Eric Hartwell's InfoDabble
 Friday, May 13, 2005  
[Slashdot: 5/13/2005; 8:53:27 AM] You may or may not have caught the Xbox 360 unveiling on MTV Thursday night, but the internet will provide. A plethora of sites have photos, videos, commentary, specifications, and interviews about the new system. Your fellow readers have pulled together to provide links to:, Joystiq, Gamespot, The BBC, CNN, NYT, Gamespy, Team Xbox, Voodoo Extreme, Anandtech, and eToyChest. The official Xbox 360 site opened last night as well for word straight from the source. For more official images has been 'solved', and now features an OurColony specific video preview. Finally, for commentary on the event, the Video Game Ombudsman provides an alternative to the press releases.
 Monday, April 25, 2005  
Attention, extremely wealthy geeks: Life-Sized X Wing on eBay. [via Dave Barry's Blog 4/25/2005] When fully assembled the X-Wing measures 28 feet long, 20 feet wide, and about 10 and a half feet tall. Constructed from fiberglass, wood, and plastic, all placed over a steel frame, weighing 2000 lbs. This particular X-wing has spent the last several years hanging from the ceiling of the FAO Schwartz toy store in Orlando, Florida. It is in very good shape, and would be the ultimate centerpiece to any Star Wars collection. Ends April 30, 18:00:00 PDT Note: Rebel pilot not included. Free US domestic shipping if you "Buy-It-Now" for US $85,000.00. For bids of US $15,000 or more, eBay requires a valid credit card.
 Sunday, April 24, 2005  
Wireless Friendship Beads for Kids. [Gizmodo 4/4/2005] As part of her master's thesis studying communication among teenagers, Ruth kikin-Gil designed techno-jewelry 'BuddyBeads' that can be used to show friendship and indicate mood within groups. Messages are decided by the group in advance and construct a secret private code among its members, emphasizing their social structures, behaviors and needs. As the group changes, so does the bracelet’s composition. When two girls are no longer friends, they can remove their friend’s bead from the bracelet and keep it as a memory of their friendship. When they become friends again, few weeks later, the removed beads can be added to the bracelet once again.
 Saturday, April 23, 2005  
Could you start a fire with a Coke can and a chocolate bar?  [via Boing Boing 4/23/2005via Make Blog 4/23/2005] 

Try to figure this one out for yourself before you peek at a solution worthy of MacGuiver.
 Monday, April 11, 2005  
Darpa Wants Replacement Arms by 2007. [DefenseTech 4/11/2005 [via Gizmodo 4/11/2005] Darpa, the funds-holding financier of many military project, has put out a "Revolutionizing Prosthetics" challenge to modern prostheticists to build a fake arm with, "enough finesse to pick up a raisin or to write in longhand. It needs to be sensitive enough for the wearer to demonstration to do day-to-day tasks in the dark. And the limb will have to be strong enough to lift 60 pounds at a time. So, basically, what Luke Skywalker gets in Empire Strikes Back, after Darth chops off his hand. Except, researchers won't have a long, long time to get this limb ready. Darpa wants the robo-arm stat -- in four years or less.
 Sunday, April 10, 2005  
Robot jockeys to ride Gulf camels. [BBC News | World 4/10/2005; 1:53:39 PM] The United Arab Emirates says it will use robots as jockeys for camel races from next season. Camel racing is one of the UAE's traditional sports and an important part of the region's heritage. The move comes after widespread international criticism of the use of young children to ride camels during the long and often hazardous races. Aid workers say there are up to 40,000 child jockeys working across the Gulf. Many are said to be have been kidnapped and trafficked from South Asia.
 Sunday, April 10, 2005  
Fly brains manipulated by remote control. [MSNBC 4/7/2005] "This is a new approach to neuroscience," said Gero Miesenbock from Yale University. "We can not only passively observe but actively control behavior." Using the lasers to stimulate specific brain cells, researchers say they were able to make the flies jump, walk, flap their wings and fly. Even headless flies took flight when researchers stimulated the correct neurons, according to the study, published in the April 7 issue of the journal Cell. Biologists have long known that an electrical stimulus can trigger muscle response, but this approach used focused beams of light to stimulate neurons that would have been impossible to study using electrodes.
 Wednesday, April 06, 2005  
The Official Rules of Calvinball[Bernie DeKoven's FunLog 4/6/2005; 10:52:33 AM] We are fortunate indeed to have in our virtual playground someone like Sam Ryan who has the wisdom to go to the needed lengths to document the essence of the prototypical Junkyard Sport, Calvinball. "IMPORTANT: All rules are subject to be changed, amended, or dismissed by any player(s) involved at any time...."
 Tuesday, April 05, 2005  
Land Walker Homebrew Mecha [TransportTrends via MotherDigital via Gizmodo 4/5/2005; 12:53:37 PM] Calling this mecha the 'Land Walker' might be a bit generous—it's more like the 'Land Shuffler.' Nevertheless, it's a heck of a project, apparently mostly the work of one man. Too bad the guns are just for show. On the upside, there's a video, which makes it look a lot less photoshopped than in these pictures. More Information. [Sakakibara Kikai via Slashdot Japan]
 Saturday, April 02, 2005  
Nightmarish industrial chicken catcher. [Boing Boing 3/4/2005; 5:52:52 PM] No science fiction movie has ever had a machine as creepy as the E-Z Catch Harvester, a machine that uses rapidly rotating brushes to catch chickens and convey them into pens. The video clip is a must see.

