight is required — ah, the wonders of OLED lighting!

You can attach your next-gen optical disc player (Blu-Ray or HD-DVD) to the HDMI port, along with USB and Ethernet inputs for other devices.

You’ll have to wait until December for this beauty, sadly — and travel to all the way to Japan!

As amazing as this may be to gadgethounds, I’m still holding my breath for FOLEDs— a flexible OLED screens — on, say, a t-shirt, jacket sleeve or smartnewspaper. The technology is still a few years out, even if this video shows a tantalizing preview of what’s to come.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/1buy3N_Fvsg" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

October 1, 2007  12:38 PM

An Interviewing Cheat Sheet: 100 Resources for Interviewers and Candidates from HRWorld

GuyPardon Guy Pardon Profile: GuyPardon

Here’s a short and sweet link to a great resource. Even though I’m happily not looking for a new job OR interviewing candidates for an open position (cease and desist, jobspammers!) , whenever either onerous task comes up again, I’ll have this terrific cheatsheet of resources for interviewers and candidates bookmarked.

Of special interest to the tech crowd:

Hat tip to HRworld.com for the link and this piece of simple, straightforward advice from the CareerHub blog: “When the interviewer asks, ‘Do you have any questions?’ the worst answer you could possibly give is, ‘No.'”

September 28, 2007  2:31 PM

What are the 45 best freeware design programs?

GuyPardon Guy Pardon Profile: GuyPardon

snap2objects.com knows. In fact, Mauricio Duque‘s list of the 45 best freeware design programs is just the thing to help you or any (cheap) relatives with image editing, desktop publishing or Web design.

The Colombian graphic designer affectionately known as “Mao” took a break from working towards his master’s in information systems design to go through thousands and thousands of applications and bring us his list of the best of the best. As he says, none of them will replace Photoshop, Flash, InDesign, Quark or other professional applications, but the price is right!

I’ve loved GIMP for a while, but, I have to admit, most of these were new to me. Thanks, Mao!

September 24, 2007  12:41 PM

Watch the Catsters on YouTube and learn about monads, math and functional programming

GuyPardon Guy Pardon Profile: GuyPardon

Ok, I admit it: calculus is now officially a decade in my past. Math, or “maths,” as the Brits put it, however, is very much in my present, considering the importance of algorithms to modern life. (For more on that, just review this thread on the growing public awareness of algorithms over on Slashdot.)

One mathematical concept that’s worth mastering is the monad. Monads, in the context of functional programming (as opposed to pure mathematics), are a useful way of expressing input/output (I/O) operations and changes in state without using language features that introduce side effects. Monads are useful in any situation where a programmer wants to carry out a purely functional computation while a related computation is performed externally. Monad also, by the way, was the codename for Window’s Powershell before it was launched, a nod to the use of monads in that highly functional scripting language.

Make sense?

If that explanation still doesn’t suffice to explain what a monad is, never fear: The Catsters have posted a series of videos on YouTube to help you master the concept!

Monads 1: An introduction to monads, including the definition and a look at the monoid monad.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/9fohXBj2UEI" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Monads 2: Continuation of the monoid monad example and introduction of the category monad.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/Si6_oG7ZdK4" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Monads 3: The definition of algebras for monads. The example of monoids as algebras for the monoid monad.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/eBQnysX7oLI" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Monads 4: An appendix to Monads 3: more on monoids as algebras for the monoid monad.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/uYY5c1kkoIo" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Monads 5: Morphisms between algebras and the category of algebras. A first look at the question of monadicity.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/Cm-O_ZWEIGY" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
If, after viewing, you’re still a bit curious about monads and programming, try Noel Winstanley’s “What the hell are Monads?” MenTaLguY also explains monads in the context of Ruby, escaping the need to work with Haskell.

Hat tip goes to the n-Category Cafe for the discovery!

September 21, 2007  11:09 AM

Video: MS-DOS 5 Upgrade creates geeky nostalgia — or not

GuyPardon Guy Pardon Profile: GuyPardon

Thanks to the terrific, frequently hilarious Geekend over at TechRepublic (I love anyone who can be as unabashedly geeky about scifi and fantasy as the trivia geek), we bring you the MS-DOS 5 Upgrade Video.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.collegehumor.com/moogaloop/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=1774935&" width="480" height="360"/]

This blast from the past, hosted on College Humor.com, was actually created as an instructional video by the same people who brought us the Blue Screen of Death.

