Friday, November 30, 2007

Assessing Scientific, Reading and Mathematical Literacy: Finland leads. Israel has a serious problem.



Yes, Finland once again took the lead in OECD's three-yearly PISA test of 15-year old secondary-school students, followed by Hong Kong (China) and Canada in second and third place. The tests we focused on science but also examined math and reading orientation. I happen to know one of the great teachers they have there and I can tell why. Other than solving Conceptis puzzles, being an avid puzzle blogger and community fan AND a great friend, Leena also teaches math in the past 20 years and must have a real part in Finland being where it is on this list. For further background reading, see Assessing Scientific, Reading and Mathematical Literacy, A Framework for PISA 2006.

I would offer the Israeli education ministry to consider a massive import of Leenas from Finland to Israel, no wonderly ranked by the OECD tests as number 39. That is of a total of 57 countries. With an average math grade of 56.9 within 10 years olds (Hebrew news from Haaretz) and after ranked 31 of 45 countries in recent international reading orientation tests I wouldn't expect Israel for any better. Every Israeli citizen knows we have no functioning education system in this country any more and that the future of our children is only up to our personal budget and status. Finland might be leading but Israel has a serious problem.

Official OECD announcement
OECD test results (pdf)

2007 International Robot Exhibition: seeing the light in the practical use of robots



We all got used to the vast difference between the kind of future Hollywood has been promising us for years and what this future looks like today. Can any of us have a fun ride on one of those cool personal flying vehicles we seen so many times? Has any of us beamed himself from work to the gym lately? I don't think so. Most of us are still driving fuel engine highly polluting wheels and the future is not really here, but still, it seems to be getting at least a bit closer. In contrast to most robots any of us ever saw and even to the extravagant showcase they put up in 2005, the 2007 International Robot Exhibition opened this Wednesday in Tokyo Japan emphasizes real usage options of robots and features quite a few of them designed to be used in everyday life.



Tatsuo Matsuzaki, an official at Kokoro Company Ltd., showing off a dental patient robot named Simroid that mumbles a Humanoidic "ouch" when the drill hits a nerve (see video below), says we can already "see the light in the practical use of robots". Shoichi Hamada, a senior official at the Japan Robot Association said that two years after the 2005 Expo which showed "the future of life with robots" we have no came to a point where it's time to see how we can actually use them. "Now practical application of robots is in sight," Hamada told AFP. "Many companies here are in a position to let people see what the robots can actually do at this stage of technology."



Approximately 200 companies and more than 50 future looking organizations from across the world are taking part in the four days event, practically the most interesting robot show anyone can offer nowadays. According to a recent report by Macquarie Bank quoted in TechnologyReview Japan is an industrial robot powerhouse, with over 370,000 in use in 2005 about 40 percent of the global total and 32 robots for every 1,000 Japanese manufacturing employees.

Soon coming robots according to timesonline.uk:
  • Steps: Honda has a humanoid that can run up stairs
  • Exercise: The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology has designed a robot that can demonstrate exercises
  • Guide: Hitachi has a robot that uses sophisticated radar to lead visitors through crowds to their destination
  • Safety: Taisei has a robot that will enter a building and remove asbestos by remote control
  • Nurse: The University of Shiga is close to perfecting a robot that lifts people from beds into wheelchairs. The Riken Research Institute is developing an endoscopic surgery robot that follows voice commands to pass instruments to the human surgeon
  • Words: The National Institute of Information and Communications Technology has a robot capable of learning sign language. Tokyo University of Science has built one capable of reproducing mouth movements and should, researchers say, soon be able to mimic human speech

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jeremy Mayer: Cyborg robotic figures from disassembled typewriters



I have always been fascinated by robots and even more by Cyborgs so this fellow got my attention in just about two seconds. Living and working in Tahoe City, California in USA, Jeremy Mayer disassembles typewriters and then puts them back together as those amazing full size cyborg robotic figures. He also does that using no soldering, welding or gluing or - for that matter - any formal education and training.



