Friday, February 29, 2008

And yet another one - She's F**king Seth Rogen

In the same vein as the previous videos by Jimmy Kimmel, Elizabeth Banks and Seth Rogen have made a video straight from the set of Kevin Smiths new movie Zack and Miri make a Porno. Check it out after the jump

NASA to blow up the moon and Microsoft to snap Universe

Two wicked things came to my attention today - first off Microsoft is releasing a new freeware product called Microsoft Worldwide Telescope. Watching the video of the demo, I must admit it looks bloody awesome. Also NASA have announced they are going to ram a spacecraft into the moon and see what comes out in the ejecta. Kind of like Space 1999 but without the nuclear waste dump going critical.

Microsofts WWT is pretty amazing. I know Google have been working on Google Sky for some time, but I do get a bit sick of everything being in perpetual Beta. Not that the actual Google Sky is bad - its just that the MS one looks better.

The WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is a rich visualization environment that functions as a virtual telescope, bringing together imagery from the best ground and space telescopes in the world for a seamless, guided exploration of the universe.

WorldWide Telescope, created with Microsoft's high-performance Visual Experience Engine™, enables seamless panning and zooming across the night sky blending terabytes of images, data, and stories from multiple sources over the Internet into a media-rich, immersive experience.

Check out the vid below for the demo.

And it looks like NASA is going to ram the mooon with some space vehicles in Feb of 20009 - heres the press release.

LCROSS will piggyback on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission for an Oct. 28 launch atop an Atlas 5 rocket equipped with a Centaur upper stage. While the launch will ferry LRO to the moon in about four days, LCROSS is in for a three-month journey to reach its proper moon-smashing position. Once within range, the Centaur upper stage doubles as the main 4,400 pound (2,000 kg) impactor spacecraft for LCROSS.

The smaller Shepherding Spacecraft will guide Centaur towards its target crater, before dropping back to watch -- and later fly through -- the plume of moon dust and debris kicked up by Centaur's impact. The shepherding vehicle is packed with a light photometer, a visible light camera and four infrared cameras to study the Centaur's lunar plume before it turns itself into a second impactor and strikes a different crater about four minutes later.

NASA is gonna whup its ass! Well, maybe not - more like mining for water really I suppose.

Chicks with Guns

Awesome... Nuff said.

Info after the jump

This is Kari Byron from Mythbusters playing around with a MINIGUN. How cool is that? Its called the Dillon M-134D minigun and goes through 3000 round in a minute, thats insane..

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Robots taking over the world - prepare for either termination or utopia

I find it astounding the number of advances being made in robotics these days. Whether it be the amazing and astounding Auto Breast Massager, or the Bum's Rush device, we are seeing a large amount of things being automated. Are we on the cusp of a new age of robotic enhancement of life as we see in so many sci-fi movies? Or is Sky-Net about to unleash the wrath of AI on us ala Terminator?

Its amazing to see how many scenes in movies that we now see coming into fruition in real life. Nothing like life imitating art I say. Several cases I read about recently spring to mind to illuminate this point.

First we have the NeuroArm - a robotic arm designed to work inside an MRI (Magnet Resonance Imaging) and give the surgeon an unparalleled microscopic view inside the head of the patient. Theoretically, you could use this device remotely to operate on someone's brain, which ties into the other technologies already around that allow doctors to operate on people remotely. This we have seen in previous movies like Alien, Star Trek,

Next up, we have robots designed to help us, like the Wearable Robotic Aid for construction workers. This allows builders, especially when putting up ceilings, to reduce arm fatigue, because if anyone who has tried to put up ceilings has realised, your arms get tired quickly holding them up over your head. This will transmute into big yellow exoskeletons in the future I'm sure, just like Ripley uses in Aliens. Theres also the ones that make our breakfast and pump our gas. They cook our meals, they haul our trash, they connect our calls, they (may) drive our ambulances. We guard us while we sleep. They will fuck with us.

And lets not forget all the robots being designed to blow shit up - the American Defense department is spending US$4 billion over the next few years on unmanned systems. They already have unmanned drones, and computer guided weapons, but next it'll be hunter-killer drones and AI's running the battlefield. Lets only hope that AI ends up being more like the movie of the same name, and Sonny from I Robot, than Terminator and V.I.K.I.

Really - I think we've covered all the bases - automated death machines, automated life giving machines, and automated petrol pumps. What more could a future me want?

Panasonic solve all worlds problems - time to plastic everything!

Panasonic, the company that brings us TV's, microwaves and other electronic goodness has bought itself a seat on the board at Greenpeace with its latest invention. In a press announcement, Panasonic states they have figured out a way to eliminate a majority of plastic and electronic waste using Titanium Oxide as a catalyst.

Apparently the whole process is very efficient, requiring very little energy to work, thereby reducing CO2 emissions as well. Big thumbs up from me if this works as well as it says it does. As massive electrical goods consumers, we need a way to dispose of all the old iPods and motherboards we turf out every year. Its amazing to see the figures on waste even in your own area. In the Wellington Region for 2005, we created 382,887 tonnes of rubbish that went into landfills - imagine how much we could reclaim if we used a process like the one described below, if it works like it says it does. We could reclaim a whole lot of metal and reusable stuff from 382,000 tonnes of rubbish I'll bet.

