CMU Robotics – Amazing ASIMO…

This video shows ASIMO, a humanoid robot built by Honda. The folks in the CMU robotics lab equipped ASIMO with an obstacle avoidance package. One of the coolest things shown in this video is the ability of ASIMO to track moving targets, calculate obstacle trajectories and predict future movements. Subtle stuff, but very powerful…

– Dave

Those Amazing Hummingbirds…

We’re down at the lake this weekend, mostly sitting out on the back porch, looking out at the rain and wildlife. We’ve got two hummingbird feeders and they are incredibly active. One hummingbird is the big bully and has decided that he owns both feeders.

I pulled out my phone to try to capture the action. Video is far back and backlit, but if you look carefully, you can see one hummingbird using the feeder, followed quickly by a dive bomb attack by the bullybird. Too funny!

– Dave

Short Story…

Ever have a memory from your childhood that you just can’t pin down? Perhaps a book you read and loved and want to pass along to your kids, but now you can’t remember the title and, no matter what Google search you try, you just can’t find the darn thing?

Same thing happened to Ron Schell. With one exception. He found the story!

So take a read. I think it’s a great short story. It’s short, and has a great ending.

May I present, Love is a Fallacy, by Max Shulman


– Dave

Brilliant Beatles: Rock Band Article…

Dennis Maille sent me this link to a terrific piece in the August 11th New York Times about the making of The Beatles: Rock Band.

There’s just so much richness in this article. Stories about Giles Martin, son of George Martin, who brought the project together, albeit skeptically at first. Be sure to click on the multimedia links as well.

Thanks, Dennis!

– Dave

Author’s Guild vs. Google, Deadline Approaching…

Are you a published author? If so, you may have received a notice regarding the landmark lawsuit filed by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers against Google (famous for adopting the Hippocratic Rule, “First, do no harm” as their motto – I’ve always liked that).

In a nutshell, Google contracted with a number of universities, including the University Library of the University of Michigan, to digitally scan and create a searchable index of a subset of the books in their collection. Sounds cool, right?

The problem is, suppose you are an author of books in that collection. If Google makes the entire collection available on-line, your ability to make money from those books is gone. Thus, the lawsuit.

If you are a published author and are affected by this, you should have received received a rightsholders notice describing the lawsuit and giving you a chance to opt out so you could pursue your own claim against the company. The original notices were mailed out on January 5th, 2009.

The deadline for opting out is coming up fast. The last opt-out day os September 4th, 2009.

Me, I’ve got a number of books in the settlement and I’m staying in. First, I am a fan of Google and I believe in what they are doing. I generally don’t write for the money, and the books in question are old books that I am more than happy to share with the universe.

That said, there are plenty of folks who feel differently. Plenty. If you are on the fence, or just plain interested, here are some things to look at.

Here’s a link to the Author’s Guild resource page, a collection of links relevant to this lawsuit.

Here’s a link to the settlement agreement.

And, finally, here’s a link to Roy Blount, Jr.’s message to the Author’s Guild membership. Roy is the president of the Author’s Guild.

Interesting, no?

– Dave