Mayer is actually a rare case of autodidact who in our formal-education driven culture managed to become a "recognized" artist. Thus, his art is constantly exhibited in various solo and group shows, corporate collections and other public spaces. His larger sculptures can take up to 1,200 hours to complete. I met Jeremy through StumbleUpon where he keeps the following stetment on his profile. I thought you should read that too:

"People keep telling me to find a way to make things that take less time and that I can sell more of. Your planet is still so strange to me. What you do IS who you are. Do things because you love to. Share it with your friends. Everything else is waste."



They don't get much cooler than you, Jeremy. Cheers on that!

http://jeremymayer.com
http://mayerific.stumbleupon.com

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Annapolis Conference: all eyes are on, but also the doubts



Could it be that this time, the who know which time, some real good will grow out of the current global penguin politicians parade? Looking at what is still going on in the West Bank and listening to what the Israeli settlers and right-wingers have to say, watching the way the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are divided over the meeting, allow your humble servant to share his skeptic doubts with you on the subject.



This said, lack of vision has always been one of the worst problems of my country so, with everyone spilling his skeptic doubts all over I know I should do the opposite: According to a statement published at the Annapolis conference today Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed on launching a new round of peace talks with the goal of "reaching an agreement by the end of next year." I think that is very good. lets all cross our fingers see where this is heading to.



Meanwhile, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israeli TV that the "Annapolis conference is a continuation of one-sided concessions by Israel" the Associated Press reported, and earlier today Israeli officials said they will "begin reducing electric power to Gaza next week in response to rocket attacks launched against Israel from Gaza".



"Begin reducing electric power to Gaza"...? Providing the Israeli government has serious intentions towards Annapolis, this must be a way to educate the Palestinian people for something but I am not sure for what. Perhaps for how to continue manufacturing bombs using less electricity and lower carbon footprint. Perhaps this is why baltimoresun.com says all eyes are on the Annapolis summit. Low-power consumption manufacturing is a hot subject nowadays.

Images courtesy of baltimoresun.com

Monday, November 26, 2007

The end of advertising as we know it



According to a recent IBM Institute for Business Value study titled The end of advertising as we know it, and based on IBM global surveys of more than 2,400 consumers and 80 advertising experts, it seems the Advertising industry is about to be changed completely in the near future when: "spending on interactive, one-to-one advertising formats" will surpass traditional, one-to-many advertising channels and a "significant share of ad space will be sold through auctions and exchanges".

Furthermore: according to the study, Advertising will be viewed and acted on an "ad, and pay based on real impact" rather than "estimated impressions". Consumers will "self-select" their advertising and "share preferred ads with peers". User-generated advertising is also expected to gain more attention becoming "prevalent (and appealing) as agency-created spots."

Thanks to Greg Verdino for his useful lead.

Download complete IBM Institute for Business Value study (302KB)
Download executive summary (104KB)

Japanese Puzzles by Hands-On Mobile: are Paint-by-Number puzzles going mainstream?



Seven years ago when I started collaborating with Dave Green and Conceptis, the company had just this one picture logic puzzle type they called Pic-a-Pix and it only came with black and white pictures. It was year 2000 but in the west no one had a clue what we were talking about when we showed him our samples. It was a long way from that point to nowadays when eleven puzzle families, dozens of variants and hundreds of different puzzle models are published in more than 30 countries across the world. This includes Japan, where Pic-a-Pix and other other picture logics as Link-a-Pix and Fill-a-Pix are published by G-Mode (Japan's leading mobile phone game provider).

As opposed to Japan, In the west picture logic puzzles are still a rare product when it comes to mobile but, along with Sudoku becoming the world's most popular puzzle, even this is starting to change and people become much more familiar with other language independent puzzle types. It seems that the way for the world to realize Sudoku is a very boring game comparing to some other logic puzzles is getting shorter every day. Take Hands-On Mobile, for example, a developer of connected games and applications that released a mobile game package earlier this week dedicated to what they refer to as "Japanese Puzzles".

Following-up on their claimed to be successful Sudoku Garden game from 2006, the new mobile puzzle package includes both Sudoku and Kakuro puzzles as well as some Paint-by-Number puzzles, also known as Pic-a-Pix, Nonograms, Griddlers and in this case referred to as "Tenpenki".

