Friday, 11 July 2008

Science Podcasts and Youtube

I listen to quite a few science related podcasts including Steve Mirsky's Scientific American podcast Science Talk, our own Robyn William's Science show on ABC radio national, The Naked Scientists from the UK. Others occasionally pop in there to be complemented by things like the Philosophers Zone and the ever popular Skeptics Guide to the Universe.

Anyhow I got onto this topic because I found myself at the New Scientist Youtube Channel. Because I was looking at these two videos showing off some robotics research. This field brings together design, clever thinking, engineering, AI and development into a potent package.

X-World Day3

Here at X-World's last day I kicked off with the iPhone fun of course (very cool - see below) then I had a whole morning of Mac SOE/MOE workshop from Adam Reed (also from ANU) which was informative and covered a variety of levels from detail up to higher strategy type thinking.

One interesting snippet was that their media image (large one) for the mac that they deploy is a whopping 112GB. Here in FBE our lab image is about 75GB growing and that scares people. I have been wondering when we might hit 100 but these guys are already waaay over that.

iPhone arrives

Well the iPhone is now officially available here in OZ and as one would expect there were eager folk lining up outside stores to grab one. As I sit here waiting for day3 of X-World to start there are strangely enough an acer and asus laptop amongst the sea of apple kit - they seem out of place. It is interesting to see how hard to use on a lap the eepc actually is... Anyhow, the SMH coverage this morning covers some of the issues with the new iPhone. The plans just arent inspired, they are dangerous and dont encourage takeup. Armed with a good set of plans these phones could seriously be everywhere - these plans will either just confuse or actively scare people away...


One of the guys here in the lobby is sitting here with his brand new iPhone - very coooool. He is on the $49 Optus plan and is (like many of us) going to be relying on WiFi to get much of the usage at home and work...


In my workshop the guy next to me had his brand new iPhone all functioning away. He found a store without a huge queue almost by accident - so he popped in and grabbed one on Optus pre-paid.
After the conference I popped down to the Apple Store to check it out - alas I couldnt get in at all unless I was prepared to wait in the huuuuge line. Since the whole store is glass I could see pretty well though. Actually, what I could really see was just another queue inside the store :-)
I will have to go back and check it all out when things arent quite so crazy.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

X-World Day2

Today was basically two hands-on Workshops for me.
First up Nader Nafissi (Apple) walked us through the current Leopard Podcast Producer which we had a play with as well. He then showed off some of the upcoming features of Podcast Producer 2 coming in Snow Leopard like the workflow editor.

The second half of the day was Andrew Wellington (ANU) showing us in a hands-on demo a set of iPhone web dev. We were using DashCode 2 and the iPhone Simulator to expand upon the built-in web-app templates. He also showed us some of the HTML5 features in the new Safari including CSS animations and transformations.


Not heaps of info on CSS5 animation yet - but check webkit to get started.

This pic isnt actually the Apple Sim, but a web version at testiPhone showing this very blog:

[screengrab of a portion of the site showing this blog]

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

X-World Day1

Before things kicked off (plenty of us were mighty early as it was a leisurely start) it was fun to see all these macbooks and macbookpros on people's laps using the wireless provided - lots of little lit apple logos in all directions.
The main discussions around the room were about the iPhone and the confusion around plans, options, pricing and more. Apparently NZ is really suffering with the plans being presented. It is fascinating how much uncertainty there is, but that said how much enthusiasm. Plenty of us have been holding off on dealing with our current phones in anticipation of the new baby coming.
It s still interesting to me the utter male dominance of events like this and the profession at large obviously.


The first day was primarily 3 presentations which explored various ways that technology (mac-centric) was being used at Universities and technology coming our way. These are the brief details from the program:

Nader Nafissi - Apple Inc, USA
10 Things You Didn't Hear at the WWDC Keynote
(From Address Book Server to ZFS

While the iPhone 3G was the big launch at WWDC there were many other announcements made that were just as important. This feature presentation will fill you in on all the other stuff from WWDC...

