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Sunday, December 30, 2007

How to make a teddy bear remote control

.. instructions here

You can use this site to create Semacode QR tags that, when read by software installed on your mobile phone, will link to a wikipedia article of your choice.


link to site
semacode is a Data Matrix.. learn more

..and so are QR codes like the ones that semapedia uses.
also see a more recent link to this technology

2008 is the International Year of the Potato

"Over the next two decades, the world’s population is expected to grow on average by more than 100 million people a year. More than 95 percent of that increase will occur in the developing countries, where pressure on land and water is already intense.

A key challenge facing the international community is, therefore, to ensure food security for present and future generations, while protecting the natural resource base on which we all depend.

The potato will be an important part of efforts to meet those challenges…

Robot fish

I'd love to have a tank full of these. Iit would have to be a pretty large tank though wouldn't it. Perhaps when I have acquired my undersea lair.

I once bought 5 or 6 small koi for my 3 ft tank back in Sydney, but when one of them inevitably died, it was like losing a puppy.

After that I opted towards the 'many, many small fish' concept.

Korean hybrid carp with human faces

Creepy stuff!

Today my girlfriend and I went to see 'National Treasure : book of secrets' at GSC Times Square. I have to say, for a bit of brain candy, it wasn't half bad. Certainly I've seen worse films, and many of them. And I'm sure I'll see many more too.

Talking of 'worsts', I'd like to award Kenny Rogers Roasters, Times Square for serving me what has been the worst chicken Caesar salad I have ever had.

It was a Caesar salad made by someone who truly hates Caesar salads : if you're thinking that it's missing a little something, there's a good chance that the little something it is missing is not lots and lots of extra mayonaise.

Here's a recipe for Chicken Caesar Salad from allRecipes.com:


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into wide strips
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick® Lemon & Pepper Seasoning Salt
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick® Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup garlic-flavored croutons
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1] Toss chicken with lemon & pepper seasoning and garlic powder.

2] Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add seasoned chicken to skillet and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside. Do not drain off oil.

3] Place vinegar, mustard and Worcestershire in small bowl and beat with fork to combine. Stir into reserved chicken.

4] Place lettuce in large salad bowl. Add chicken, croutons, and cheese. Toss gently and sprinkle with additional grated cheese, if desired.

The Bio-Suit

The Bio-Suit was a novel approach to spacesuit design that used and biomedical breakthroughs in skin replacement and materials to replace the bulky conventional "balloon" spacesuit with a 'second skin' approach to provide light weight, flexibility, and comfort in all extraterrestrial environments.

It provided life support through use of mechanical counterpressure applied to the entire body through a tight-fitting suit, excepting a helmet for the head. The inner layer of the Bio-Suit could be sprayed on, and disposed of, together with dirt and dust, after each EVA. The external layers would include embedded "wearable technologies" that would be tailored to the environment and mission.

Existing space suits used hard fiberglass or metal and soft fabric components. Mobility was obtained by pleats that opened as joints bent and rotational bearings. These suits, all derived from the very fist purpose-designed spacesuits of the 1960's, were heavy, bulky, restricted astronaut mobility, and required extensive special training and exhausting joint torque force to work in.

A modern Mechanical Counter Pressure (MCP) suit, first studied by NASA in 1971 as the Space Activity Suit, would eliminate these difficulties. The Bio-Suit study did not identify a specific design, but rather identified candidate technologies for the suit layers and the embedded information systems. These included:

