Saturday, April 14, 2007

Screenshot Contests

Today I came across an article on Phil Ryu’s blog announcing the winners of the fake Leopard screenshot competition. The contest is just an interest builder for the hype-loving Mac community, but I think it has a great underlying idea. Using design contests can do a lot of good for big software developers like Microsoft, Apple, Google et al. Through a community effort like this a large company can accomplish several things at once:
  • Build hype
  • Find out what features users want
  • Find new talent

To make such a contest a true success, the “judging panel” has to be removed, or at least loose so of its power. For true involvement it is best to get not only images from the public, but also the decision on what is best. A panel could exist to monitor the process, and maybe select qualifiers (check for ideas that are infeasible or could never be implemented or are inconsistent with company themes). Of course, the software developer can not take all of their visual ideas from contests, some mystique is essential, but I think such competitions could serve a lot of good for big name companies.

Oh, and if you were curious about the winner of the Leopard challenge It is Eric Patterson’s submission:

I don’t know enough about daily Mac use to make real comments on the image, but to mirror the words of Wil Shipley: I think this guy has a thing for Asian girls.

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Men Look at Faces

A little while ago I made a post about what all guys knew deep down: men look at crotches.

“Women look almost exclusively at the targets face, while trying to gather information about the subject. Men, however, spend about half their time inspecting the face, and the other half inspecting the genitals.”

That study of course, was done with clothed subjects, but what happens when we are viewing pornography? According to a recent study when viewing pornography, men pay more attention to the face than women do. Surprisingly women concentrate more on the genitalia. The lead author states:

"Men looked at the female face much more than women, and both looked at the genitals comparably,"

Strange? I think so. I definitely want to see a follow up study.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Movie Review: AFTF

A couple of days ago I watched the authorized director’s cut of America: Freedom to Fascism (available on Google video). The Aaron Russo documentary looked like promising at first, but in the end was very dissatisfying. The documentary deals with how ever since 1913 America has been slowly turning fascist. Specifically the film talks about the illegality of income tax, the evil IRS and how bankers rule the world. The movie seems to be tailored to delusional capitalists that want to see someone more capitalist than themselves in hopes of feeling better.

The whole film is badly edited and badly composed. Random black screens with quotes and text are inserted through out. They interrupt the flow at illogical places and are never consistent as to the narrator reading them or not reading them. Aaron tries to narrate the movie himself, much like Moore does in his documentaries, except Aaron comes of as unintelligent, highly biased and flippant. The only good part of the film was not having to listen to the standard narrator voice at first. However, you soon realize that Aaron has no voice acting skill and his constant nagging becomes annoying.

As an interviewer and debater Russo lacks even the most basic competence. He forms arguments like “American has a central bank like the commi bastards in USSR” and then goes on about how it is bad to have a private bank running the United States. I don’t think he understands a basic principle of the communist central banks: it is controlled by the state and thus the people. When interviewing public figures he does not listen to them and gives himself more speaking time than the people he is interviewing. The point of interviewing a public figure and then showing more footage of yourself talking than the public figure escapes me.

To make matters worse, Russo constantly boasts about being a famous, award winning director. I think the random woman in the first street interview says it best:

“Russo: My name is Aaron Russo I produced the mo…

Woman: is this a joke; am I on a gag show?”

I do not recommend this video at all, and the only reason it has gotten any stars is because it is available for free on Google. Aaron Russo does not belong directing “documentaries” he is better as a random person on American are NOT stupid.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Steorn Orbo

An Irish company Steorn has claimed creating a machine that produces clean, free energy:

"What we have developed is a way to construct magnetic fields so that when you travel round the magnetic fields, starting and stopping at the same position, you have gained energy... The energy isn't being converted from any other source such as the energy within the magnet. It's literally created. Once the technology operates it provides a constant stream of clean energy."

The company has tried to sound official by publishing a full page challenge to the scientific community in the Economist. I have not seen the ad myself, but I am really disappointed with the editors of the Economist if they actually published that ad… I mean, how fake can you get? No much faker than this. For any readers that are not familiar with Physics, this statement is in direct contradiction to the first law of thermodynamics. The first law reads:

“The increase in the internal energy of a thermodynamic system is equal to the amount of heat energy added to the system minus the work done by the system on the surroundings.”

Looked from another perspective, this means that a system can not gain energy without taking it from somewhere. Steorn claims that they have somehow found a way to do this, in other words, they claim to have created a perpetual motion machine. No patent office recognizes perpetual motion machines or anything else that violates the fundamental and well established laws of physics, and hence there is no patent for the full technology, although the company has claimed to have patented parts that make up the system.

The biggest reason this seems like a fake (other than the fact that they are claiming to have violated one of the fundamental laws of physics) is their finances:

In the period between 2002 and 2006 (dates for which they have all major expenses reported) they spent a total of 2,749,645 euro on research and development. Over the same time period, they spent 1,531,520 euro on management and marketing and 2,114,744 euro on administrative costs (total of 3,646,263 euro). In other words, they spent more money managing their pathetic little company than researching; a whopping 63.3% of their money was spent on managerial issues. Also, the 3 million euro budget is far too low to develop such a breathtaking technology so quickly. The company states that they are about 20 people, and if we do a quick calculation (assuming these guys don’t work for free, which is a safe assumption based on their capitalist intentions) taking that the average engineer of the caliber need to develop such an innovative idea is paid around 100k euro per year. We do a simple multiplication 100k * 20 people * 5 years = 10 million euro spent of just staff, while their total expenses are a mere 6,395,909 euro. To meet their spending, if they only paid their workers and did not pay for building rent or buying hardware or anything else to actual develop their technology, the average salary of the employees comes out to 63,959 euro a year.

To make matters worse, their team does not even look like scientists and has no credible people in it. The whole thing seems like a bad hoax and an embarrassment to anyone this company associates itself with. My first guess (from reading their “jury” deal) is that this company just wants to make some easy cash ripping off legitimate research facilities and stuff it up their capitalists asses, or pass it on to the IRA or some other crap like that. This is pathetic.

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