Monday, July 9, 2007
Posted by Chismillionare at 3:27 PM
Sony Corp., responding to one of the biggest criticisms of its new videogame console, slashed the price of the PlayStation 3 by $100 in an effort to increase sales.
The price cut, effective in the U.S. beginning today, reduces the cost of the PS3 to $499
With the cut, the PS3 is now modestly more expensive than Microsoft's $480 Xbox 360 Elite, the high-end version of the Microsoft console most closely resembling the PS3. While the Xbox 360 Elite has a larger hard disk than the PS3 for storing games and other content downloaded from the Internet, it lacks an optical disk drive similar to the PS3's capable of playing high-definition movies.
Chismillionare still prefers the Wii for its innovative game play, but his Finance degree sees an arbitrage opportunity if you want to watch HD movies as well. With the PS3, you get a great Blu Ray player for $499 while getting a cutting edge gaming platform for free!!!
Posted by Chismillionare at 10:27 AM
Posted by Chismillionare at 10:20 AM
Posted by Chismillionare at 9:52 AM
This monster bbq grill has ten primary burners (20,000 BTU each), an infrared burner (another 30,000 BTU), a side burner (still another 20,000 BTU) for a total of 250,000 BTU - that's some major heat! The Propane version takes *TWO* LP tanks (they are enclosed in the far left and right cabinets) which are needed to keep this monster going. For the Natural Gas option, they recommend at least a 1/2" inner diameter pipe with minimum 7" water column pressure. You can convert it from LP to NG and when I fire up all the burners, the gas meter spins about as fast as my electric meter did when I had my halloween decorations and 22,000 Christmas Lights going! ;-) as my electric meter did when I had 22,000 Christmas Lights going! ;-)
Additionals features/items include a spice rack, soft cover (over 15 feet long), dual tank gauges, very large enclosed area underneath (you can lie down inside of it!), rotissaree (two internal support "bars" are added to brace it due to the length), 120 VAC electric ignitor system with some sort of automotive-type transformer coil that must put out 20,000+ volts when you push any of the three ignitor buttons (you oughta see/hear it spark!), counter-balanced lid (it's surprisingly easy to open/close it), 3 temperature gauges, lotsa other misc. bells & whistles, almost 2,000 square inches of cooking surface, and tons of stainless steel. I haven't seen 'em on eBay, but shipping costs would be fortune as this puppy must weigh over 500 pounds and is a GIANT!
It also comes with serious bragging rights - size does matter when it comes to BBQ Grill's ... so this is not only the biggest, but also the best BBQ Grill!
Posted by Chismillionare at 9:23 AM
The Chinese may build cheap toys and clothes, but when it comes to autos, best to go with quality over price.
The Lexus' performance in these tests is dang near perfect, with the car's passenger cell structure barely deforming as crush zones suck up the impact. The Lexus IS got a "five-star" rating.
The second video is of the Chinese-made Brilliance BS6 undergoing the same 40-mph barrier tests. And it fails those tests in a disastrous, sickening way that would likely prove fatal to both driver and passengers.
Posted by Chismillionare at 9:10 AM
Emmet Cole 07.09.07 2:00 AM
Children with autism are often described as robotic: They are emotionless. They engage in obsessive, repetitive behavior and have trouble communicating and socializing.
Now, a humanoid robot designed to teach autistic children social skills has begun testing in British schools.
Known as KASPAR (Kinesics and Synchronisation in Personal Assistant Robotics), the $4.33 million bot smiles, simulates surprise and sadness, gesticulates and, the researchers hope, will encourage social interaction amongst autistic children.
Developed as part of the pan-European IROMEC (Interactive Robotic Social Mediators as Companions ) project, KASPAR has two "eyes" fitted with video cameras and a mouth that can open and smile.
Children with autism have difficulty understanding and interpreting people's facial expressions and body language, says Dr. Ben Robins, a senior research fellow at the University of Hertfordshire's Adaptive Systems Research Group, who leads the multi-national team behind KASPAR.
"Human interaction can be very subtle, with even the smallest eyebrow raise, for example, having different meanings in different contexts," Robins said. "It is thought that autistic children cut themselves off from interacting with other humans because, for them, this is too much information and it is too confusing for them to understand."
With this in mind, the team designed KASPAR to express emotion consistently and with the minimum of complexity.
KASPAR's face is made of silicon-rubber supported on an aluminum frame. Eight degrees of freedom in the head and neck and six in the arms and hands enable movement.
The researchers hope that the end result is a human-like robot that can act as a "social mediator" for autistic children, a steppingstone to improved social interaction with other children and adults.
"KASPAR provides autistic children with reliability and predictability. Since there are no surprises, they feel safe and secure," Robins said, adding that the purpose is not to replace human interaction and contact but to enhance it.
Robins has already tested some imitation and turn-taking games with the children and his preliminary findings are positive.
"When I first started testing, the children treated me like a fly on the wall," he said. "But each one of them, in their own time, started to open themselves up to me. One child in particular, after weeks on end of ignoring me, came and sat in my lap and then took my hand and brought me to the robot, to share the experience of KASPAR with me."