Hands-On Mobile's Japanese Puzzles seem to be a feature rich application and claimed to support:

  • Multi-player puzzling of up to four players competing against each other wirelessly.
  • Up to nine pencil marks
  • Hint lookup
  • Beginner tutorial mode
  • Back statistics for skill improvement monitoring
  • Save solution status and reload later
  • Voyage mode allows players to take on all three games and unlock more content
  • Access to additional content by downloading new puzzles every day and by competing for the fastest time against other puzzle fans from around the world.

According to Eric Hobson, President and General Manager EMEA, Hands-On Mobile “the puzzle sector is a vast market, and one where demand still exceeds supply.” I agree with that claim and, even though you might say Mr. Hobson and myself are in a way competitors in the market, I would like to wish him success with his new game. Picture logic puzzles as his Japanese Puzzles Tenpenki are on their way to consensus and mainstream entertainment and there will be enough business for everyone.



Hands-On Mobile

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Amazon Kindle: read on the go with a wireless high-res e-paper display



Amazon made a big move today with the official release of Kindle - a new wireless portable reader that downloads books, blogs, magazines and newspapers to a high-resolution electronic paper display. Claiming to look and read like real paper even in bright sunlight, this new gadget from the largest book shop on earth is available starting today for $399.



Even though you couldn't get any Kindle shipped during last weekend's Black Friday or otherwise get an overnight shipment of your piece. Yet, Amazon still managed to generate a powerful buzz utilizing some journalists who got to play with the Kindle before the holiday. blog.scifi.com published this nice list of opinions regarding the new gadget.



To me the most amazing aspect of this major move is how the folks from Amazon appear to be well tuned to the growing public interest in Internet blogs. Apparently, more than 250 top blogs from the worlds of business, technology, sports, entertainment, and politics are constantly updated wirelessly on Kindle devices throughout the day. This is a very interesting feature in my opinion as it emphasizes what every print publisher knows by now - public attention is shifting as more people become familiar with digital life.

Amazon Kindle includes a 6" diagonal E-Ink® electronic paper display and offers 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi, 4-level gray scale.

http://amazon.com/kindle
More technical info about Kindle on this pres release

Saturday, November 24, 2007

SweetSecondLife: ranking SecondLife news



Sweet Second Life use the SocialRank technology to monitor Second Life sites by analyzing how sites and users link, connect, and discuss each other's content and determine today's hottest articles and bloggers in the field. How else could we possibly know, for example, that the crime for President John F. Kennedy's shooting, has just been reconstructed as a virtual Second Life environment?

www.SweetSecondLife.com

Money Origami: art of money instead of the usual visa versa

Origami, derived from the Japanese words "ori" ("to fold") and "kami" ("paper") is the ancient Japanese art of paper pattern folding, preferably without the use of gluing or cutting the paper medium. Here is some light Origami soul food for your Saturday morning coffee, right from my friend Vincente of the Random Good Stuff:

Making money doing art is one thing but this cool origami expert from Japan found a way of making art out of money and some pretty familiar faces instead of the usual boring visa versa...









Friday, November 23, 2007

From Columbine to Kaarst: the new nihilistic terror wave



We, the real people who send our children to school don't have any ECHELONs, CTUs, SD-6s or 8200s units to inform us when a new type of threat emerges, but we still have to realize the sad news: As if we didn't have enough of them already, a new form of anomic or nihilistic terror came into our world. It is very different from the common political / religious / military ones we know, it uses common Internet communication platforms as YouTube channels and Chat rooms. And its targeting our children when they are in school.



According The Guardian, following a tip-off from the Finnish police still investigating the murder of eight people at a school in Tuusula, Finland by an 18-year-old on November 7, 2007, German authorities closed a secondary school in Kaarst, Düsseldorf yesterday after being warned about:

"evidence on a closed internet chatroom conversation between several parties which pointed to plans for an attack in Germany [...] a plan to carry out a massacre, in the latest of a string of violent plots believed to have been hatched by students in internet chat rooms."

No evidenced link between the Finland case and the plot in Germany was reported but it does clear that both attacks appear to be "inspired by the 1999 Columbine shooting in Colorado". Now I don't know if you happen to watch Michael Moore's excellent documentary Bowling for Columbine (if you haven't I suggest you should), but to me, it becomes pretty much clear that we are dealing with a phenomena which will only become stronger over time.



