The Church of England has locked horns with Sony apparently, over the usage of Manchester cathedral as a backdrop for its latest Playstation 3 game titled “Resistance: Fall of Man”.
According to the news item on Forbes.com :
The popular new PlayStation 3 game, "Resistance: Fall of Man," shows a virtual shootout between rival gunmen with hundreds of people killed inside the cathedral. Church officials described Sony's alleged use of the building as "sick" and sacrilegious.
The church has demanded an apology from Sony for not seeking prior permission to use the church as a backdrop. Apparently, it expects withdrawal of the computer game from shop shelves, failing which it has threatened to take the electronics giant to court.
Meanwhile, there have been different reactions from Sony’s spokespersons. Even as Sony spokesperson Amy Lake told The Associated Press on Saturday that their official statement would come only after completion of their internal investigation into the matter, spokesperson David Wilson defended Sony, stating not only that is the footage is game-generated, but also that Sony had sought prior permission wherever "required." And well, the tug-of-war continues . . .
Image courtesy : Amazon.com
Via Forbes Online
A device warning a speaker that they're in danger of losing the attention of the crowd would be useful to a professor, but absolutely necessary for an autistic adult unable to read body language and emotion. MIT grad student Rana El Kaliouby uses intelligent software to interpret emotions from body language and facial expressions captured via a wearable computer/video camera combination. The video data is used to decide whether the listener is agreeing, disagreeing, thinking, concentrating, interested, or unsure. The result is an Emotional Social Intelligence Prosthetic that will vibrate whenever the listener's attention veers off topic. The eventual goal for the system is to provide the mildly autistic with an auxiliary notification of other people's emotions on a daily basis.
To train her software El Kaliouby used video of actors able to very clearly define an emotion on film. Now, the system is able to pick out the right emotion 90% of the time when using actor footage, and 64% of the time with video clips of everyday people. The recognition rate should greatly improve as more footage is added to the database, and the next round of training footage is coming from popular movies and webcams.
Illustration above from your friends and mine at the NYT
We just did our Father's Day gift guide, and as usual, it's heavy on the fun and the frivolous- and why not, gifts should be fun, right? However, when I was doing interviews about Mother's Day gifts a month ago, I never failed to mention the Dyson Slim vacuum, the newest model from Dyson which features the same "never loses suction" power, but at an ultra-light 15 lbs. I blabbed on and on about how amazing it was, how it steers like a Porsche (like I've ever driven one), how it sucks up weeks (or years even) of dog hair so deeply embedded that you discover for the first time you don't actually have a shag carpet. It also looks about as cool as it's possible for a vacuum to look. Since I have a small apartment, it unfortunately has to sit in my living room, and people, while I'm sure they're sniggering on the inside about why I don't have the manners to put it away (no closet space!), always comment on how it looks like something Apple would have made- clean and spare, but kind of high-tech and impressive all the same.
How crazy is this? It looks like a very sleek, stylish skateboard without wheels or a little surfboard. It's Webble, a rather ingenious alternative to those silly under-the-desk stationary bikes, and similar in concept to those wobble boards that help you develop balance. The idea is of an active foot rest that you can move your legs around on in a smooth, gliding motion while working at your desk (or watching tv or knitting even?). The Webble rides on ultra smooth casters and a patent-pending spring suspension and self-braking mechanism.
The health benefits of moving your legs while performing an otherwise sedentary job are obvious, but for me, it would solve another problem - the problem of being a natural fidgeter. I used to have a hard time sitting in a class that was longer than 45 minutes, and now I have trouble keeping still in front of my computer. I have to find excuses to jump up every ten minutes or so. I can easily see adding the Webble to my routine of fidgety movements throughout the day, and it's something I can do without pausing whatever I'm doing on the computer.
Via MoCo Loco.
I think I must be deficient as a homeowner, as I've never developed that interest in wind chimes and birdfeeders that many of my friends came into naturally once they bought houses. Wind chimes keep me up at night, and the birds seem to find plenty enough to eat in my backyard full of wildly growing vegetation.
However, I do like this In-House Window Feeder which creates the illusion of the bird being inside your house. You install it in your window just like a window air conditioner. It might drive my dog berserk, but that would just be part of the fun.
