Sunday, 19 September 2004

You may have seen the Robosapien toy robot for sale at your local Frys or other electronics store. It's fun to play with and remarkably more advanced than anything that was made when I was a kid. Our local store sells it for about $68.

Well, some guys over in Germany that are studying robotics decided it would be fun to make the Robosapien robot autonomous - in other words, program it so it could do something on its own, using its own "senses," if you will. They successfully hacked their little robot with a Pocket PC, Microsoft Embedded C++, an IR remote control program for the Pocket PC, and a CF-card camera. Now it will "watch" for an orange pole, and if it "sees" it in its field of view, it will run toward the pole. Pretty darn cool.

But even better than just showing they can do it, they have released their Robosapien API so that you, too can play with robotic hacks. You're not limited to making mad dashes at orange poles - that is just the default program that ships with the API. You can write your own instruction sets for your autonomous robot, and make it interact with whatever it can "see."

I am starting to think I need to pick up one of these, find that old Pocket PC that's lying around here somewhere, and see what can be done. It looks like they had to chop off the lower arms and part of the original robot's feet - probably for weight reasons - which is too bad. Their notes also state that the weight and center of gravity/balance are important to allowing the robot to move correctly under its own power. So, a really light-weight PocketPC would certainly be a good place to start. :-)

(via Engadget)

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Sunday, 19 September 2004 20:24:46 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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"You are unknown to me.
Your camera's memory card was in a taxi; I have it now.
I am going to post one of your pictures each day.
I will also narrate as if I were you.
Maybe you will come here and reclaim this piece of your life."

This is (Ooops... better make that “was”) one of the more interesting/strange blogs I have seen in some time. The author found a digital camera card in a taxi, thought of an idea, and the rest is (ongoing and made-up) history. The blog, "I Found Some of Your Life," merges the real-world with a made-up one. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this site compensates for the pictures with it's fictional guess-at-a-story commentary. You should start with the introduction entry and then work your way though the chronology, to get the full effect.

I can't wait til the owner discovers there's a web site with his pictures on it. That should be very interesting. (EDIT: Not sure exactly what happened, but apparently someone got wind and was not too happy)

From the introduction entry describing the blog and how it got started:

In my possession is one (1) memory card from a digital camera. This memory card was found in a taxi in New York City. I have no idea who the owner of the camera is.

The pictures on the memory card were taken over the course of exactly one (1) year in this person's life, starting July Twenty-Fifth, Two Thousand and Three (07-25-03) and ending July Twenty-Fourth, Two Thousand and Four (07-24-04).

I am going to post one (1) picture here each day. As there are two hundred and twenty-seven (227) pictures, there will be two hundred and twenty-seven (227) posts. The pictures will appear in chronological order according to the timestamp accompanying each image.

As the images add up, I will attempt to assemble an identity for this unknown person. Each day's new picture will be a fresh addition to this photographic life-documentation. Only with the unveiling of the final picture (the two hundred and twenty-seventh (227th)) will we finally have a full understanding of this person's life over the past year - at least as far as these pictures will allow us to infer.

Further, in an attempt to present this pictorial information in a more personal manner, and also to better allow for some artistic license, I am going to pretend that I am the owner of the camera. I'll call me Jordan, because that's the name on my birthday cake (you'll see).


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Sunday, 19 September 2004 08:17:52 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 17 September 2004

In the random blog post department:

Over on Channel 9 there's a picture of a Windows 2006 box. Well, okay it's not the real Windows box, but it's cool.

So are some of the typical Channel 9 comments (cool that is)...

Dave Bowman : Hello, HAL do you read me, HAL?
HAL : Affirmative, Dave, I read you.
Dave Bowman : Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL : I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.
Dave Bowman : What's the problem?
HAL : I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Dave Bowman : What are you talking about, HAL?
HAL : You forgot to recompile the kernel with the new pod bay door drivers.
Dave Bowman : Doesn't Linux support plug and play?
HAL : Not yet, in the next release.