  • Electric Alloy Mesh Concept, using a seamless Shape Memory Alloy mesh to generate voltage-controlled mechanical counter-pressure. Pressure would be distributed by a viscous thermal-regulating gel layer. The gel layer moderated the high temperature of the SMA later and protected the body against impacts the skin directly, wicking away perspiration and absorbing body heat.
  • Thermal Gel Suit Concept, using "smart" polymer gels which expanded at a threshold temperature to create mechanical counter-pressure. The smart gel was trapped in a quilted layer beneath a stretchless restraint layer. The restraint layer prevented outward expansion of the gel, directing the pressure inwards against the body.
  • Electric Gel Suit , using "smart polymer gels which expanded in an electric field to create mechanical counter-pressure. The smart gel was trapped in a quilted layer, between metallized fabric layers, beneath a stretchless restraint layer. Opposite charges applied to the metallized layers produced a small electric field sufficient to stimulated the expanding smart gel.
  • Stretch Alloy Band Suit Concept using the super elastic properties of Shape Memory Alloys (SMA) to allow the suit's volume to expand enough for donning. Charge would then applied to the SMA band which pulled together the seam of a uni-directional stretch fabric layer, which was able to stretch longitudinally in order to allow flexion at the joints.
  • Electric Alloy Zipper Suits using shape memory alloy strips to aid and control the application of mechanical counter pressure while manually zipping together seams in a uni-directional stretch fabric layer.
  • Electric Alloy Remote Zipper Suit concept, as the previous concept, but instead of being zipped manually, tightened all at once by digital controls at the shoulders. This system assured uniformity of mechanical counter-pressure and ease of operation.
The study also looked at various alternatives for thermal control:
  • Absorb concept, which would collect perspiration in a removable component within the suit, either a highly absorptive fabric layer similar to long underwear, or desiccant packs at critical locations.
  • Vent-to-Atmosphere concept, which controlled perspiration by venting moisture directly to the outside environment. A selective, semi-permeable organic layer closest to the skin allowed perspiration to pass through at a moderate rate. Subsequent layers of the suit, including the mechanical counter-pressure layer, were also semi-permeable. The openings in the membranes were large enough to allow the suit to breath, but small enough to prevent unwanted fluid loss.
  • Transport concept, using a layer of tiny tubes to channel perspiration away from the body to a remote collection point. These tubes might be manufactured or perhaps organic such as the aquaporin network in plant membranes. A partial vacuum at the collection end might moved perspiration through the tubes, or perhaps work would be done by tiny piezoelectric pumps powered by energy harvested from body motion.
An advanced possibility was that the suit layers could be sprayed directly on the astronaut's skins prior to EVA. Electrospinlacing, involving charging and projecting of tiny fibers of polymer directly onto the skin, could be used.

Melt blowing of liquefied polymer could be used to apply thin elastic layers. Application could be made directly to the skin, or to advanced 3D forms generated by laser scanning. Wearable computers, smart gels and conductive materials could be embedded between polymer layers.

The MIT research team, led by aerospace engineer Dava Newman and including Hoffman and students, has begun designing a space outfit called the Bio-Suit System. The new suit will be lightweight and flexible, but will still protect astronauts from the hazards of outer space.


The most critical feature of any space gear is the ability to maintain pressure around the astronaut's body when he or she steps out of the cozy confines of a spacecraft.

On Earth's surface, your body is constantly exposed to the pressure of the air molecules in the atmosphere. Pulled down by Earth's gravity, these molecules press against your skin with a pressure of 1 atmosphere, or 14.7 pounds per square inch.

That pressure is critical: All of the tissues and fluids in your body contain essential gases such as oxygen. If the pressure on the outside of your body were to disappear, these gases would separate from your blood and tissues and would try to escape through your skin. "Over the course of 5 to 10 minutes, your skin would start to swell and it would become very painful," says Hoffman. "You can't tolerate that."


In the vacuum of space, there aren't enough air molecules to produce pressure against an astronaut's body.

To protect space explorers, today's spacesuits create air pressure by surrounding an astronaut's body with an air-filled bag. "[Astronauts] are basically wearing a human-shaped balloon," says Hoffman. The gas-filled suit squeezes an astronaut enough to prevent gases from escaping from the body. But as a result, the suit is extremely stiff and difficult to maneuver in. "Particularly in areas like your fingers, you have to work to make the spacesuit move," says Hoffman.


Instead of relying on an air-filled bag to create pressure, the Bio-Suit System uses tightly fitting fabric to squeeze the skin. The first suit to use this type of mechanical counter-pressure was the Space Activity Suit, created by Paul Webb in the early 1970s. But in order to produce enough pressure on the skin, the suit was made up of more than five separate skintight suits layered on top of one another. "It took over half an hour and the help of two assistants to get [the suit] on," says Newman.

How to make a high-pressure suit that's easy to don? Each Bio-Suit will be custom-made: To outfit an astronaut, scientists will use lasers to create a three-dimensional scan of the astronaut's body. Then, the suit will be crafted to perfectly fit those dimensions.

In the future, the Bio-Suit will also be made from "active materials." These materials change shape when electricity is applied to them. That way, the astronaut could easily zip into a one-layer suit. "Then, just before you are about to go outside, you activate the suit and it shrinks around you," says Hoffman. Once the astronaut returns to the safety of a space station, he or she would deactivate the shrinking mechanism to take off the garment.


