Tag Archives: Cool stuff

Moller’s SkyCar

This is an old TED talk but always an inspiring one. Paul Moller talks about the future of personal air travel — the marriage of autos and flight that will give us true freedom to travel off-road. He shows two things he’s working on: the Moller Skycar (a jet + car) and a passenger-friendly hovering disc.

Microsoft turns Surface into a Sphere

Microsoft researcher Hrvoje Benko demonstrating the latest iteration of Microsoft’s Surface technology, called Sphere. It looks really cool, and when he shows the panoramic photos, it has a crystal ball quality that really appeals to me. The idea of using it as an interface onto Google Maps is also really compelling or certainly springs to mind when he shows the sphere rendering as a globe. Benko also demonstrates some of their ideas around what he feels are the unique advantages to a spherical display. For example multiple users can each get their own scrap of surface, which enables a kind of limited viewing privacy.

At first glance it looks awesome and you can even play Pong on it!

Microsoft brings Windows Live services out of beta

Microsoft has finally released out of beta it’s suite of Windows Live Services, offering users half a dozen downloads and web apps.Among the offerings are IMAP-enabled Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Writer (one of my favourite tools!) for offline editing and uploading blogs, A Picture Gallery application and a parental controls application for web browsing.

This offering by Microsoft does echo Google’s Google Pack, which was also an online/offline software bundle. The difference between the two is that Google’s offering includes products from other vendors whilst Microsoft’s offering does attempt to tie you more to Microsoft’s own Platform.

I’m not complaining though I like variety …

Microsoft launches Tafiti

If you haven’t tried it yet check out Microsoft’s experimental new search front end Tafiti – http://www.tafiti.com.

It’s based on Microsoft’s new SilverLight technology, their competitor to Flash. It uses a cool desktop metaphor where you can spin through different kinds of results, drag and drop them into piles which you can label and share with your friends.

Although it might seem gimmicky and not particularly useful at first glance, it is actually quite innovative and and a lot of fun to use. It’s a great showcase for SilverLight but it’s interesting to contrast how Apple are doing a lot of work in bringing metaphors such as stacks to the desktop UI, and Microsoft seem to be focussing on Search and the Web.

Try it out for yourselves! I think it’s awesome.

Google Launches "Streetside View" and "Mapplets"

Google have revamped their 2D Maps with a new a feature they are calling Street View. When viewing maps of certain cities around the world you’ll get a street side view of the area your currently in, and it isn’t static! You can interact with the image to move along the street it even allows you to change your angle and move in a new direction.  Google have developed this new technology with Immersive Media, and all I can say is, it’s very very impressive.

If you want to try it out here’s a map of San Francisco that has side views, and here’s a map of Las Vegas , I really recommend trying it!

Google have also launched their new Mapplets service. Mapplets are a special kind of XML/Javascript based Google Gadget that you can add directly to Google Maps. Here’s a link to a special preview page where you can try out a handful of Mapplets. The official blurb from Google on this new feature is copied below:

Mapplets enables third party developers to create mini applications that can be displayed on Google Maps, much like Google Gadgets are displayed on iGoogle. These Mapplets contain a variety of information, from housing listings to crime data, and tools like distance measurement. Users can select from a wide range of Google and third party Mapplets to display on the Map, essentially creating their own “mashup of mashups” directly on the Google Maps site, while still enjoying the built-in functionality of Google Maps, such as local search and driving directions. A number of our partners, including WeatherBug, Booking.com and Platial have already created Mapplets.

100 Web Apps for everything you’ll ever need?

Came across this earlier, its a list of the 100 web apps for everything you will ever need. When I consider some of the recent things I’ve written about this idea that applications are moving away from the desktop and delivered primarily over the web, then this list serves to illustrate how wide ranging web based applications are becoming.

The list organises the applications into a set of categories

  • Organisational
  • Calendars and to-do Lists
  • Your Money
  • Project Management & Productivity
  • Storage
  • Writing and Design Tools
  • Security and Privacy
  • Mobility and Contact
  • Meeting and Networking
  • Business and Legal
  • Client Contact and Feedback
  • Website tools
  • Printing and Packaging
  • Tools to give and take
  • Miscellaneous

In addition to the examples on this list there’s other pretty useful applications out there. I’ve been playing around with SnipShot, which allows you to upload images and edit, adjust them online. It doesn’t provide the full functionality of PhotoShop, but it is very simple to use and integrates with Flickr making it far more valuable as a tool than if it worked in isolation.

That’s the real strength of Web based applications? The ever increasing ease with which they can be integrated and used together?

Jumpcut: Creating a photo flip book online

Jumpcut is a really cool online service that allows you to create movies with a soundtrack comprised of images that you either upload or import from an existing flickr account. It’s really simple to use, in fact I learnt about it on PhotoJojo who provide a very simple tutorial that steps you through what you need to do.

Below is an example I created really quickly by importing my photos of kashmir from my flickr account. The background music is my bamboo flute, ive overlayed the same track twice ( it didnt run the entire duration of the movie, so you’ll hear two flutes playing about half way through – sounds beautiful tho!). It took about 3 minutes to create this, I used one of the built in transitions but I could have easily spent time varying the transitions between each picture as well as the duration that each picture is show. It’s an incredibly simple tool to use, and has the immediate effect of bringing your photo’s to life.

Have a play around on jumpcut.com and try it for yourself, I think it’s a great way of sharing your photos.