Thanks, Microsofties. We barely know what to say. Geek rap was never the same again. If you think freeing up memory, creating GUIs or adding an Undelete command is cool, this one’s for you.

September 19, 2007  10:11 AM

Harrrrr! ‘Tis International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore


Avast, all ye scurrrrrvy sons o’ sea cooks!

I don’t usually talk to readers that way — but September 19th be Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Not talking about those folk that plunder the Web for ill-gained software booty. Nay! I’m talking about the power of the Web to spread the news about festive events like this and to provide trinkets for our amusement, such as:

A great assortment of videos from the originators of Talk like a Pirate Day, Cap’n Slappy ‘n’ Ol’ Chumbucket.

A pirate name generator. Rancid Eve Barossa? I’m going to try my luck elsewhere…

Here’s a quiz to scientifically determine your pirate name.

(My pirate name is: Black Mary Bonney. There’s also a little personality sketch to go with your name…
>> Like anyone confronted with the harshness of robbery on the high seas, you can be pessimistic at times. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate’s life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr!

A pirate glossary

Advice for the lovelorn pirate

And English-to-Pirate / Pirate-to-English translators.

Ahoy. Ahem. Arrrrrr. There be lots more treasure where that came from but SOME of us have work to do. Have fun and be safe out there, landlubbers.

And remember, if it’s software ye be wantin’, buy retail.

~ Black Mary Bonney

September 17, 2007  1:49 PM

Andreesen on the three kinds of platforms, the cloud and the future of the Internet

GuyPardon Guy Pardon Profile: GuyPardon

One of my favorite discoveries of the past year has definitely been Marc Andreessen’s blog. From the moment he first started posting long, chewy, thoughtful discussions of his thoughts on technology, business and startups (along with wonderful digressions into great new sci-fi writers, Web 2.0, and essential online cheat sheets), Marc has been on the must-read list for most of the techie blogosphere.

Now, the famous co-founder of Netscape and co-author of the Mosaic browser has moved on to Ning, a social networking startup that’s jostling with Microsoft, Amazon, Sun, Facebook and others to provide a platform for all manner of distributed applications, all within “the cloud.” Amazon even calls their platform the Elastic Compute Cloud, or EC2.

Therein lies the rub. The word platform has become overused to the point of losing any precise meaning. WhatIs.com has long provided two definitions for platform:

1) In computers, a platform is an underlying computer system on which application programs can run. On personal computers, Windows 2000 and the Mac OS X are examples of two different platforms. On enterprise servers or mainframes, IBM’s S/390 is an example of a platform.

A platform consists of an operating system, the computer system’s coordinating program, which in turn is built on the instruction set for a processor or microprocessor, the hardware that performs logic operations and manages data movement in the computer. The operating system must be designed to work with the particular processor’s set of instructions. As an example, Microsoft’s Windows 2000 is built to work with a series of microprocessors from the Intel Corporation that share the same or similar sets of instructions. There are usually other implied parts in any computer platform such as a motherboard and a data bus, but these parts have increasingly become modularized and standardized.

Historically, most application programs have had to be written to run on a particular platform. Each platform provided a different application program interface for different system services. Thus, a PC program would have to be written to run on the Windows 2000 platform and then again to run on the Mac OS X platform. Although these platform differences continue to exist and there will probably always be proprietary differences between them, new open or standards-conforming interfaces now allow many programs to run on different platforms or to interoperate with different platforms through mediating or “broker” programs.

2) A platform is any base of technologies on which other technologies or processes are built.

Fortunately, in this mammoth post, Andreessen both modifies and adds to these definitions, putting the term in the context of the Internet and then exploring three different levels of online platform: the “Access API,” the “Plug-in API,” and the “Runtime environment.”

As a rather famous online pundit often writes,  read the whole thing (RTWT). If you’re at all interested in programming, online business strategy and the concept of the cloud, you’ll be glad you did.

September 14, 2007  11:45 AM

Printer technology to deliver medication

SarahCortes Sarah Cortes Profile: SarahCortes

I’m sure we all have an old laser printer or two around the house – you know, the one that’s sits in the corner unplugged, gathering dust.  One of these days, we’ll put it up for sale on eBay or Craigslist.  One of these days.  Well, that printer just might contain technology that can aid in medical treatment!

