Independent news, views, opinions and reviews on the latest gadgets, games, science, technology and research from Apple and more. It’s about the technologies that change the way we live, work, love and behave.
BEHOLD the two-thumb operated keyboard. Evolution rules. Scientists at the University of St Andrews, the Max Planck Institute for Informatics and Montana Tech have worked out what they say is the most efficient keyboard layout. It turns out that QWERTY is dead. On a tablet, the eight fingers are only useful for holding the device while the two thumbs type.
The boffins have called it Kalq, writing in a research paper:
An error-correction algrithm was added to help address linguistic and motor errors. Users reached a rate of 37 words per minute – with a five per cent error rate – after a training program.
Words like “on, see, you, read, dear, based”, frequently used in texts, have to be typed on a split-QWERTY layout with a single thumb only. This makes the typing process cumbersome and slow. This insight initiated the process to develop a layout for two-thumb text entry that could speed up typing and minimise strain for the thumbs.
FACE of the day: Patrick Kane 16, has become the first person in the UK to receive a revolutionary bionic hand which can be manipulated by remote control. He can control it with a smart phone app, which programmes the hand into a raft of pre-set grips.
Patrick, from London, lost his hand when he was a young child. He was fitted with the i-limb ultra revolution yesterday and has described its functions as “priceless“. It costs around $50,000.
It’s the little things that are important, like being able to hold a glass while you pour into it, or being able to cut up the food on my plate, rather than having someone else do it for me.
Says the company behind the wonder, Livingston’s Touch Bionics:
Utilizing its pulsing and vari-grip features, the i-limb ultra is the only prosthetic hand with the ability to gradually increase the strength of its grip on an object. This can be very useful in situations where a firmer grasp is required, such as tying shoelaces tightly or holding a heavy bag more securely.
We’ve come a long way, baby:
These prosthetics made by Felix B. Weinberg, in Baltimore, Md., include a manÂ’s hand, a womanÂ’s hand, two eyes, and an ear, shown May 10, 1951. The lifelike portions of the body are made of soft pliable plastics for use by the patient. Date: 10/05/1951
White House speechwriter William Safire’s letter to President Nixon on the failed moon landing of 1969
AS we in the know know, the 1969 moon landing never happened. But in case what never happened, never happend badly and the mission failed, speechwriter William Safire wrote to President Nixon’s Chief of Staff, H. R. Haldeman. He wanted to outline a plan should Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin reach the moon’s surface but fail to return home. Buzz had a prayer. But the US needed a statement.
THE new iphone. It’s coming! Aren’t you excited too? I know I am because it’ll be just fabulous allowing me to pose even more effectively as a cool and in touch sort of person. You know, rather than the fat middle aged man I actually am.
The knowledge that the new iPhone is coming is revealed to us by the Wall Street Journal:
TAIPEI—Foxconn Technology Group has resumed hiring assembly-line workers in China after a postholiday freeze, in the latest sign that customer Apple Inc. is gearing up for production of a new iPhone.
YOU FACEBOOK friends want to wish you a happy birthday. Dan Hopper saves them the bother. This is what your Facebook wall looks like on your birthday:
THIS can only go well for anyone interested in controlling human thoughts. Researchers, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created a tiny device for triggering happy thoughts. It’s a tiny wireless injectable LED device that shines light on mice brains to generate a reward.
“Using a miniature electronic device implanted in the brain, scientists have tapped into the internal reward system of mice, prodding neurons to release dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure.”
What could go wrong?
“If people could print off … sheets of Ecstasy tablets at the party they’re at at that time, that just completely takes away our border protection role in its known sense… In the near future we will need to protect a digital border instead of just locating physical objects as we do now. If it’s made of atoms, you’ll be able to print it… [it] will change the very existence of mankind beyond anyone’s wildest imaginations”
PEOPLE who say old-folks are useless clearly are idiots aren’t they? For a start, old people are the main source of institutionalised racism and without pensioners, the makers of fig rolls would go out of business overnight. Pensioners are so useful that they even help us all when they’re dead.
The steel hips, plates and screws from legs and skulls can be collected after they’re cremated and the metal is sent off for recycling, used by automobile and aeronautical industries.
IT’S 1983. The first video game “World Championship” is underway. Twin Galaxies remembers when it was all lacquered whipped hair and lettering ironed onto T-shirts. In the best traditions of US-based ‘World’ sporting event, only North Americans entered:
Twin Galaxies first Coronation Day Tournament is recognized as history’s first video game “World Championship”—held January 8-9, 1983 at the the Twin Galaxies Intergalactic Scoreboard in Ottumwa, Iowa, USA.
Co-sponsored by Twin Galaxies and ABC-TV’s That’s Incredible, the event featured nineteen of North America’s top players competing on five current titles: Frogger, Millipede, Joust, Super Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong, Jr.
The top three finalists won complimentary subscriptions to Joystik, RePlay and Playmeter Magazine and were invited to compete on the “That’s Incredible” finals in Los Angeles.
The show was aired to an international TV audience on February 21, 1983.
NOT all biker sets are white boys. The Chosen Few Motorcycle Club were formed in 1959 in LA:
“The 60s was a hell of a time. With the Civil Rights Movement, The Viet Nam War, Flower Power & Free Love. Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll. Also the Crazy World of the Outlaw Bikers.”
“When you talk of the Outlaw Bikers you automatically think of ‘Them Crazy White Boys’ doing what a lot of folk wish they could do. Live Life Like You Want & F*ck You And Your Rules. Well Guess What? There was some crazy Black bikers who felt the same way, and didn’t give a F*ck. Thus was born the Black Outlaw Bikers!”
