A home robot: a trundling, talking, half-pet, half-friend

“Wakamaru is advertised as part security guard, part secretary. But from the start he was intended to be a member of the family, not just a clever machine… He also has endearing manners, with sophisticated recognition software that enables him to remember up to 10 people whom he greets by name while giving a cheery wave…

“For those worried by rising crime Wakamaru can be a handy house-sitter. Should a stranger enter the house while you are out, he will immediately alert you by sending pictures and messages to your mobile phone… Wakamaru can be programmed to remind people it’s time to take their medicine and to alert you if someone has fallen over or is not responding.

“It may be the quirks that makes Wakamaru so fascinating. ‘One day I found him watching TV, which we never anticipated. Then sometimes he would start dancing. You never get bored because you never knew what he would do next,’ says Mr. Ishihara…

“Odd, unpredictable, loveable and sometimes infuriating, Wakamaru is the most human robot yet.”

click here to read more at “news.telegraph.co.uk” | digg story

Seven habits of highly effective programmers

“As a software engineer, you might want any number of things out of your job – a steady paycheck, the opportunity to work on interesting projects, a springboard to the next better job, or maybe you just like hanging out with other programmers. But by ‘effective’, I mean the ability to complete projects in a timely manner with the expected quality. After working on dozens of software releases, I believe the following practices will bring you there, and while they may involve sticking your neck out, I’d like to think they will also advance your professional reputation, career longevity, and personal satisfaction.”

click here to read more at “technicat.com” | digg story

An explosion on the Moon

“NASA scientists have observed an explosion on the moon. The blast, equal in energy to about 70 kg of TNT, occurred near the edge of Mare Imbrium (the Sea of Rains) on Nov. 7, 2005, when a 12-centimeter-wide meteoroid slammed into the ground traveling 27 km/s.

“‘What a surprise,’ says Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) researcher Rob Suggs, who recorded the impact’s flash. He and colleague Wes Swift were testing a new telescope and video camera they assembled to monitor the moon for meteor strikes. On their first night out, ‘we caught one,’ says Suggs.

Right: The red dot marks the location of the Nov. 7, 2005, meteoroid impact. Credit: NASA/MSFC/Bill Cooke…

“The object that hit the moon was ‘probably a Taurid’,. says MSFC meteor expert Bill Cooke. In other words, it was part of the same meteor shower that peppered Earth with fireballs in late October and early November 2005… The moon was peppered, too, but unlike Earth, the moon has no atmosphere to intercept meteoroids and turn them into harmless streaks of light. On the moon, meteoroids hit the ground–and explode.”

click here to read more at “science.nasa.gov” | digg story

Breakthrough reported in HIV research

“St. Louis scientists say they’ve determined how HIV invades healthy cells — and that could lead to improved drug therapies to fight the deadly disease.

“The researchers at the Saint Louis University Institute for Molecular Virology demonstrated the molecular mechanism by which the HIV virus infects, or integrates, healthy cells.

“Although scientists theorized two ends of the virus’ DNA must come together inside a healthy cell to infect it, until now investigators haven’t been able to illuminate the process.

“Many biological and structural aspects of HIV integration are undefined,” said Sibes Bera, one of the investigators. ‘Therefore, any insight into the molecular mechanism of this process is significant in developing integrase inhibitors.'”

Photo: HIV viron

read more at “sciencedaily.com” | digg story

Joss Whedon announces the end of “Firefly”

Somehow I don’t believe that this is then end of the road for “Firefly”. That said, keep reading…

“When Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon looks back on 2005, he can take comfort in knowing that his film-directing debut, the sci-fi Western Serenity, resurrected his canceled-too-soon cult classic TV series Firefly, and was also one of the year’s best-reviewed movies. ‘I should say I’m above reading reviews,’ he says. ‘But I would be lying.’ Alas, Whedon’s fond memories are also tainted by Serenity’s status as a franchise nonstarter; despite Universal’s best marketing efforts, the film only mustered $25 million. ‘In the end, it was what it was: a tough sell,’ says Whedon, adding that it appears the Firefly saga has reached its conclusion. He has no regrets — and he’s moving on.”

The “Serenity” DVD goes on sale today.

click here to read more at “ew.com” | digg story

See “King Kong” – it’s amazing

King Kong


From Ty Burr at the Boston Globe: “Peter Jackson’s ‘King Kong’ delivers all you could possibly want from a modern popcorn behemoth: state-of-the-art special effects, epic scope and running time, rampaging dinosaurs, things majestically going ka-boom. It’s not so much a remake as it is a loving re-creation of the 1933 original on extra-strength steroids, with a side order of Botox. You’ve seen it all before but most assuredly never like this.”

9-month-old on “no fly” list of suspected terrorists

“Sarah Zapolsky was checking in for a flight to Italy when she discovered that her 9-month-old son’s name was on the United States’ ‘no fly’ list of suspected terrorists.

“‘We pointed down to the stroller, and he sat there and gurgled,’ Zapolsky said, recalling the July incident at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. ‘The desk agent started laughing…She couldn’t print us out a boarding pass because he’s on the no-fly list.’

“Zapolsky, who did not want her son’s name made public, said she was initially amused by the mix-up. ‘But when I found out you can’t actually get off the list, I started to get a bit annoyed.’

“She isn’t alone.”

click here to read more at “news.com.com” | digg story