Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Uncharted territory on Google Earth reveals several new species

Scientists discover new forest with undiscovered species on Google Earth - Telegraph

A forest in northern Mozambique (southern Africa) has revealed several new species of plants, birds, butterflies, monkeys and a giant snake after scientists discovered the previously uncharted area on Google Earth.

The unexpected green patch known as Mount Mabu is in the middle of inhospitable terrain in a country with years of civil war, so the area has been unexplored until now.

The rich biodiversity is not visible from Google Earth yet, but there may be other no yet explored places, especially in Mozambique or Papua New Guinea that could be found with satellite and aerial imagery.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shoe lace tying technique or gadget needed

I got some new shoes in NZ in June. They are comfortable, black and don't have a Maxwell Smart phone in them, but I need a gadget or trick to stop their laces from coming undone so easily. I often take my shoes off when I go into homes, so I don't want to spend ages undoing a complex knot, but I want something to keep the laces done up while I am walking.

A shoe shine guy in Istanbul shortened the laces for me, but this has not helped. Like getting haircuts in Turkey, the shoe shining was interesting and involved fire.

I found this shoelace speed tying video, so I will try this technique, but if anyone has any tips for tying laces so they undo easily but not to easily, let me know.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cool color tool - search by color

"We extracted the colours from 10 million of the most “interesting” Creative Commons images on Flickr. Using our visual similarity technology you can navigate the collection by colour"


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Amazing gadget camera from the 1930s

Swiss Army Camera (photoshopped)
This photo is the "Swiss Army Camera" (photoshopped) version of the Jaeger LeCoultre Compass camera.

The real version of this 35 mm compact camera was one of the most advanced gadgets of its time in the 1930s. The British pilot and aircraft builder, Noel Pemberton-Billing (1991-1948) designed the Compass. He was also a politician, businessman and founder of the "Supermarine" company. A Swiss clock and watch manufacturer, famous for their high precision work on the instrument panels of many cars, they produced the gadget for the remarkably low price of 30 British pounds - about 1/5th the price of similar high tech cameras of the time. Less than 4000 units were made and their present value is between 1800-2200 USD.

Jaeger LeCoultre Compass camera and accessories
See http://www.jaeger-lecoultre.com/US/en/content/the-compass-camera for specifications and more features.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bypassing Blogger Bans

Living in Turkey is great. The lifestyle is good. There are markets where you can get almost any gadget conceivable. There's broadband and wireless. But...

The Turkish courts have a habit of banning whole websites such as YouTube, GeoCities and now Blogger because a minority complains about a small piece of content that offends them.

YouTube is usually blocked after complaints about videos that insult Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey. GeoCities and Google Groups and other sites were apparently blocked by a Muslim creationist claiming to be defamed by a prominent evolutionist.

Blogger is apparently blocked because a soccer matches broadcast on a Turkish TV service are being captured and streamed through Blogger.

Instead of banning just the offending content, the courts ban the whole sites.

So how to get around it? Many Turks are using proxy servers and tunnels websites. This works OK for viewing, but when Javascript or seamless access to the sites is required it gets messy and you need to copy/paste URLs a lot.

To access Blogger and the other blocked sites, I have a SSH tunnel localhost connection to a server. I connect FireFox to this tunnel using the socks layer with FoxyProxy. My server provides DNS for the affected URLs as well as routing the content. Going through the server slows the connection so I have FoxyProxy using pattern matching to connect the socks proxy only for sites that are banned. When I see the dreaded "This site has been banned by blah..." message, I can add the URL pattern and continue browsing.

While this is a workaround, I would prefer that the censorship would stop or at least be done properly - only blocking the offensive content - not whole sites. I invite you to join the Facebook cause to Stop Internet Censorship in Turkey!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

High tech buses

I caught one of the newest buses in the city yesterday. It had a GPS screen, a voice announcing stops and news, weather, speed, time and location on the screen.

[Edit: added tags. Original posted from mobile blogger.]