Using robots to interact with children is nothing new, although there's been a lot of new research lately into this kind of work. The Robota dolls, a series of mini humanoid bots developed as part of the AURORA project, have been in use as educational toys since 1997.
The Social Robotics Lab at Yale is collaborating with a robotics team from the university’s department of computer science to develop Nico, a humanoid robot designed to detect vulnerabilities for autism in the first year of life.
Relying on a robot to teach human social skills might seem counterintuitive, but autism presents a special case, said Dr. Cathy Pratt, director of the Indiana Resource Center for Autism at Indiana University.
"Autistic kids often interact better with inanimate objects than with other people, so a project like this makes sense and might lead to a safe way for these kids to learn social skills," she said.
However, autistic children often don’t make the connection between what they have learned in a training situation and the outside world, said Dr. Gary Mesibov, a professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina and editor of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
"I think this project will still be worthwhile, even if the children don’t fully generalize what they have learned to the real world," Mesibov said. "But the key question facing the researchers is whether the autistic children will be able to apply what they have learned from KASPAR in different situations and contexts."
Face recognition and emotion processing is a major area of deficit for autistic children and hampers their social development, said Dr. Jennifer Pinto-Martin, director of the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania.
Although autistic children often respond well to training, the process can be very labor intensive and the quality of the trainer is paramount, Pinto-Martin said. "People who work in this area need more creative ways to train around the deficits of autism. The quality and consistency of the trainer can be hard to control, but that's not the case with a robot.
"There is interactive computer software and video out there for testing and interaction, but the idea of using a robot trainer like KASPAR is a creative and wonderful step beyond current technologies and techniques," she said.
The project is due to end in October 2009.
Posted by Chismillionare at 9:01 AM
Posted by Chismillionare at 9:00 AM
While the handheld device lacks support for native applications -- the kind users can download and install -- developers have been busy building programs for the iPhone's version of the Safari web browser. It may not be the most ideal platform for adding functionality to the iPhone, but it works. By squishing down and optimizing their browser-based apps, developers have managed to add a great deal of value to the sleek black device.
Here's a look at the best iPhone web apps so far.
A World of Widgets
Given the small screen size, the iPhone is ideal for widgets -- single-serving apps that do one thing, and one thing well.
To replicate Apple's Dashboard widget interface on your iPhone, try Widgetop. Its slick interface offers quick access to Wikipedia searches, RSS feeds and better-than-average looking sticky notes, complete with custom fonts and colors.
Some of the apps in Widgetop duplicate features already on the iPhone, but unique offerings exist as well -- a site directory includes dozens of customized apps ranging from webcams to quote-of-the-day widgets. Also, signing up at the site will allow you to save a customized widget layout.
Another entry in the widget space is Kudit.com, but its services aren't free. There are some fun apps here, but the listings are nowhere near as extensive as Widgetop. And really, who wants to pay $2 for a Magic 8-ball widget?
The iPhone doesn't ship with any cool time-wasting games to get you through a boring commute -- rather surprising, since even the iPod has a few.
Halo they're not, but as long as you have a decent Wi-Fi connection, you can play Sudoku, Chess and Tic-Tac-Toe on the iPhone. There's also Diamenty, a very addicting Bejeweled-like game. Dozens of other small games are also available through Widgetop's interface.
If you're not an AIM user, just point Safari at Meebo.com, a web-based chat service that supports all the major protocols, including AIM, MSN, Yahoo and ICQ. It may not be optimized for the iPhone yet, but it works, and it should be ready for regular use soon.
Office Docs to Go
Even before the iPhone was released, Zoho hacked together an iPhone-optimized version of the its online office suite. IZoho offers access to Zoho Writer, Sheet, Show and Creator, though only Writer has read and write support thus far. The Zoho Team reports they're working on read/write support for the entire suite, but you'll have to settle for only being able to type into the word processor for the time being.
IZoho performed admirably in our testing, but it's definitely one for Wi-fi -- it took the better part of ten minutes to fully load the Writer editing interface over AT&T's EDGE network.
Read My FeedsA few small widgets made for collecting RSS news feeds on your iPhone have already sprung up. Widgetop offers one, but Google Reader still rules. Google offers a mobile version of its app, but David Cann has developed a very nice skin for Google Reader which makes it even easier to browse your feeds on the iPhone.
A word of warning: This one has crashed the iPhone's version of Safari a couple of times during testing.
Take the IPhones ShoppingThe iPhone's portability makes it an ideal place to store your to-do lists, which makes Apple's decision not to offer list-keeping all the more curious.
If you need to fill up the car with gas on the way home, use Gas.app. Plug in your ZIP code and you'll get a list of the cheapest gas in your area, complete with maps.
Get SocialWhen you're done editing docs or shopping and it's time to geek out, iPhonified versions of del.icio.us and Digg are available. Both are pretty simple, but at least you won't feel left out at tonight's party.
Other ways to stay culture-current: browse your friends' Flickr photos with the iPhone-optimized iPhlickr, find the closest screening of Transformers with Showtimes and scan the day's headlines with iActu, a very nice looking news site optimized for the small screen.
Posted by Chismillionare at 8:55 AM