The Internet as we know it was at its early stages when the Columbine terrorists, seen in the above security camera picture (source: movies.lovetoknow.com), had done their did but the message was still strong enough to get through. Pekka-Eric Auvinen could already post his plans on the web before going on a rampage at his school. Under the YouTube pseudonym Sturmgeist89, he posted a video entitled "Jokela High School Massacre - 11/7/2007" in which he pretty much informed us all about his plans. In addition to a YouTube channel, Sturmgeist89 was also posting to a MySpace page prior to his fatal attack. It should not be so hard to believe that if such an Internet platform was already active, it would obviously might have changed a lot for many Finnish families that don't feel safe anymore.



They say there is some good and bad in just about everything and at least in Germany, where - for the good and the bad - they always have been a model for efficiency, a new Internet platform is now reported to be in planning process, aiming to allow the public sharing information about possible attacks of the new nihilistic terror wave type. I am not sure how much would this system really be a transparent user data sharing / collaboration platform, or just a new way for people to deliver information to police authorities. I hope it's the first, rather than the later, but anyway I am glad its happening and hope this would turn into a global effort, not just a German one. If you are not convinced yet, perhaps you should spend 5 minutes watching the above video posted by YouTube user phoenixgenesis.

The worst school attack in Germany's history took the lives of eighteen people - fourteen teachers, two students and a policeman - in Gutenberg high school in Erfurt, eastern Germany Friday April 26, 2002, but it seems that what this attack didn't do, the recent events do.

The "Not for Public Use" photos above courtesy of nancarrow-webdesk.com

Thursday, November 22, 2007

vConvert: online video streams to local video files



Ever wanted to save a YouTube video on your computer or upload a file you saw on one online video platform to another? vConvert is an online service allows you to convert online video streams as those broadcasted on YouTube and similar to local video files on your computer using popular formats such as mov, mp4, mp3 and 3gp used mostly by mobile phones.

The vConvert server converts FLV to the selected format faster and less lossy than a typical transcoder. Just submit a url wait and download your clip.

http://vconvert.net

Image courtesy No Turn Left

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Redmond, fasten your seat belts: Firefox 3 Beta 1 now available for download



The Microsoft IE7 folks at Redmond must be fastening their seat belts at these moments, getting ready for their largest challenge ever as the world's most superior Internet communication software has just been released as a public Beta. Firefox 3 Beta 1, AKLA 3.0b1 is now available for download with 3 operating systems and more than 20 languages already in supported list.

The rumors about Firefox 3 have been with us for a long time and a lot has been written about the third version. This Internet tool is not going to be just another crappy recycled version of the previous engine with additional bells and whistles and a few "new exciting features" stolen from others and implemented badly (have you seen the exciting new tabs on IE7? how exciting). Firefox 3 is developed as a completely new software, with much of its core re-designed from scratch. The Beta 1 is the ninth developer milestone and includes many new core functionality features and changes to the platform scheduled for Firefox 3 (see 3.0b1 release notes).

New Firefox 3 Beta 1 features:

  • Improved security features such as: Better presentation of website identity and security, malware protection, stricter SSL error pages, anti-virus integration in the download manager, and version checking for insecure plugins.
  • Improved ease of use through: better password management, easier add-on installation, new download manager with resumable downloading, full page zoom, animated tab strip, and better integration with Windows Vista and Mac OS X.
  • Richer personalization through: one-click bookmarking, smart search bookmark folders, direct typing in location bar searches your history and bookmarks for URLs and page titles, ability to register web applications as protocol handlers, and better customization of download actions for file types.
  • Improved platform features such as: new graphics and font rendering architecture, major changes to the HTML rendering engine to provide better CSS, float-, and table layout support, native web page form controls, colour profile management, and offline application support.
  • Performance improvements such as: better data reliability for user profiles, architectural improvements to speed up page rendering, over 300 memory leak fixes, and a new XPCOM cycle collector to reduce entire classes of leaks.

