Sunday, July 25, 2010

Housework goes sci-fi

I'm still fascinated by the design student projects in the Electrolux Design Lab 2010 finals, especially the Australian thought controlled kitchen, which seems to be using similar technology to some Michael saw on display in TED Global from Australian research like Emotiv.

View in conjunction with Rita Felski's article on EveryDay Life for a deep look.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

The play - Robots - Les Voyages Extraordinaires - Compagnie de théâtre

The question of the play Robots - Will he give up his robots for 'her'?

"A stylish mechanical danseuse shifts sensually around the room, troubling the already somewhat addled mind of our gentleman. We have entered an alternate universe, on that’s at once poetic and decadent."

I suppose we must call this an alternate universe but I think it is very real. Many people find their virtual interactions more comforting than their 'real' ones. The core appeal of the play is the first real use of 'real' robots on stage. Hybrid or virtual robots are far more successful at infiltrating our lives.

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About « Robots – The Podcast for News and Views on Robotics

Fantastic site for robotics information!

Robots is a non-profit association based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland. Robots is dedicated to providing free, high quality, educational information for the robotics community and the general public. Robots‘ main publication, the Robots podcast, is available via Apple iTunes and all other major podcast servers.

Robots is the podcast for news and views on robotics. In addition to insights from high-profile professionals, Robots will take you for a ride through the world’s research labs, robotics companies and their latest innovations.

New episodes are released every two weeks, on Fridays at 9am GMT.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Feral Art of Newtown | Is it a Banksy?

Is it a Banksy? At the corner of our street, this insouciant cat saunters through the garbage in the headlights passing glare.

Banksy was here for the recent launch of Exit Through the Gift Shop at the Sydney Film Festival. Could it be?

Either way, it's a joyful thing.

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Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom

More details are surfacing about why, a blogging platform that claimed to service more than 70,000 blogs, was mysteriously booted from the Internet by its Web-hosting company.

The site was shut down after FBI agents informed executives of, Blogetery's Web host, late on July 9 that links to al-Qaeda materials were found on Blogetery's servers, Joe Marr, chief technology officer for, told CNET. Sources close to the investigation say that included in those materials were the names of American citizens targeted for assassination by al-Qaeda. Messages from Osama bin Laden and other leaders of the terrorist organization, as well as bomb-making tips, were also allegedly found on the server.

But Marr said a employee erred in telling Blogetery's operator and members of the media that the FBI had ordered it to terminate Blogetery's service. He said did that on its own.

This past weekend, reports surfaced that Blogetery was shut down by the federal government and suggested that it was likely due to copyright violations. On Sunday, CNET reported that the shutdown had nothing to do with copyright violations and that a similar service,, a platform for message boards, was shuttered within days of Blogetery. It is still unclear why Ipbfree was cut off.

The disappearance of the sites has prompted users of each service to complain about the closures and speculate about possible reasons. Some guesses were more wild than others.

A day or two ago, there was only conjecture as to the reason for this server shutdown. Copyright violation was the most likely cause. But who knew! The real issue is 'who knows' and who has the right to know and/or challenge decisions like this.

With Australia's internet filter still looming and increasing likelihood of 'voluntary' filtering being the accepted approach, this example of 'voluntary' filtering at the bequest of an unnamed government authority for undisclosed reasons is chilling. Read it alongside the recent Washington Post and PBS special 'Top Secret America'.

Because, really, it seems that noone knows what anyone is doing anymore.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

What girl power message?

What girl power message?

July 17, 2010 - 12:08AM

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Lady Gaga courts controversy.

Lady Gaga courts controversy.

MUSIC videos are essentially advertising, but the clip for Katy Perry’s California Gurls, top of the Australian charts, is the most cynical bid for market dominance I’ve seen in some time. It’s a video underpinned by a marketing logic common to both soft porn and sugary food, where pleasure is a naughty indulgence in which a woman’s role is to facilitate the enjoyment of others. In food commercials, women nibble chocolate or lick fingers smeared in whipped cream, smiling coyly for the camera. They are not eating for their own satisfaction — god forbid, that might make them fat — but to illustrate a correctly feminine mode of desire: proportional, demure, and always conscious of its own appearance.

Anwyn Crawford speaks out about the MTV factory and the impact on women. Gender is continuously created rather than ironically distanced as far as the real impact is concerned. Unfortunately, longing for the good old days of cheap innovative music videos (Cyndi Lauper is cited) does not make anything change. However, criticality of the state of the art may feed growing disenchantment which may lead to change. Either that or new technology may replace music video with promises of freedom... for a while.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Electrolux Design Lab

Seriously, this is almost as good as the movie. Oh, that was 2001 not 2010. What's not to love about robot fish dishwasher, sheep vacuum cleaners and slime fridges?

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Child porn filter move hits snag

Child porn filter move hits snag

July 13, 2010

Comments 10

HOPES that a voluntary filter of child pornography will become industry standard across all internet service providers have been dealt a blow, with significant mid-sized carrier Internode declaring yesterday that it will not participate.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy late last week announced the government would hold off on its filter proposal until a year-long review of refused classification rules had been completed.

At the same time the government said three internet service providers - Telstra, Optus and Primus, which between them represent about 70 per cent of Australian internet connections - would voluntarily block child abuse content, with the prospect that others might follow.

At first this seemed like a great step forward. If the internet industry voluntarily blocked the worst child abuse from the web (http protocol) then the pressure is off the government to follow through with the highly contentious mandatory internet filter. Even though the content that will be blocked under the voluntary ISP filter is just a fraction of the worst child abuse content, web access to child porn is the most commonly identified 'problem' of unfiltered internet. As many critics of the mandatory internet filtering scheme have pointed out - other protocols such as ftp, smtp (email) and message boards are used to share the really bad stuff.
Now internode are on their high horse about how useless this measure is and that there is no transparency or accountability in the filter list and the keepers of the list. What no one is pointing out is that the majority of ISPs are going ahead with the voluntary filter, which has a real feel good factor, but has absolutely none of the accountability and transparency of the very flawed government model. We are handing over control, yet again, to corporate interests, because the debate is getting too damn difficult. Hello, democracy.

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MoonCakes |

One of our Newtown Kids' entries in Moonbots - A Google Lunar X Prize Lego Mindstorms Challenge. We were the only entrants from Australia! As the younger competitors were a late addition, we didn't have much time to prepare and compared to some of the older team entries it shows, but these guys got very involved in the design concepts. Only the kept testing instead of researching! We're looking forward to the next robot competition. (more on the site)

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GreenEggsAndHam |

One of our Newtown Kids' entries in Moonbots - A Google Lunar X Prize Lego Mindstorms Challenge. We didn't have much time to do it and compared to some of the other team entries it shows, but the girls really threw themselves into the research and rehearsed their presentation (in only one hour!). They're looking forward to the next robot competition. (more on the site)

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RedRovers - Moonbots

One of our Newtown Kids' entries in Moonbots - A Google Lunar X Prize Lego Mindstorms Challenge. We didn't have much time to do it and compared to some of the other team entries it shows, but this is a very candid look at why we should go to the moon! These guys enjoyed designing robots using Lego Digital Designer software so much that now I have trouble getting them to actually build one and race it for the next robot competition. (more on the site)

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