Friday, May 02, 2008

Computers in the Palm of Your Hand - Computerized Combat Glove

Many of us are familiar with the Heads Up Display, built-in computer mapping, and automatic communications capabilities that accompany the main characters' of modern-day popular video games. In games like Halo or Crysis, the main character is a soldier wearing an exceptional piece of armor that grants him special abilities. Now, thanks to the efforts of a company called Rallypoint , a recent startup by MIT students, computer technology for soldiers is taking a large step forward with the Handwear Computer Input Device (HCID).

The HCID is a glove designed to allow soldiers to urilize their wearable computers while still holding their weapons or other gear. The HCID grants the wearer the ability to display digital maps, send commands, and communicate all via a small push-button activation system sewn right into the fabric of the glove. This particular device could be a big deal for soldiers particularly because it would allow them to maintain their ready and alert status. Previous wearable computer-like devices have required the soldiers to manipulate more familiar computer input devices like keyboards or mice, thus making them put down their weapons.

Wearable computer systems often require a helmet-mounted display and a belt to hold the remaining components. The HCID allows the soldier to interact with these components by an intricate sensor and push button system sewn into the fingers of the glove. The soldier can control it all from radio frequencies to digital maps to "mouse mode," where the solider can use his finger to manipulate data shown to him on his helmet mounted display.

Says Thad Starner, an associate professor of computing at Georgia Tech University and one of those at the forefront of wearable computer systems, "The problem with most new soldier technologies is that people are trying to do too much. Land Warrior, a wearable computer system built by the U.S. Army last year, was full of cords, batteries, and hardware that weighed almost 17 pounds. It was an overkill of features, and the military stripped it down to its most essential parts..."

Rallypoint has created something different and perhaps even useful with their HCID technology. Any device that can give our troops a tactical advantage over their enemies is a good thing in my book.

Via Technology Review

11 Eco-Innovative Gifts For Mom

This year, you could go for the organic bouquet, eco-chocolate, organic clothing, recycled jewelry, tree donation, organic fruit delivery to a green spa gift ideas, if you would like. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these gifts. They are wonderful for the environment and for your mother, but the greener we become the more options we have and you should know about those options. So, if this year you want something a little more unique for your mom take a look at the gifts below.

Green Gift for Mom 1. Egglings Grow Plants Not Birds

For the gardening mom how about giving her some Egglings. They're cute, organic, biodegrable and symbolize growth and life. She will crack open these ceramic eggs and see inside organic soil. Inside is a seed (wild strawberry, mint and petunia) Once the Egglings have roots they can be replanted outdoors. The shell is biodegradable. You can buy these at Amazon .

Green Gift for Mom 2. Bike Riding Mom

On mother's day this year make sure to remember to encourage your mom to keep riding her bike to work and everywhere else. It's not only good for the environment, but her health too. To support her even more give her an eco-basket for her bike like this one. The basket is made from old packaging tape. It has two handles so that it can be used as a shopping basket and two straps so that it can be attached to your bike.

Green Gift for Mom 3. Plant in a Frame

Does your mom like art? Does she like live plants too? Why not give your mom one of these. It is a combo of her two passions. It is a Plant in Frame. Prairie grass seeds are included and will grow in the frame. The frame can be wall-mounted or placed on a table or in a window.

Green Gift for Mom 4. Pool Table Balls And Spices

For the Mom who loves pool and spicing up her food give her some balls, pool balls that is. These are recycled pool balls made into salt and peppershakers. UK designer Alex Turner created the salt and peppershakers. One cue ball is for salt and one 8 ball is for pepper. The balls have had a cylinder drilled out of them and the bases ground down so that they sit flatly onto a table.

Green Gift for Mom 5. Elephant Dung Fancy Memo Book

For the writing or journaling mom (me) that always appreciates beautiful innovative notebooks (Hint! Hint!) give her this crafted memo book, made from elephant dung and recycled paper. She wont be disappointed. She may be disgusted at first, but when she sees and feels it she will be amazed at what can be recycled these days?