[The movie has since vanished from the web site. Alternate links:
 Saturday, April 02, 2005  
e-scrap shredding Industrial shredder eats washing machines, tree stumps, concrete blocks. Check out this gallery of videos of an industrial shredder doing its thing on a broad variety of things. Watch it gobble down oversize tires! Watch it eat a sofa! It chomps half a dozen tower-size computers and doesn’t even have to pick its teeth! This thing tears right through washing machines, tree stumps, concrete blocks... oversize tires, and a couch, and a 55-gallon drum of hardened concrete.... and a boat... Somebody had WAY too much fun taking these videos. If you're looking for the single most over-the-top method for shredding paper, I think this is it. Mark Frauenfelder: From the MAKE Blog - via [Boing Boing 3/4/2005; 5:52:52 PM]
 Thursday, March 24, 2005  
T Rex tissues excavated. [MSNBC (Thanks, Alex!)] [Boing Boing 3/24/2005; 4:53:11 PM] The remains of a T. Rex with intact blood vessels and blood cells have been recovered: 

This particular dinosaur fossil was too big to lift and they reluctantly cracked a thighbone... When they got it into a lab and chemically removed the hard minerals, they found what looked like blood vessels, bone cells and perhaps even blood cells... "The microstructures that look like cells are preserved in every way," added Schweitzer, whose findings were published in the journal Science. Of course, the big question is whether it will be possible to see dinosaur DNA. "We don't know yet. We are doing a lot in the lab now that looks promising."
 Monday, March 14, 2005  
HPI/OS+M recently announced the second release of the LEGO.NET package, which allows execution of ISO Common Intermediate Language (CIL) applications on the Lego Mindstorms (RCX) platform, bringing the .NET run-time to a new high in low-end platforms. As the original Lego firmware is too limited for such a project, they are building on top of the alternative brickOS operating system. This release includes an RCX API reference, array support and a demo application.
 Sunday, December 05, 2004  

Topobo is another wonderful, wacky toy from the MIT Media Lab. Snap together simple components, animate them by pushing, pulling, and twisting, then watch as they automatically  repeat those motions. For example, a dog can be taught to move by twisting its body and legs; the toy then repeats those motions to walk. "Don't get too distracted by the exceptionally clear and entertaining video. Focus on how remarkably easy it is to figure out how to make it work. Note how inviting it is. How it makes you want to experiment and fool around just so you can see things locomote. How what you're doing is something very much like programming, but so elegant, so intuitive, that it doesn't matter what else it's like at all at all. This is not just the future of toys we're seeing. It's a glimpse into the future of childhood." [via Bernie DeKoven's FunLog 11/9/2004]