Important notes:

The Mozilla folks say they do not recommend that anyone other than developers and testers download the Firefox 3 Beta 1 milestone release as it is intended for testing purposes only. In addition, If you blog this new further (you should!) please do not link directly to the download site but to this Firefox 3 Beta 1 milestone announcement so that everyone will know what this milestone is, what they should expect, and who should be downloading to participate in testing at this stage of development.


http://wiki.mozilla.org/Firefox3

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Shendoku: Shen Kua style sociable Sudoku project



Shendoku is a "Sociable Sudoku" multi player game of "skills, bluffing and cunning". The concept for the game originated with an educational project researching the Chinese mathematician, astronomer and inventor Shen Kua and the play reminds the famous Battleships game. According to shendoku.com "the development team decided to put themselves in the shoes of Shen Kua, an avid game player, and try to extrapolate what he would make of SuDoku."

Shendoku (all right, SHENDOKU™...) is not just an online project but also consisting with some books, some in the production stage and with the first book: SHENDOKU™ (ISBN 978-1-84728-627-7), already available to order from bookshops or at Amazon. The folks from shendoku .com says more books will be made available first through the SHENDOKU™ shop which is not working for some reason at the moment.

Rorohiko (all right, Rorohiko™...) a company specializing in Adobe InDesign® tools are the developers behind the Shendoku™ single player game which apparently use InDesign generators and some "other programs". Oh yes, Shendoku is still a Beta game and thus only available for evaluation and feedback on the Rorohiko website. It is claimed to be offered soon on Gideon Grinspan's WebSudoku where you will also be able to purchase eBook games. so in the meantime you can download this free eBook with instructions and a free sample.

www.shendoku.com
Official Shendoku blog at shendoku.blogspot.com

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Reveal Your Dream: Separation of church and state



Thanks to Leena from ConceptisAddict who encouraged me to reveal a personal dream of mine by tagging me for this meme by Neil of the neilsattin.com blog titled Reveal Your Dream: A Personal Development Challenge.

According to Wikipedia the phrase "separation of church and state" is derived from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to a group identifying themselves as the Danbury Baptists. In that letter, referencing the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, Jefferson wrote:

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."

My dream is therefore very simple: living my life and growing my daughter in my own country but under a truly democratic regime. This regime needs to be preforming its duties based on a constitute totally separating state and religion and treating all citizens equally with no discrimination of religion, gender, color or origin. So, you see, when saying my dream is simple, I meant to describe, not to achieve. What do I care. Dreams don't cost too much.

For this meme rules see original meme post by Neil Sattin. I have chosen to tag the following bloggers I am very much interested to learn more about their life dreams; Derami the Sux monkey from allsux.com and Weburbanist; my friend Cooper of Wonderland or Not who figured out how to blog for the most important things in life and write poetry at the same time; danah boyd of apophenia - the legendary Guru of all bloggers and social networkers who makes connections where none previously existed; my puzzler friend of the giochilogici blog, who recently joined the staff Nonzero in Italy (congratulations Klaus); and finally Tim Siedell of the badbanana blog.

Friday, November 16, 2007

BookSnap: bulk professional book capturing in the speed of light



Ever wanted your own personal digital library with all the books you ever had? if you did and ever tried scanning a whole book you must have stumbled upon this known problem: scanned book page images always come out twisted on their edges as you can never get the whole page to touch the surface of the scanner without destroying it. For a heavy scanning project this just won't do, it will take a lot of time and the result will be very disappointing. But this cute book-capturing device from Atiz Innovation Co. will do the job as it work very different from any scanner you ever seen.



BookSnap uses two digital cameras as a stereophonic image capture device instead of the old fashioned slow scanners, making the capture process much faster than any other scanner. The book is placed on a v-shaped cradle and a v-shaped transparent platen gently engages the book to make the pages flat.



A computer is used to control the gadget and send the commands to the cameras which then each capture its corresponding page. The shots are then sent back to the computer and shown on its screen. A proprietary software then enable the operator to preform various tasks as rotate, crops, resize and adjust DPI in real-time. BookSnap outputs all the images into one single PDF and is claimed to be able to process up to 500 pages per hour. Impressive.

http://booksnap.atiz.com

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Social Media to the Power of 7 Squared



Greg Verdino of the Crayon marketing company and of my favorite marketing bloggers gave this presentation today within a PR News Online webinar on social media public relations. Titled "Social Media to the Power of 7 Squared" his part of the event focuses on the "basics of blogger outreach and some simple ways to use social media channels and tools to connect with both influencers and consumers."


