Thursday, November 29, 2007

Japanese robot - soft hands, serves meal & talks 

Twendy-One, named as a 21st century edition of a previous robot, Wendy, has soft hands and fingers that gently grip, enough strength to support humans as they sit up and stand, and supple movements that respond to human touch.

It can pick up a loaf of bread without crushing it, serve toast and help lift people out of bed.

...Twendy-One has taken nearly seven years and a budget of several million dollars to pull together all the high-tech features, including the ability to speak and 241 pressure-sensors in each silicon-wrapped hand, into the soft and flexible robot.

The robot put toast on a plate and fetched ketchup from a fridge when asked, after greeting its patient for the demonstration with a robotic "good morning" and "bon appetit".

Sugano said he hoped to develop a commercially viable robot that could help the elderly and maybe work in offices by 2015 with a price tag of around $200,000.

But for now, it is still a work in progress. Twendy-One has just 15 minutes of battery life and its computer-laden back has a tendency to overheat after each use.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Why I Won't Live in England #3 - Incompetent Government Bodies 

As if it isn't bad enough that the hospitals are an unhealthy place to be, as if esteemed broadcasters like the BBC haven't screwed up enough this year, they don't care about your privacy either...

There's the loss of the personal records of some 25 million child benefit recipients by Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs earlier this month. On an unencrypted CD. What a mess!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving? 


Although it does feel like it. Americans are universally, regardless of whether they are work colleagues, friends or other, wishing me a happy Thanksgiving...

...without ever considering that it is a US-only (er, well, I think Canada has it too) vacation, not a global one.

I don't eat turkey on this day and bask in the memory of the founding of the USA. But I might go to the pub.

A Blue Cave Much Worth Visiting 

Just watch, and imagine being there...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Why I Won't Live in England #2 - Hospital Superbugs 

When you read news reports like this from last month:
The outbreak of norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting virus, has affected 16 patients at Maidstone hospital in Kent, one of three hospitals run by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS trust, where 90 people died in two outbreaks of the Clostridium difficile bug last year.

A damning report by the Healthcare Commission this month accused the trust of "significant failings in infection control" after it found its hospitals had filthy wards and elderly patients were left to lie in their own faeces.'s no wonder that during our visit a relative was advised to go home because her ward had cases of the superbug. Like many other thing invented in the British Isles, modern medicine is there is no longer world class.

To make things worse:
Nearly 11,000 patients have died during the past seven months because of a failure by NHS hospitals to prevent them developing blood clots

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Normal Days Tricks 

They look like they are from Germany or The Netherlands. They've created a very unique video, and it'll only take a few seconds to get the drift.

I like doing the same things, but with say 1% of the skills exhibited above. I've always thought that just a couple of such moves could be good for the opening scenes of a martial arts movie...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cavemen played Qix? 

Deep in the heart of northern Syria, close to the banks of the Euphrates River, archaeologists have uncovered a series of startling 11,000-year-old wall paintings and artifacts.

...The etchings are "polychrome paintings in black, white and red. The designs are solely geometric, and only figurative. The composition is made up of a system cross-hatched lines, alternating between the three colors," Coqueugniot said.

They were found in a circular building, around 25 feet in diameter. The excavated house features three solid blocks where the paintings were located.

Labels: ,

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Beauty is so relative 

Someone has compiled an (accurate) top 10 ugliest creatures list. Relative to what we prefer in humans, they certainly have been touched by the ugly stick. One would presume that relative to themselves, we'd probably rank highly in the ugly stakes from their point of view. I won't post any images here, they might scare my kids!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Why I Won't Live in England #1 - Narrow Roads 

I've just got back from spending 5 weeks there, visiting my wife's family. My first visit in 12 years, although I have spent 5 years of my adult life there in the 80s/90s. Back then I was young and partying a lot - now I am more cycnical and critical (comes with age I'm afraid) and am thinking where would be best to bring up a family, rather than focusing on pubs... I doubt I can come up with 100 reasons why I won't live there (Scotland maybe, but no way England), but here goes:


Part of the bigger problem of over-populated and just plain old - apart from the "dual carriageways", most English roads are either narrow country lanes prone to tractors and horse riding, where you daren't drive at the speed limit, or urban roads that consist of 1.5 lanes.

Because most English houses don't have off-street parking, the councils feel obliged to have parking on the street. Usually this means that one side of the road has parked cars, plus half-a-lane on one side - and drivers must cross the median line as part of normal driving - and expect on-coming cars to move over.

It's barmy! Either move the median line over so that cars know where they should be, or get rid of the parking spots.

(Or, knock down England and rebuild it from scratch - more on that later).

A friend suggested that road rage in England is a direct result of repeatedly having to be polite on narrow roads - giving way and waving other drivers through.

The small town I stayed at, approx 25,000 people, has traffic jams where I am stuck for up to 30 mins. In London between 5-9pm it's often quicker to walk than take a cab.

At least in Australia I can breathe!


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?