Social Networking
Little Man's Dilemma
When you've become bored of creating feedback loops with your iSight... what's next? Stop-motion movies of course! (Yes, I'm enjoying my weekend, thank you).

Here's a little short I made called "Little Man's Dilemma" — about a little man ... and his dilemma. The sequel will be feature length.

Go Rorschach on it's meaning!

iSight Visual Feedback Loops
What better to do on a saturday evening then play with things that used to bedazzle you when you were nine years old? The only difference is now you're doing it with equipment that cost as much as a car.

Here's some fun I had with iSight (Apple's webcam) — by showing the camera it's own feed we get a pretty nice vortex. The main fun factor separating this from old school TV experiments is that you have interactive windows on screen.

Recommend sound.

Froogling for radioactive materials
The world's ablaze with news of Litvinenko, the former russian spy who died of radiation poisoning. His family has proclaimed that president Vladimir Putin is behind the act.

A very happy man that wants uranium
After Googling around a bit I discovered something interesting: Polonium 210 — the radioactive isotope that killed Litvinenko — is available for purchase online for $69. But that's not all, they're available to the general public. You don't need a license, you don't need a big budget — according to their webpage they "Specialize in small orders" and deliver nuclear materials hot from the reactor to your doorstep. They even have this animated gif on their website (I turned animation off).

How to use Google to find private webcams
Google (or Uncle Google) is a wonderful tool. But as with all technology, Google can be used maliciously. Do you have a webcam in your house so you can keep an eye on your cats over the www? Well. For your sake I hope that camera is password protected.

Software that allows you to view your webcam over the web works just like a webpage — it stores documents on your computer (or some other computer, if that's the case) and when you enter the URL to view the webcam you're requesting a certain HTML document that incorporates the link to the webcam feed. So, when we know the folder hierarchy of standard webcam software — we can use our dear uncle Google to search for that particular string. If preventive measures haven't been taken, the Googlecrawlers have probably found those documents.

Here's a very nice view of a countrytown in Switzerland:
Swiss Town
Click the image to view the feed.

Of course, that Swiss cam is probably a public feed — but what about something more private? Here's someone's bedroom:
Bedroom Webcam Image

I'm not going to link to this webcam, you can find it yourself. And yes, those controls work. I could pan and tilt the camera. Imagine being on your way to bed and suddenly the camera starts following your moves? A positively unpleasant experience.

So, there are probably a bunch of different search strings you can feed to uncle Google, but here are the two I used:



All you have to do is search for those strings with Google to get tens of thousands of different feeds. Scary, eh?

The Web as Roadsigns

UserContent ConspiracyTheorists
User Voted Content Conspiracy Theorists

SpamBots Popups2 BadDesign
Spambots Pop-up Ads Bad Webdesign

AddictiveContent BadContent WeirdContent
Addictive Content Bad Content Weird Content

SocialNetwork InfoSharing Cult
Social Network Information Sharing Cult

GrowingBeta Illusions BadCam
Hot Beta Optical Illusions Bad Cam Movie

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

Wireless Energy at MIT
The pile of wires on my floor
After what seems to be many months of studying for the final exams (get it?), they're finally over. The first thing on the to-do list after that: clean up the stuff that's been piling up during those long concessive hours of studying (and stuff does pile up, oh yes ... it piles). But what always gets my mind boggled is how wires get tangled up beyond recognition. Look at that picture I took — a regular wire orgy.

That's why I was so relieved to read MIT's recent announcement on their progress in research on wireless energy! They've come up with a new design for beaming wireless energy into mobile devices — here's a quote from the article:

"With the resulting designs, non-radiative wireless power would have limited range, and the range would be shorter for smaller-size receivers. But the team calculates that an object the size of a laptop could be recharged within a few meters of the power source. Placing one source in each room could provide coverage throughout your home."

As it is I'm constantly annoyed by the wires all over my desk and floor, I'll be waiting anxiously for the first commercial products. If anyone has a temporary solution to this in the meantime, please, please for the love of all that's pretty and practical — share it with me!