In addition to a suit that fits like a second skin, the engineers from MIT hope to design different modules that future astronauts could slip over the outfit to match their daily needs. "You can put on whatever components you need depending on the environment you are working in," says Hoffman. For example: If the astronauts plan on working outside all day, they might slip on jackets that would protect them from collisions with speeding space debris. Or, since the temperature on Mars can dip to a frigid -153 C (-225 F) at the poles, an astronaut may choose to wear an overcoat with electrical heating wires running through it.

Future spacesuits may even help improve the astronaut's work performance. Scientists from other labs are trying to develop artificial muscle Fibers that can contract and expand along with a person's muscles as they move. The Bio-Suit may someday have these artificial muscle fibers sewn into it. That way, when astronauts need an extra boost, they could activate the fibers in the suit to enhance their strength and stamina. "That's a ways off in the future, but it's fun to think about," says Newman.

from astronautix.com
and other sources

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ruins of an 800-year-old Aztec pyramid discovered in the heart of the Mexican capital

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Archeologists have discovered the ruins of an 800-year-old Aztec pyramid in the heart of the Mexican capital that could show the ancient city is at least a century older than previously thought.

Mexican archeologists found the ruins, which are about 36 feet high, in the central Tlatelolco area, once a major religious and political centre for the Aztec elite.

Since the discovery of another pyramid at the site 15 years ago, historians have thought Tlatelolco was founded by the Aztecs in 1325, the same year as the twin city of Tenochtitlan nearby, the capital of the Aztec empire, which the Spanish razed in 1521 to found Mexico City, conquering the Aztecs.

The pyramid, found last month as part of an investigation begun in August, could have been built in 1100 or 1200, signaling the Aztecs began to develop their civilization in the mountains of central Mexico earlier than believed. "We have found the stairs of this, much older pyramid. The (Aztec) timeline is going to need to be revised," archaeologist Patricia Ledesma said at the site on Thursday.

Tlatelolco, visited by thousands of tourists for its pre-Hispanic ruins and colonial-era Spanish church and convent, is also infamous for the 1968 massacre of leftist students by state security forces there, days before Mexico hosted the Olympic Games.
Ledesma and the archaeological group's coordinator, Salvador Guilliem, said they will continue to dig and study the area next year to get a better idea of the pyramid's size and age.

The archeologists also have detected a sculpture that could be of the Aztec rain god Tlaloc, or of the god of the sky and earth Tezcatlipoca.
In addition, the dig has turned up five skulls and a series of rooms near the pyramid that could date from 1431.

"What we hope to find soon should tell us much more about the society of Tlatelolco," said Ledesma. Mexico City is littered with pre-Hispanic ruins. In August, archeologists in the city's crime-ridden Iztapalapa district unearthed what they believe may be the main pyramid of Tenochtitlan.

The Aztecs, a warlike and religious people who built monumental works and are credited with inventing chocolate, ruled an empire stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean and encompassing much of modern-day central Mexico.

This blogs visitor map for the previous week shows the typical banding we've seen previously.

I'm at odds to explain why the east coast of the united states is responsible for so many more visits than the west coast. Any ideas?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Crazy Japanese experimental musical instruments

...and back from Phuket!

Hi everyone, hope you had a lovely Xmas. We arrived back from sunny Thailand the day before yesterday, and what a lovely 5 days, 4 nights it was.

We stayed at the Serene resort at Kata beach, which is a bit more laid-back than Patong beach where we were in August. Not that anywhere on the entire island could really be described as 'busy'.

The resort was reasonable, we were probably spoiled by our previous holiday residence, the Deevana at Patong, which was simply amazing. Other than a comfortable place to sleep and to have a shower, we didn't really see the need to spend so much time within the resort anyway.

We basked on the beach, went snorkelling at 3 islands with the fishes, raced go-carts, played dinosaur themed putt-putt golf, ate lots of nice food, shopped, and had massages (i had 2 of them myself ~ looOoovely).

Like I'm sure I've said before, it's easy to see why Thailand is one of the worlds most popular holiday destinations, cheap and fantastic, two things in combination that take a lot of beating.

Oh.. and I indulged in a little colt .45 shooting.

The one thing that we didn't do that I would have liked, was to go and see a kick-boxing match, but then, that will just have to wait until the
next time we visit Thailand.

