Sunday, June 28, 2009

Skype: Connecting Robots With Robot Grandparents Since 2009

When Katie was 2 months old, I marveled on this site at Skype's video conferencing software, software allowed us to stay in close visual touch with relatives thousands of miles away.

I'm happy to report that now, as Katie is about 2½ years old, Skype's video conferencing abilities have expanded beyond what they were in 2007. If you look in the bottom left corner of the laptop screen, you'll notice a robot (one wearing a diaper box and a bowl as a "robot hat"). Yep, Skype circa 2009 allows robots to connect with robot grandparents across the miles.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Can A Blog Win a Pulitzer Prize?

Like many of you, I suspect, I've been glued to every possible source of coverage of the current unrest in Iran (perhaps more so....sick days haven't been the same since the invention of the internets). I've looked at bunch of sites, but no single site has impressed me more than Andrew Sullivan's. Like many people, I think that Twitter is, with the possible exception of Facebook's new you-take-a-quiz-I-tell-everyone-what-friggin'-80s-pop-icon-you-are, just about the worst invention in the history of human speech.

But in the past few days, Twitter feeds have provided amazing insights into what's happening on the ground in Iran. The central government has shut down many of the major news outlets, websites, and cell phone networks, but through VPN connections and other tricks I don't understand, tiny Tweets have made their way across the world and are being used to coordinate everything from protests to denial of service attacks.

Sullivan has been compiling many of these Twitter feeds on his blog with the result that we here in the US can feel the full strength of the fear, the anger, and, yes, the hope in Iran in a way I've simply never experienced with any form of media before. Go read it.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Katie Discovers a Windows Feature — dıןɟ uǝǝɹɔs

While we were banging our hands on the keyboard, watching a web video of a piano virtuoso playing Flight of the Bumblebee, Katie unintentionally discovered a Windows feature that all should know.

If you are using a Windows machine, hit the following key combination:

Ctrl + Alt + Down Arrow

ʍoɹɹɐ dn + ʇןɐ + ןɹʇɔ
:uoıʇɐuıqɯoɔ ʎǝʞ sıɥʇ ʇıɥ 'pıp ʇsnɾ noʎ ʇɐɥʍ opun oʇ

Armed with this knowledge, my unsuspecting coworkers will soon know my upside down terror! Mwahahahaha!

Update (6/11): Unfortunately, it appears that the availability of the screen flip feature appears to depend on the video driver for your particular Windows system. Although the feature worked on my old Dell Latitude D610, it does not work on our systems at work. Curses!

Monday, June 08, 2009

O Court, Please Leave Room for Great Use

It's been a long time since I've ruminated on the fair use copyright standard for video sharing websites, but whatever standard the court settles on, I hope they make room for fan-made music videos that I find amazing:

Death Cab for Cutie - Little Bribes from Ross Ching on Vimeo.