Friday, April 6, 2007

21 Biggest technology flops

Computer World has published an article extremely interesting
about products which can be arguably defined as "big flops", all of
them related to the IT world, obviously... Do you remember DAT
audio players? Net PC? Iridium satellites / global communications?
The article is sort of a dive in the past twenty years of frantic tech
development, it is just natural that some idea proved themselves
worthy, while some others were simply not good for the market..
5 pages long, and definitely worth reading: by the way, did I mention
that on the last page there is the possibility to pick some more of
this "timeless" flops??? Take the online survey, and find out....

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Terminator strikes back

It happened very often in History that science fiction introduced
ideas that were later on turned into reality: think about Jules
Verne, for instance (travels to moon and back, submarines).
Today, the inspiration comes (maybe) from the well-known
Terminator 2 movie. Remember the bad terminator in that movie?
It was a solid-liquid machine, capable of reshaping itself into
virtually anything, becoming then more and more lethal... Well,
guess what? DARPA (which stands for Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency) has issued a solicit for a new program, aimed
at the realization of a chemical robot (yes, you read it right!!!),
capable of (from the requirements list):

a) travel a distance of 5 meters at a speed of 0.25 meters/minute;
b) achieve a 10-fold reduction in its largest dimension; and
c) traverse through a 1 cm opening of arbitrary geometry and
reconstitute its original size and shape, in 15 seconds

Plus, obviously, be able to carry a meaningful payload (i.e. weapons)...

Bit scary, don't you think?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Chinese Lunar Rover

Back after a while, and a hard time at work.... anyway, news are
that China has developed (not yet ready, but quite close to) a Lunar
Rover... ABC reports the story here. The chinese rover will be
nuclear powered, so power shortage is not an issue (safety at launch
and ground processing may be, though...). Rover mission to Moon
is planned by 2012, doesn't take much to figure out it will be a sort
of main rehersal of a Mars mission (even if going to Mars presents
lots of technical issues, most of them completely different from those
typical of Moon exploration). Quite interestingly, rumours are that
the Russian Space Agency is very interested in setting up a joint

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Virtual Parent

There is a growing preoccupation related to the issue of
teenagers pregnancies. Some institutions around the world
(the mexican government among others) are concerned that
teenagers simply take the issue too lightly, because they
don't have any idea about how much effort is needed to raise
a child. So? In order to show the kids practically what it
means to be a parent, they are using virtual infants. Yes,
you read it right: these "dolls" are as nasty as the worst
possible newborn, they scream, cry, burp, need nappies
changes (possibly in the middle of the night), must be fed,
etc. etc. ..... The kids who had an experience with them were
astonished: they had no idea of the workload that an infant

Monday, February 19, 2007

Asteroid Earthbound

There is a nice asteroid named "Apophis", which has non
negligible chances to smash into the Earth approximately
around April 2036. Apart from the fact that giving to an
earthbound object the name of an ancient God of evil and
destruction is probably not the happiest possible choice, the
news here is that this potential threat is getting a lot of
attention from the United Nations. There are probably the
bases for the development of a mission intended to deflect
the asteroid from its current route (the earlier the better,
since it would require less effort). Such mission must be
multinational, which is a good thing (a great opportunity
arises from a big issue). Let's see how things develop, in my
opinion (provided that this Apophis fellow does not decide
to look at our planet too closely) this is a great chance to see
nations working together, which is in itself a very positive

Sunday, February 18, 2007

AAAS 2007 annual meeting

First, what is AAAS? It is the American Association for
the Advancement of Science, and, in these days, it is holding
its annual meeting in S. Francisco. The issues discussed are
extremely interesting, and most diverse, from nanotech to
energy, environment, climate changes, endangered species
and so on... I just wanted to highlight the intervention of
Larry Page (yes, THE Larry Page from Google) about
science and marketing, i.e. about the ancestral problems
of communication between scientists and, well, everybody
else... It is a brief but very meaningful speech, which was
pretty much apreciated by the audience itself....

Friday, February 16, 2007

Open Office / Star Office will support VBA

This is one of those news that are (or may be) truly important
for the future of a software application. Up to now, one of the
biggest reasons for sticking to MS Office (and this was most true
for me) were the wonderful automation possibilities given by
programming in VBA. Open Office, while brilliant in itself, did
not provide an alternative that flexible and easy for the end user.
Guess what? Things may change.... according to this post, Novell
and Sun (two tiny companies, as you may know... ;-)) are joining
their expertise to include in the next Open Office / Star Office
releases a full support to VBA.. This is nothing but a giant leap
towards true office automation interoperability, allowing users
to keep their existing code and distribute applications (excel
spreadsheets, for instance) that work also under other office

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Back to the Moon!

Looks like times are right for a manned comeback to the moon..
This time, though, NASA is serious about establishing the
conditions for a permanent outpost.. yes, a moon base. Does this
remind something? Well, the reality is obviously another thing,
but may be equally surprising. This page reports lots of news,
info, curiosities about the new challenge, together with some
reasons why going back to the moon is worth.