On the flight from KL to Phuket I found myself sitting next to Dylan Lewis, who appears to have done a myriad of things, but who I remember as being the host of 'Recovery' a Saturday morning music show on the ABC in Australia. I left him to his sudoku and crosswords though, the guy was just trying to go on holidays with his family, if that was me, I'd be glad to have some peace and quiet.

Oh, and one last thing, in the WTF category: rabbit cream?

new music: Battles

My good friend Stephen Cobb just introduced me to this band 'Battles'.
.. progressive nerd rock?

.. Whatever it is, I think I like it.

Battles ~ 'Atlas'

Battles ~ 'Tonto'

Thursday, December 27, 2007

the amazing Sora Aoi

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sexy Xmas elf

.. merry xmas and a happy new year everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2007

.. the new way to make living

Taarik Furmie jokes that he's the Santa Claus of the internet.

As a seller of toys and games, Christmas is Mr Furmie's busiest time of year.

He's run off his feet checking stock, sending off orders, comparing the competitiveness of his prices and making sure his accounts are in order.

And he does it all without leaving the comfort of his home in Casula, in Sydney's western suburbs.

Mr Furmie is one of a growing number of Australians who are making a full-time living selling goods on internet site eBay.

In September this year, there were more than 17,500 Australians who used eBay as their primary or only source of income.

Another 94,000 eBay sellers had considered quitting their day jobs to sell full-time on the trading website.

Since it began in 1999, eBay has significantly changed the way Australians shop and opened self-employment opportunities for those who thought they'd always be bound to a nine-to-five desk job.

Mr Furmie worked in IT when his wife started selling old toys and games their children no longer used.

Soon, she was buying goods from second hand stores and garage sales and re-selling them for a profit on eBay.

When she had her third child, Mr Furmie took over the hobby and it flourished.

Four years ago, he left his job to focus full time on his toy business. He also moved from secondhand to new toys and games, sourced through local suppliers and manufacturers.

Now he competes with major department stores and has set up his own business name, Treasure Planet Toys.

"You will find that you are generally getting better prices on eBay, because I don't have the overheads that they (department stores) do," he told AAP.

"You find that a lot of people, especially today with the stress of modern day life, people are finding less time to get to the shop and when they do get there it's stressful.

"If you can sit in front of a computer and find the same item (and) it's going to be delivered to your door, you save yourself two hours and frustration."

Mr Furmie is coy about how much he makes, but says it's better than his previous job, although much of the money goes back into growing the business.

He is classed as an eBay PowerSeller - sellers who average a minimum of $2,000 in sales per month, over three consecutive months. Titanium PowerSellers - the top level - earn $300,000 a month.

Mr Furmie teaches people how to sell on eBay in an eight-hour course conducted at people's homes, but some institutes are now offering lessons on how to make the most of the trading site.

The Council of Adult Education (CAE) now has a one-day course, Buying and Selling Goods Through eBay, which teaches how to "make money and find that elusive item".

Victorians are some of Australia's biggest eBay users.

A national survey last month found residents of Springvale, in Melbourne's southeast, were the country's biggest online traders, buying and selling at an average of $274 per member.

Second place was taken by nearby Dandenong, which averaged $173 per member.

Dandenong resident Rebecca Wilkin is an eBay convert.

The 28-year-old buys and sells goods on the website, particularly clothes and baby goods.

She recently decked out her daughter's nursery with brand new furniture for $500, including cot, change table and rocking chair.

"I do research before I buy anything, either at the shop or online as to how much the retail price is," she said.

"Nine times out of 10 I find I can get a really good bargain on eBay."

Ms Wilkin believes Dandenong and Springvale topped the national trading figures because of their low socio-economic demographic.

"Dandenong is predominantly a low-income area and you do find you get more for your money, if you know what you're looking for," she said.

"You've really got to make your money go further and you can get a bit of spare cash by selling things you don't need any more."

Ms Wilkin also thinks the language barrier could be a factor, as many migrants live in Dandenong and Springvale.

Consumer trends expert Bernard Salt, of KPMG, said many of the top-ranking eBay suburbs across the nation had high levels of migrant populations.

Three quarters of Springvale's 18,000 residents speak a language other than English at home.

"Perhaps Australia's newest residents prefer to buy their goods on eBay rather than have to negotiate the language barriers of traditional shopping centres," he said.

Leigh, of Boronia in Melbourne's outer east, says he'll never visit a chain store again.

He buys clothes on eBay for half what he'd pay in a shop and they're delivered to his door.

He also sells items he has lying around his house that he no longer wants.