NOKIA made the game, Snake, as popular as Tetris and infuriated mobile phone users the world over. Controlling the near formless blocky greedyguts was a nightmare once you got stuck into it for a couple of minutes, constantly chasing a lifeless square of food in a cold, desolate environment.
The snake, of course, wasn’t allowed to touch its own tail or it would die, so what happens when you complete the game? Once you run out of space, surely the only thing left for the snake to do, is to devour itself?
GAMERS are derided for their social skills, often depicted as lonely people, sat in their mum’s spare room, pale and wan. However, that’s a complete nonsense. That’s like saying movie fanatics are all 3 feet tall and live inside tinfoil pyramids eating socks.
People who play video games, believe it or not, have sex. But which gamers are the best in the bedroom? Well, thank god someone did a survey to find out exactly that!
IN space no-one can hear you scream. But can they see you sob? Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield tweeted it “hurts to cry” in space. Then he showed us why. The tears have nowhere to go. They just roll around your face.
IN Roadrage Instant Karma, the Volvo driver moves to undertake the bikers who are spread across the road. The Volvo ends up in a bad place. The bikers give him the finger and drive on. But karma is not about retribution and punishment. It’s about intention. The Volvo driver never meant to injure the bikers. He just wanted to get by. And they weren’t letting him pass. If the bikers’ brand of karma is right, it is they who’d best watch out:
JERALEAN Tallley was born May 23, 1899. She is the oldest living American. Born in Montrose, Ga., she moved to moved Michigan in 1935. She has one child, 75 year old Thelma Holloway. In this video, the 113-year-old woman recalls the only time she ever drove a car:
IN London a Lamborghini Miura SV burns. The fire brigade were in no hurry. And no-one in London has a fire extinguisher:
GOOD new for women in Chennai, India, who have their knickers stolen to order by perverts. Scientists have placed GPS tracking devices in lingerie. Manisha Mohan, co-developer of Society Harnessing Equipment (SHE), says her gadget has other uses:
“The lingerie, laced with modules of global positioning system (GPS), global system for mobile communications (GSM) and also pressure sensors, is capable of sending shock waves of 3,800 kV as well as alerts to the girl’s parents and police.”
Touch her knickers and get a shock. And if she touches, them, say, to got to the toilet, she also gets a shock. Great idea, Mohan. But why no camera? She adds:
“The shocks can be emitted up to 82 times.”
ON the Guardian ‘s Comment Is Free site – oh, the irony – Bob Garfield says people who consume news for free on the web are “looters“.
Those consumers cheerfully using the web to sample content from all over the world via news websites, blogs and aggregators are essentially picking the inventory clean. Oh, and when they get the stuff home, the goods aren’t what they used to be. And some of the stuff has a sour smell to it.
Anyone who cares deeply about quality, independent journalism should pray for paywalls and other subscription models to take hold. Because in the world of the smart and the desperate, desperate always has the last word.
Because news is a commodity? Opinion is only worthwhile opinion if it is paid for and sanctioned by a big brand? So says the man in the Guardian, the paper that loses a fortune, supports State-control of the media, doesn’t pay its interns, wants to colonise the world, is confused about economics, and won an award when the profitable News of The World (Britain’s best-selling newspaper) died.
Now read on. Or don’t.
DILLON Marsh is a photographer.
Assimilation. In the vast barren landscapes of the southern Kalahari, Sociable Weaver Birds assume ownership of the telephone poles that cut across their habitat. Their burgeoning nests are at once inertly statuesque and teeming with life. The twigs and grass collected to build these nests combine to give strangely recognisable personalities to the otherwise inanimate poles.
THE MAN-CATCHER never did catch on. The 1020s safety device “consists of three rollers attached to the radiator of the vehicle. Directly the rollers touch an obstacle, they automatically drop to the ground and push it away.” If the rollers push it away into the path of a tram or into a hole, so be it.
THIS Ford Figo* advert in India shows Silvio Berlusconi and 3 ladies on their way to a Bunga Bunga party. Is Silvo kidnapping them? Can Silvio only get women to sleep with him if he ties them up first? Who’s in the back seat, the Yorskhire Ripper?
The caption reads: “Leave all your worries behind.”
Is Silvio going to – you know – dispose of the ‘worries’ lest they tell all to the police? Maybe not. It’s not like he’s in an Indian mini bus, so chances are that the victims will get to live after they’ve been raped.
BEHOLD! The “Protective Mechanism for an Electronic Device” will make it impossible for your iPhone, iPad or iPod to fall corner-first down and shatter the screen. It works on any device – including TVs in rock star’s hotel rooms.
Files at theU.S. Patent and Trademark Office illustrate a mechanism that shifts the centre of balance as the device falls. Before it hits the ground, the mechanism causes the product to twist in mid-air. The crash will result in minimum damage.
HOT in from the Mail we have the news that VW are thinking of building their new Bentley SUV in Bratislava in Slovakia. And why in Buggery would anyone want to do that?
Bentley may build its new luxury off-roader in Bratislava rather than Britain, the firm’s bosses have revealed.
In a dramatic blow to its 4,000-strong British work-force – and to Chancellor George Osborne ahead of today’s Budget – the firm’s German chiefs announced at their annual results conference in London that they were considering manufacturing the £150,000 4X4 in the Slovakian capital in Eastern Europe.