While we're on the subject of MIT, check out these flying drones — they're really impressive and look awesome. See the picture below (picture credit: Jonathan How's team, creators of the drones).

The Flying drone fleet

Related blogs from all around
:: Nova Spivack has a short article on Nikola Tesla & wireless power
:: The MIT article on wireless energy
:: Videos of the flying drones

NYTimes on science and religion
Double Helix IconReligious Cross Icon
Just read an article posted by the NYTimes yesterday, titled "A Free-for-All on Science and Religion", available here.

The article is quite good in a gonzo-journalism sense, very fun to read. Some excellent quotes in there, like:

I don’t know how many more engineers and architects need to fly planes into our buildings before we realize that this is not merely a matter of lack of education or economic despair,” - Sam Harris

What concerns me now is that even if you’re as brilliant as Newton, you reach a point where you start basking in the majesty of God and then your discovery stops — it just stops,” - Neil deGrasse Tyson

There's also mention in there of Richard Dawkins' extremist standpoint and behavior, and while I actually agree to a certain extend I'm afraid that without extremists like Dawkins, there will be fewer who listen. Especially considering how many religions nowadays are manipulating people's lack of scientific knowledge and perspective in their favor, treating science like a Rorschach inkblot extravaganza.

Apple shares reach historical high
"The company's stock (AAPL) closed up 2.46%, or $2.13 at $88.60 during the regular trading session and is now trading at nearly $89 in the after hours session."

I spoke to early ... bonk.
Very disturbing Scientology videos
I didn't do anything this Halloween, here's my late contribution.
A guy goes to a Scientology fair with a videocamera. He doesn't get to go in – but it gets really creepy when 3 church-goers start paying attention to him, and even creepier towards the end.

Pay attention around 4:40 — the guy says "Why are you afraid of Hubbard? He knows you are here", to which the cameraman replies: "Eh.... I believe Hubbard is dead".

Not scared? Try this (beware, there are very graphical images in there) — another Scientology short documentary.

Virtual worlds becoming real
I've seen two major news about Second Life lately, one is about Copybot — a bot that's able to copy any object inside SL, regardless of wether the object is copyrighted or not (if you create something in SL, you retain copyright). The other is about a worm that produced a "gray goo" effect, duplicating itself in the shape of rings spreading over the SL world and slowing down the servers.

Now, peoples reactions to these things are generally negative. Of course, the copybot is a form of stealing (and using it can get you sued in real life), and the worm destroys the in-world experience. But ... they just make me want to play SL more often. Even if both of these things are "bad", I think their existence exemplifies the freedom of SL. Imagine the real world without the choice of doing bad things — doesn't seem so exciting does it? Without the freedom of choice, or the challenge of opposition — life wouldn't be as exciting. It's a sad, but true reality that trouble, war and disturbances are an exponent of progress. For me, I think this set of incidences give a deeper sense of reality in the virtual.

Apple Stock Reaches High: I Bonk Myself on the Head
Apple Logo
About three months ago, I was going to buy some Apple stock. As a serious mac user and supporter I thought it was about time to ... oh, who am I kidding, I knew the stocks were rising and was doing it for the money, ok? Well. Three months later I still have the E-Trade contracts on my table, and Apple stock has just hit a 52 week high. The peak, it seems, is due to the news of the upcoming iPhone — bonk, bonk, bonk, bonk....

Apple Stock Chart
Better get a move on it before things get better for Apple, and worse for me. This is the stock chart for Apple (APPL) for the last three months....bonk.

Who watches the Watchmen?
Watchmen Cover
I guess we will watch the Watchmen — just stumbled upon the IMDB page for Watchmen, which I'd completely forgotten was in the making. Watchmen is a graphics novel by Alan Moore that I read last summer, and was completely consumed by. The illustrations, storyline, characters — amazing. If you're thinking this is a comicbook, you're wrong. In fact, Watchmen is on Time's Top 100 Novels list of all time. And that's not a list of graphic novels, it's a list of novels. Really, if you haven't read it — you're missing out.