He has sold an old Australian Airlines watch for $35 and T-shirts from car shows for $70-$80.

As a car collector and restorer, he also finds eBay useful for sourcing and selling cars and car parts.

"I've got a set of wheels lying around that you could take to the wreckers, but I'll put them on eBay. People are looking for stuff like that all the time," he said.

"If I want something cheap I will see if it's on eBay first. It's definitely a good money saver."

Leigh bought an XP Falcon Coup for $5,500 in Western Australia and a F150 pick-up truck from Queensland for $11,000.

Potential eBay buyers are warned to do their homework before they buy.

That includes checking the feedback on the seller and always using the PayPal facility.

"The majority of people on eBay are there to do the right thing, but you can lose money if you just don't take precautions," Mr Furmie said.

found on smh

Thursday, December 20, 2007

This weeks visitor map for this blog

Xmas in Phuket

Hi everyone, hope this post finds you, and finds you well. Today is the Islamic festival of 'Id al Adha' (Feast of the Sacrifice) and therefore a public holiday here in Malaysia.

It's midday, I've just finished my poached eggs on toast for breakfast and I'm figuring soon I'm going to go for a swim. Aaah, it's a tough life. Have been doing a bit of research & planning, because this Saturday my girlfriend and I fly up to Phuket for 4 nights over Xmas.

We've only just finalised everything as we were waiting to see if she could secure holidays... and whoah, do those resorts ramp up their prices over the end of year! In some cases they're charging more than triple their usual rate. Ouch.

Next time I'm going to book everything a whole lot earlier.
Oh well, just grin and bare it, it's going to be a lovely time anyway. I'll give a full report when we return.

In other news, I've received my xmas present early from my girl: a nice little canon ixus 75 digital camera (above).

I already have a panasonic lumix fz-50, which is a terrific camera, but the problem is that you can't just put it in your pocket 'just-in-case' something interesting happens... nup, it's the camera you take somewhere when you know you're going to be taking lots of photos, and you have a bag.

This little one, is for the other stuff.
I also treated myself this xmas to a new watch: it's a beautiful victorinox automatic.

Not much else happening really.. work is going well, but busy. We've just finished decorating the place for xmas, and it's looking fine.

Anyway, that's about it from this part of the world.

Best wishes to everyone for a merry and safe xmas and happy new year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Heathrow to get world's first Personal Rapid Transport system

London's Heathrow Airport is set to install the world's first Personal Rapid Transport system.

The PRT is a fleet of 18 driverless pods for business passengers flying out of Terminal Five, with installation scheduled to be complete in less than two years. Traveling at up to 25mph, the pods will ferry passengers rapidly between their cars and terminal check-in.

The airport claims there will never be more than an 18 second wait, no delays due to congestion and no need to consort with the rest of the riff-raff from steerage. It's likely this new PRT system will be the first of many, as local governments seek to replace car use within city centers.

read on here

Mira Hanai

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monster rat found in 'lost world' jungle

Researchers in a remote jungle in Indonesia have discovered a giant rat - five times the size of a typical city rat - and a tiny possum that are apparently new to science.

Unearthing new species of mammals in the 21st century is very rare. The discoveries by a team of American and Indonesian scientists are being studied further to confirm their status.

The animals were found in the Foja mountains rainforest in eastern Papua province in a June expedition, said US-based Conservation International, which organised the trip along with the Indonesian Institute of Science.

"The giant rat is about five times the size of a typical city rat," said Kristofer Helgen, a scientist with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

"With no fear of humans, it apparently came into the camp several times during the trip."

The possum was described as "one of the world's smallest marsupials".

A 2006 expedition to the same stretch of jungle - dubbed by Conservation International as a "Lost World" because until then humans had rarely visited it - unearthed scores of exotic new species of palms, butterflies and palms.

Papua has some of the world's largest tracts of rainforest, but like elsewhere in Indonesia they are being ravaged by illegal logging.

Scientists said last year that the Foja area was not under immediate threat, largely because it was so remote.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Jerry's Breakdown

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hotta Yukia

The differences between east & west


way of life


at a party

sundays on the road

queue when waiting



three meals a day

handling of problems

in the restaurant

elderly in daily life

moods and the weather

the boss

what's trendy

.. some humourous, some thought provoking, some a little strange. But as a westerner living in Asia, I had to post this.

(oh and before anyone calls me rascist, this was sent by an Asian friend)


Odd Search