 Sunday, December 05, 2004  
Comic CreatorMake Your Own Garfield Cartoon: Now you can make the world's favorite lasagna eating cat do your bidding. Whatever fiendish fantasy you've had in mind all these years, you can now bring to life. Garfield and the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research have teamed up to bring you information on sleep and how it helps kids do their best at whatever they do. Who knows more about sleeping than a cat? [via CoolGov 10/21/2004]
 Sunday, December 05, 2004  
Create your own South Park Character: This Flash game allows you to create South Park-esque characters of just about anybody you know (or don't). A little time and practice will have you turning out the likenesses of everybody in the office, and you can even convert them to JPGs and email them to your friends. (Flash 6 required) [via Internet Business newsletter October 7, 2004]
 Friday, October 01, 2004  
Robot uses whiskers to get around. Real mouse whiskers help AMouse avoid obstacles - eventually rodent bots could scuttle though pipes to perform repairs. [New Scientist 9/30/2004]

Artificial Mouse Project (AMOUSE)
The whiskers consist of natural rat whiskers glued on capacitor microphones. Each whisker is thus a single sensor. Data acquisition is done on a laptop with a PCMCIA data acquisition card. So far, the artificial mouse has been used for experiments on the morphology of the whisker array. We looked for an optimal arrangement of the whiskers by comparing different morphologies as to how well the robot was able to avoid obstacles. We found that a different morphology than the one found in nature is optimal for this task.
 Friday, September 24, 2004  
Dancing almond optical illusion. Here's a nice optical illusion: a bunch of almond-looking things arranged in a particular pattern appear to undulate. Akiyoshi Kitaoka, the creator of this image, has a lot of other optical illusions, which are well worth checking out. 
Also, don't miss the confounding checkershadow illusion.
[via Boing Boing 7/12/2004]
 Friday, September 24, 2004  
Think those little plastic models you build are art? Ha.  [Fark 6/13/2004]
Young C. Park of Hawaii is a recently retired dentist who put his skills in working with his hands and in forming metal to a new use. The scratch-built 1/16 scale all aluminum Corsair is a very ambitious model. The wing root view (right) shows access into the wing as well into the cockpit with cutaway panels removed. Using tweezers, the controls can be moved. All cables and linkages are in place to work the wing control surfaces as well. Throttle controls run through tubes in the fuselage. Hydraulic lines can be seen inside the wing. Inside the wing, 50-caliber machine guns nest in the structure along with boxes of ammo to feed them. Internet Craftmanship Museum)
 Thursday, September 23, 2004  
Virtual Puppetry: You can make a face smile, you can make it squint, you can make it sneer, you can make it wink, blink and nod. Animatedly. 3-Dishly. And you can even learn how it's all done: the history, the technology, the whole facial thing.

