This American Life

I recently subscribed to the This American Life podcast and I love it. They just started offering their show as a free podcast this week and I’m so glad they did; consider me hooked.

A quick description of their show for those that have never heard of it:

One of the problems with our show from the start has been that whenever we try to describe it in a sentence or two, it sounds awful. For instance: Each week we choose a theme and put together different kinds of stories on that theme. That doesn’t sound like something we’d want to listen to on the radio, and it’s our show. In the early days of the program, in frustration, we’d sometimes tell public radio program directors that it’s basically just like Car Talk. Except just one guy hosting. And no cars.

It’s easy to say what we’re not. We’re not a news show or a talk show or a call-in show. We’re not really formatted like other radio shows at all.

Instead, we do these stories that are like movies for radio. There are people in dramatic situations where things happen to them.

There are funny moments and emotional moments and—hopefully—moments where the people in the story say interesting, surprising things about it all. It has to be surprising. It has to be fun. There are shows on public radio with no sense of fun or surprise and we hate those shows.

business Google technology

Google Buys YouTube

You’ve probably already heard the big tech news this week that Google is going to pay $1.65 billion for YouTube (the creators are happy). What you may not have seen is this anthology video of YouTubers in action, which goes to show that there is a lot more happening on YouTube than just copyright violations.

(via Waxy)

advertising technology

First iPod Ad

It’s not as memorable as their 1984 ad, but it’s still interesting—First iPod Television Ad:


Teens Fight Back

Remember the Mosquito anti-teen device that was supposed to deter kids from hanging around by emitting a high pitched sound that only folks under 20 can hear? Well students have turned lemons to lemonaide with the technology. According to a news article from students have highjacked the high-frequency sound out of adult hearing range and are using it as a ringtone in a defiant challenge against authority.

From the article:

Schoolchildren have recorded the sound, which they named Teen Buzz, and spread it from phone to phone via text messages and Bluetooth technology.

Now they can receive calls and texts during lessons without teachers having the faintest idea what is going on.

Clever. Here is a clip of the Mosquito Anti-teen device sound and a clip of just the ringtone—or so I’m told because I can’t hear anything.

(via Waxy)

Update: According to BoingBoing, using a 20hz sound as a cell phone ring is not possible. I suppose we are left to assume that the students have just pulled the wool over the teachers’ (and reporters’) collective eyes making them believe that there is something happening which they cannot hear.

Update: It’s now been pointed out that since new phones can play MP3’s and apparently people under 20 can hear the sound on the mp3’s it’s likely not a bogus story.


Are Software Patents Evil?

One of the things I think I would enjoy most if I were an employee at Google would be listening to all the great speakers the company pays to come in and give lectures. Here is an tremendously interesting talk about the pros and cons of software patents and the related trappings: Are Software Patents Evil?

Because there’s so much scope for design in software, a successful application tends to be way more than the sum of its patents. What protects little companies from being copied by bigger competitors is not just their patents, but the thousand little things the big company will get wrong if they try.


PC World Busts the Biggest PC Myths

PC World Logo
PC World published an article revealing the truth behind some common computer myths. Have you ever wondered:

  • If magnets will damage your data?
  • Does using a cell phone on a plane actually interferes with the navigation and communications systems of the aircraft?
  • If you don’t “eject” a USB device before unplugging it from a PC, will you really screw things up?
  • Do cookies track everything you do on the Internet?
  • What terrible things happen if you turn off your PC without shutting down Windows?
  • Does opting out of spam gets you even more spam?
  • If you don’t periodically run your laptop batteries down to zero, will you lose battery life?

Find out the answer to these questions and more as PC World exposes the myths that waste your time and money.

Art technology

Youtube Video About the I/O Brush

I’ve heard a little bit about a new video streaming service called youtube. Apparently you can host your files there and link to them via your blog. Check out this popular video that I have embedded on my page from (you will need the flash player plugin to see the video)

I first saw the I/O brush featured on a rocketboom clip a few weeks ago. Here is some extra information about it:

“[The] I/O Brush is a new drawing tool to explore colors, textures, and movements found in everyday materials by “picking up” and drawing with them. I/O Brush looks like a regular physical paintbrush but has a small video camera with lights and touch sensors embedded inside. Outside of the drawing canvas, the brush can pick up color, texture, and movement of a brushed surface. On the canvas, artists can draw with the special “ink” they just picked up from their immediate environment.”

More information here:


The $100 Laptop

In a previous post I related details of the $100 laptop.

Here is a video from Andy Carvin showing an upclose look at the $100 laptop.

MIT plans to have units ready for shipment by the end of 2006 or early 2007. Manufacturing will begin when 5 to 10 million machines have been ordered and paid for in advance.

Science technology

GEN H-4 Personal Helicopter

Since it doesn’t look like the flying cars are on their way, what about personal helicopters? $31,000 will buy you the GEN H-4, a modern marvel that can go nearly 100 kph (aprox. 60 mph). See the GEN H-4 demonstration video. (2.6MB wmv)

(via Cooltools)


Google Reader

Google has launched their new web based RSS feed reader: Google Reader. This will be handy for when I want to show someone something from my RSS feed list but I’m not at home.