Friday, October 17, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Gadget lab from the amazing personal library of Jay Walker

Gadget Lab
A brand-new One Laptop per Child XO, far left, sits next to a relatively ancient RadioShack TRS-80 Model 100.
In back, a 1911 typewriting machine and a 1909 Kent radio. The large
contraption at center is the Nazis' supposedly unbreakable Enigma code machine. The book to its left is a copy of Johannes Trithemius' 1518 Polygraphiae, a cryptographic landmark.
On the right is an Apple II motherboard signed by Woz. An Edison
kinetoscope sits beside an 1890 Edison phonograph (along with three of
the wax cylinders it uses for recording). Nearby is a faithful copy of
Edison's lightbulb. The gadget with the tubes is an IBM processor circa
1960. In front of it stands a truly ancient storage device, a Sumerian
clay cone used to record surplus grain.

Jay Walker is an internet entrepreneur and founder of Walker Digital. His collection of world changing books and historical objects is impressive. The massive library includes a Sputnik, the chandelier from Die Another Day, an instruction manual for the Saturn V rocket and many more interesting things.

See more at http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/16-10/ff_walker?currentPage=all

Turning-drawer wooden safe

I stumbled across this from MAKE: Blog: Turning-drawer wooden safe


My pal Alex Schlegel writes:

The 13 drawers of this band-saw box rotate rather than open outward. Objects for safekeeping are placed into the large, central drawer through a hole in the bottom of the box. Since the arrows on the front of each drawer point toward the drawer's open side, objects may be moved from one drawer to another by first lining up the arrows on the two drawers and then rotating the entire box so that the objects fall from the first drawer to the second.

The Band Saw Safe is great for storing all those loose gemstones you've got lying around.

It is a low tech gadget but looks cool. I suspect it would be a lot of fun to make and if you don't have a band saw lying around I guess you could always use a laser cutter.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Laptop Backpacks

BUILT has these cool looking laptop backpacks made from lightweight neoprene and mesh. While it looks like a wetsuit for computers, its probably not a great idea to go diving or surfing with them.

My latest mobile gadget: SonyEricsson P990i

I got a SonyEricsson P990i mobile from one of the MuzGadgets brothers when I visited them recently. It does pretty much all I need a pocket device to do:
  • internet access including via wireless
  • still/video camera (I must buy a bigger memory card)
  • MP3/media player/radio (I really must buy a bigger memory card)
  • ebook reader (the PDF viewer's interface is a bit annoying sometimes)
  • contacts/calendar/tasks manager with synchronization to my PC
  • emergency modem while waiting for the ADSL guys to connect us
  • oh and it works as a phone too
I've installed fring on it too so I can Skype from the phone. I've tried it a couple of times - it didn't show the live Skype video and one of the MuzGadget sisters couldn't understand anything I was saying - might have been a low bandwidth issue.

It might be second-hand and not quite as cool as an iPhone, but I'm very happy with it. It is a lot more useful than my old monochrome voice & sms only Siemens A70.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hot fridge

Adam Grosser and his sustainable fridge | Video on TED.com

This three and a half minute TED talk presents a solution for refrigeration without electricity of access to stored fuels (gas etc).

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fab Lab

Invention kits to build anything - Forbes.com- msnbc.com

A laser cutter, computer controlled router, minature drilling mill, powered by open source software and micro-controllers, makes up the Fab(rication) Lab(oratory). These kits can make almost anything and have the potential to even reproduce themselves by making parts. The goal is a 'Star Trek' style replicator where the labs can create 3D photocopies of just about anything.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Electric/Hybrid Motorbike/Car

Initially only available in California, this vehicle called the Aptera (meaning wingless flight in Greek) is a two and a bit seater electric or hybrid three-wheeled enclosed motorcycle.

A prototype with a parallel hybrid diesel boasted an average of 230 MPG
(1.02 Litres per 100K). But because of emissions restrictions, the
hybrid model will use a small water-cooled EFI gasoline engine with
closed loop oxygen feedback and catalytic converter.

More info at http://www.aptera.com/

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Gadget recommendations wanted

We have booked our flights to visit New Zealand. We don't have a lot of money left after this, but we want to get some duty free gadgets on the way. Any recommendations?

We're thinking electronics such as a digital camera, smarter phones, etc.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Riding the Robot Caterpillar

My kids rode a robot caterpillar at the local mall the other night.

The guy controlling seemed to have a wireless remote control to start and stop it, but otherwise it followed the black lines on the floor.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Aeroscraft - hybrid airship

Poppa sent an email introducing the Aeroscraft - a heavier than air craft that uses helium to support 2/3 of its weight. Huge propellers and aerodynamics provide the remaining lift during cruising. Six turbofan jet engines control the take off and landing.