Although its a great step forward, its not a Panacea I'm sure - but with the boffins at Panasonic on the case (and elsewhere) I'm pretty confident science will help give us more discoveries like this to help greenify the planet once more. Apart from my back lawn which I just astroturfed.

See the full press release below

Panasonic Uses Catalytic Reaction to Decompose Plastics Into Harmless Gas for E-Waste Recycling

-Eliminating need for incinerating or dumping plastic waste in landfill-

Osaka, Japan - Panasonic, by which Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. is known, today announced that the company has developed together with Kusatsu Electric Co., Ltd. a recycling technology that enables the recovery of metals from plastic-coated wires and plastics used in electric and electronic equipment without causing hazardous side-effects.

Using the catalytic properties of titanium oxide (TiO2), the innovative technology facilitates recovery of inorganic substances such as metals by transforming organic substances such as plastics into harmless gases.

Panasonic is successfully using the new technology at the Matsushita Eco Technology Center (METEC) to recover copper from degaussing coils covered with vinyl chloride tape found in CRT TVs. In addition, mixed plastic waste destined for incineration or landfill is treated and changed into non-toxic gases at METEC. The method not only contributes to "zero waste," but also helps reduce CO2 emissions as little external energy source is required in the gasification process.

Today, about 80 percent, by weight, of all collected home appliances is recycled into metallic and plastic materials. The remaining 20 percent is currently regarded as non-recyclable waste e.g. rubber, mixed glass and mixed plastic waste which is difficult to sort further as it is comprised of many different types of resins or contains metals. Although some mixed plastic waste can be used as fuel in general, the waste containing certain chemicals such as vinyl chloride needs to be treated in a high-temperature incinerator to avoid dioxin emissions.

The new recycling method combines Kusatsu Electric's non-incineration plastic disposal technology using TiO2 and Panasonic's high grade materials recovery technology that is used by Panasonic to recycle old home appliances. The method uses unique mixing and carrier systems that allow plastics to contact the catalyst efficiently for gasification, leaving the valuable metals. As the catalytic reaction of TiO2 generates heat to promote gasification, an additional heating source is not required in the process. The method uses cooling water to maintain temperature (500°C) for optimal catalytic reaction. The subsequent heated water from the process can be used for other purposes. Hydrogen chloride produced during the gasification process of vinyl chloride is neutralized with lime.

Panasonic aims to completely eliminate mixed plastic waste and spread the use of this environment-friendly technology to recycling-related facilities and further to production facilities in and out of the Panasonic group.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

30 Days of Night : Movie Review

Director - David Slade (Hard Candy)
Starring Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Ben Foster, Danny Huston, Nathaniel Lees and a whole lot of other Kiwi actors
Synopsis - Sherrif Eben Oleson (Hartnett) is preparing to batten down the hatches in Barrow, Alaska, for the annual 30 days in winter that sees no sun. As darkness descends on the town, so does a pack of bloodthirsty vampires, and a small group of survivors must try and stay alive.
Rating (out of 5) = ★★ Blood. Loooots of blood. On the snow. What more can I say? Spoilers abound in this review, so read no further if you don't want to know what happens.

Josh Hartnett plays Eben Oleson, Sherrif of a small town in north Alaska called Barrow which spends 30 days of winter in complete darkness due to its proximity to the North Pole. Its at this time of year that some vampires float in from fuck knows where and pretty much slaughter everyone. It leaves a small group of survivors, hiding wherever they can, struggling to survive surrounded by predators.

Positives - There are lots of gory shots of dismemberment, blood pouring out of bodies onto the white snow, and general mayhem. Its shot rather well to show the tempo of certain scenes - like when the town is first attacked and the vampires run amok. With an overhead look-down perspective showing people running, shooting, being killed, blood all over the snow in big pools, it conveys the chaos of the whole scene rather well.
There are a few cool action scenes, especially the one with the back hoe with ditch digger attachment chopping vamp's in half - wicked. Head shots, body shots, axe attacks - all filmed rather well in most scenes.
It also conveyed the cold well in some scenes - not so in others, but the vampires looked very alien and emotionless which I liked also.

Negatives - Not sure what the exact problem was but some of the scenes did not flow very well. I put it down to the acting being a bit hammy from some of the lesser characters, but it also stems in part that some people just cant shake their accent or their type casting. Many of the bit parters were Kiwi's, and they lapsed into the native tongue a few too many times to ignore.
Some parts seemed badly edited and seemed tacked together haphazardly. The death of the beardy weirdy was all too short, and almost glossed over for how it was supposed to affect the characters. That scene just didn't make much sense and didn't flow at all. There were a few more like that as well and they stuck out badly enough that the viewer is left puzzling over what the hell is going on.

