An actual, real, website hit counter that sits on your desk

Friday, 11 December, 2015

Photo by Jeroen Domburg

There were few websites around in the late 1990s, including this one, that didn’t feature a hit counter. They may not have been the most elegant of elements sitting upon a webpage, but in the days before the analytics tools that we take for granted today came along, they were one of the few ways that website owners could gauge visitor numbers.

But how cool might an actual hit counter, rather than something virtual, that would emit an audible click, each time someone looked up your website, have been? Using a mechanical impulse counter, Dutch software engineer Jeroen Domburg, aka Sprite, recently created such a device, and by following his instructions, you could as well.

This counter would have an additional advantage, though: every time a person requests a page from my site, the counter would give a satisfying ‘Click!’. The more clicks you hear, the more people reading your pages.

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One shoe, many animated looks, that’s ShiftWear

Thursday, 3 December, 2015

Forget amazing technicolour dreamcoats, how about shoes that sport skin-like designs, of your own making if you wish, and animations, that you can change as often as you like? An interesting concept, if nothing else. Shoes like this should really have been in Back to the Future Part II

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The career is dead, long live the careers

Wednesday, 2 December, 2015

The way our children are going to work will differ markedly from the way we are now working, which is something that varies again from the way our parents probably worked:

Robin Chase was the co-founder of Zipcar, the vehicle-hire platform, in the millennium year. Her book Peers Inc, which reflects on that innovation, and the multiple sharing models that have followed, argues that we are already in the midst of a revolution. She says: “My father had one job in his lifetime, I will have six jobs in my lifetime, and my children will have six jobs at the same time.”

If nothing else, future generations stand to become experts in time management… juggling multiple jobs, now that will take some organising.

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3-D print-outs of paintings for the blind and visually impaired

Friday, 27 November, 2015

3-D rendering of Mona Lisa by Unseen Art

Unseen Art is an initiative that plans to make artworks more accessible to blind and visually impaired people, by producing three-dimensional print-outs of well known paintings such as the Mona Lisa, thus allowing these works to be appreciated through touch and feel.

A great idea, and I think many people, whether visually impaired or not, will stand to gain from being able to appreciate 3-D representations of familiar artworks.

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What do driverless cars see when they look at the world?

Friday, 13 November, 2015

When it comes to driverless cars there is an abundance of questions, though possibly the answers may not be equally plentiful. For my part, I’ve wondered for a long time how such vehicles see their way around, because, without knowing, it could be I’d find being a passenger in one nerve-racking to say the least.

3-D laser scanning might have something to do with it, and this video by ScanLAB, filmed in London, offers us a driverless car’s view of the world. Picture yourself in the passenger seat. How clearly do you think the car’s sensors perceive the roads they are travelling along?

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You’re not a real person, you write your bullshit from a dark room

Tuesday, 3 November, 2015

Hasn’t Instagram, the world’s favourite online mobile photo and video sharing app, turned us all into choreographers, art directors, screenwriters, and outright lying cheats… presenting Hashtag NoFilter, by Salzburg based video producer Matthew Rycroft.

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I’m live tweeting my #surgery, it sure beats an anesthetic

Tuesday, 27 October, 2015

If anesthetics aren’t your thing… engaging in an exchange of text messages with a stranger during a minor surgical procedure may reduce the amount of pain medication that is required. Not so much the case for those close to you though, it seems there’d be too much focus on the procedure, and that might ramp up discomfort levels.

Guillory expected the strongest effect to occur while texting with a loved one, but that wasn’t the case: playing a game or texting a loved one did reduce the amount of medication needed, compared to doing nothing, but those who texted with a stranger saw the best results, requiring only one-sixth of the pain medication as individuals with no intervention. That may be because the conversations with strangers – designed to be a sort of “get to know you” exchange – included more positive emotion words and self-affirming topics than conversations with loved ones, which tended to be centered on the surgery and focus on the body and negative emotions.

Maybe a network of strangers needs to be established so that we have access to unknown persons, who we can text at such a time.

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Predicting human behaviour, there’s an algorithm for that

Tuesday, 20 October, 2015

This is a worry. When attempting to figure out whether a student might drop out of a course within a certain number of days, computers sifting through the same data as people, were able to reach a correct conclusion in far less time.

It’s fairly common for machines to analyze data, but humans are typically required to choose which data points are relevant for analysis. In three competitions with human teams, a machine made more accurate predictions than 615 of 906 human teams. And while humans worked on their predictive algorithms for months, the machine took two to 12 hours to produce each of its competition entries.

My computer must be running these same predictive algorithms… for example my laptop must be able to figure out when I want to say go out, or finish up for the day, because right on cue, sensing I want to be elsewhere, it slows down to a snail’s pace, thus detaining me.

Then again, that might be tied to the simulation that we are part of.

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Is this most unreal life really a real like simulation?

Tuesday, 20 October, 2015

Do you have days when it feels as if everything you touch seems to break, or not work? Days when little goes right? Do you ever come to feel that some force is play, setting up these let downs, one after the other? As if you were part of a Sims game that some other person, or entity, is playing somewhere?

Could it all be an hallucination? Is the world we reside in, or think we reside in, really just a simulation? Probably not, but then again, maybe:

The other aspect is, “How do we know we’re not being completely fooled?” In other words, forgetting about whether there is a deeper level of reality, how do we know whether the world we see represents reality at all? How do we know, for example, that our memories of the past are accurate? Maybe we are just brains living in vats, or maybe the whole universe was created last Thursday.

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On making a suit from scratch, as in growing the cotton and wool

Thursday, 15 October, 2015

Living off the land, and leading a one hundred percent self sufficient lifestyle, is a prospect that would likely make most of us baulk, to put it mildly. While some people may, and indeed do, find the notion appealing, it takes a special sort. Try, for instance, making your own clothes, or as Andy George did, a suit, completely from scratch.

When I say completely from scratch, I’m talking about growing and harvesting the cotton, the wool, and the suede – possibly the most difficult part – that was also included. And for all the work he did himself, over a ten month period, George still had to shell out four thousand dollars. Value for time and money? I’ll let you determine that for yourselves.

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