There's always some new trend every year that no-one could have anticipated. Who would have thought that 2009 would be the year of big ol' blankets? And yet... it is.
I'm not sure which came first, the Slanket or the Snuggie, but both are similarly large wearable blankets that have gathered a huge following as winter weather has cruelly continued into spring al over the northern hemisphere. Both big blankets come in a range of colors and both claim to keep you warmer than a traditional blanket (you remember - those things without arm holes?)
A New York Times reporter took the Snuggie (apparently it's "great for outdoors!") on a test run around Manhattan to see if wearable blankets are suitable attire for public, as well as private, places - read the results here.
Do you have a wearable blanket? Would you buy one? Or does it just look too silly? Let us know.
What are the 10 technologies that will knock our socks off this year? Technology Review magazine takes its annual look at what's in the pipeline. Among them: cyborgs, a chip that will analyze your genome for $100, and software to speed up the 'Net. Hurray!
One of these new technologies, currently called Siri, is that personal assistant software they've been promising me for ages. This year's model, they say, will be a mobile app that responds to either voice or typed commands and will do only relatively simple things like making restaurant reservations and checking flight status.
Bring it on--and please figure out a way to connect it to my Roomba so I can order up a clean kitchen floor before I get home.
Earlier this week, I received an email from well-known online gadget retailer Firebox. It wasn't a press release aimed at journalists, just something for email subscribers, a lot of whom, I'm guessing, are just the general public. The email gave suggested gifts for women and gifts for men in two separate lists. And I was a little depressed by what I read.
The email suggested that women might like a chocolate pizza, an aphrodisiac candle, or a sterling silver Love Heart.
It was suggested that the man in your life, meanwhile, would enjoy a remote-controlled helicopter or a fabulous iPod alarm clock with retro styling.
Ugh, I thought. Not again.
Of course we have to take with a pinch of salt any "reports" which are designed to sell tickets to specific events, but this one sounds like it might have a grain of truth to it (especially as the tickets are free). Womenintechnology.co.uk, an online job board and networking group for women in IT, claims that many women in the industry are struggling with some aspects of their jobs.
“It’s obvious at all of our events that these women are intelligent and hard working but just need help in developing certain skills to allow them to really push their careers in the right direction,” says Maggie Berry, Director of womenintechnology.co.uk.
Barack Obama may have to relinquish his ever-present Blackberry for security reasons when he becomes U.S. President in January, but no way will he give up exploiting the digital technology he built his election campaign on. Obama has launched brief weekly talks and will be posting them on YouTube. Among his promises in the first chat: putting $150 billion toward creating 5 million jobs by creating a new green energy economy.
Your response may depend on your politics. You can look at this reaching out as transparency in government - or as plain old politicking, notes Lidija Davis on ReadWriteWeb. Find the video and a link to the transcript of the 3 1/2-minute talk there too.
Well I haven't gotten over the U.S elections yet. And honestly, a large portion of our home PC's hard disk is devoted to the attention-grabbing pictures from the election campaigns - posters, photos, caricatures, magazine covers, you name it.
Perhaps it isn't too late for folks like me to collect election art. Even now, I cannot resist the temptation. One interesting site dedicated to the purpose is The Art of Obama - a syndication of Obama art from around the world since July 2008. The site points to some memorable Obama art - a rare customized portrait of Obama made from Lego bricks, a remarkable illustration of all the 44 presidents, the acceptance speech depicted as a word-cloud and many more.
If you're not able to lay your hands on the actual art pieces, you can still download some pictures from the site.
We've all heard of seemingly miraculous instances of people losing parts of their brain and functioning normally afterwards because the human brain is a malleable organ. If you want to read about some wild examples of how the brain can alter itself to adjust to circumstances, take a look at the book The Brain That Changes Itself.
So, it's not surprising that our brains, collectively, are changing due to the way we use technology. Those who grew up in an era without web browsing and cell phones are probably much more aware of how our brains are different now. I know, for instance, that I store and access information from my brain differently than I used to 15 years ago.
In his book, iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind, UCLA neuroscientist Gary Small explores the evolutionary change we're seeing in the functioning of the human brain as a result of our mastery of technological skills coupled with the different ways we now interact with others. Suggesting that the most successful individuals will be those who are able to strike a balance between tech skills and real life social skills, the overall message of the book is a positive one. One study he points to, for instance, showed that Web-savvy people have double the level of activity in the parts of their brains that control decision-making and complex reasoning as their counterparts who are Web beginners.
Find this book at Amazon.
We've talked before on Popgadget about some of the geek girls who inspire us the most. So when one of those women, Cali Lewis, talked about a site called Nerd Girls, an online community of women tech enthusiasts, I had to take a look.
The site aims to encourage women and girls to get into technology, science and math. The first
Nerd Girls Club was founded by Dr. Karen Panetta, a professor at Tufts University, to empower her female engineering students and challenge the stereotypes about women in engineering.
Why is that important? As the site says:
Anyone who has blogged for more than two minutes knows about the abusive comments the activity can invite. It's always been assumed that the anonymity of the Internet was a big reason for the proliferation of online nastiness - but is there actually something about typing, rather than writing, that makes people more unpleasant?
It sounds strange, but that's what a recent study seems to suggest. Researchers gave MBA students at Leheigh, Rutgers and DePaul universities a pool of money and asked them to split it with someone else, who they could communicate with via email or via written note.
Everyone lied about the amount of money involved (three cheers for the business people of the future!) but the people who communicated by email lied more. Perhaps the act of typing distances us from ourselves? It certainly distanced the CEOs of tomorrow from their consciences...
Call me crazy but if I want to go out to dinner I usually go with someone I already know, or at least someone I've been introduced to before. Or someone who isn't just in it for a free meal.
But new dating site Take Me To Dinner aims to cut out all of that tricky "meeting someone before you decide if you want to date them" business. Instead, you set how much you want someone to spend on your meal out (or how much you would be willing to pay -- if you're a woman it's usually the former) and then you get matched up with someone who's willing to go out with you.
You'll be no doubt devastated to discover that it's only open to UK daters so far, but if you want to replicate the site for yourself, why not stand on a street corner wearing a sign saying "will date for food"?
Via Shiny Shiny.