It has been a long time since I posted twice in one day but this presentation and the post that contains it were so nicely edited and simple to understand (especially using this cool widget from slideshare...) that I just had to share it with you folks. Don't be lazy and follow this link to Greg's post as there are some very useful links there which relates to the above slides. In case you don't there is also this pdf annotated version with some speaking notes. Its a 2MB file and comes downloads a bit slow so be patient as it worth the wait.

I particularly liked the following paragraph from the "Commitment, not campaign" slide:

"Any blogger can tell you that the post is just the beginning of a conversation that can and will continue (sometimes for months) through the comments thread. As a PR professional, you need to make sure that you (or your client) stays part of that conversation. Be prepared to comment, address points head on and engage in constructive professional debate with both the bloggers and their readers."

Friends who dugg this and Freeze Frame Urban Photography



I admit to have been neglecting my digging activity lately, mainly due to my daughter's new Varicella-Zoster feature. Yet, today when I checked on my shouts and followed this digg post from my friend suxmonkey (who also runs the WebUrbanist blog), I noticed something has changed and this new cool "friends who dugg this" ajax window was added when you point your mouse on the digg button.



I think this was only brought up in the last couple of days ago. As following the diggs from your friends is one of the best ways to use the internet nowadays so I also think this minor addition is doing very good to Digg's position as still the leading social bookmarking platform on the web. Even though being criticized for its user-moderation approach as well as various of other varying reasons, Digg is still a fantastic way to explore the web then just searching for stuff at Google.



By the way, if you have come this far on reading this, I also suggest you'd pay a visit to the Incredible Art in Motion: From Freeze Frame Urban Photography to Kinetic Sculpture post from my urban culture friend at WebUrbanist. As explained in the Digg thread and before you scream 'PHOTOSHOP' know that the above picture, just as the rest in the post, is of a real living street dancer, taken with a manual camera and was not "shopped" in any way.

Have a Digg account? Mine is here. be me friend.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Magicmirror: Enhanced consumer experience



As Internet begins to fulfill the expectations it failed to answer prior to the dot com crisis of 2000, brick-and-mortar retailers feel threatened, not say pushed to the wall. Thus, after long years of "easy life" retailers need to consider some new ideas such as this Magicmirror for example, from an RFID retail installations company in Italy named Thebigspace.



Expected to appear in a select group of retailers’ stores early next year, this hi-tec mirror provides "an enhanced consumer experience” by playing tunes and displaying "promotional graphics" for the particular item in try, product information and suggestions for matching items. Put your finger on the touch-sensitive glass and a salesperson will be right at your service with a different size or color.

I agree with that there might be some privacy issues and concerns here but also that people will get used to it. I remember when visiting Japan in 2004 it looked funny how things were talking to me everywhere I go... People will get used to it. Via portfolio.com

Monday, November 12, 2007

Kids Logic puzzles: Brain-training the next generation



As I promised last Thursday in my article about Sharpbrains.com and braintraining getting a hotter trend in the west I would like to follow-up on what I said about how sometimes things just tend to "sort out on their own" and what this post from Sharpbrains was just perfect for me for, so her it is, just in case you are not a regular visitor to Conceptis Free Weekly Puzzles section or one of the company's publishers across the world:

The most dominant player in the international puzzle publishing market has announced a new line of logic puzzle families this Friday. Branded as "Kids Logic" the new set of intellectual activity games is designed to have positive impact on children's cognitive skills, logic deduction, concentration and eye-to-hand coordination. At this point Kids Logic puzzles are only available to Conceptis publishers. Yet, the official Kids Logic publisher section is open for visitors and offers this zip with a few free samples. Other than this we'll just have to wait for some publishers to get on with it and make some publications available.

Proper disclosure: this new product line was co-developed by my wife, Nitsan, and I have the pleasure and honor to be serving as Conceptis marketing officer. Thus, this post can hardly be taken as an objective journalism item :) This said, and as you may already know, I am a (new...) father myself and as such find the new line of children brain training products to be very exciting. I really just can't wait until Carmel can try them! So, even though I am far from being objective here, I do think that if you have any children you should check this out. Following is the official press release from Conceptis. Please feel free to leave your comments here if you have any.