Victoria Colliver, reporting in a San Francisco Chronicle article earlier this week, highlighted printer technology from HP that can be adapted for use in administering drugs to patients.  Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The same technology that Hewlett-Packard printers use to squirt ink soon could be administering drugs to patients through thousands of tiny needles embedded in a skin patch.

And just like a cartridge that can fire different colors, this new smart patch would be able to deliver several medications – at various doses and times, according to a person’s needs.

This is great stuff.  I will think about it the next time I’m buying a toner cartridge for the one printer that I do have plugged in.

September 12, 2007  10:21 AM

A-Space and Intellipedia: Spy agencies go all Web 2.0

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Birds do it, bees do it… Well, ok — that wasn’t true. Birds and bees aren’t getting into wikis and social networking yet but almost everyone else is.

Even spies are all over it. Last year the feds launched a wiki for the 16 US intelligence agencies (Did you know there were that many? I didn’t.) Based on the Wikipedia model, Intellipedia has three separate components based on clearance levels.

Unlike Wikipedia, Intellipedia is not open to public access. Here’s an unofficial blog dedicated to Intellipedia news, though. This FCW article explains how Young feds bring intell changes.

In this screencast on FCW.com, Chris Rasmussen (Knowledge Management Officer, Intellipedia, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense) discusses “what it’s like to work as an Intellipedian, the rules they live by, and how the new tools are helping transform the ways of the intelligence-processing for good.”

At this writing, Intellipedia has about 30,000 articles online, undergoing 4,800 edits on a daily basis.

And with Intellipedia established, a social networking site similar to MySpace is under development. It sounds as if A-Space will incorporate the wiki site:

From an InformationWeek article:

A-Space will begin life as a portal that includes a Web-based word processing tool akin to Google Docs, a wiki-based intelligence community encyclopedia known as Intellipedia and access to three “huge, terabyte databases” of current raw intel for analysts to sift through. It’ll be scaled for 10,000 users at day one. By the end of 2008, the DNI hopes to bring in other resources like intelligence blogs, social networking capabilities akin to a Facebook for spooks, secure Web-based e-mail, better search functionality, and much more.

A-Space is expected to be online in December of this year.

What’s up next? Maybe a Second Life-like virtual world (If you ask me, this stuff is ALL a bit other-worldly). Here’s what Sean Dennehy, the CIA’s Chief of Intellipedia development, had to say (quoted in this FCW article): “I think it is a no-brainer. We could use it for training and other things.”

Other things might involve the ongoing “war on terror.” According to this article in The Australian: “…jihadists are turning to artificial online worlds such as Second Life to train and recruit members.”

Who knows what those guys will be up to next? Who knows what they’re up to right now, for that matter?

I’d tell you more but, you know, then I’d have to kill ya.

~ Ivy Wigmore

September 11, 2007  9:36 AM

The Singularity: Creating smarter-than-human intelligence through high technology

GuyPardon Guy Pardon Profile: GuyPardon

This past weekend, many of the world’s foremost thinkers gathered at the Singularity Summit within the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. You might ask what the Singularity is, of course, as the focus of all of this heady cogitation?

It’s the point where a consciousness is comes into being (usually an AI) that is itself smarter than the humans who created it.

According to the Summit’s overview:

Vernor Vinge originally coined the term “Singularity” in observing that, just as our model of physics breaks down when it tries to model the singularity at the center of a black hole, our model of the world breaks down when it tries to model a future that contains entities smarter than human.

The summit’s Web site features videos, podcasts and coverage from all over the Internet of the yearly event, including a great piece from Peter Thiel on Wired.com exploring how to invest in the Singularity.

I can’t help but think of SkyNet, the decidedly nasty entity depicted so dramatically in the Terminator series, but there are more positive outcomes, many of which are amply explained here, where the summit’s organizers explain why the Singularity is worth working towards.  Whether humanity is willing or able to do so is another question entirely. We can only hope!

Speaking from a somewhat philosophical perspective, Joe Foran also had some deep thoughts regarding the concept, articulated in Virtualization and the Singularity on the Server Virtualization blog. If you’re wondering how virtualization and futurism blend together, look no further.

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