As of yet, the movie is in pre-production, due 2008. I was a bit bummed to find out that Terry Gilliam had thought about directing it, but dropped out declaring it "unmakeable", which I understand. Then Darren Aronofsky dropped it because of a time conflict with The Fountain. Bummer.

Related blogs from all around
:: Guttervomit has an interesting, short article
:: Interview with Snyder, current director of Watchmen
[The Watchmen image above is the official cover of the novel, made by Dave Gibbons]
A Clockwork Apple
A Clockwork Apple
Feel free to copy the image,
linking back to me would be nice (& digg it).
Wooha. A lot of Apple chatter on the blogosphere these past few days. First of all, tons of blogposts and debates on Zune vs. the iPod have been popping up like clockwork. So, I thought I'd join in and made this illustration to the left — if A Clockwork Orange would have happened in our time, Alex would have listened to Ludwig Van Beethoven with an iPod.

It seems that the Zune has had a lot of trouble, including slow sales, incompatibility with Vista (really, that's just sad) and a generally bad consumer attitude according to most of the net-chatter I've come across. However, I must say that the wireless capability of Zune is definitely a cool feature.

The other people-grabbing story is the Apple iPhod (I just invented that name, phone+iPod). There have been rumors and speculations about an iPhode for years, but it wasn't until now that it's been confirmed (just google it) that Apple will be selling iPhod early next year! Which is awesome and really makes my day because I've been hitting myself in the head these past few months over my bad cell. There are however, no reliable stories on the iPhod's features except that it will have a 2Mpx camera. However, Apple recently filed a patent application for an iPod where the user can add and configure the buttons themselves. Cool concept ... or is it? I am kind of hoping for something more intuitive.

Finally... a pretty damn funny video.

Related blogs from all around
:: How To Not Market Your New Music Player
:: Zune and Vista Incompatible (News article)

It's Cold in Reykjavik
A cold day in Reykjavik:

First look at Me.dium
I managed to get a beta-account at a new social-networking-type mechanism called Me.dium. It's a plugin for Firefox (and soon for IE7) which allows you to see other surfers, and what they're looking at.

The Me.dium page contains this description:

"Me.dium gives you a real-time view into your online world, wherever you happen to be. Your online world is created by the activity of everyone using Me.dium and the relationships between their activity and yours. In other words, your activity online – your path throughout the Internet – gets compared to the activity and paths of everyone else using Me.dium. Where your paths intersect and overlap, Me.dium creates relationships between you and those people, as well as the things (web pages, video files, etc.) they’re looking at, and reveals all of that information through the Me.dium window.

Medium Login Window
The download process was quite simple — clicked a download button and Firefox took care of installing the plugin. After restart, a login window appeared, splitting my browser window.

After logging in which they, oddly, call "crossover" (probably to make this sound like crossing over to the "other side", or something), I got a view of some nice little icons floating around representing the people currently using Medium... and presumably looking at similar webpages across the web. See screenshot here on the side. I think it's a bit annoying that the names of pages are dotted ou...

It also seems as if some peoples names do not appear. On the pic here on the side, only Joanna's name is visible — which has probably got something to do with whether you have selected "Visible for all", "Visible for friends" or "Visible to none", which are all options which appear when you click on your icon above the chatbar.

Also, clicking on the icons doesn't do anything but bring you to the page these people are looking at, there's no "View profile" option — which isn't necessarily that big a deal, but it would be in the community spirit if you could. For example, if clicking on a person would bring you to their website.

One terribly annoying thing: You can't open pages directly into a new tab by option-clicking — clicking a person will just load their page in the current window. So you need to open a new tab before you click.

Mouse Hover Over people
Moving your mouse over a person will display the title of the page they are looking at, along with the page's URL.

Picture 14

Picture 15

The chat system is tabbed, which is nice, but I'm not quite sure how it works yet. Seemed to me that everytime I typed something it opened a new tab. Their tutorial wasn't clear on how that worked, either. On my Mac, when somebody typed something the Firefox bounced in my dock, which is nice — but maybe not around over-eager people. Didn't find an option to turn it off either.

