by Joel Keller
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi dropped by “Jimmy Kimmel Live” last night to discuss her new book, “Confessions of a Guidette.” While the Mistress of the Smush was talking to Jimmy about the experience of filming “Jersey Shore” in Florence, Italy, she also mentioned that she was looking forward to seeing “Beavis and Butt-Head” come back to MTV, which they will do on Thursday night.
Right on cue, we cut to the familiar scene of Mike Judge’s two malcontent teens, watching the interview. “This is a horrible interview,” Butt-Head says. “Ask her about her boobs!” yells the ever-articulate Beavis. Kimmel, breaking the fourth wall and all the rules of physics, manages to hear them, and busts through their TV to tell them that if they can do it better, they should try it themselves.
The pair do just that, converting the show to “Butt-Head Live,” with Butt-Head as host and Beavis as producer. While Beavis’ producing skills are limited to zooming in on Snooki’s breasts and writing “Ask About Boobs” on a cue card, Butt-Head can only stare at her cleavage and go, “They’re big.” This prompts Snooki to get up and punch Butt-Head square in his animated face.
Watch Beavis and Butt-Head interview Snooki here:
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
by Joel Keller
Tel-Aviv University demos quantum superconductors locked in a magnetic field (www.quantumlevitation.com). For an explanation of the physics behind this demonstration, visit www.quantumlevitation.com/levitation/The_physics.html.
With the theme "Knowledge that Works: From Theory to Practice," the 2011 ASTC Annual Conference featured more than 100 sessions, which highlighted how science centers and museums are putting new ideas to practical use to serve their communities. The conference was hosted by the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, October 15-18.
- a compilation of awesome people doing incredible things
Pretty soon, new AT&T U-verse subscribers won’t have to go through the hassle of having their entire home re-wired with coaxial cable when they sign up for the pay TV service. Instead, all they’ll need is a residential gateway and a set of thin-client wireless receivers to deliver live and on-demand TV throughout the home.
Starting Oct. 31, U-verse customers can order the new wireless receiver, which can be placed anywhere throughout the home or even outside, as long as it’s within Wi-Fi range. By hooking up the wireless receiver, users will no longer have to connect the TV’s set-top box to a coax connection, meaning they have the flexibility to move TVs around the house or to switch out the wireless receiver to rooms that aren’t used as much.
TVs hooked up to the wireless receivers will get all the same features that are available through more traditional wired set-top boxes, such as access to on-demand titles and whole-home DVR functionality. Subscribers are also able to pause a piece of programming and pick up watching it in any other room in the house.
More importantly, the wireless receiver will reduce the need for AT&T technicians to run coaxial cable throughout subscriber homes. That means an easier set-up process for new subscribers, and could drastically reduce the time it takes to get users set up and ready. Existing customers can also request the new wireless receivers, which they can put around the house thanks to a self-install kit.
The news follows a trend of pay TV operators introducing more IP-enabled services and devices. Verizon and Comcast, for instance, have both announced plans to make their content available through the Microsoft Xbox game console, which AT&T subscribers can already use as a set-top box. Comcast and Time Warner Cable are also building TV apps for connected TVs. And any number of operators — including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, and others have rolled out iPad apps that let users stream live or on-demand videos.
While AT&T has always delivered IP-based TV services, these examples show how it and other service providers can use streaming video to deliver new user experiences to users. While today the wireless streams are being delivered exclusively to U-verse receivers, we can imagine AT&T building apps for connected devices that could alleviate the need for the device. In the meantime, however, AT&T’s new wireless receivers are available for a one-time fee of $49, plus a $7 per month receiver rental fee.
The iPad is great for many things — watching movies, reading magazines or playing games. But when it comes to typing, the onscreen keyboard leaves something to be desired.
Engineers Steven Isaac and Brad Melmon are looking to solve that problem withTouchFire, a lightweight, silicone rubber keypad that overlays the iPad’s touchscreen. The idea is to provide typists with the same tactile feel of typing on a laptop or desktop computer — letting them simply enter text without the need to look directly at the screen.