Green Gift for Mom 6. The Chef Mom and Her Eco-Pan

As a mom I personally don't like to receive kitchen items as a gift. To be honest it's a bit insulting, but there are exceptions when a gift like this is okay. For example, where I a chef who loved innovative kitchen items and better yet an environmentally friendly chef that loved eco-innovative kitchen items than this green frying pan would be awesome. The body of the Green Planet cookware is made from 50% re-cycled aluminum, which in itself is 100% recyclable. The riveted bamboo handle is a natural material selected and harvested from nominated and managed bamboo farms. You can find these at Amazon .

Green Gift for Mom 7. Outdoor Rug As Pretty As Indoor Rugs

This looks like an ordinary rug right? It's not. Its Turkish design is woven from threads of plastic bottles, milk containers bubble packaging, and more. Notice the amazing blue color. The rug won't mildew or stain. It sheds water instantly, and the designs are reversible.

Green Gift for Mom 8. Lawn Chair-Seriously!

Does you mom like to sit out on the lawn? The patio won't do for her because it's not close enough to nature, to the soft green grass? How about giving her a lawn chair, but not just any lawn chair, a Terra Chair? A bit of assembly and a sprinkling of water and her chair will grow in her very own yard.

Green Gift for Mom 9. Eat off of Recycled Glass

Does your mom like to adorn her beautiful well-decorated table with fancy dishes to show her family and friends when they come to dinner? Why not show your mom that she can continue to have her elegance, but in a more environmentally friendly way. Buy her an elegant set of frosted recycled glass plates. These recycled glass plates are handcrafted in western Pennsylvania. Each plate sold, 10 % of the profits go to benefit CASA. CASA provides community volunteers to advocate in court for children who are victims of abuse or neglect.

Green Gift for Mom 10. Green Lemonaide Not Drinkable

Give your mom a head start to her wish of living a greener life. Make it easier for her and invest in a Toolkit (1 or 2) from Green Lemonaide. Toolkit 1 includes a reusable tote, a smart strip surge protector, a tire pressure gauge, two sink aerators, two compact fluorescent light bulbs, a shorter shower timer, and some biodegradable doggie "business" bags.

Green Gift for Mom 11. Mixed Greens

Mixed Greens from Enviroblog (latest science and news on toxins in your food, water, and air, and what government agencies should be doing to protect public health) is a neat feature for busy moms that want the latest and greatest on green health. Sign your mom up to Mixed Greens. You can subscribe in iTunes or in a reader, or have her listen right here in your browser. Then slip a little note of what you did into the green gift you decided to give her.

I hope these green gift ideas are helpful. May mothers feel appreciated and loved this year. Happy Mother's Day!

The Answer to Gridlock in the Next Decade

So I was heading across Denver the other day and in the process I must have seen a dozen Smart for2's. So I started to think about how amusing traffic jams are going to look in the next 10 or 15 years. Assuming all of these concept cars make it into production.

Audi Snook Concept Car

Before you erupt into laughter, it should be duly noted that this concept took first place Michelin Challenge Design Award at the Detroit Autoshow this year. This example of a "personal mobility vehicle" uses a a set of gyrospheres to stabilize itself on a single contact point. It rides on a motorized ball that allows for some very precise and agile handling. It might also take some customers away from Segway.

Scion Sports Coupe Concept

The Sports coupe is a deign that you either love or hate. The stying is modern, yet simple for the most part. According to a press release, it combines "entertainment, digital technology, and versatility into one sinister looking package." The jury is still out on that one. I can't really say I understand the rear cargo area. It looks like it could be used for seating as well as hauling groceries, but why?

City Transport Cell Concept

The City Transport Cell by Volkswagen is among a growing number of person transportation devices. It is a plug-in vehicle intended solely for short-range urban use. It produces no emissions and can be easily repaired thanks to a "puzzle-piece" design. The interior is also customizable by using the same snap together design.

Toyota Urban Cruiser Concept

So just in case the tiny little pods aren't you style, Toyota designed a smaller SUV, more similar to the RAV4, that should be enough to keep you busy. According to Toyota spokespeople, it is only "Urban" in name. It has all the capabilities of a normal SUV, just smaller to give it more maneuverability in the "Urban Jungle."