Free samples zip here



With eleven Picture and Number logic puzzle families for teens and adults, Conceptis announced Kids Logic - a third line of puzzle families targeted at children ages 5 to 12. Conceptis’ Kids Logic consists of different fun to solve puzzles and activities which at the same time develop cognitive skills, logic deduction, concentration and eye-to-hand coordination.

Conceptis’ Kids Logic consists mostly of new puzzle inventions never seen before as well as some popular puzzle concepts improved by Conceptis. The first release includes five puzzle families: Paint-by-Blocks, Paint-by-Symmetry, Paint-by-Dots, and the kids versions of Maze-a-Pix and Dot-a-Pix. More Kids Logic families such as Paint-by-Arrows, Paint-by-Areas and Paint-by-Symbols will be released in 2008.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Detonate on Sarah Silverman. We love you too.



Leaving very few overdensed minded folks unannoyed, this lady absolutely my favorite female star at the moment. Shooting rounds in automatic, having mercy for none, Sarah Silverman makes previously known female comedians as Sandra Bernhard look like good girls just came back from church.



"She detonates verbal WMD's about everything from Jesus's nailing to the holocaust to 9-11" wrote Village Voice critic Michael Musto who in his article Sarah Silverman Is My Kind of Cunt took the effort to explain this lovely lady for those who just don't get it:

"No, she's not really racist, she's actually commenting on racism, and even white people seem to get it. In fact, in sneakily subverting biases in between trumpeting some of her own progressive thoughts ("Nazis are a-holes," she grins, bravely), Silverman probably is politically correct—and that's the scariest thing this fudgepacking wop has heard in a coon's age."




This said, Silverman is still havening attitude problems with a quite a few folks thinking of her as a "f--king bitch". Some of them even very famous. Editing the Sarah Silverman article in Wikipedia by unregistered members or newbies, for example, is "currently disabled until November 15, 2007 (UTC) due to vandalism." I guess some people just don't read the Village Voice.



Smartly utilizing the success of Jesus is Magic, a full-length film of her one-woman show taken in front of live crowd in Los Angeles in 2004, episodes of The Sarah Silverman Program - a new hot Silverman's television show - are now running on Comedy Central and were recently known to be signed for second season. Sadly, I still didn't have the pleasure of watching any of it but I intend to do so very soon. According to Silverman's MySpace page the show is about "a detached and eccentric woman with no discernible goals whose tale will be told through an array of comedic scenes".

In the meantime, and only if you have a sense of humor, I recommend the following clip for an hilariously funny, great Saturday morning entertainment time. Thanks go to my FaceBook friend Roi for the I Love You More clip. Keep on doing the good work, Sarah. We love you too.




I Love You More
Sarah Silverman

I love you more than bears love honey
I love you more than jews love money
I love you more than asians are good at math
I love you even if it's not hip
I love you more than black ppl don't tip
I love you then portericans need baths

I love you more than girls love dolls
I love you more than dogs love balls
I love you more than the white stuff in a zit
I love you Like Gary Busey
I love you more than dikes love pussy
I love you more than my aftershow monster bong hit

Jewish ppl driving german cars
Jewish ppl driving german cars
Jewy ppl buying german cars
What the cock is that shit?

But maybe it's like take back the night
Maybe it's like how bleeding hearts grow old and swing to the right
Maybe it's like when a faggot calls himself a faggot

Jewish ppl driving german cars
It's the opposit of fubu...
But maybe it's patty herst siding with her kiddnappers
Maybe it's south african miner killing diamond wearing gangster rappers
Maybe it's like when black guys call each other niggers

Chachacha

Friday, November 9, 2007

Plants and Humans: Chemical substances vs Voice communication



I always knew plants are smart and use chemical communication methods but never before thought of these methods as in fact better than those we people use. Thus, I particularly liked the last paragraph in this excellent article on wired.com picked up at the mega-hot environmental blog TreeHugger. Stefano Marcuso (shown above), a professor of horticulture at the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology (LINV) says plants communicating via chemical substances and therefore having better communication skills than us humans:

"They have a specific and fairly extensive vocabulary to convey alarms, health and a host of other things. We just have sound waves broken down into various languages, I don't see how we could bridge the gap."