Alexandre Bonucci - Université Lumiere Lyon 2, France
University Lumière Lyon 2, a "built-in" podcast University

The presentation will cover the political and technical problems encountered with the integration of podcasting in University Lyon 2's Digital Working Environment, including:
- the likely reactions, level of participation and fears of teachers, staff and students;
- the consideration of user-friendly workflow in the deployment of podcast producer technology;
- the appropriate place for podcasts in the sets of digital services that a university can offer.

James Harper - Auckland University, New Zealand
Triple Booting & Using P2P To Make It Happen

James Harper is the Chair of the IT Technical Forum at the University of Auckland and has been integral in developing a triple booting solution for large Mac labs. They recently deployed 240 Macs replacing PCs in student computer labs (by July they will have replaced a further 150) and migrated their lab image to Windows Vista (including triple-booting the Macs between Vista, MacOS and Linux), and developed a novel system of deploying OS images to both PCs and Macs using peer-to-peer network tools.

SolidWorks Rendering

With the possibility of my tutoring in the real-time course this coming session I will need to dive into SolidWorks. This has been on my TODO list forever and given the course will have section using it to create models which will be imported into the game engines - this is a good incentive to get in there over the next few weeks.

One of the things I was intrigued about (the modelling should be fun and neat) was the rendering. Traditionally Solidworks wasnt strong in this area, but it seems that PhotoWorks can dish out some pretty nice stuff for some styles of rendering. We have been used to seeing VRay work around FBE for a while now, but this is pretty good without plugging in Maxwell or something...

[examples of PhotoWorks rendering from Solidworks from the Solidworks site]

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

WowWee Robots

WowWee make a range of robots, toys really, but which have a host of capabilities far beyond their toy status. We had the Aibo dogs from Sony (and rumours of a PS version that links with the PS3 coming) and a few others of course. Where WowWee come in is that they have a range of prices, styles and functionality.

[image matrix of the robotic models from WowWee]

Lets see some vids of these things in action in a variety of ways:
First up their brand spanking new Rovio, here being shown off at CES2008 for Engadget:

The Roboquad is very clever and can have fun with pet dogs or as in this clip be made to act as per voice commands via a skype session:

Here is the Femisapien also on show at the CES2008 - classy stuff for the price and size:

Lastly check out MrPersonality :-)


The Geekologie site is one I have come across for some real fandom type articles on a range of topics from lego to computing, gadgets and media. By way of just showing some fun stuff here are three neat articles on A Lego Tower, A Lego Ship and a Transformer like construction:

[images from the Geekology site]

Monday, 7 July 2008


The concept car work of BMW with their GINA Project is fascinating - moveable, flexible, adaptive skin for a car. I have been commenting for a while that the metal skin we are using on cars seem like a strange choice in many ways - particularly the finish. Anyhow this whole design is about the ability of a car skin to be more like fabric defined by underlying structure than its own rigid shape.

[images of the BMW GINA concept car from the WorldCarFans site]

Pay close attention to nice details like the headlights opening and closing, the operation of doors, seats and the bonnet. It is great to see BMW not just having the idea, but going far enough to have it looking live. [More info: Geekology, WorldCarFans, Drive]


Well we are on Firefox3 now and this version seems like a great improvement. Its handling of images and downloads is better - much better. There are some interesting web things happening at work as well with explorations on Joomla and some design work on the FBE site continuing.


I have been using Cosmos lately and this is new to me having all this juicy extra data on hand from Auctioneer and Omen etc - very nice experience and making WoW feel a little new again. I have also been enjoying the trades so far, dealing with another reason for the gaming which isnt just about slaying, but about creating.
The Shammies are still great fun, SM was a blast and seeing all those totems is neato.
Off to learn how to do Dragonscale Leatherworking then...