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Good Thinking

March 13, 2007 Given the increasing use of algorithms, we expect many of our readers will rejoice at MathWorks newly announced introduction of two MATLAB builders that let application developers create algorithms in MATLAB and then incorporate them royalty-free into enterprise applications based on Java or .NET technologies. The new builders eliminate the time-consuming and error-prone process of recoding an algorithm created in MATLAB into Java or a .NET language. The new MATLAB Builders for .NET and Java will save considerable effort by repackaging algorithms developed in MATLAB into deployable components that can be used royalty-free in desktop and Web applications. Read More
March 13, 2007 In the game of business, access to information is critical, and access to one’s own company information is even more critical. iDashboards is an enterprise Business Intelligence software application designed to help companies leverage their information assets in real time through visually rich, responsive, and personalized Business Intelligence dashboards, and the latest version is now available. The bit we like most is the connectivity to Excel Spreadsheets – employees no longer have to email Excel spreadsheets back and forth, as they can view the data online, in rich presentation format. Read More
March 10, 2007 Here’s further evidence that necessity is the mother of invention. Duke University Electrical and Computer Engineering/Computer Science graduate John W Cornwall seems to rejoice in building interesting contraptions but his latest just could be a killer app. He has designed a fridge that gets the beer for you. His beer launching fridge took “about 3 months and several hundred dollars” to build, resulting in the world’s first fully automated, remote controlled, beer-launching mini-fridge. With a “magazine” of 10 cans, his first fridge was controlled by a keyless entry system. Such was the response to a video of the catapulting fridge, there’s now a good chance the fridge will go into limited edition production with a price tag of US$1500. Read More
March 8, 2007 Adobe is to expand its digital imaging product line in Autumn 2007, offering two editions of Adobe Photoshop CS3. As well as Photoshop CS3 software (currently in beta and available for download here), there’s to be a CS3 Extended version – everything in CS3 plus a new set of capabilities for integration of 3-D and motion graphics, image measurement and analysis. Photoshop CS3 Extended could significantly simplify your workflow if you’re in architecture, engineering, healthcare and science. CS3 Extended is primarily intended for film, video and multimedia professionals, and graphic and web designers and the idea is to leverage the power of the Photoshop image-editing toolset and paint engine when editing 3D and motion-based content. Film and video specialists can perform 3-D model visualisation and texture editing, paint and clone over multiple video frames. Animators can now render and incorporate 3-D content into their 2-D compositions. Graphic and web designers can create an animation from a series of images – such as time series data – and export it to a wide variety of formats, including QuickTime, MPEG-4 and Adobe Flash Video. Read More
March 8, 2007 The logging of forests is a very expensive affair, and when there’s a lot of money involved, you can always count on some very special machinery. Two perfect illustrations of this are Plustech/TimberJack/John Deere’s walking tractor prototype (videos here, here and here) and Triton Logging's Sawfish Underwater Harvester. The value of underwater forests in Canada was deemed so large that Triton has developed the Sawfish, a 3-tonne, 3.5-metre-long, yellow submersible with high-resolution cameras so an operator can direct it from the surface. The Sawfish then grasps the base of the tree with its powerful pincers, attaches an inflatable flotation bag to the tree, fills the bag with compressed air and then it cuts the tree with its 1.5-metre chainsaw and the flotation bag carries it to the surface – it can actually handle larger trees than any land-based mechanical harvester due to water buoyancy. As the world’s only deep-water logging machine, it’s a mash-up of remote control, timber-harvesting and submarine technology that can cut down a dozen trees in an hour, at depths of up to 300 metres. The machines are now available to other logging companies at a price around US$750,000 and with no new roads to build and no fires to control, logging underwater suddenly makes economic sense. Read More
March 6. 2007 In an article entitled The Noble Sport of Scambaiting last June, we paid homage to the sublime skills of Shiver Metimbers, the administrator of scambaiting information resource 419Eater. Scambaiting is the sport of scamming the would-be scammer and although vigilantism has its downsides, it’s hard to see scambaiting as anything but a noble pastime and some of the better efforts truly are priceless. As we concluded at the time, should Scambaiting ever become an Olympic sport, Shiver Metimbers would be a Gold Medal contender. His latest effort is truly outstanding having tricked scambaiters into performing Monty Python’s Dead parrot comedy sketch for the camera. Mister Metimbers, we salute you! Via The Spam Diaries Read More
March 5, 2007 While some people just adore trying on shoes, for most of us, it’s a drag, but the application of new technologies by adidas looks set to free us from this tedium and save considerable time for everybody. This entertaining new form of shopping can be found on the Avenue des Champs Elysees, where adidas has opened its latest and most modern shop anywhere in the world. Customers can now try on a variety of models in front of a virtual mirror without changing their shoes. They can navigate through the collection by simply pointing at products on a computer screen. Read More
March 4, 2007 Three years ago we wrote of the potential being displayed by a new form of interactive name badge for conferences and social events that significantly improved the quality of people-to-people connectivity. The nTAG system automates several social technologies and takes them into the business event arena where both host and attendee derive numerous benefits compared to the paper badges of the past. While stimulating conversation between attendees, nTAGs also help organisers to deliver event information, track attendance, manage security, send messages, and evaluate surveys and polls in real time – think about that for a moment – that’s real-time audience response. Worn like regular paper badges, nTAGs exchange data with one another using infrared sensors. As attendees approach each other, information is automatically transferred from tag to tag, requiring no action from the wearer. Then the tags' LCD screens illuminate and display information on shared interests - "Hi Karen, we both work in the fashion apparel industry." The nTAG system can now be purchased through nTAG or nTAG certified resellers, international distributor enquiries should be directed here and the system can be hired for as little as US$15,000. Great Flash demo here. Read More
March 4, 2007 Today is an important date in history in that the world’s first parliamentary election involving internet voting is being held in Estonia, and is the first implementation of what is surely the future of eGovernment. The electronic voting took place earlier this week on Monday through Wednesday and more than 30,000 of Estonia’s one million eligible voters cast their vote via the internet, though those same voters can still vote today and their second vote only will be counted. To vote via the internet, voter needed an Estonian ID card with valid certificates and PIN-codes (bottom left) and access to a computer with a smart card reader (bottom right), a driver for the ID card (download here) and a Windows or Linux operating system. Via Physorg, Slashdot, The Christian Science Monitor, the Estonian Government, and the Estonian National Electoral Commission (good powerpoints here that explain the process) Read More
March 2, 2007 To say that the Digital Pocket Memo 9600 is an important new tool for business professionals is an understatement. Even to state that the new 9600 represents the next generation of digital dictation technology is underplaying its importance way too much. Until now, dictation has been a largely under-utilised tool because for it to be used in an office environment, a dictation system and a secretary are required, and only the legal system has ever been organised enough to effectively employ dictation as an industry-wide productivity tool. With the new functionality of the Philips Digital Pocket Memo 9600, the device provides a ready-made system which can easily incorporate a dictation system into any office. Couple the 9600 with one of the new LAN Docking Station and it will transfer dictations through your LAN (local area network) to a transcriptionist or a speech recognition system without connecting to a PC. Encryption ensures that dictations are sent securely through the company network or the Internet, regardless of whether the destination is next door or on the other side of the world. There’s also a Barcode Module which snaps onto the 9600 - a highly compact laser scanner that retrieves important patient or client information by scanning the barcode. The scanned information is securely attached to the dictation, saving time and minimizing the risk of errors. The Barcode Module can also be used as a USB scanner device, directly transferring the barcode information to a PC. That’s the system – as far as the 9600 itself, well that is just a straightforward better mousetrap than has previously existed. Read More