In any case, Me.dium is pretty cool — this is of course a beta, and I look forward to seeing future upgrades.

Do Icelanders Dream of Electric Sheep?
Small Electric Sheep's head.
In a country with more sheep than people, it's obvious that many Icelanders dream of sheep, but my question is whether these sheep are electric ... or plain old organic? Is Iceland moving towards a more digital future? I sure hope so.

In 2005, there were exactly 454.950 sheep in Iceland according to the Icelandic ThingCounter Association (Hagstofa Íslands), but only .... unfortunately their website choked while I was checking, so I can't tell you exactly how many people — but I do remember news about some poor lady recently giving birth to child number 300.000, so that's an approximate. Oh, hold on — here it is: In 2005 there were 299.891. Okay, so we've established that Icelanders are outnumbered by sheep which was supposed to be a 2 sentence joke ... on with the actual article.

In the eyes of many people who don't live here, I can imagine that we're igloo-building, whale killing sheep herders (that's all true, by the way. My igloo has a broadband connection). My concern is whether Iceland is going to continue being an island of sheep herders, or if we're going to embrace the future and become "the glowing island of technology, with so many neon lighted gadgets and robots that it can be spotted from Mars".

Iceland has thankfully adopted a lot of the latest in technology, such as high-speed internet connections (I'll be getting a fiberoptic connection early next year, 20-30mb+ wooha!) and gigantic wi-fi areas — a local phone company recently made a whole mall a hotspot... which, oddly, I've only used once. Shows how often I leave the house.

Large Electric Sheep's Head
A small team of young entrepreneurs decided to start a gaming company called CPP In 1997 — their first product was EVE Online, which nowadays breaks world records on a regular basis (number of players online in a consistent virtual world). Without reading to much into the success of one company — this kind of accomplishment really makes heavy industry plans (dams, smelting, etc.) smell of sheep herding. And there have been more "world" successful software companies back here: In 2004, HEX Software got nominated to Red Herring's list of Top 100 innovators.

We're seeing a lot of exciting stuff happening at Reykjavík University as well, I recently blogged about the world's first A.I. Radioshow Host, for example. Last year Iceland also saw its first A.I. festival, opened the first A.I. lab (which has now grown to be the most powerful research lab at RU) and started Iceland's first society for A.I. — if not all technology, then at least artificial intelligence is catching on.

There's no reason (to my knowledge) to think that Iceland can't become a leading developer of software. The software industry doesn't require foreign workers to move here (it has been reported that Icelanders generally do not care for labor work) — digital connections to foreign workforce would be sufficient. It doesn't require gigantic dams or housing, nor does it attract an angry protesting mob (as the heavy industry does) — and it doesn't require a lot of energy resources for transportation (digital transportation doesn't need oil from the Middle-east). Come to think of it, if the majority of Icelandic exportation was software — this little Island wouldn't need a lot of help from anybody. We'd have heating (Iceland has hot water resources), electricity (hot water again, and ok, a couple of dams) — and with our newly acquired electric sheep, we could just eat the organic ones.

All jokes aside, with decisive measures on behalf of the Icelandic government, I think we'd have a good shot at becoming large in the software development industry.

What do you think? I'd like to hear your comment on the subject! Do You Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Icelanders Dream of Electric Sheep? Logo
Help spread the question!
Support tech innovation in Iceland!
Do Icelanders Dream of Electric Sheep?
Display the logo on your website and link to this article!

Silent Aircraft Design by Cambridge and MIT
Picture of the Silent Aircraft
A CNet photo-article portrays a new and very futuristic design of aircrafts. The new design would reduce noise and spend 25% less fuel than similar aircrafts of today. Check the article out here, and then here's the Silent Aircraft Initiative webpage.
NYTimes: "Entrepreneurs See a Web Guided by Common Sense"
A couple of days ago the posted an article with the above title, about the possible future of the www. Nova Spivack, head of Radar Networks is one of the interviewees, which is pretty cool because Kristinn (my brother) was originally the lead inventor & developer for the software Radar Networks is developing.