You can find this at Amazon for $97.21.
Via Super Cool Pets.
This Russel Hobbs Mini Oven for tiny kitchens fits in with my fascination with small living spaces (anyone care to psychoanalyze that?). Measuring 31Hx55Wx51.5Dcm, it has two hot plates on top and an oven with baking tray and grill rack.
₤99.00 from John Lewis.
Toshiba just announced their new notebook PCs as the world's lightest and thinnest, a title surely to be broken in the near future by a competitor. (They boast 19.5mm at the slimmest point.) The new PCs will be launched in Japan on June 22nd as the Dynabook SS RX Series, but in overseas markets as the Protégé R500.
The new PCs feature the latest Intel Coreaa 2 Duo Processor U7600 (1.06GHz), providing high performance and low power consumption with a battery life of up to 12.5 hours. Called the "TRUE MOBILITY" PCs, they include a new feature, which, if it works as promised would be a dream. All of the new notebooks are integarated with a "transreflective" 12.1-inch diagonal widescreen LCD which allows use of the PCs in virtually every type of lighting condition. Users can also switch the LCD backlight on or off, depending on whether they are indoors or outdoors.
For the Garage Band dads out there, here's a handy device for your Bruce Springsteen cover band, or just for converting your LP catalog into MP3s or CDs. iMic allows you to connect virtually any microphone or sound input device to your iBook, PowerBook, PowerMac or other Mac or PC systems with a USB port. iMic supports both mic and line level inputs via a selectable switch, as well as a "variable level output" for connecting speakers or headphones. Where it really shines is when converting old LPs and tapes into MP3s and CDs. Griffin's audio recording software, Final Vinyl for Mac OS X, makes recording old records and tapes easy, with several advanced features such as waveform-based cue editing and built-in 10-band EQ. Try it for Podcasting, use with iMovie, or even Final Cut Pro. $39.99 at Griffin Technology. (Evan)
These Compact Speakers, for just $28 from the MoMA store, don't require batteries, as they operate on power of the MP3 player it's attached to. A nice idea for a traveling dad who sometimes likes to listen to his music without sticking something in his ears. (Hoyun)
For the dad who brags about being a Boy Scout, give him this LED Lantern, which is perfect for power outages, emergencies, camping, backyard parties, or just when Pops wants to show off how prepared he is in case of an emergency. Up to 10 times more energy efficent than standard lanterns, it's also much safer and easier to use than a propane lantern, and because it's waterproof, you can use it in a rain storm. Specs for those who want them: 4.63-watt power, 70 lumens, dimmer switch to control light output and to conserve batteries, 80 hours battery life at maximum brightness (at lesser brightness for up to 200 hours). Instead of a yellow light, it thows off a white light, hence it's brighter than an ordinary lantern. The company sent me one to try out and we've already used it for a sleepover on the trampoline, but I suspect Dad will put it in the emergency earthquake kit. $120 at Lights and Knives. (Evan)
Is it really that weird for me to actually love the sound of typing on a computer keyboard? (Seriously, it's one of my absolute favorites.) I obviously don't think so, but it must be for something like the Silent Keyboard by Thanko to exist.
Despite its misleading in-house product code, which contains the word "siren" in it, this Japanese-layout USB keyboard uses silicone springs that enable it to produce only 6.0db of noise. Compared to the 30.9db created from typing on a standard keyboard and the 40db measured in a residential-area library late at night, there's no question that the Silent Keyboard is appropriately named.
On sale now for an oddly specific $33.17.
My parents have a gigantic magnolia tree in their front yard that has somehow landed on a list of cool hangouts compiled and maintained by Jackson Chameleons.
Oh, how I wish I were kidding. Then I could just buy one of these functionless USB variants for about $30, plug it into a computer's USB port, and walk away as the 4.7" x 3.1" x 2.4" critter rolls his eyes, sticks out his tongue, and changes color. My dad would probably miss adding the odd branch and a fistful of leaves to complete that temporary home for the live Jackson he just caught (to the utter fascination of my niece), but he'd get over it. Besides, no chameleon he could ever find outside would take on the nature-defying shades of this USB one.
Via Tech Digest.