There’s a fascinating article in the NY Times on Asberger’s Syndrome, a disorder related to autism. It is best described, perhaps, as the “geek disorder” because of the particular traits that those who have it seem to suffer: inability to interact socially, usually combined with high mental capabilities, particularly with engineering, mathematics, computer science, etc.. Those who have Asberger’s may have a range of symptoms in the spectrum — anywhere from complete inability to read social situations to slight akwardness or making innappropriate comments in social situations, and obsessive interest in certain kinds of information. While certainly not all geeks have Asberger’s, nor are all that have Asberger’s “geeks,” it certainly goes a long way to explaining the difficulties many have who are afflicted with this condition, and the tendency for “geeks” to be drawn to computer science and similar fields
Incidently, a classic case of someone likely suffering from Asberger’s is the character Toby Radloff from American Splendor.
Designs On The White House is a design contest hoping to inspire a little creativity in designs for Kerry t-shirts. Using Cafe Press, the winning entries in such categories as best pro-Kerry, best issue (foreign and domestic), best anti-Bush, best retro, and most stylish (to be shown on QE) will be made available for sale to the public with all proceeds going to the Kerry campaign. You get nothing, except whuffie of course.
Of course, you don’t need the approval of the “judges” to make your own Kerry t-shirts at Cafe Press. So even if you’re entry isn’t considered a winning one, you can always just make your own, put it up and buy it for yourself. Please just stay away from comparing Bush to Hitler. Please.
Doing a search for cheaper than a Dremel brings up all sorts of groovy case modding and DIY robotics pages. What are some of your favorite Google searches (that relate to hardware hacking)?
There’s a lot of attention being paid to the youth market for cars these days. Companies are coming up with a lot more strange designs centered around the “lifestyle” and tastes of younger people, as evidenced by Honda’s Element and the Toyota Scion. But the innovation isn’t just coming from the Pacific side — Diamler Chrysler, which for many years has developed small, youth-oriented cars for the European market, has decided to release some of those little Smart Cars here in the US.
While the models for the US won’t be as small as the originals (some of which apparently were designed in conjunction with Swatch…no kidding) they will be some pretty unique cars. The first to come over will be the ForMore, which is a small sport ute. Other cars should follow though, and there are some pretty interesting looking ones, including a coupe (pictured, top) with a customizable two-tone color scheme that will probably make it over, and a strange variation of the ultra-tiny ForTwo two seater that looks like it could be popular in southern climes (pictured, bottom).
It should be noted that the two-seat versions of the Smart cars (like the one above, called the Crossblade) are now approved for import to the US and Canada. Two US companies will carry Smarts even before the ForMore makes its official debut.
Correction: originally I said the ForFour, a four-dour sedan, would be the first model to come over. Apparently it was too ugly for the American market and they decided to launch with the ForMore instead, which can be seen in an artists rendering by clicking “Read more..” The Smart brand will be sold through US Mercedes dealerships.
British cellular provider O2 has got a new branded music player with a pretty cool feature: it can download tunes directly from the company’s online music store. The flash-based player with included 64 meg SD card connects via infrared to a data-enabled cell phone, and downloads whatever track you like. Sounds cool, but as T3 points out in their micro-review, it would have been better if it had Bluetooth, didn’t sound like crap, and wasn’t burdened with one of the worst examples of DRM yet implemented. Price of the player is about $180 with songs at $2 apiece.
They’ve been lying dormant for 17 years, but this summer is supposed to be one of the largest invasions of the cicada – an insect described best as the demonspawn of a cricket, a butterfly, and a cockroach. According to scientists (I love prefacing my remarks that way, especially without citing the source) billions of these little critters are waiting underground for the opportunity to spit themselves out into the air and fly around causing havoc and mating like….well, like something that hasn’t had sex in 17 years. While occasional eruptions of cicadas happen in off-years from different groups of the 13 or 17 year buggers, “Brood X” is the largest and most widespread, and will soon spill upon the earth on a biblical scale. Get those porches screened-in today!
Oh, and don’t forget to buy some commemorative cicada gear. How else will you remember the Great Swarm of ’04?
NASA is set to launch the immensly sophisticated Gravity Probe B today, which will measure the bending of space-time by a rotating object. While the whole thing seems pretty bland compared to the Mars missions, the project is an important step in testing Einstein’s theories. The NYT ran an excellent piece in last-week’s science section about the $700 million dollar project that has taken 45 years to complete and that has contributed significantly to the advancement of theoretical physics. Maybe if NASA could come up with a better name than Gravity Probe B (which sounds like a bad sci-fi movie) they could generate more interest in it.
If you’re planning on upgrading to an HDTV or other widescreen 16:9 format TV, you may actually be losing screen space when viewing standard video 4:3 signals. The simple math is that a standard picture on a widescreen monitor will be roughly .81 times the size of the overall display, but if you’re too lazy to do the actual math, C|Net has a handy calculator that can show you how much space you’ll be losing on a widescreen, or conversely, how much space you’ll be gaining when viewing a widescreen signal on a conventional monitor.
I read stories about BlueSnarfing and Bluejacking with a high degree of skepticism — it just seemed like a trend that was harmless and not likely to really take off. Well, it turns out that the dangers of someone hijacking your Bluetooth phone are actually pretty high. Owners of the T610 or Nokia 6310 could actually get jacked and the perp could use their phone for sending faxes and SMS, calling numbers from the target phone, disrupting calls and other potentially high-charge nastiness. Until there’s some kind of fix for this, it appears the only solution is to only turn your BT on in secure areas, which means in the middle of a wheat field at least 400 feet from the nearest other BT enabled human.
When the EyeToy came out the only games one could play with it were the included mini-games which are fun, but get old quickly unless you’re playing with other folks. But a few new games are on the horizon that break from the dancing game trend that seemed like it would eat the EyeToy up. One is Saru Eye, scheduled to be released this summer in Japan. It seems to involve controlling an on-screen character rather than being the character in the game, which opens up a whole new genre for the EyeToy.