The TouchFire device is slated to ship in December, Isaac said. It’s currently available for preorder via the KickStarter funding site, for a pledge of $45 or more to the company. The Seattle-area startup is looking to raise $10,000 through KickStarter.
Isaac has been tinkering with tablet computers since the early days. He was one of the first employees at GO Corp., an early entrant in the tablet market that crashed in the mid-1990s. He also worked on Microsoft’s Windows CE mobile operating system.
When the iPad came out, Isaac said he was amazed with nearly every aspect of the device, except for the keypad.
"Typing on the iPad was certainly much better than anything that had come before, but it still wasn’t great," Isaac tells GeekWire. "But I wanted typing to be great, so I could use my iPad for everything. So I started thinking about a way to add the missing tactile features needed to have a true high performance typing experience on the iPad."
He started prototyping concepts, which he said proved challenging because he's "basically a software guy." After the initial concepts penciled out, Isaac partnered with Melmon to come up with a patent-pending design.
"We needed to provide the right sort of force resistance for typing to feel really good, and at the same time make the device be thin, lightweight and flexible enough to basically disappear in the cover when not in use," Isaac explained. "Brad had an amazing conceptual breakthrough that allowed us to meet all of these requirements, and TouchFire is the result."
Let's face it, programmable thermostats can be complicated. They're like any other device you have to program -- they sound neat but actually using them can be annoying. And yet, the thermostat is one of the most important parts of a home for keeping the carbon footprint low. So how do we simplify something that can add up to a complex ordeal what with mornings, evenings, different rooms, different preferences, and so on? Well, the creator of the iPod -- a marvelously simple but powerful device -- has an idea.
Nest Labs has come up with the Learning Thermostat. You use it like an old school thermostat, turning the dial up or down depending on your preference at that time. It immediately begins learning your habits, from when you wake up to when you go to sleep, when you are away from the home and when the seasons shift, and it remembers which temperatures you like at which time then programs itself.
You never have to actually program it -- eventually, it just knows. It learns a fairly solid schedule within the first week, and one-off changes won't throw it. If you make a change several times, then it will learn that new preference and adjust the schedule. It even senses lighting levels so it knows when you're away and turns down the temperature.
It can help you save energy -- as long as you start off on the right foot. If you remember to turn the thermostat down when you go to bed or leave the house, and keep it at a reasonable temperature during the day then it will remember and also learn these good habits.
And how do you know if you've done a good job teaching it, and it is doing a good job remembering? Well, by the little green leaf icon, of course. From the site: "The Nest Leaf appears when you set a temperature that saves you energy–and money. The Leaf guides you in the right direction and helps you be energy-efficient."
So how does it learn? This video explains:
This is a fantastic device -- the design is incredibly simple, and it does the work for you. It's easier than any programmable thermostat, and does the same job. Heating and cooling your home can comprise as much as half your energy bill, so having a thermostat that works for you pays off.
Nest states, "The programmable thermostat, developed in the 1970s, promised to help people conserve energy, but 89 percent of owners rarely or never set a program (source: ACEEE, 2010). The devices are simply too complicated. In fact, Energy Star revoked its certification of all thermostats in 2009 when it became apparent that people weren’t actually engaging with programmable thermostats to reach their proper functionality."
Nest claims that it can save users $173 in the first 12 months, $347 after 24 months, and $520 after 36 months of use (of course this depends on factors like cost of energy, your home, and your habits in the first place). And this savings -- or at least some amount of savings -- can come with a tool that is not hard to program. You simply use it for awhile, then let it keep up the good work (and it reminds you to do the same, what with the green leaf icon).
And guess who invented this simple, effective little gadget? Nest Laboratories at Palo Alto, whose CEO is Tony Fadell, the man who led the team that created the first iPod (and the 18 generations that came after it) and the first three generations of the iPhone. Also, co-founder and VP is Matt Rogers, who was responsible for iPod software development at Apple, from concept to production. Those are some mighty fine credentials! And, makes it obvious how something so complex could be boiled down to something so simple to use.
Nest's Learning Thermostat is available next month, but you can pre-order a unit for $249.
Here is an interview between Forbes and Tony Fadell:
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