Archive for the ‘Labs/Experiments’ Category

Preview of Sketch2Photo

Posted on November 16th, 2009 in Computer software/hardware, Downloads, Labs/Experiments, Photos/Videoes, Picture of the Day, Science!, Tech News | 1 Comment »

So, this is a preview of a piece of software which I find to be absolutely ridiculous.
I had not thought that anyone had actually been able to program an algorithm to do this as well as this.
Here, we have a program which allows you to do very rough sketches of an image, say a beach with some birds, sailboats, and a newly wed couple kissing. Very rough sketch.
Well, this program takes your rough sketch and keywords for each object and runs them through image searches online and *builds a composite image of it.* In other words, it outputs a “photoshopped” image composite of what you had sketched.
All fine and good, it sounds relatively meh on paper. However take a look at these images and you will be astounded at how real the final picture seems, especially when compared to what it was extracted from.

Check out their university research page which has more ridiculous images made by Sketch2Photo, as well as the source code of the program itself!

The Cardboard Bike

Posted on June 27th, 2008 in Labs/Experiments, Lacking a Category, Photos/Videoes, Science!, Site of the Day, The Never Ending Story/Other FLB Events, Things we should do more of | 1 Comment »

“Phil Bridge, 21, of Sheffield Hallam
University, said the bike was strong enough for a rider weighing up to 12
stones and would not go soft in the rain, although it has a life expectancy
of only about six months.”

One one hand, I want to really applaud this design for being very affordable, and I could easily see this as a means of transportation for people who don’t have the resources to afford standard metal bikes, but need a means of getting around other then walking. I’m thinking along the lines of One Laptop per Child, or the person-powered water pump we blogged about a few months ago. I mean, whats better then a bike thats made of cardboard, could be easily shipped and stored, or carried on a bus, boat, by hand through non-bikeable conditions? And its cardboard. Who’d really want to steal it? Its not like you could sell it for scrap.

On the other hand, I’m ready to say that this is just another embodiment of our use-for-a-while-and-throw-away society. I mean, who buys a bike they know will last them only 6 months? Granted, it IS only cardboard, so it will decompose in landfills, and the metal parts are supposed to be recyclable.

What I think would be a really interesting design would be to make metal parts as well as cardboard parts – this way, people in poor countries could buy the cardboard bike to get around, and buy the rest of the bike in metal form piece by piece – you could litterall buy it wheel by wheel, then get a real metal frame, a real seat, real handlebars, and then you’ve worked your way up to a real bike. It couldn’t be that hard to break the design down into four or five individual parts that places could stock in metal.

Read the rest of the article here

Travel from any point on the Earth to any other point in only 42 minutes!

Posted on June 19th, 2008 in Labs/Experiments, Photos/Videoes, Science!, Site of the Day, Things we should do more of | Comments Off on Travel from any point on the Earth to any other point in only 42 minutes!

So, what happens if you dig a tunnel straight through the center of the Earth, and jump in?
How long will it take you to come out the other side?

Turns out its 42 minutes.
No matter if the tunnel goes straight through the center of the Earth, or goes at an angle between New York and Seattle.

Cool game system mods

Posted on June 15th, 2008 in Labs/Experiments, Lacking a Category, Photos/Videoes, Things we should do more of, Time Wasters | 4 Comments »

Okay, I’ve posted about a few controller or game system mods before, but some of these are really cool.

How about this giant working NES controler/coffee table?

Take off the glass, clear off the old coffee mugs, and you’re ready to play!

Or how about this ultra-portable NES that fits inside a custom shoe?

Or how about this snappy-looking Alligator Xbox?

Take a look at these, and 22 others here

New paper is stronger then cast iron

Posted on June 13th, 2008 in Labs/Experiments, Science! | 1 Comment »

Scientists are working on a new type of paper that takes better mechanical advantage of the cellulose fibers in plant material that are used to make paper.

“In plant cell walls individual cellulose molecules bind together to
produce fibres around 20 nanometres in diameter, 5000 times thinner
than a human hair. These fibres form tough networks that provide the
cell walls with structural support.

nanofibres are the main reinforcement in all plant structures and are
characterised by nanoscale dimensions, high strength and toughness,”
Berglund told New Scientist.

Cellulose is extracted from wood to make paper. . .however the mechanical processes used to pulp wood and process it into paper
damage the individual cellulose fibres, greatly reducing their strength.”

Lars Berglund from the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, came up with a new method to more gently break down the wood pulp used to make paper.

