Saturday morning coffee [August 11 2012]

So much happens each and every week that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

The coffee mug to the right comes from Six Flags Over Texas. As with last weeks coffee mug, I picked it up while the Fahrni crew was on vacation terrorizing the Lone Star State. I like red and I like M&M’s. No brainer.

- Dark Knight Rises continued its reign as #1 at the box office last weekend. My family and I took in Total Recall last weekend. Meh, not what I was hoping for. It simply wasn’t that good.

– All I have to say is football season is here. Finally! Finally I can listen to sports talk radio again. Finally I can watch grown men try to kill each other on the football field. Finally I get to see Ray Lewis blow up some poor schmuck. Finally I can vent my anger at something besides people. Finally Major League Baseball will slide into obscurity again until next year. Finally football season is here. Holy crap it feels like years since I watched an NFL game.

medGadget has a video called Flatline. The video shows the work of Drs. Billy Cohn and Bud Frazier as they develop a heart pump that can replace the heart of a person. The pump doesn’t “beat”, but uses little turbines to move blood, i.e. there’s not heartbeat. I’m in awe of these guys as they built the original pump in their garage. Their freaking garage! Innovators to the core. I want to be like them when I grow up. I look at stuff like this, i.e. innovation in medicine and can’t help but think that everyone in the pharmacy automation and technology industry are a bunch of dumbasses.

– How about a Near Field Communication (NFC) enabled gum ball machine? Why not. According to a story at gizmag “The Razorfish Digital Gum Machine was designed to broaden the often limited current view of what can be achieved with NFC and does so in a fun way that’s almost guaranteed to generate healthy waves of nostalgia…After inserting a 50 cent coin into the slot and turning the lever, a digital goodies buyer places the smartphone near the release shoot to have an app, movie trailer, song, e-book, digital lunch voucher and the like delivered directly to the mobile device without treading anywhere near cumbersome SMS texts, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi waters.” – I really like the idea of NFC and what it can bring to the table. Several ideas come to mind.

– NASA has successfully landed a robotic space probe called Curiosity on Mars (August 6, 2012 at 05:17:57.3 UTC). It’s been all over the news and the web. It’s not the first unmanned probe that NASA has landed on Mars, but it should certainly be the most advanced. Some of the photos that Curiosity has been sending back are pretty cool. The official site for Curiosity is here, but if you’re looking for more information I’ve found the Wikipedia entry for the Curiosity rover to be pretty good. It’s not often that I site Wikipedia as a source of information, but in this case it turned out to be a good place for reconnaissance. I’ve also found some pretty decent images from Curiosity’s Mars tour here. Those aren’t quite as good as these older images, however (image below). Still looking for video of Curiosity, but haven’t found any to date.

– Speaking of NASA, did you see where their Morpheus vehicle went up in a cloud of smoke during a test flight? No. Well according to NASA “During the free-flight test of the Project Morpheus vehicle on August 9, it lifted off the ground and then experienced a hardware component failure, which prevented it from maintaining stable flight. No one was injured and the resulting fire was extinguished by Kennedy Space Center fire personnel.” Stuff happens. Know what I’m sayin’?

– A research team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have succeeded in developing a thin-film lithium-ion battery that’s flexible.  “The fabricated electrode showed amazing elasticity levels and was able to light LED lamps in a 200% stretched state without decrease in electrical conductivity.” (video below) This is good news for the world of consumer electronics.

– has an interesting article called “Obesity and Fitness Are Revolutionized By Reddit, Not Doctors”. In the article the author talks about his struggles with weight loss and how the internet ultimately changed that. “Until a few years ago, few people outside of my fitness network were familiar with basic, science-backed fitness concepts, such as increasing protein, ignoring dietary fat paranoia, and compound resistance training. Then, something amazing happened that pushed this content toward the mainstream: Social discovery sites like Reddit were born.” While I’m not promoting Reddit or any particular weight loss method, I will say that the internet can be an incredible tool when used appropriately. When I went on my weight loss crusade a few years back I did a lot of internet research before settling on a weight loss strategy. I ultimately lost more than 90 pounds. Today I remain 80 pounds under my original starting weight.

Engadget: “Disney Research think it can go one better on Tactile and Haptic touch displays by using electrical fields to add sensation to nearly anything you can touch. Using Reverse Electrovibration, REVEL works by strapping an electrostatic signal generator to your body, so when you come into contact with an object on the same electrical plane, that low-level field can be altered to create friction.” – Yep, that’s pretty cool.

– It looks like Sony is trying to stay in the e-reader game. The Digital Reader reported earlier this week that Sony may be releasing the Sony Reader PRS-T2 soon. Perhaps as early as this Monday. I like e-readers. In fact, I love my Kindle DX. But I can’t see what Sony hopes to accomplish here. Amazon and Barnes & Noble seem to have the U.S. market bottled up pretty well. And lest we forget that the market for e-readers is taking a hit from newer, more advanced tablets. Oh well, it’s not my money they’re spending.

– More Sony. Sony is gearing up for a new Xperia tablet. I’ve played with the Sony line of tablets, and I think they’re quite nice, but Samsung and Asus are the Gorillas in the Android tablet space. And quite honestly I think we have too many Android tablets on the market anyway. We simply don’t need another one. What we need is refinement of the existing Android tablets currently being manufactured. Innovation doesn’t mean kicking out a new piece of hardware every few months. Just my two cents.

Google translate blog: “With our latest update to our Google Translate app for Android, we’re aiming to get one step closer to the Babel fish. By integrating Google Goggles’ optical character recognition (OCR) technology, we’ve made it possible for you to use the camera of your Android smartphone to input text without typing. This makes Google Translate for Android one of our most intelligent and machine learning-intensive apps. Speech recognition, handwriting recognition, OCR, and machine translation all rely on powerful statistical models built on billions of samples of data.” – Now you can translate text by simply snapping a photo of it. Looks like my next trip to Europe will be a bit simpler.

– Lenovo finally announced the release of their new ThinkPad X1 Carbon. I won’t bore you with the specs, but in a nutshell it’s a light weight 14-inch ultrabook. One thing is for certain, it is an absolutely beautiful piece of hardware. At this point in time it is my choice for a new machine. My work machine is almost two years old, which makes it a dinosaur in computer years. And my ThinkPad x201t tablet PC is closing in on its third birthday, making it an antique. Time for a new machine. Actually, it’s time for two new machines. Maybe three.

– Speaking of new machines, what’s the perfect combination of hardware these days? With all the new smartphones and tablets on the market it makes me wonder what my travel bag will look like next year. Having the ThinkPad X1 Carbon in it sure would open up a little room for something else, say like a Microsoft Surface tablet.

– Scientists at Vanderbilt University have combined magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and imaging mass spectrometry to visualize the inflammatory response to a bacterial infection in mice. The authors they “describe the application of matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization imaging mass spectrometry (MALDI IMS) to mice systemically infected with Staphylococcus aureus to identify inflammatory protein masses that respond to infection throughout an entire infected animal.” In other words they build something to “see” the infection process. Kind of cool if you think about the potential application. You can find more information at Cell Host & Microbe (Volume 11, Issue 6, 664-673, 14 June 2012).

– I continue to be amazed at the coolness of consumer technology. As an example here’s a video from 2011 showing the Samsung RF4289 Refrigerator. As I said above, consumer technology is kicking the crap out of pharmacy innovation. It’s demoralizing.

– And more consumer technology stuff…

Hotpoint Innovation Area from

 – Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.  –Lin Yutang

And with that I bid you adieu. Have a great weekend everyone.

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