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Friday, 17 September 2004 15:10:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I'm on vacation, sitting at Powell's City of Books (9am-11pm every day of the year, which makes it 14/7/365 I guess?), in the coffee shop with my requisite dose of caffeine, using my wireless laptop to access the Internet for free. Here in Portland, we have this terrific thing called the Personal Telco Project, which self-describes itself as:

We are a volunteer group of Portlanders who believe that 802.11 (wireless networking, or "Wi-Fi") technology is both cool and empowering.  We started out by turning our own houses and apartments into wireless hot spots (also referred to as "nodes"), and then set about building these nodes in public locations such as parks and coffee shops.  Currently we have over 100 active nodes, and we eventually would like to cover the entire city of Portland, Oregon with even more.

So while my friend who is visiting from Germany (who happens to be a real book-freak - in the nicest sense of the word “freak” of course!) searches every aisle of books here in the largest independant bookstore in the world, I am able to take a load off my back, check email, avoid the VPN to work (:)) and send GMAIL invitations to the first six of umpteen people who correctly answered a trivia question and earned gmail invitations. To the rest of you, I have put you on my waiting list and will send your invites when I get them - thanks for playing!

Powell's Books, for those who have not experienced it, is an amazing place. New and used books by the hundreds of thousands line the shelvces of this full city block of bookstore. My favorite room in the whole place is on the top floor, just off of what they call the Pearl Room.

Behind a wood door and darker than the rest of the place is the Rare Book Room. This room is home to many first-of-the-first books (as in first edition, first printing). Old books sit on the shelves, and the most rare among them sit in the middle of each rack with a simple glass loked sliding door on each. If you ask, the attendant librarian will open the glass to show you a book that interests you.

These are not reading books though, unlesss you are filthy rich. My favorite book in the room (at least right now) is the original British first edition and printing of The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein. It's not like I can afford to buy it, or even touch it: That book is for sale for $25,000. But it is fun to look at.

Should you be a Tolkein fan, and want to invest in something a little more in the “gold” range rather than “platinum,” there is a 1st/1st 3-book set of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a little worn but in decent shape with dust jackets. This can be yours for $6,000. If you're more of an old-but-not-expensive person (read: early books but not necessarily original), a second-edition set in similar condition is available in sleeves for $600 - quite a difference in price.

I sit here looking at paper books and typing on an electronic keybord, sending my words to a digital storage where others can see them. While there is something exciting about the digital lifestyle, so is there something quite relaxing and seemingly more “real” about the book I can hold in my hand, the cover I can feel and the pages I can turn. The smell of old books is noticibly different from the smell of a laptop or computer monitor. It's earthy and feels more like it came from somewhere real, rather than from somewhere pretend. I like that, and I think in a way we all need that.

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Friday, 17 September 2004 14:44:24 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 16 September 2004

Darron Devlin has released updated versions of his OneNote power toys, OneNoteImageWriter and WebPageToOneNote. From his web site:



This PowerToy is a virtual printer that enables the import of document images into Microsoft Office OneNoteĀ® 2003 sections. Any program that is capable of printing can send a document to the OneNote Image Writer just as it would when printing to a physical device. The printed document is converted into a document image that can be used as a foreground or background image on a OneNote page. Details and Download



This PowerToys adds a WebPageToOneNote button to the Standard Buttons toolbar in Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 or later. Click this button to copy an image of the entire current web page (WYSIWYG) to a new page in OneNote. The new page is created in a WebImageCaptures section in your notebook. Details and Download

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Thursday, 16 September 2004 22:08:20 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 15 September 2004


Security firm Secunia has issued a "highly critical" advisory that details 10 separate vulnerabilities found in Mozilla, Firefox and Thunderbird. The flaws can be exploited remotely, allowing an attacker to compromise a system and expose sensitive data. Mozilla users are urged to upgrade to the latest releases of each application, which contain the necessary fixes.

This follows a JPEG vulnerability annmouncement (MS04-028) from Microsoft, as well. If you are running any of these programs, be sure to get the latest versions - these are serious vulnerabilities in all the apps, just as important to patch as where there's a vulnerability discovered in Windows or IE.

Cory over at SANS commented on the situation, too.

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IT Security | Tech
Wednesday, 15 September 2004 22:28:27 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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