Cool Thing: A browser based Theremin

Well, it’s not really a Theremin but more of a sound toy. Yes, it’s a great distraction and something to pique the curiosity of your cubemates. HTML5 based, it’s a very cool implementation. The author states he’s working on an update that will allow you to play along with your own music.. cool! Check it out!

Hammered


And not the way you think. My blog (and others of my account associated with my attacked domain) was offline for a bit. It seems that someone thinks it’s a good idea to hammer my webhost’s servers trying to find vulnerabilities in their security.

They selected my domain again today. Problem is fixed, but it’s a pain until I can catch the problem and fix it.

Looking for a smart phone? Consider the Palm Pre 2. Seriously.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been checking out the Palm Pre 2 — the next generation keyboard / touch screen dataphone from HP. Previously I’d not considered a webOS phone much of a contender against the traditional leaders (Blackberry and iPhone), but this little unit changed my mind.

hp_palm_pre_2.jpg

In this review, I’ll touch on the things that appealed (or didn’t) to me about the unit. I won’t be going into a long description about each and every feature though, so if you’re interested in that, you can read more here.

For a $99 phone (with 3 year contract) there’s a lot going on inside this little black box. Continue reading “Looking for a smart phone? Consider the Palm Pre 2. Seriously.”

Turning science fiction into reality. How cool!

A few years back my wife introduced me to an entertaining book called Earthweb; a science fiction novel set in the near future. The book introduced to me a couple of interesting concepts that are just being realized in our daily life today — the first is that of a social currency or rating system that we’re seeing developing online in the form of crowdsourced reviews (music, movie, etc).

OLPC_CA.jpgThe second, and perhaps socially more important one became real today here in Canada — the One Laptop Per Child initiative, which looks at delivering education and technology to the world’s children who don’t have access to those resources:

One Laptop Per Child’s mission is to create educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning.

Here’s how it played out in EarthWeb:

“After the Top Drop, Dorothie tricked me into learning how to use her palmtop, and I became the satlink admin for our village.” Reggie nodded. “I see.” That explained many things. Top Drop had been a part of the WebEveryWhere initiative. In parts of the world where the governments stole more than the bandits, and used even food as a tool of control, Earth Defense had bypassed them and dropped millions of palmtops from the air. Solar powered and capable of vocal as well as written communication, the palmtops did best with children, playing games with them till they learned to read, write… and eventually to do calculus.

LAPTOP.jpg

Here in Canada (and in reality), things are a little less dramatic, but yet hope to be just as effective:

The Belinda Stronach Foundation today announced it will distribute up to 5,000 laptops to children aged six to twelve in Aboriginal communities across Canada.

The OLPC Canada initiative is modeled after the internationally successful One Laptop Per Child Program currently in place in more than 30 countries. This first of its kind program in Canada was designed in collaboration with Aboriginal students, education specialists and program experts from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), ParticipACTION, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Ekomini and Safe Kids Canada.

I’ve always promoted technology as an enabler — something to make your life easier, something to help you get things done faster or better. But only if you could afford the technology. That’s the rub.

It’s been the lack of access to the technology that’s been the barrier to make life better.  Frankly, many people in Canada can’t afford to get a computer for the household, let alone one for the children. Yet, a computer is almost essential to learning and excelling in today’s educational systems.

The One Laptop Per Child program looks like it’s taking steps remove that barrier for some children in Canada — making educational success that much easier to achieve by providing some of the resources. I hope it’s a trend and program that continues to grow. We need more smart kids to grow into smart adults and turn more science fiction into reality.



This post of is one of many I publish weekly at the Future Shop Techblog. Read more of my stuff here.


A great tool if you’re writing on a deadline

All righty then. Just finished up a cool conversation with a dude that I have to meet with later to figure out some stuff.

Now, I guess I’ll keep plugging away at writing, nay, testing Write or Die, a timing and wordcount interface that helps focus your writing by imposing limitations and consequences on your writing.

I’ve not bumped into the consequences yet, but I have bumped into the limitations.

– it’s hard to spellcheck.
– no other formatting commands, it’s all about getting the words out of your head and on the screen
– Oh, hey, the screen turned red when I paused for thought. Cool.. Just to let me know that I shouldn’t do that, I guess.

Now then, this test is only a 200 wordcount test, and I set a time limit of 10 minutes to write it.

At this point, including the 3 minutes of conversation that occured after I launched the app, but before I started actual writing, I’m at 159 words and about 4 minutes remaining. I should be able to make the deadline…maybe.

Wow, one thing I do notice; all this concentrated writing is causing me to notice my wrists. Usually my writing style is more thoughtful and casual, but right now I’m just spewing…oh, hey, I just made 200 words, with about 3 minutes to spare.

Well, I won’t edit this too much; I’ll just paste it in as is, and let it be an example of work created with Write or Die.

After writing using this tool, here’re some thoughts:
– Yes, I’d use it again
– My wrist is kinda sore right now
– It could use some additional editing / layout features
– Anything written using Write or Die *must* be edited…typing spew is not good reading

26 seconds left – copy to clipboard just in case 🙂 Saving now.