You can also make a entire skeleton wiggle and weave and bob and bounce. You can even throw stuff at it. [Funlog 5/26/2004]
 Wednesday, September 22, 2004  
Howtoons is primarily based off of a one-page cartoon. The twist is that these cartoons tell you how to do inventive things. The cartoon format makes the whole experience much easier to jump into for the kids. You can learn how to build an air canon, or even how to count in binary on your fingers. Yeah... that'll impress all of your fellow geek friends. Videos are also posted so you can actually see some of these creations in action. If you would like to suggest a project to the site, feel free to do so. While this site is great fun for the kids out there, the young at heart will also enjoy examining the various creations. It's a swell way to do something creative with your kids on a rainy afternoon.
 Wednesday, September 22, 2004  
Canada's new quarter.  The contest to design a commemorative quarter for this year's Canada Day was won by an 11-year-old from BC with this great, cartoony design. I think this is the best coin I've ever seen. (Thanks, Ben!) [via Boing Boing 6/23/2004]
 Wednesday, September 22, 2004  
GameBoy-based robot microcontroller. Want to build a microcontroller-based robot and have a GameBoy Advance or two lying around? Charmed Labs offers a GameBoy Advance adapter which makes your GBA an embedded development system for robotics, data logging, etc. You can also use the adapter to install the eCos embedded realtime operating system.
via DailyGadget and flashenabled. [Street Tech 5/3/2004]
 Wednesday, September 22, 2004  
Click here to enlarge!Tux Racer is a game that has you sliding down a snow-covered mountain on the belly of a penguin while trying to collect fishdoing this very thing while assuming the role of the Linux penguin. This version of the game is free and open source - two things that you would expect in a game that features Tux. Start entering the cups to win the title as the ultimate mountain slider downer... or something like that. The game allows you to customize the conditions in which you race, such as time of day, fog, and wind. Collect the herring that are scattered across the course to obtain a high score. More courses will be unlocked once you prove yourself on the slopes. Tux Racer is a nice game that has been around for quite some time. It's perfect for young kids due to the fun and wacky atmosphere that is present.
 Monday, September 20, 2004  
aquasaurUncle Milton's Aquasaurs beat Sea-Monkeys flippers down. Uncle Milton, the ant farm tycoon, is selling an "Aquasaurs" (real name: Triops longicaudatus) habitat. These creatures are much cooler than Sea-Monkeys. According to this FAQ : Triops longicaudatus are crustaceans that are also called Dinosaur shrimp or Tadpole shrimp that look like miniature horseshoe crabs. They have a short life-cycle of 20 to 90 days - growing very quickly in this time to about 2 inches in length !" [via Boing Boing 8/11/2004]
 Tuesday, September 14, 2004  
Paper airplane that flaps its wings. This site shows how to make a paper airplane that actually flaps its wings when it flies without use of a motor, rubberbands, etc. All you need is a piece of typing paper, an inch of tape and a penny. It may be the only flapping paper airplane in the world. [via Boing Boing 9/8/2004]
 Tuesday, March 30, 2004  
Matchstick rocketMatchstick rockets: kitchen-sink rocketry.  Matchstick rockets are made by combining a paper match, a straight-pin, a paperclip and a little tinfoil, transforming these ordinary household items into a streaking, flaming jet of hot gases and eye-blinding fun! [Boing Boing Blog 2/27/2004]
 Tuesday, March 30, 2004  
Death Star hangerGuy builds entire Death Star interior out of Lego. It's a trap. [Fark 2/25/2004]
 Monday, March 29, 2004  
SumoFruitFlyOHow to handicap fruit-fly combat Fruit-flies fight with one another over mates. A Harvard researcher has posted videos of 75 fruit-fly fights, along with notes analyzing the techniques employed by these adorable little critters and produced a crib-sheet for setting odds on which fly will triumph in any given bout. (via Geisha Asobi) [via Boing Boing 3/29/2004]
 Friday, March 26, 2004  
Mini droneIsrael unveils tiny drone planes. The Israeli military is equipping its forces with a new range of spy drones small enough to fit in a soldier's backpack. [BBC 2004.03.26]
 Friday, March 26, 2004  
SuperferryAwesome anime ferry. Kudos to the crafty operators of this Japanese ferry service, who commissioned manga legend Leiji Matsumoto to design it "to appeal to the younger generation." As Gizmodo's Joel Johnson put it, "It does this by being awesome." [Boing Boing]
 Friday, March 26, 2004  
Last week, a small asteroid approached unusually close to the Earth. Asteroid 2004 FH posed no danger, but became bright enough to see with binoculars. Passing only 7 Earth radii away, this asteroid pass was the closest yet that was previously predicted, although it was discovered only two days before. Pictured above, the 30-meter sized 2004 FH was imaged from Switzerland crossing the sky on March 18, near its closest approach. The asteroid, centered in the above time-lapse movie covering about 30 minutes, changes in brightness as it tumbles by. An asteroid this size passes this close to Earth about every two years. Were 2004 FH to have struck the Earth, it would have likely burned up in the atmosphere. Large impact features on the Earth are testaments, however, to larger asteroids and comets that actually impacted the Earth in the distant past. [APOD 2004.03.22]
 Friday, March 26, 2004  
She blowed up real good[Video] Veterans' Stadium bites the dust. She blowed up real good [Fark]
 Friday, March 26, 2004  
ice climbing"Ice Climbing in the Pyrenees" was shot by Ignacio Ferrando Margeli. To make it, Ignacio hung on for 2 hours in -8 C , 17 F." More great QTVRs in this month's issue of VRMag. [Boing Boing]
 Friday, March 26, 2004  
Folded paper castleFolded paper robotsJapanese foldable robots. More foldable, glue-able PDFs -- this time, it's ultra-fab Japanese paper robots. [Boing Boing]

Free paper toys to print and assemble. Stunning, elaborate paper toys to print, fold and glue.