Showing posts from March, 2011

B-Listed: Spydergrrl on the Web (Almost) Makes the List of Essential Ottawa Blogs

Now how's that for an almost announcement of a near win?!

Bear with me for a second: it's not every day that this geek gets to be listed alongside some of the great Ottawa bloggers.

You see, last month Ottawa Start published their list of Essential Ottawa Blogs and in came up with a nice round number: 26. Guess there's too much awesomeness in the Ottawa blogosphere to stop at 25.

Well, clearly that must be the case, because they then followed it up with Another 30 or so blogs about Ottawa that you should be reading. Catchy title, eh? ;)

Well, I was incredibly humbled to find that Spydergrrl on the Web made the B list.

It's always fun to learn that other people actually read my blog and that all these ramblings pouring out of my head serve to entertain and make the world a slightly geekier place.

I would encourage you to take a few minutes, check out both lists, and add some Ottawa-based RSS feeds to your reader. It'll be worth it. I promise.

(Thanks to very kin…

Launching Today: Star Wars Craft Book

So my friend and yours, @gibbslamey, tweeted at me last week to let me know that today is the launch day for the new Star Wars Craft Book.

Incidentally, today is also my birthday.

It's like a message from the dark side.
Now we all know that every good little geek should be able to build a Chewie hand puppet or a Jabba body pillow. Or at least every good little geek should have a mom who can make them one, am I right??

You can order via Amazon or the Star Wars shop (although the link seems to be up and down).

SmartBird: Are the Robots Going all Hitchcock on Us?

I found this incredible video trolling the science & tech section of YouTube this weekend. It's an absolute testament to you geeks, and what your amazing brains are incapable of... This amazing bird is an autonomous flying robot.

According to the Festo website,
This bionic technology-bearer, which is inspired by the herring gull, can start, fly and land autonomously – with no additional drive mechanism. Its wings not only beat up and down, but also twist at specific angles. I can't help but picture these are some sort of military spy drone for intelligence and monitoring, or in a more sinister scenario, dive-bombing the enemy a la Hitchcock's The Birds. Apparently, though, these are just a marvel of engineering and there is no mention on the site of any military funding, so let's go with that. (Removes tin foil hat)

If you're interested, you can find out more (and watch a kewl animation of the inside working of the bird) on the Festo website.

Kewl Show Alert: Bang Goes The Theory (BBC UK)

Ok, how is it that I am just finding out about this show now?! BBC UK has a Mythbusters-style show called Bang Goes The Theory and in the second episode someone used a jet pack to do a loop-the-loop around a playswing!

We don't get BBC UK in our house, so luckily the episodes are available online - oh, wait... only if you are in the UK. That's ok, we'll work around that (Ahem, um, Legal disclaimer: I would never advocate spoofing your IP address). No, by that of course I mean we've been checking out some snippets on YouTube this morning. I can say for sure that this is immediately a new fave in our house!


Making a Gesture: Why I Love Earth Hour (despite all the detractors)

Earth Hour is once again upon us and I, for one, am very excited about it. My family and I will be participating, in fact we'll likely have the lights off for most of the evening as we sit around and chat by candlelight.

As I wrote in last year's post on the subject:
I know there are detractors. Those who think that this is an empty gesture which doesn't change peoples' actual energy consumption throughout the rest of the year.

But you know what? I don't care.

Anything that gets people talking (good or bad) about energy consumption and climate change is ok by me. Gestures are just that. Gestures. And Earth Hour is just a gesture. And by just I mean a gesture that is performed by millions of people around the world. No, in itself, Earth Hour does not reverse climate change. But you know what?
Running the Terry Fox Run doesn't end cancer.And starving yourself during the 30 Hour Famine doesn't end world hunger.And buying anything Red doesn't rid the wor…

Geek Culture Goes Mainstream: 2011 Additions to Oxford Dictionary

So you might have seen my tweet earlier today on this, but the Oxford English Dictionary has released its update and it's nice (?) to see the geeks are taking over the English language. This year, the terms LOL, OMG, FYI and the heart symbol (♥, not <3) have all been accepted.

Now, I'm all for geek culture taking over, but does the English language really need to include these acronyms? Are acronyms really worthy of being considered words, just because we're too lazy to spell them out in every day use? I'm conflicted on this one. What do you think?

And furthermore, does this make them acceptable terms for Scrabble? Which tiles am I supposed to use to make that heart symbol, anyway?

And if we're really taking over, how long till we see "frak" or "WTF" or "LMFAO" in the OED???

What do you think about all this?

Earth Hour: Reminder to Use It All (video)

This great little video from Do The Green Thing reminds us to use everything up - that last bit of honey, ketchup, etc. Toothpaste: that's a big one at my house. I've managed to convert hubby into a compulsive tube emptier :) Using up every bit of something reduces purchases over time, which reduces waste of the item in question, reduces the amount of packaging we use over time, and ultimately can decrease overall waste in our landfills.