Smart For2....Finally

The Smart For2 has been out and about for a while now, but for some reason we still love to talk about it. Originally designed for easy parking and affordability, the For2 has been under some heavy criticism over it's Crash Test Ratings. It just became available to the US this year as it finally passed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests.

Scion Hako Coupe Concept

The Hako Coupe Concept has been met with very little appreciation. Most people have written it off as a slightly modified Scion xB. Its boxy shape and unexciting lines didn't bode well with the judges either. According to the Scion Designers, their inspiration came straight from global youth-inspired trends. How well the study was conducted and where all they went it still open for debate.

Toyota Hi-TC Concept

An interesting concept from Toyota that can best be described as a Golf Cart they rear-ended a Nissan Frontier. It also uses plug-in Hybrid technology for power, which means no emissions and a short operating range. Power goes to all 4 wheels through 4 independent electric motors. The interior is roomy and simple and provides easy operation with little driver input.

Cadillac CTS

For when you really want to show up in style, the Cadillac CTS (shown above) or CTS Coupe are the way to go. They aren't really concepts anymore, but when it comes to cruising downtown, it's hard ot beat a Caddy. With over 300 horsepower going to all 4 wheels and still getting 26 highway miles per gallon, it doens't do all that bad from an environmental standpoint.

Of course there are many more that could also be included into this group. These are just the most intersting to imagine stuck in traffic.

From : AutoBlog , Jalopnik , AutoBlogGreen

Chill Out With Wine Chilled To Perfection

Most of us don't have wine cellars or even wine refrigerators in our homes. But, never mind; the Ravi Instant Wine Chiller chills your wine in just a few seconds, takes up infinitely less space, and saves you a whole lot of money. So chill out! You can drink your wine as you like it.

Invented by Canadian Michel Dallaire, the Ravi looks like a wine pourer with a stopper for the wine bottle. Those functions are accurate, but the wine pourer is actually the chilly component of the Ravi through which the wine must pass. Kept in your freezer for ready access when needed, the Ravi not only pours the wine, but chills it to its perfect drinking temperature!

Made primarily for red wines, the Ravi has controls for just the variety of wine you are drinking. If your choice of wine is a young red varietal, like a Beaujolais or young Bordeaux, the proper drinking temperature is between 12° and 15°Celsius (53° - 59° Fahrenheit). If the wine is more mature, like a Burgundy or fine Bordeaux, the perfect temperatures for serving would be between 16° and 18° C (60° - 64° F).

Here is an interesting chart showing the temperature effects of the Ravi on a red wine, compared to that of serving from a wine cellar storage or after the bottle has been kept in an ice bucket.

If you are currently serving red wines at room temperature, let's say at 21° to 24° C (70° - 74° F), you are likely missing out on the best taste of your wine, because at room temperature the alcohol overtakes the taste of fruit, spices, and barrel so distinguishing in each wine. Using the Ravi Instant Wine Chiller, you can serve wine at optimum temperature for its particular variety and, if poured within an hour of freezing, the wine will be chilled exactly as it was meant to be tasted.

White wines are consumed at cooler temperatures than reds, so whites are generally chilled in regular kitchen refrigerators, kept at about 1.7° to 3.3° Celsius (35° - 38° Fahrenheit). The Ravi will not chill a wine to a temperature lower than 12°C (53° F), but it certainly can be used to pour and chill white wine if the wine bottle has been standing around too long without a wine cooler or ice bucket to chill it.

For $49.95, the Ravi promises a little change in lifestyle that may help a red wine drinker you know chill out. The Ravi is available online at The Wine Enthusiast or in many stores throughout Canada and through Amazon .

Source: Ravi via Kaboodle

Indian Premier League - The icon's burden

The money, the freedom to build their own teams, and the challenge of testing themselves in Twenty20 have brought several problems for the big stars

Sambit Bal - May 1, 2008

VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly produced their most substantial performances of the tournament today, but, ironically, neither was substantial enough to secure victory for their teams. Was it a coincidence, or does there lie a bigger tale?

