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Good Thinking

June 26, 2007 A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. The name may not matter but genes do – longevity, durability and higher yields have long been factored in above fragrance as desirable genetic attributes in the quest for the ideal commercial rose. Now florists in the U.S have unveiled what’s claimed to be the world’s first certified-organic fragrant rose. Read More
June 26, 2007 Swords into plowshares in the 21st century - 3D camera technology originally designed to detect unexploded bombs has been adapted to accurately measure your shoe size. QinetiQ's FootSee 3D foot gauges can measure the length, breadth, height and shape of your feet in an instant, and the data can be used to decide which shoes provide a perfect fit. The FootSee devices are now beginning to roll out across the USA after an initial purchase by Stride Rite, and collected data will be fed back to footwear manufacturers to help them develop better-fitting shoes. Read More
June 25, 2007 As the world changes and China’s dragon stirs, new names will join the big consulting names we are all familiar with. With a clear goal of becoming the world’s number one consulting company, CCID Consulting is the first Chinese consulting firm listed in the Growth Enterprise Market of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and a direct affiliate of the China Center for Information Industry Development. The company’s take on how local Chinese companies have tried to implement business models based on those from Dell makes fascinating and worthwhile reading for anyone even vaguely interested in understanding the evolution of Just-In-Time manufacturing and supply chain management. Read More
June 25, 2007 Here's a website that turns the cookbook upside down to suggest recipes that use the ingredients you've already got. Type in what's in your cupboard, and Recipe Matcher will tell you what you can make. It's a great idea, but it needs some work; for my ingredient list it told me to make "Avocado and Lobster Salad," and that all I was missing to complete the dish was... an avocado and some lobster. Hmm. Read More
June 25, 2007 Building and maintaining fences for controlling livestock places a huge financial burden on agricultural producers worldwide, but is there really any need for all those posts and wires? This is the question posed by the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization (CSIRO) which has come up with a virtual fencing solution applicable to cattle and sheep farming. Using a GPS system to define fence boundaries and a specially designed collar that alerts the animal to the fact that it has reached the “fence”, a prototype of the system has now been successfully demonstrated on a herd of cattle. Read More
June 22, 2007 Keyword-based search engines are a huge compromise; think for a moment about the tricks you need to use to get a good specific result from Google. The next generation of search is contextually and linguistically smarter, thinking more like a human and able to chase the meaning of a search term through a document instead of just looking for a handful of words. Xerox's new enterprise FactSpotter engine uses smart semantic and concept parsing to deliver quality search results from huge text databases. Read More
June 21, 2007 The programming language Fortran celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, having touched the lives of millions of programmers and billions of people in the half century since. A proposal from IBM employee John Backus to develop an efficient alternative to assembly language for programming the company’s IBM 704 mainframe computer in 1953 resulted in the first specification for the IBM Mathematical FORmula TRANslating System in 1956. The first FORTRAN compiler appeared in April 1957 and the rest is history. To mark the occasion, a special issue of Scientific Programming on the role of Fortran in the scientific programming discipline is being published by IOS Press this month. The issue is dedicated to Fortran creator John Backus and Ken Kennedy, pioneer of Fortran compiler optimization and parallelization. Both highly esteemed scientists died earlier this year. Read More
June 20, 2007 From side air bags to anti-lock braking systems and traction control, technology has delivered a raft of safety enhancing features for motor vehicles, but sometimes accidents occur because of much simpler deficiencies in our driving preparedness – namely our choice of shoes. This issue is especially relevant to women’s shoes where the latest fashion may not be the ideal choice when it comes to controlling an automobile. The solution offered by UK based car insurance company Sheilas’ Wheels is to combine two types of shoe into one – a safe, flat driving shoe that transforms into a stylish pair of heels at the a push of a button. Read More
June 20, 2007 Technology is a wonderous thing, and DNA testing in particular offers us incredible insight into our past – put those results online and create a searchable database and the way is open for reuniting families across the globe through science. That’s exactly what’s about to happen with a new partnership between Ancestry.com and Sorenson Genomics. By taking a US$200 cheek-swab test and comparing results against DNA profiles in a test-results database, each one of us can uncover genealogical associations unimaginable just a few years ago. Initially being in the database might very well be akin to being one of the first to have a telephone (who would you call?), but once numbers reach critical mass, this unique collaboration promises to revolutionize genealogy by allowing people to trace their roots and connect to distant cousins through DNA. This is big and a wonderful example of creative synergy between businesses. Read More
June 19, 2007 As we pointed out last week, the science of building an effective team is often overlooked but we’re pleased to note the release of some new software designed to forge a highly functional team when the job is mission critical. Aptima’s DDD 4.0 is simulation software for military and civilian organizations involved in planning and preparing for complex team-based missions. A desktop software application, DDD is unique in its ability to cover a wide range of scenarios, including AWACS air battle management, civilian disaster response, search and rescue, Joint Task Force command decision-making, and business management. A fully functional 30-day evaluation copy can be downloaded for free ... Read More
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