What are you doing to help the earth this Earth Hour? We'll be doing another candlelit vigil at our place. And of course, using up every last squeeze of toothpaste when we get ready for bed...

Kewl Design Alert: Old Skool Letterpress Sign with New Skool Message

I love when old tech meets new tech, like in this letterpress print. For all you print geeks, this lovely sign is available at I Love Typography. I find it encouraging that the printing press is still alive and well. And with it's tech-friendly message, I like it just that much more.

Click to enlarge

Movies IRL: The "Up" House

What happens when movies come to life? A bunch of engineers, scientists and balloon pilots (what now?) decided to launch a house à la Disney's Up. Using giant weather balloons, they got the house up to 10,000 feet and flew it for an hour. (K, that just sounds weird.)

According to the Inside NGC blog, "All you need is a team of scientists, engineers, world-class balloon pilots, a 16X16 ft house, 300 balloons that fill up to 8 ft tall when inflated, and the National Geographic Channel and you're all set! Easy as pie." (Insert "don't do this at home" disclaimer here)

Apparently the stunt is one of many to come since it's going to be part of a new series, How Hard Can It Be?, coming this fall.

Find out more about the show on the National Geographic Channel's Inside NGC Blog.

(Source: Wonder How To Blog)

Are You Ready For The Self-Driving Google Car? Me, I'm not so sure... (video)

So when I first heard of the self-driving Google car, I envisioned a slow-moving car, carefully navigating a course using a built-in pre-programmed app. And then I watched this video, with its GPS-control and gut-wrenching screeching tires and I realized... I'm not ready for this.

Seriously, if a computer is driving the car, I'm not too sure how comfortable I would be with screeching tires. I know there are probably all sorts of arguments about how computers are better than people in terms of reaction time... but I still have this paranoia of my car rebooting in the middle of making some critical move on the road. I'm just not ready for this type of tech. Are you?

(Source: Mashable)

Friday Fun: My Favourite Podcasts

So if you follow me on the Twitter, you probably know that I am transitioning to a new job over the next couple of weeks, one that moves me from web operations into social media strategy.

It's not only a great opportunity, but it's also closer to home. And accessible by bus. Which makes my little green heart very happy. I'm going to go from driving 500km/week to busing half of that.

One thing that won't change is that I'll still be filling my Droid with podcasts to fill the time. I've been asked on more that one occasion what it is that I listen to. It might surprise (or not) but I listen to a lot of marketing/PR podcasts, in addition to the tech ones. Here's my shortlist of favourite podcasts, in order of preference:
Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel This Week in Tech by Leo Laporte CBC SparkCNET Digital CityMarketing Over Coffee by John Wall and Christopher PennSearch Engine by Jesse BrownThe Sniffer by Cathi bond and Norah YoungAcross the Sound by …

Google is Giving Blogger a Makeover and She's Gonna Be Purdy

Have you heard? Blogger's getting a makeover this year!

As a Blogger blogger, all I can say is it's about time! w00t!

The Blogger interface has always seemed a bit like the juvenile younger sibling to Wordpress. But no more (well almost). We have to wait until the vaguely described "later this year" for the new functionality to be released. And it can't come too quickly.

Here are the two prime screen shots released at SXSW last week:

The new post editor screen:
The new Blogger dashboard:
And so with that, Blogger will look like more serious, grown up blogging platform. Maybe all those Wordpress people will stop snubbing us... well, ok, maybe not... ;)

(Source: Official Google Blog)

Kewl Design Alert: Authentic Handmade Star Wars Lightsaber (video)

Some dude who blogs at Slothfurnace has machined the most incredible light saber replica. There are 7 pages of hi-res pics and I highly recommend that you flip through them because it's pretty amazing. For example, the blade contains 90 LEDs, with custom-made clamps. Everything is hand-made. And incredible.

The video below shows the blade in action, with sound:


(Source: Gizmodo)

Beautiful Hoax: (Pretend to) Take Over Times Square Screens with iPhone

If you were online at all yesterday, you probably saw this video of two guys hacking into Time Squares billboards using an iPhone, a red balloon and a transmitter.

And you probably now know that it's a hoax. But nothing takes away from the fact that it's a beautifully executed hoax. And for that, it deserves a second look.

As I keep telling you, you geeks rock. Love this stuff.

Sit back and enjoy the masters at work:

The Google Story: They know you. Do you really know them? (video)

So you use Google products every day, the search engine, Gmail, Chrome (if you're kewl)... you leave happy little digital footprints everywhere you go, and Google follows you with glee.

But how much do you really know about the company that knows so much about you? This video takes a look back at the first 10 years of the Goog. It's a couple years old (2009) but it still serves as an interesting restrospective. See if you really know everything there is to know about the mothership.