This craft is huge, but has it a small footprint and because it takes off vertically it does not require a runway. Passenger capacity will be about 250 configured as a flying hotel. Though the main configuration would be for cargo, delivering an entire store's worth of goods at a time.

Read more at:
The Flying Luxury Hotel | Popular Science
Aeroscraft - Innovation Never Stops
Its a bird! Its a plane No

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Blog birthday

Muzgadgets is just over a year old. Happy birthday to us.

A few of the MuzGadget bros had birthdays recently and the rest will have their's pretty soon. It would be good to learn about any gadgets you get.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sunday, March 2, 2008

How to make a cheap steadycam

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~johnny/steadycam/top_big.jpgJohnny Chung Lee describes how to build a cheap camera stabilizer for about $14. If you are good with tools and know what you are doing you could make one in about 20 minutes otherwise you can buy them pre-built. Basically a weight on a three pipes connected in a T, this gadget is useful for capturing smooth looking video even when the camera and operator are moving. Read more about this gadget and get the instructions here.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Mobile spycam

Remember the Bond film where 007 remotely drives his BMW from his cell phone. A student has developed a mobile phone controlled mobile spy surveillance camera.The Smart Eyes robot designed and built by Massey University graduate Tom Yu Guan has a standard remote control rally car providing the wheels, but it has a modified video-capable mobile phone inside providing the live video feed and controlling the car. The remote operator can view the video and control the car by pressing buttons on their video capable phone.

One of the MuzGadgets filmed the story for the TV news. Read the full whole story.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Looking for games and 3D stuff...

I'm doing some consulting with Yetkin Telesystems and for one project I'm trying to find PC multi-controller games that would be suitable for playing in 3D on big screens.

Most of the console gaming machines are designed for sharing around a TV so two player games on these platforms are available. However, the average home game player is not likely to have the sort of money yet for 3D screens so the consoles don't have stereoscopic technology.

With the P in PC meaning "personal" finding two or more player games is not easy. But PCs are good for running 3D displays. A PC with the right nVidia graphics cards, drivers and software can convert 2D into different 3D (anaglyph, interlaced, shutter glasses etc) technologies.

Please comment if you know of any suitable games for this project. I'm also interested in any 3D movie or image production gadgets.

Alltop (beta)

Alltop is a new website featuring the top 50 RSS feeds (mostly blogs) in 20 categories. MuzGadgets is not listed in the gadgets category yet, but there are plenty of other gadget blogs there if you need a fix of the latest gadget news.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

BUG - The Lego of Gadgets

Bug Labs have created the BUG: a range of modules that snap together to make all sorts of gadgets. Each module has a specific function such as a camera, a display, or a GPS that plug into a base unit - a programmable Linux computer.

Another customizable phone

Meet modu.

A tiny usable phone that slips into a whole range of jackets for different looks or functions. There is a whole range of "mates" that are modu-enabled too - devices like personal music players, digital cameras and even bicycle computers.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Another MuzGadgets Birthday

Hey bro, hope you're having a happy gadgets birthday.

Let us know about all the gadgets you are going to put in your new house.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Design your own phone

The zzzPhone. Design your own mobile phone full of features including cameras, GPS, extra memory and even personalized messages printed on the case.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Meet Trev: a 2-seater, 3-wheeled Electric Car

Trev Two-Seat Lithium ion Electric Travels for 2¢ a Mile

"Staff and students at the University of South Australia have designed and built an electric car that can go from 0-60 in under 10 seconds and can travel nearly 100 miles on a single charge, it's called Trev and it's quite an achievement."

This electric car has been designed with similar technologies to those used for solar racing cars, but for use in urban daily commuting. The passenger seat behind the driver gives it good aerodynamics and balance and the lightweight construction means the whole car only weighs 300 kg. The lithium ion battery powers the rear drive wheel and the car is capable of 0-100km/h in under 10 seconds, a top speed of 120 km/h and 150 km of city driving before recharging.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Perpeptual motion? free Electricity?

How about some free energy or some perpetual motion?
this could be powering my next car?


Lets hope the powers that be make it open source.