Actually, this is a very interesting thought. I always thought voice is not much of a communication method. I prefer asynchronous means like email. or chat. But still, you know, it is Stefano Marcuso showing that plants are, in fact, intelligent entities, and not the plants running their own lab showing how dumb we people are by not seeing through this :)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sharpbrains.com: braintraining is here, and is hot.



The amazing popularity of Nintendo's Brain Age and its sequel which has been a genuine phenomenon in Japan helped Nintendo DS to "revitalize the Japanese game market."selling roughly 5.7 million copies in Japan in just over a year. Yet, today, everybody knows already that the recent Japanese braintraining trend already migrated from Japan to the West. The new line of braintraining games on Miniclip, a bunch braintraining websites in Google's results and of course Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training activities, officially associated with the Nintendo game are just a few of the clues in this logic puzzle. Braintraining is hot.



As my work with Conceptis includes some research and digging for this kind of information on a regular basis, one of the good sides about this the braintraining trend is that, somehow, it helped scientific papers dealing with the the subject to suddenly emerge, or at least float on the surface of the collective knowledge available on the Internet. This whole new line of new scientific documentation prove what we always knew but didn't have any decent source to quote and support us: Exercising our brains systematically is as important as exercising our bodies and brain training games and puzzles can improve mental capabilities and health in people of any age. It can even help with pain, as already posted on this blog before.



Check out this amazing website at sharpbrains.com and their official blog, both picked-up in my Conceptis research today. Sharpbrains.com provide individuals, companies and institutions with science-based information and guidance for Brain Health and Fitness. Wow. Sometimes everything goes the difficult path. Sometimes things just tend to sort out on their own. This post was just perfect for me.

Tomorrow you'll know what for.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Open Handset Alliance: an Android bad guys did not expect.



The hints kept coming. After unveiling Android, their new mobile phone software, it appears that Google's plans go way beyond another proprietary new software. Instead a consortium of top tier wireless companies is already on the run, developing Android to be "the first complete, open, and free mobile platform" As Linux for mobile still has some troubles gaining an honorable spot, and giving the history of previous Google attempts to move things around, allow me to bet this might work and the world of mobile computing is about to be changed completely.



Companies in the alliance, already counting more than 30, say their purpose is to "accelerate innovation in mobile and offer consumers a richer, less expensive, and better mobile experience" and plan on releasing an access software development kit next week. Yesterday we learned that Federal Communications Chairman Kevin Martin supports Google's Open Handset Alliance saying "more openness, at the network, device, or application level, helps foster innovation and enhances consumers' freedom and choice in purchasing wireless service." More about the new open platform for mobile phones and the Open Handset Alliance in this official video.



According to InformationWeek Google partners include T-Mobile, HTC, Qualcomm and Motorola. "Google is picking holes in the traditional hegemony of telecommunications providers," says Google analyst and author Stephen Arnold. "This is just using what Google's already got. There will be much more to come." Google refer to their Android platform "the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices."



Google's Android competes directly with other smartphone software available in the market today. This include software from Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, Palm, and Research in Motion. According to CNET the new Android platform consists of "an operating system, middleware, a user-friendly interface, and applications." and we can expect the first Android phones to be purchased sometimes between June to December 2008. There you have it - one Android the bad guys did not expect.



As opposed to mobile operating systems, Android will not be tied to a specific device but will support a long list of devices from major players such as Motorola, HTC, Samsung, and LG as well as Wind River Systems Inc. that joined the alliance as a Linux commercialization partner. A minimum of 200MHz ARM 9 processor is required to run the new system, promised to be "flexible, compatible with small or large screens, keyboards and other input methods."

According to Wikipedia an Android is "a robot designed to resemble a human, usually both in appearance and behavior". The term was first mentioned by Albertus Magnus in 1270 and was popularized by the French writer Villiers in his 1886 novel L'Ève future. I wonder what Magnus would have to say about the new Android.