(Source: Bit Rebels)

Kewl Charity Alert: Has Twitter been good to you? Give back at Twestival Ottawa!

Twestival Ottawa is coming March 24th!

If Twitter's been good to you, now's the chance to give back.

Twitter's been very good to me: I use it daily to do my job, I'm on it nightly to chat with other geeks and locals, I've won things, been places, done stuff and met people I never would have without being on Twitter. And for that, I am very grateful.

For me, Twestival is an opportunity to help promote a great cause through my Twitter network, and rub elbows with some of my favourite Tweeps.
A Fundraiser With a DifferenceTwestival is not your standard run of the mill fundraiser. We all see posts from folks asking for donations to causes whose overhead will skim a large percentage off the top, and reduce the amount of your contribution that makes to those who need it.

In this respect, Twestival completely stands out. By that I mean, when the organizers say, "The funds we're raising will go towards The Royal Foundation for Mental Health's efforts to launc…

Friday Fun: Listening to MS Paint in Audio Player = Video Game-Like Soundtrack

How on earth do you geeks come up with this stuff? Honestly, you people never cease to amaze me.

YouTube User r2blend posted a video of an incredibly kewl and game-like audio sequence that he created by putting MS Paint into an audio player. Seriously, who would even think to do that?

If you import an EXE file into an audio program as audio data, you hear all kinds of cool stuff. The most awesome by far for me was MS Paint.

It's probably one of the coolest things I've ever heard form something like this. All I did to the audio was master it slightly to make it sound less harsh to the ears, as well as remove a long section of noise. The result sounds like some weird game soundtrack. Will this become a new trend in audio production? Should we all start listening to our favourite apps? I wonder what Seesmic Desktop sounds like? ;)

Geek Fashion: Forget the Flux Capacitor, I want a Luck Capacitor

I talk with my hands and even think with my hands (just put me near a whiteboard and ask me a question). And when I'm on a conference call, I love to have toys to play with to keep my hands busy (otherwise I will check my email). #notObsessed #really

So that's where items like Lucky Capacitors from girlgeekboutique on Etsy appeal to me. Officially, they are cute accessories that "(store) electric charge, that life force of geekery, but never hesitates to give it back when you need it," according to the product description. It's a cute, geeky lucky charm to have with you whenever you need it.

Except in addition to it being a lucky charm, I could see myself mindlessly playing with one of these, or constantly twisting it around in similar fashion to the Koosh balls and squeezable stress dolls on my desk. They're small and come in a variety of funky colours to boot. What's not to love? Oh and of course, you can carry a little geekdom with you wherever you g…

Remember this? The Original 1996 Dancing Baby

The other day, I was chatting with @macjudith about the Wayback Machine.
"What's that?" she asked.
"WHAT!?" I shouted incredulously.
And immediately told her to get to the Web and Google it!

Well, didn't that just send her into a tizzy of searching her organization's website and anything else she could think of. Then inevitably the conversation turned to internet memes and "Do you remember the dancing baby?"

Now, I know that most of you, my beloved readers, have been around long enough to remember Ally McBeal, the baby and Oogachakka. But for those of you who might have missed it, I bring you the darling of 1996, one of the earliest internet memes: the Original Dancing Baby.

I'm not sure if I feel old or kewl at this moment :P

Trash | Track: The Carbon Footprint Of Your Trash Might Surprise You! (video)

MIT Students wanted to track how far garbage goes once we throw it out, so they had 500 people tag 3,000 pieces of trash with small electronic tags and then they tracked them as the trash was picked up. Maybe I'm naive, but I had no idea that some of our trash travels. so. far.

According to the project website:The project is an initial investigation into understanding the 'removal-chain' in urban areas and it represents a type of change that is taking place in cities: a bottom-up approach to managing resources and promoting behavioral change through pervasive technologies.I was quite shocked by the results. Some of the trash went clear across the country! By air! I had no idea that grabage would travel by air. Imagine, even after we're done with our products, they still accumulate a carbon footprint.

This project won the NSF International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge, so hopefully the message will get out and this video will catch people's a…

Kewl Design Alert: Green Laptop is Fully Recyclable

So here's a novel idea in the midst of irreplaceable batteries in Apple devices and a shortage of convenient tech recycling options... Bloom, a fully recyclable laptop.

This beauty of green engineering was completely designed from the inside out with the intent of making each non-technical component recyclable in your own blue bin. Amazingly, it can be disassembled "by hand in less than two minutes without any tools" according to this article on

Beyond the whole green thing, my favourite feature is the fact that you can put the laptop on the table and pull the keyboard off for remote usage. Very kewl.

The prototype got Autodesk's Inventor of the Month in October, and are finalists for the Autodesk 2010 Inventor of the Year.

