Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Geosense - Online Geography Game

I have enjoyed playing this online geography game for years. I even played it while in Iraq in 2004. It is a great way to brush up on your geography with a seemingly limitless database of obscure locations in countries around the world. You can play with several maps (World, Europe or US) and you can play alone and rack up points or you can play against someone. The target location is displayed on the top of the map and you click on the corresponding place on the map. Points are awarded for speed and how close you get to the actual location.

I am pretty good and often pummel my opponents who don't know what continent Ghana is on, for example. I at least can locate almost every country and if I don't know the actual city or town location I can take a wild guess (Doesn't work so well for Russian locations). Interestingly I sometimes come across a prodigy who really knows their esoteric map knowledge. I have found in several instances their uncanny knowledge falls apart in the United States and they place Ohio in Arizona and I can get back on equal footing with them. Not sure why that is.

This is a great game for kids to increase their geography knowledge substantially. The competitive nature helps keep them interested.

Geosense Website

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gigapan - Inexpensive Robotic Camera Mount

I came across this website and was fascinated with the images produced with even a cheap digital camera.

Gigapan Systems was established as a commercial spinoff of research from NASA and Carnegie Mellon University to produce high resolution panoramic photos.

Essentially a small robotic camera mount takes hundreds to thousands of pictures of a subject and software stitches these images together to produce a seamless high resolution image.

The model of the Gigapan system for small digital cameras is about 300 bucks.

Here's a 45 Gigapixel shot of Dubai

North Carolina State University's Insect Museum digitized hundreds of their drawers of specimens using Gigapan. The snapshot feature allows for annotation of the image such as species determinations and loan requests.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Autotune this

I have been enjoying the creative exploits of The Gregory Brothers, who have used the Autotune program to make some hilarious videos. Their latest is a mashup of a bizarre and entertaining Adidas Video feature Slim Chin - Beast of the Far East. He sound like Malibu's most wanted.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I know what I'm giving for Christmas

Toy Exec: I need some new ideas people!!!

Designer: How about a Dachschund that eats then takes a dump. The winner is the person with the most dog crap.

Toy Exec: Brilliant!! Make the poop neon.

via Boing Boing

3-D printing in glass, metal, plastic

I've been fascinated by stereolithography since I heard about it years ago. Originally it involved lasers and a polymer bath. The 3-D object literally rose out of the liquid polymer as it was being cured by the laser.

While not exactly the same process this company ShapeWays in the Netherlands looks extremely interesting. Essentially, they can bring your 3-D models to life in a variety of materials from stainless steel to glass to metal. I'm thinking this would be a great thing to use to teach kids or adults to use the 3-D modeling software packages.

In the past prototyping was an expensive process and was a barrier to entry. Now someone at home with an idea for a widget has the capability to get it done cheaply and professionally.

Video showing huge stereolithography machine making a car bumper prototype

Friday, November 19, 2010

History of the World in 100 Objects

I've been listening to this BBC Radio 4 series, broken up into 15 minute segments called the History of the World in 100 Objects. The director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor tells the story of history through 100 objects from the Museum collection. He uses an individual object as a jumping off point for great themes of human history. Each object has an associated page where you can examine the object in detail. Very worthwhile.

Radio 4 History of the World Homepage