Ganguly's was a battling performance. His highest score of the tournament had been 14; his team had had two successive batting failures; and two of his major batsmen had gone home, leaving him to carry the innings. With his team chasing a tough target, he came out to open, and from the way he went about the job it seemed he had set his mind on batting through.

But as the overs ticked by, the asking rate, which started at an intimidating 10, kept creeping up and at the halfway stage, it was clear that desperate measures were needed. Ganguly was still there, on 30 at more than a run a ball. But that he had only faced 26 balls told a story: batsmen who take control usually manage to corner the strike. And it wasn't as if runs were raining at the other end.

Ganguly nearly holed out trying to up the pace, but Yusuf Pathan tripped over the ropes to give him a six, and an over later he earned himself a reprieve by coaxing the umpire to refer a catch that Graeme Smith claimed at deep midwicket for a replay, which, as it mostly does in such circumstances, was inconclusive. But he went cursing himself in the next over when Mohammad Kaif kept his balance to complete a catch on the boundary. There was an air of inevitability about that dismissal.

Laxman, by all accounts, played a delightful innings. It was very Laxman-like, crisp and wristy, and by his standards in the shorter versions, it was also furious. But he fell before the job was done, ironically, for the second time in three innings, to a legspinner. And his dismissal led to a slump from which the Deccan Chargers never fully recovered despite an innings of pure and precise hitting from Rohit Sharma. It was always evident that they finished at least 20 short.

Elsewhere, Rahul Dravid is grappling with his own nightmares. He has twice been dismissed first ball, and has been out slogging, flicking, pulling and hoicking in the most un-Dravid manner. His team languishes at the bottom having been outplayed thrice and once muffing up a match they seemed to have in their grasp.

Each of these batsmen seem to be getting better as the tournament progresses, but the problem is that run-a-ball 30s are simply not good enough. Not even 40-ball 50s. The impact innings of the tournament have been blazing hundreds. It is increasingly apparent that the innings that really matter are either the big ones or blinding cameos. Curiously, Ganguly's most meaningful innings so far has been the 30-ball 14 in the low-scoring thriller against the Deccan Chargers. It prevented a free-fall on a vicious pitch and helped his team scrape through.

And Sachin Tendulkar, the biggest icon of them all, already has a mountain to climb even before he has played his first match. Even though the Mumbai Indians won their first game the other night, they are clearly behind the front-runners and their batting needs a saviour. Tendulkar has had to deal with massive expectations all his life, but he is a newcomer to this form of the game, which is not always known to reward genius.

Call it the icons' burden.

It is ironic that four players who were not part of India's epochal victory at the World Twenty20 have been charged with the gravest of responsibilities for a Twenty20 tournament that promises to revolutionalise cricket. Three of them - Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman - are no longer considered good enough by the national selectors for the 50-over game, and Tendulkar had himself withdrawn from the World Twenty20. Yet, without them the concept of city-based franchises was a non-starter. They were needed not only as anchors and leaders, and for star value, but to give the concept elementary legitimacy.

Nor can they be blamed for accepting the job. The money was always hard to resist, and there need be no moralising about it: cricketers don't inhabit a different planet. But there was also the challenge of being part of a new idea, the chance of shaping a team with a freedom not usually granted due to national boundaries, and also a curiosity to test oneself in a different form.

But each of these factors have brought their own burdens. Having chosen to expose themselves to a form of the game that doesn't do justice to their great skills, it is their obligation to adapt. And having been anointed icons (all barring Laxman), and thus being the highest paid player in the team, it is inevitable that their performances will be measured against their value.

Twenty20 lacks many finer aspects of Test cricket. It lacks scope and scale; context and vision; intellect and subtlety. But it is not merely a hit-and-giggle. Slowly a pattern is emerging in batting. Of course, power is a big factor, but it is becoming increasingly evident that batsmen who rely more on hand-eye coordination are likely to have a greater chance of success. They are not necessarily lesser batsmen, but they are certainly different.

Should a group of players who have established their worth in the highest and, to many, the most demanding, form of the game, allow themselves to be belittled by a form that has little regard for their magnificent skills? It is a question they might confront soon if they haven't asked it to themselves already.

Sambit Bal is the editor of Cricinfo

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