Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Term of the Day: Augmented Reality

I thought this phrase had to do with plastic surgery, but it is simply the combination of graphics and other information onto live video feeds. It has been used in movies, games and various industrial design applications for several years (this video from a few years ago is sort of interesting).

But now we're seeing this concept being pulled into cellphones. Add in GPS and location detection, and it becomes a helpful mapping application. This video is a little cheezy but explains the concept pretty well.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

It's Not a "V", It's a "W"

This paper contains a lot of my sentiments. Excerpt:

In reality, G2 GDP was a disaster. Economic output during the second quarter was not powered at all by healthy private-sector expenditure and investment, but by unprecedented and unsustainable increases in federal and state government spending.

The economy is in very, very bad shape and we are seeing a sucker's rally.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wii Resort - I Wish This Resort Existed in Real Life

I have been playing Wii Resort with the daughter, and I have to give it two thumbs waaay up.

The positive review at the WSJ called Wii Resort - and the new, improved Wii Motion Plus controller - an evolutionary improvement, and I would have to agree with them on that point. But as for the actual game of Wii Resort, I find it much more engrossing than Wii Sports, and it makes me wish this place existed in real life.

The theme of the game is that you are at an island resort - you actually parachute in - and then have various activities - ping pong, sky diving, fencing, golf, frisbee, etc. - to keep you occupied for days.

The Motion Plus controller adds to to the games where wrist control can come in handy - like frisbee. For games that existed on Wii Sports (bowling, golf) it adds an element of reality, but makes it harder. Tennis is replaced with ping pong, where wrist action comes more into play.

By far my favorite is sword play, especially the "Showdown" where you battle dozens of Miis at once like a kung-fu movie. Also in the martial arts category is archery, which has a surprisingly realistic feel using the motion controller tethered with the "nunchuck". The only thing missing is the feel of the tension of the string.

If you have a Wii, definitely go out and buy the package.

Friday, August 07, 2009

I Don't Collect Kindles - Just Looks That Way

After one year and one day - literally - my Kindle went out. The screen was was fried with horizontal lines. I called Amazon ready to raise hell, but they happily offered to ship me a new one at no charge, even though the warranty had expired 24 hours before.

So I get my new one, and it was DOA. WTF?

So I call Amazon ready to raise hell again, and they offered to send me ANOTHER one. Third time was a charm. I just have to make when I ship the two broken ones back that the working one doesn't accidentally get in there.

So overall, although I had issues, Amazon customer support really came through. Two thumbs up. My only complaint was that I was hoping they would ship me a replacement Kindle 2 instead - I didn't realize they were still selling the original. My guess is that they are working off stock and will obsolete it eventually.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

"Cankle" in Japanese

There have been a few articles in the press lately on "cankles", where the calf and ankle sort of combine into one unit. This feature is becoming more noticeable these days as sandals and Capri shorts become the rage.

The Japanese, as usual, were way ahead of us. But in this area it isn't surprising since it is a country where women's legs are generally more appreciated (along with the nape of the neck).

First, some background. The picture to the left is a daikon. It is a type of radish grown in Japan and popular in their dishes. It is basically a long tube with no curves at all. Ashi is leg. So daikon ashi, or "radish leg" is the equivalent of cankle here in the U.S.

More interesting reading on Japan, legs and insults here.

Monday, August 03, 2009

One Problem With Video Conferencing

One of the technologies I work with is video conferencing. There are plenty of systems today in boardrooms, but there is a question whether video conferencing will ever become a mass consumer application. To get over consumer anxiety there is a lot of work going on in "beautification" (seriously) as well as privacy features to blur out the background behind you.

And why would you want to blur out the background? This commercial from Europe shows why. Or maybe this is why people would want video conferencing. NOT work safe.