The article covers issues relating to the concept of a semantic web — i.e. in short: the web + a layer of meaning/metadata so computers can actually understand or make sense of what they're working with. It's a really cool concept and most definitely where we are headed. The article was the fourth most emailed story on NYTimes for two days! Way to go. Really look forward to seeing Radar Networks release their first product — so I've signed up on
their webpage.

I recommend checking out
the article. Also, if you're interested in these things, Spivack has a weblog that he regularly posts interesting stuff on.
A.I. Systems Integration
A chart illustrating A.I. integration.
After reading up on the A.I. information on Wikipedia, I felt it was completely lacking info on AI systems integration, so I decided to write a new article. Integration is a field I find very exciting, and most definitely a large part of future systems.

You can check out the article
here — it's a snapshot of what the page looked like right after I wrote it, in case you're looking at this in the future when the article has been edited to shreds. I made the pic on the side here especially for that article. I'm releasing it under a Creative Commons license.
The World's First A.I. Radioshow Host
Picture of Superhumanoid's body
After little or no A.I. & work related blog entries, I thought I'd report a bit on the A.I. lab's project "SuperRadioHost" — the world's first fully autonomous radioshow host.

The project is a product of The
Center for Analysis and Design of Intelligent Agents, Reykjavík University's artificial intelligence laboratory, and in fact, Iceland's first A.I. lab. But while the lab is young (2 years), there has been very a sharp rise in both the amount of research projects and the number of students since it was founded, and CADIA has become RU's most active and prominent research laboratory.

SuperRadioHost Image
A promo-picture
for SuperRadioHost
Amongst some of the excellent projects at the lab, SuperRadioHost is the first phase in a series of human-like artificial intelligence projects called The CADIA Superhumanoids (the picture above is of the Superhumanoid Body, which I designed in 2005 for the Superhumanoid project). The explicit goal of the SuperRadioHost project is to create a fully autonomous, artificial personality to manage it's (his) own radioshow. And we're not talking about just reading the names of the songs before they're played (although that's probably part of the deal), but a talkshow — with live interviews. Yes, SuperRadioHost is intended to call up interviewees through phone and carry out realtime conversations — how cool is that?! To be a bit more specific, these are some of the goals that have been made public:

:: Task, action, sentence and speech planning
:: Dynamic, highly flexible sentence understanding, generation and turntaking
:: Ability to interview humans
:: Ability to interrupt human speaker, and be interrupted

Technical Info

OpenAIR logo
The SuperRadioHost is being built by principles of the Constructionist Design Methodology (CDM), a methodology for creating interactive, artificial intelligences. In short, the CDM advocates a modular approach to A.I., i.e. having a number of specific-function modules, or program parts, produce the overall large-scale behavior of the system. The components communicate through the Psyclone AIOS, an advanced blackboard system for A.I., and the OpenAIR message protocol.The SuperRadioHost is currently using 12 networked desktop machines for various speech and planning processes, along with two workhorse computers for speech synthesis and input pre-processing.

Launch Date

The SuperRadioHost is still under development at the lab, but was recently displayed for the first time at a public science fair in Reykjavík, Iceland. Needless to say, the project made quite an impact within the Icelandic media; A frequently asked question was whether this would render human run radioshows obsolete, with radioshow hosts calling one after the other to ask about this new inhuman competitor (humanoids killed the radiostar?). Well, I guess we'll find out
next year when SuperRadioHost, whose show will be called "Radioactive with SuperRadioHost", is scheduled to get his own public, national radioshow in Iceland.

Related Links

Reykjavík University's A.I. Lab
:: SuperRadioHost
The project page at CADIA
An online organization for collaboration on large scale A.I. systems (CDM related)
:: Vélaldin Emergence Engine
My research software project at CADIA
Apple Macintosh Commercials
I just uploaded a collection of some of my favorite Apple Macintosh commercials, which I seriously recommend you take a look at.
I'm categorizing this post under "Art" for a reason. Some of the coolest commercials I've ever seen.

You can watch them all here.
Please note: I strongly recommend not using Internet Explorer to view this page.