By the way, did you know that the russians (USSR at the time)
succesfully launched a moon rover named Lunokhod 1 back in

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Lord of the Rings on a Mobile Phone....

Well, maybe not today, but certainly in the near future... this
week at 3GSM 2007 in Barcelona Telecom Italia (the biggest
italian telecommunications company) will present an
innovative mobile phone equipped with a flexible / foldable
display... which makes finally viable reading book / magazine /
newspaper pages on a mobile. E-books can then be stored
and brought around without the need for additional devices,
other than our phone (which is also a camera, a browser, etc...).
Nice, uh?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Space TV

Did you know that there is the chance to have a look at
what's happening on the Space Station? Or inside the
JSC Space Center Mission Control Center in Houston?
Nothing could be easier... Just open your browser and
go to the NASA Television webpage. You'll see something
like the screenshot reported hereafter, showing the
currently broadcasted show. ... There is anyway the
possibility to follow live on-orbit activities, which is
extremely interesting to say the least.....
happy space TV!!!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Revolutionary Desktop

Yesterday I happen to see this amazing video about a new
concept of desktop (more natural, if you wish, since it
reminds a lot a real desk...). It is under development, of
course, but looks real good.. Maybe, coupled with a
touch screen..... who knows?.....

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

WEB 2.0 Explained!!!

There is a video, published a few days ago on YouTube,
which is absolutely un-missable: 4.5 minutes to explain
the web and its evolution. The man who did this is
Professor Michael Wesch, from Kansas State University.
He is renown for his innovative (and most appraised)
teaching method. Check out the video, it's nothing short
of amazing.....

Friday, February 2, 2007

Acoustical Solutions

Today, while I was looking for some news about the international
space station, I happened to a have a look at the
Acoustical Solutions Blog. I must recommend this blog to anyone
(like me) interested in noise and vibrations issues (in particular
those specific of noise control). Especially interesting for students
is their page devoted to theory and education. Good Reading!!!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Where is the International Space Station?

As you certainly know, (you do, right? ;-))) there is a
Space Station orbiting above our heads, at roughly
400Km of altitude, making a complete earth orbit
every 90 minutes (pretty fast, isn'it???). OK, but....
can we actually see it??? Surprisingly, the answer is
yes!! Well, the station is quite big (more or less the
size of a football field...), so with the right tips it can
be seen pretty easily. The tips we need can be found
here, at one of the European Space Agency website
pages. Good luck!!

Freeware (and excellent) Text Editor

Hello folks, I would like to spend a minute to suggest you
an excellent (and most of all freeware) text editor named
PSPAD. I have used it a lot, especially for setting up
NASTRAN launch files. It is fast, easy, very good for
programmers, as it comes equipped with syntax
highlighting for a number of different programming
languages. Another BIG plus is that it can be installled
on your machine even if you don't have admistrator
priviliges, which makes it perfect as a sidekick of your
daily applications. Try it, you won't regret it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Linux distros

Let's say you want to replace your windows OS... or maybe you
simply want to try this "Linux", but you're not sure about
what you should do... First of all, you should know that there is
not "a" Linux operating system: there is a kernel, but there are
many different user interfaces (the "windows", just to be clear).
While MS Windows has relatively few flavours (Home, Pro, Media
Center, for instance), there are heaps of so-called Linux "Distros".
Which one should you pick? Depends. You want a permanent MS
Windows replacement? What are your common tasks? You just
want to try Linux, but without installing anything onto your hard
disk? The answer to this and many more questions can be found
on Distrowatch, the most complete website about currently
available Linuxes. Have a look at it, it's definitely worth.

Ciao Ciao

Monday, January 29, 2007

Basic Compilers for Windows & Linux

Did it ever happen to you? You would like to build a small program,
you already know Basic, you don't want to learn another language,
you want your program to be small, portable, no need for a
"formal" installation.... what do you do? Find an alternative...
Check THE BASICs PAGE, chances are you'll find something
useful (and possibly free). It's not updated very often, but it
has the great plus of presenting accurate comparison tables,
and in general whatever you may need to choose wisely. I used
RapidQ in the past, now it's not freeware anymore, but there
are many other good projects listed that you may find helpful.
Give it a look, and let me know what you think!!

Free Software

Hi everybody!!

Just added the "giveawayoftheday" link to the blog...
Spread the word, it is a nice website.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Let's get started

Hi everyone, this is my first post ever... No, actually it's not...
the first one has been lost because I had the bad idea of pressing 
the wrong button at the wrong time...
Never mind, the next one will be better (hopefully). 
I just wanted to say hi everybody, I would like to use this space 
for talking about some of my favourites..
So, if you never had the chance to do that, check out 
the NASA Human Spaceflight website
It is a really cool site, apart from being packed with 
dozens of amazing pictures... 
In the end, everybody would like to be an 
astronaut, right? Talk to you soon...