Play Ripped DVDs with VLC

Hackszine has posted a cool discovery, sent in from a reader, about a feature in my fave open source video player, VLC:

I discovered yesterday that the wonderful VLC media player has the ability not only to mount a DVD directory that’s been ripped to the hard drive, but also to play a .iso image of a DVD. Seeing as I’ve been using it for ages without knowing this was possible, I figured a lot of other people would be ignorant to this feature!

I was! Read more here.


How-To: Build Your Own Bio-Reactor

Jared Bouck, a.k.a. Inventgeek, has a project on his site for building your own backyard photo bio-reactor, a sort of solar hot water system meets a fish tank, designed to grow a microalgae culture. The purpose of the device is to help remove CO2 from the environment. One such home device does very little, but if we all had one…

BTW: In case you’re wondering, the pump use to circulate the water gets its juice from the sun, not the local power utility.


Dorkbot DC Last Night

I can’t speak for everyone at last night’s Dorkbot DC, but it *looked* like a good time was had by all. I know *I* had tons o’ fun. It was a BEAM robot workshop, organized by Tim Slagle (great job, Tim!). We built Solarbotics kits or homebrewed BEAM critters with Solarbotics parts. It was nice to have a “knitting” event where we could all sit around and talk, get to know each other better, have a few laughs, etc. while we worked on some electronics.

Several people informally showed off projects, including Mark Adams’s six-legged Basic Stamp-based walker (see below). Dig the alligator-clip mounts for the LCD display. Classy. The display shows program execution in real time. Thomas Edwards also showed the progress he’s made on his touch over IP project. A few people learned to solder and started work on their first robot. Touching, really. You never forget your first bot. [Sniff, sniff]

More pics by Matt Billings here. A few from Thomas Edwards here.


Extending Li-ion Battery Life

Spicy Gadget Roll has a piece with some good tips on how to extend the life of your Li-ion batteries:

Battery Calibrating – There is some benefits to fully discharging your lithium battery periodically, for laptops especially this can be important. If you start to notice your battery meter is becoming more and more inaccurate, it may be time for some battery calibration. By allowing your lithium battery to fully drain, this will help the battery recalibrate allowing for more accurate measurements of battery life. This should be done once every 30 charges or when you notice battery readings are off.

But as they point out, DON’T listen to people who tell you the battery will last longer if you fully drain the battery before the first charging. This is related to nickel-based batts and their “memory effect,” which doesn’t occur with lithium.

[Via Treehugger]


C-Shirts at iCommons Summit

For Craft Vol. 2, I did a piece on Creative Commons – Japan’s C-Shirt, a shirt design/remix initiative created by CC-Japan and several Japanese websites. At the recent iCommons Summit, a C-Shirt workshop was held and a new C-Shirt design tool, Ximer, was presented. You can read more about C-Shirt, Ximer, and the iCommons summit here.


Dorkbot DC: BEAM Workshop

This month’s Dorkbot DC is Tuesday night, July 10, at Provisions Library (on Dupont Circle). This Bot will be different from others so far. We’ll be working on BEAMbots, teaching folks how to solder, and just generally having plenty of good, lead-fumed, geek fun. So come on by. See the Dorkbot DC website for more details.


Celebrating Half a Century of “Multiverse” Theory

chinmay7 writes on Slashdot:

There is an excellent selection of articles (and quite a few related scientific papers) in a special edition of Nature magazine on interpretations of the multiverse theory. ‘Fifty years ago this month Hugh Everett III published his paper proposing a “relative-state formulation of quantum mechanics” — the idea subsequently described as the ‘many worlds’ or ‘multiverse’ interpretation. Its impact on science and culture continues. In celebration, a science fiction special edition of Nature on 5 July 2007 explores the symbiosis of science and sf, as exemplified by Everett’s hypothesis, its birth, evolution, champions and opponents, in biology, physics, literature and beyond.’

FYI: Hugh Everett III is also the father of Mark Oliver Everett, a.k.a. “The Man Called E,” leader of the grossly under-appreciated (IMNERHO) band Eels. Eels’s 1998 album, “Electro-Shock Blues,” deals with suicide, death and loss, after Hugh Everett III died of a heart attack, his schizophrenic daughter committed suicide, and his wife died of cancer, leaving Mark Everett as the only surviving family member. And, I just discovered on Wikipedia, that E’s cousin was a flight attendant on the plane that was flown into the Pentagon on 9/11. Man, I guess this explains why so many Eels records are so sad, cynical, and dark.

The utterly bizarre thing is that, in the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, put forth by Mark’s father, none of these things have happened (and every possible variation on them has also occurred), in infinite “universes next door,” as Robert Anton Wilson dubbed them. No wonder the dude’s so strange. I’m feeling messed up just trying to ponder all of this weirdness in the same posting!

BTW: A paid sub is required to read most of the articles in Nature, but this one, Many lives in many worlds, by Max Tegmark, is free.


WowWee Roboquad Reviewed

PC Magazine has a review of the Roboquad, the new four-legged bot from WowWee Robotics (US$99). They gave it three out of five stars. One thing they didn’t like was the fact that the programs you sequence through the remote are erased on power-down. Sounds like a hack in the making to me!