The storyline was a neat concept, and it was a one of the few times when a graphic novel has been translated rather well into a movie. But considering this was a movie script before it was a graphic novel, that may have helped. Apparently the writer Steve Niles wrote the script, couldn't sell it to Hollywood, made it a graphic novel, and then it was picked up by Colombia Pictures. Oh well, whatever works I suppose. I have read in other places that the comic left a bit to be desired and the movie is far better.

All in all, not bad - I was interested enough to watch it to the end, but I won't be buying this one for the old DVD, or should I say, Blue Ray collection. 2/5 from me.

Jimmy Kimmel is F*&^ing Ben Affleck

Here is Jimmy Kimmel's rebuttal to the video that his girlfriend made in which she states she is F*&#ing Matt Damon. See the video after the jump.

This is funny shit

Are Women Human? and Cheese Problems Solved

The Bookseller oddest title of the year short-list has been announced with some very strange titles capturing the eye of the judges. Unfortunately my book, Up Yours You One Eyed Bastard didnt make the list, and the sequel, Screw You And The Horse You Rode In On is outside the publishing date.

Heres the titles that made the cut :

I Was Tortured By the Pygmy Love Queen
How to Write a How to Write Book
Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues
Cheese Problems Solved
If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs
People who Mattered in Southend and Beyond: From King Canute to Dr Feelgood

Although these titles are weird, they werent the only ones. Horace Bent, diarist and custodian of the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book title said "I must pay homage to those books that narrowly missed out on a shortlist place. These were, in no particular order: Drawing and Painting the Undead; Stafford Pageant: The Exciting Innovative Years 1901–1952; and Tiles of the Unexpected: A Study of Six Miles of Geometric Tile Patterns on the London Underground.

All sound like they are positively thrilling reads, and I do hope that the authors will try again next year. Honourable mention should also go to two titles that were ruled out because they were published too long ago: an unlikely-sounding HR manual called Squid Recruitment Dynamics, and the fascinating anthropological tome Glory Remembered: Wooden Headgear of Alaska Sea Hunters."

It astounds me that someone has the time to sit down and write a book about this stuff. My tinfoil hat is off to them for spending the time to put finger to keyboard.

Via theBookseller and Stuff

Megatron busted for dope smuggling - claims amnesia

You know, its always funny to see what people will claim to try and get out of being convicted. In our good old wacky New Zealand, a plucky young chap named Nicholas (last name not given for fear of shaming whole family) has happily gone down that path.

The young man was by all accounts a standard Uni student, but after an alleged knock to the noggin, he lost his mind, legally changed his name to Megatron and transformed (ha ha) into the mindless drug hoover we see today.

Why Megatron? Why not? There's probably many other names you could use in the same situation (going out of your freaking mind) but that's as good as any other. Maybe Trainspotting was a bit obvious, and Orient Express was taken.

Needless to say, after a failed attempt at drug smuggling, he was nabbed in Canada, deported back to New Zealand, and put before a judge who duly sent him down for 6 years and 6 months. He is not being held in suspended animation underneath the Hoover Dam, but rather he is more likely at Paremoremo being nervous in the shower.

I wonder if Starscream, Barricade and Rawhide are coming to break him out?

Via Stuff

Monday, February 25, 2008

Turn on, Jack In, Tune Out - future upgrade may be difficult\costly

Johnny Mnemonic eat your heart out - looks like thought controlled computer interaction is not far off. A company called Emotiv has unveiled a new Gaming Headset which uses the brainwaves in your freaking head to control action on the screen. While still in the "box moves roughly where I want it to" stage, this will quickly advance to the "jacking in" as described so vividly in cyberpunk novels such as The Neuromancer by William Gibson.

Widespread use will allow peoples dreams and experiences being recorded to be viewed by others (Strange Days). Youtube will expand to cover live streaming from people, and news cameramen will be out of work. Eventually this will lead to neural lace's being inserted into our heads (Iain M. Banks novels on the Culture) and we will use our new found machine power to accelerate the growth and potential of the human race to record our entire brain onto crystals and share lots of pr0n.

Either way, I reckon this has to be one of the most amazing releases I've read about in a wee while - pretty cool when you think where this could take us. Although can you image trying to get a new upgrade for the circuitry in your head?

Read the article on here and check out the company site here.

Ricky Gervais believes in Darwin

Here is a neat article written by Ricky Gervais about becoming an Atheist. I like Ricky Gervais, his comedy shows The Office and Extras are very funny but I think the best insight into who he is, his comedy and his beliefs comes from listening to his podcast\radio shows.

Hearing Ricky try to explain to friend Karl Pilkington the theories about life is a comedy sketch in itself. Just the other day I was listening to one his podcasts and Karl truly believed that a stick insect had 'shagged' a stick in order for it to take on the characteristics rather than evolve.

Not many celebrities have actually come out and said they are atheists, its a bit of a taboo thing to do. I think it is great, and more celebs should follow his lead. Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant (his collaborator) are both advocates for the scientific and have both mentioned their disbelief in such hocus pocus as Magic, Ghosts, Religion and other non scientifically proven theories. Hopefully they will continue to explain it to Karl the Layman thus entertaining the masses for a while longer.
If you get a chance then do listen to the podcasts, they are available on itunes and other media.