Month: July 2009

Technology Review: New Evidence of the Brain’s Remarkable Flexibility

“Theprofound part of our study is that this is all happening with something that isnot part of one’s own body. We have demonstrated that the brain is able to forma motor memory to control a disembodied device in a way that mirrors how itcontrols its own body. That has never been shown before,” said Carmena ina press release from UCB.

While a bit gristly – in terms of embedding electrodes into monkeys brains – here’s yet more evidence for brain plasticity and the ease with which the brain adapts to new tools.

I haven’t color coded the lego… yet

Tin robots, LEGO’d by Count Blockula

What comes to mind when you think of “LEGO robots”? Probably something that fits in our standard mecha category.

But Mike Crowley’s mind is slanted in a very beautiful way, yielding a passel of plastic robots of the tiny and tinny variety.

I have almost finished turning the large household boxes of lego into an enjoyable user experience. Michael, you’ll be pleased to see that I’ve been heavily influenced by your user interface and design work.

I have resisted the urge to color code. I have rebuffed the attempts of each different piece to have it’s own unique category. I’ve piled everything onto our very large dinner table and sorted into the most obvious divisions based largely on sheer number of pieces.

I’ve purchased 6 large flat clear plastic drawers and I am NOT dividing them up further (although I really want to!). The boxes allow for shuffle and search without overflowing. They also put away easily into drawers without the nuisance of lids to attach/open/close, and are light enough for kids to carry around house.

It became clear that if I ignored all the black swans, that lego fell into the fat, flat, or skinny categories quite easily. Now I’ve filled up all but one drawer. And I’ve got four smaller piles left.

All the really small stuff which could fit into their bigger drawers. Ditto the roof pieces, which straddle fat and narrow categories. The people (generally also little) and weird exceptions which can also be big but are too much for the special/functional drawer which has all the wheels, gears, hinges, pulleys, doors, windows etc.

Today is a new day and I know the answer is near. The answer may simply be, “for pete’s sake, get it all off the table so we can have dinner”.

Peer to Peer evolution as natural key decay – geeky cool – Self-Destructing E-documents – NYTimes.com

Vanish uses a key-based encryption system in a different way, making it possible for a decrypted message to be automatically re-encrypted at a specified point in the future without fear that a third party will be able to gain access to the key needed to read the message.

The pieces of the key, small numbers, tend to ???erode??? over time as they gradually fall out of use. To make keys erode, or timeout, Vanish takes advantage of the structure of a peer-to-peer file system. Such networks are based on millions of personal computers whose Internet addresses change as they come and go from the network. This would make it exceedingly difficult for an eavesdropper or spy to reassemble the pieces of the key because the key is never held in a single location.

Neat – just neat.
Need to chase more details, but if as the article suggests then v interesting – big question – will it stand up to security specialists expectations?

Cool hand drawn cloud video – ???What is Windows Azure???? – captures a lot of general cloud goodness.

<br/><a href=”http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?vid=feec9c5d-c6c9-451c-aa9a-b7f4524a6322″ target=”_new” title=”What is Windows Azure?”>Video: What is Windows Azure?</a>

I don’t agree with all of the definition of the cloud embedded therein, but certainly captures a goodly element of it – puts the MSFT position nicely – and lovely work on creating the video.

(Thanks BradP for the pointer.)

"Natural" touch interfaces change the game – good blog from openthefuture.com

A handheld device’s screen should be touch-sensitive. It took us awhile to figure that out, requiring a smart user interface team (at Apple, in this case) to turn the annoying (stylus-based touch screens are usability insults) into the obvious. But now that the kinetic-memetics have taken root, anything that works otherwise is incomplete.

Or, for all intents and purposes, broken.

Great article — I agree – the Chocolate Mousse has moved – the eggs have been broken and there’s no going back — if it looks like a touch interface it better damn _be_ a touch interface.

Google’s Chrome OS – the modern Minitel?

But then I started thinking: What if the OS really is completely web-focused? If so, a user wouldn’t need–or be able–to download or install any application, or indeed any file. Instead, you’d just use the browser and run a web application, whether Google Apps, or Picasa Web, or Photoshop.com.???? Thus, downloading malware or viruses would be impossible. (That doesn’t mean the OS couldn’t have security problems, but if you can’t add software to the machine, it gets rid of the most common attacks.)

I like this ‘outside the box’ analysis [1] of Google’s Chrome-OS announcement [2]. Google could well build a MiniTel-like [3] closed world offering with privileged connection to Google offerings, with all personalization maintained online by Google, etc, etc. Certainly there are enough ‘desktop-like’ forebears [4]. And Google has the grunt to pull it off.

Imagine – the Google-term – completely locked down – ‘dumb’ terminal-like. Stateless computing (as in single state) here we come. This ‘is’ the promise of cloud – question is whether the consumer is ready for it yet. (And willing to give up any pretense of data independence from Google. [5])

If I’m right, market readiness could certainly be part of the reason for the 2H 2010 release date – waiting for iPhone and Android to further soften expectations for Windows/OSX style computing experiences.

(1) http://blogs.pcmag.com/miller/2009/07/googles_chrome_os_maybe_not_a.php
(2) http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/introducing-google-chrome-os.html
(3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minitel
(4) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thin_client
(5) http://www.pcworld.com/article/168224/

Neuroarchitecture: the Science of Getting Your Decor in the Right Frame of Mind | EcoSalon

???The premise is to consider how each feature of the architectural environment influences certain brain processes such as those involved in stress, emotion and memory,??? Eve Edelstein, Ph.D. explains, in a recent article from Oprah. Edelstein, another consultant to ANFA, is an adjunct professor at the NewSchool of Architecture & Design in San Diego.

In terms of tips for influencing happy feelings, these experts point to designing good vantage points in the main gathering rooms, such as the kitchen or great room. Here, the ideal floor plan includes a view of the entryway, a window onto a pretty landscaped yard and a fireplace.

Wow – I love this – the brain science of tuning our surroundings. And a good writeup on ecosalon too (via @rotkapchen)

Not new – but a great example of cloud categories merging – appscale – Google AppEngine implementation on EC2

AppScale is an open-source implementation of the Google AppEngine (GAE) cloud computing interface from the RACELab at UC Santa Barbara. AppScale enables execution of GAE applications on virtualized cluster systems. In particular, AppScale enables users to execute GAE applications using their own clusters with greater scalability and reliability than the GAE SDK provides. Moreover, AppScale executes automatically and transparently over cloud infrastructures such as the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Eucalyptus, the open-source implementation of the AWS interfaces.

Let’s avoid getting too comfortable with our cloud definitions – lots more change to come.

More evidence of iPhone as universal device – Hearing Aid Application

iPhone, with its App Store and recently-added support for third party peripherals, may soon become an extremely powerful medical tool.

We’ve still got a ways to go before we start seeing glucose monitors and blood pressure pumps pop up with iPhone support, but some health and disability-related apps are already beginning to emerge. One of the first is a new application called soundAMP (iTunes Link), a hearing aid application that was just released on the App Store, and is available for $9.99.

Interesting development — I wonder how many other ‘sense augmentation’ apps are in the works – beyond the augmented reality ones. Clearly not nearly as good as a specialized device or hearing aid, but heaps cheaper and much easier to access.

This is yet more evidence for the mobile internet being a game changer. For my take on this see my ppt:
https://technoist.com/today-mobile-internet-tomorrow-what-slideshar

http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/07/07/hear-that-its-the-sound-of-your-new-hear…