Saturday, February 2, 2008

Moldable Mouse

Congratulations to the winners of the red dot online: design concept 2007: Productivity & Work winners for this cool mouse!

Made of lightweight modelling clay and covered with a nylon and polyurethane blend fabric, Moldable Mouse can be kneaded into shapes by users.

Moldable Mouse breaks the boundaries of the traditional mouse with its revolutionary design. Currently, all computer mouse products in the market are made with hard plastic, and their shapes are not universally adaptable to the human hand. Even the most advanced “ergonomically designed” mouse does not fit the preferences of every user. The inelasticity of the plastic model is problematic for long-time usage, as numerous people have suffered wrist injuries from extensive use in a fixed position. Moldable Mouse eliminates this problem with its unique design.

Moldable Mouse is made of non-toxic lightweight modelling clay, covered with nylon and polyurethane blend fabric. It can be kneaded into any shape the user prefers, and the shape is self-retaining. By allowing a wide variety of hand positions when holding the mouse, it reduces repeated motions of the same posture, thereby minimising the chance of common mouse-related injuries such as the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The click buttons and touch-sensitive scroll pad of the mouse are stick-on parts with built-in RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device), which can be repositioned for maximum comfort.
The nylon and polyurethane blend fabric covering comes in a variety of colours. The texture of the material feels similar to silk, but is much more flexible. Its softness significantly increases the comfort level of the mouse over that of the traditional plastic versions. Patterns and graphics can be printed on the fabric to make the Moldable Mouse more visually appealing. The base of the mouse, made of 100% recyclable PC/ABS plastic blend, houses the PCB (Printed Circuit Board), laser optics and batteries. Reducing plastic usage to a minimum by using mostly non-toxic clay and fabric, the Moldable Mouse is also an ecologically responsible product.

For the past forty years in which the computer mouse has been in existence, it has by and large remained static in its design. Today, modern technology has made it possible for the product to conform to the contours of the user, rather than the other way around. Moldable Mouse brings novelty to the field of industrial design, and beckons a new generation of user-centred innovations.
red dot award: design concept 2007


Lite-On Technology, P&C Design Center

In-house design:
Liao Wei-Chueh, William W. Huang, Antonia Hsu, Amy Liu, Shi Yimin, Tiky Tao, Salem Zeng

Pocket Bikes

Reinventing the Wheel : TreeHugger
Mountain biker and designer Duncan Fitzsimons has invented a folding wheel with the aim of making courier or city bikes that could be folded up into a package that is much easier for carrying on public transport.


Read the full article

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Personal locator beacon next must-have gadget

NZPA reported today about a Hastings, New Zealand man who was rescued from a tramping accident after activating a personal locator beacon (PLB). The 406 MHz PLB cost a few hundred dollars and is a "pretty cheap form of life insurance". When one of these beacons are activated, they send a signal to the Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCCNZ) with the owners location and identification.

See our earlier post about Gadgets to the rescue.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Solar Trees

Designed by Ross Lovegrove, these streetlights could soon light up Europe and save energy and money. Solar panels charge built-in batteries that power LEDs turned on at sunset and off at sunrise by light detectors.

Full story.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Yetkin Telesystems to the rescue

We accidentally got a 3D movie for Christmas. Like most of the DVDs we buy here in Turkey there is a Turkish translation with Turkish dubbing, subtitles and the DVD cover in Turkish.

Someone had forgotten the important "D" in the title of this movie "Spy Kids 3D". There was no mention of 3D (or 3-Boyutlu = the Turkish term for 3D) on the DVD cover.

It is a good movie. There are a lot of 3D effects in the movie and a behind the scenes section on the production of the movie and the history of 3D movies but it gets difficult to watch the 3D sections without (red/blue) anaglyph glasses. Because of the missing "D" these were not included with the movie, but thankfully I am working with my friend Oğuz from Yetkin Telesystems on a web project.

Yetkin Telesystems are the Turkish suppliers of everything 3D, from 3D monitors and projector systems to holographic, lenticular and custom 3D photography and they have sorted us out with some 3D anaglyph glasses.

Thanks Oğuz.

Wallace and Gromit Cracking Contraptions

The Wallace and Gromit Cracking Contraptions video showed up on the video bar of the MuzGadgets blog. It is posted here so you don't miss this "good for a laugh" 25 minute video.