“The new method involves breaking down wood pulp with enzymes and
then fragmenting it using a mechanical beater. The shear forces
produced cause the cellulose to gently disintegrate into its component

end result is undamaged cellulose fibres suspended in water. When the
water is drained away Berglund found that the fibres join together into
networks held by hydrogen bonds, forming flat sheets of “nanopaper.”

testing shows it has a tensile strength of 214 megapascals, making it
stronger than cast iron (130 MPa) and almost as strong as structural
steel (250 MPa).

paper has a tensile strength less than 1 MPa. The tests used strips 40
millimetres long by 5mm wide and about 50 micrometres thick.”

Read the full article (quoted here) here :

More music from random old computer equipment

Posted on June 11th, 2008 in Dumb Things That Happen, Labs/Experiments, Lacking a Category, Site of the Day, Time Wasters | Comments Off on More music from random old computer equipment

“Radiohead held an online contest to remix “Nude” from their album – “In Rainbows” This was quite a difficult task for everybody that entered, as Nude is in 6/8 timing, and 63bpm. Most music that’s played in clubs is around 120bpm and usually 4/4 timing. It’s pretty difficult to seamlessly mix a waltz beat into a DJ set.

This resulted in lots of generic entries consisting of a typical 4/4 beat, but with arbitrary clips from “Nude” thrown in so that they qualified for the contest.

Thom Yorke joked at the ridiculousness of it in an interview for NPR radio, hinting that they set the competition to find out how people would approach such a challenging task.

I decided to take the piss a bit, as the contest seemed to be in that spirit.

Based on the lyric (and alternate title) “Big Ideas: Don’t get any” I grouped together a collection of old redundant hardware, and placed them in a situation where they’re trying their best to do something that they’re not exactly designed to do, and not quite getting there.

It doesn’t sound great, as it’s not supposed to.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum – Guitars (rhythm & lead)
Epson LX-81 Dot Matrix Printer – Drums
HP Scanjet 3c – Bass Guitar
Hard Drive array – Act as a collection of bad speakers – Vocals & FX

Thanks to Afrotech and Dr Roland Shregle (ganjatron)”

(From the video description)

Computer Screens coming to Coke Cans

Posted on June 10th, 2008 in Computer software/hardware, Labs/Experiments, Photos/Videoes, Tech News, Time Wasters | Comments Off on Computer Screens coming to Coke Cans

“Flat screens for computers? They will soon be passe if the vision of Queen’s University computing professor Roel Vertegaal takes off outside the lab.

The Ontario school’s Human Media Laboratory is cooking up futuristic
computer screens on Coke cans that can receive RSS feeds and videos (as
seen above) and even on paper (as seen below) that blow away some of the other PC form factor improvements on the market or in the works”

Read more about this technology, and take a look at some photos showing what could be here

Yellow Drum Machine

Posted on June 7th, 2008 in Computer software/hardware, Labs/Experiments, Lacking a Category, Photos/Videoes, Robots!, Site of the Day, Time Wasters | 1 Comment »

This little robot searches for things to drum on, drives up to them, and starts playing.

Zac Web Browser for Austistic Children

Posted on June 5th, 2008 in Computer software/hardware, Labs/Experiments, PSA-Types, Site of the Day, Tech News | 1 Comment »

John LsSieur had trouble finding good software and computer programs for his autistic grandson, Zac. Using a computer (and the internet) was just too fustrating. Zach threw the mouse in fustration. So John built a custom interface. And its free to use or download – for anyone who wants it.

“The Zac Browser greatly simplifies the experience of using a computer.
It seals off most Web sites from view, to block violent, sexual or
otherwise adult-themed material. Instead it presents a hand-picked
slate of choices from free, public Web sites, with an emphasis on
educational games, music, videos and visually entertaining images, like
a virtual aquarium. . .

. . .the Zac Browser disables extraneous keyboard buttons like “Print
Screen” and turns off the right button on the mouse. That eliminates
commands most children don’t need anyway, and it reduces the chance an
autistic child will lose confidence after making a counterproductive
click.Children using the Zac Browser select activities by
clicking on bigger-than-normal icons, like a soccer ball for games and
a stack of books for “stories.””

Read the Boston Globe article here

Get the Zac Browser here

An Engineer’s Guide to Cats

Posted on April 13th, 2008 in How To's, Labs/Experiments, Lacking a Category, Photos/Videoes, Picture of the Day, Site of the Day, The Never Ending Story/Other FLB Events, Things we should do more of | Comments Off on An Engineer’s Guide to Cats