See it in action here:


QR Code Usage: Not Always Convenient For Users (Infographic)

Mashable posted this great infographic about QR codes, from JumpScan (a QR Code company). While it's not exactly chock-full of information, you can — tada! — use the QR codes in the graphic to link to more!

It's definitely a novel use of QR codes, but also an annoying one: I'm viewing this on a laptop, guys. And my phone's in the kitchen nowhere near me. I wish you'd make the infographic clickable too. Proof that you still need to keep the user in mind when doing kewl stuff. How hard would it have been to provide text link for each QR code beside the graphic, an image map to hotspot the codes on the graphic...? QR codes are completely inaccessible, and in my opinion only convenient for a user that is offline. I don't want the hassle of transferring to my phone in the middle of surfing the web on my compuer.

If QR codes are going to get some traction, then we need some guidelines for usage: placement, platform, minimum size (as @scilib and @daegurth commented…

Bunny Suicides: Why The Cadbury Eggs Are Offing Themselves

I mean, really. What is there to say other than the fact that each year I find the Cadbury Creme Egg suicides (video below) completely disturbing. and hilarious. And disturbing.

Turns out the ads are based on The Book of Bunny Suicides, a comic book of cute little bunny rabbits attempting to off themselves in complex and interesting ways. Not the lightest of humour, but definitely fun. If you haven't see the book, you can just do a Google Images search for "bunny suicides" to see a whole bunch of pics from the book.

The dark humour tied in with that is usually such a light-hearted holiday (all pastels and Spring dresses and such) just makes me smile...

And with that, here is my fave loop of Creme Egg Suicides:

(Source: my frightened brain)

Kewl Design Alert: Corning Video Shows The Future of Touchable Tech

So the folks over at Corning Glass are big thinkers, and personally I like what they're thinking. They put together this futuristic video, depicting how glass products might surround us, turning everything into touch screens. Some of this we're already seeing with the Microsoft Touch and other apps, but seeing the entire vision all together like this... can you imagine?

Of course, there are practical considerations like my fave comment on the YouTube Channel: "Imagine all those fingerprints to clean!!" by peterbhill. And of course, what in the kitchen counter is letting grandma see the kids as they are talking to her? But like any good sci fi movie, you need to suspend disbelief and just take it all in.

Speaking of which, this is from the press release:
Does the world showcased in “A Day Made of Glass” seem like something out of a fantasy movie? Jim Clappin, president of Corning Glass Technologies, reminds us that, just a decade ago, pay phones, VCRs, and film camer…

An Honest and Not at All Facetious iPad2 Review (video)

Eskild E. Fors & Anders Overgaard from Norway got their hands on the new iPad2. Here's their (hilarious) review ;p

And for those of you wondering, I will stop hating on #iThings when the batteries are replaceable. #greenTech FTW!

(Source: @macjudith)

Frosting Printer: The Lazy Way to an Ugly Birthday Cake

AutoFrost is a cake decorator imagined, designed, and built by students at Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering for the Principles of Engineering class. According to the students' site:
We set out to create a cake-frosting machine which would allow the user to design a cake in a paint-like GUI created in Python, and which, at the press of a button, would draw whatever was on the GUI in frosting (dispensed evenly with a servo). They used a pretty basic design for video, but it replicated the text almost exactly, which is impressive. It's not the prettiest birthday cake, but it's definitely got the kewlest production!

(Source: Ubergizmo)

Kewl Design Alert: Stunning Photos of Exploded Gadgets

Todd McLellan is an artist who does incredible work. His photo series of gadgets exploding in mid air are breathtaking, not only for their vivid colours and motion, but for their incredible detail. They remind me of the Dude's "treasure hunt" books.

If you take a trip over Todd McLellan's website, check out the rest of the photos under "New Work". Wow.

Take a peek at the amount of work required to dis-assemble the machines and prepare them for their photo shoot:

Todd McLellan - Disassembly from BLDG//WLF on Vimeo.

(Source: Wonderment Blog)

Turn on Google 2-Step Verification. Now.

Earlier this month, Google announced a privacy option that you should look into and turn on for your Google profile: 2-step verification.
What is it? 2-step validation for Login adds a layer of protection for you and your devices by generating random codes for login. You can set up random validation codes for all of your Google-related apps and devices. I've got them for laptop access to web-based apps such as Seesmic and, as well as my Droid phone apps. Can never be too secure...
Why bother? Because right now someone could be hacking your account.
Because if you lose your phone tomorrow, they won't need to. (You're probably already logged into every possible Google app on your smartphone, aren't you?)
How do I set it up? I recommend reading this article by Tech Crunch or this one by Internet's Best Secrets for more information. Or check out the announcement on the Google Blog.

Log into GoogleGo to your account page.On your account page, check…