Archive for December, 2010

December 24, 2010

Sound System

sound system

king tubby

In Jamaican popular culture, a sound system is a group of disc jockeys, engineers and MCs playing ska, rocksteady or reggae music. The sound system scene is generally regarded as an important part of Jamaican cultural history and as being responsible for the rise of several modern Jamaican musical genres.

The sound system concept first became popular in the 1950s, in the ghettos of Kingston. DJs would load up a truck with a generator, turntables, and huge speakers and set up street parties. In the beginning, the DJs played American rhythm and blues music, but as time progressed the sound migrated to a local flavor.

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December 24, 2010

Dubstep

skrillex

Dubstep is a genre of electronic dance music, originating from Croydon, UK. Its overall sound has been described as ‘tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals.’

The earliest dubstep releases, which date back to 1998, were darker, more experimental, instrumental dub remixes of 2-step garage tracks attempting to incorporate the funky elements of breakbeat, or the dark elements of drum and bass into 2-step.

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December 24, 2010

Pulp

pulp

tooth pulp

Pulp from the Latin ‘pulpa’ (animal or plant pulp, pith of wood). Pulp is the fibrous material used to make paper. It is also refers to the juice vesicles of a citrus fruit. The adjective meaning ‘sensational’ is from pulp magazines, named for the wood pulp paper used in cheaply made magazines and books. Pulp magazines (often referred to as ‘the pulps’), also collectively known as pulp fiction, refers to inexpensive fiction magazines published from 1896 through the 1950s. Pulps were printed on inexpensive paper with ragged, untrimmed edges.

Pulp is also name of a 1972 British comedy thriller starring Michael Caine as a writer of cheap paperback detective novels. The English alternative rock band Pulp formed six years later drew its name from the film. Pulp is also the title of the last novel by American writer Charles Bukowski. Additionally, Pulp refers to the central part of a tooth, commonly referred to as the nerve, it branches out and continues down each root through the canals of the tooth and stops just shy of the apex, or tip of the tooth. Red pulp and white pulp describes tissue in the spleen, an organ which creates blood cells.

December 23, 2010

Tadoma

tadoma

Tadoma is a method of communication used by deafblind individuals, in which they place their thumb on the speaker’s lips and their fingers along the jawline. The middle three fingers often fall along the speaker’s cheeks with the little finger picking up the vibrations of the speaker’s throat. It is sometimes referred to as ‘tactile lipreading,’ as the deafblind person feels the movement of the lips, as well as vibrations of the vocal cords, puffing of the cheeks and the warm air produced by nasal sounds such as ‘N’ and ‘M.’

It is a difficult method to learn and use, and is rarely used nowadays. However, a small number of deafblind people successfully use Tadoma in everyday communication. Helen Keller also used a form of Tadoma.

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December 23, 2010

TV-B-Gone

tv-b-gone

TV-B-Gone is a type of simple universal remote control device for turning off a large majority of the current available brands of television sets. It was created to allow people in a public place to turn off nearby television sets, presumably because the broadcast was distracting them from other activities. Its inventor has referred to it as ‘an environmental management device.’

The device is part of a key-chain, and, like other remote devices, is battery-powered. Although it can require up to 69 seconds for the device to find the proper code for a particular television receiver, the most popular televisions turn off in the first few seconds. During the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show, some individuals from gadget blog, Gizmodo brought a TV-B-Gone remote control and shut off many display monitors at booths and during demos affecting several companies. These actions caused the individual from Gizmodo to be banned for life from future CES events.

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December 23, 2010

Cochlear Implant

cochlear implant

A cochlear [kok-leerimplant (CI) is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. The cochlear implant is often referred to as a bionic ear. It will not cure deafness or hearing impairment, but is a prosthetic substitute for hearing.

While cochlear implants restore physical ability to hear, this does not mean the brain can learn to process and distinguish speech if the recipient has passed the critical period of adolescence. As a result, those born profoundly deaf who receive an implant as an adult can only distinguish simple sounds, such as a ringing phone vs. a doorbell, while others who receive implants early can understand speech.

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December 23, 2010

FakeTV

faketv

FakeTV is a burglar deterrent that makes it look like someone is home watching television by recreating the sort of light produced by an HDTV. It comes with an internal light sensor which allows the device to activate when it becomes totally dark (0.5 lux or lower) and a built in timer with four modes of operation: Always On, Dusk +4 HRS, Dusk +7 HRS, and Off. It retails for $30.

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December 22, 2010

Ambigram

An ambigram [am-bi-gram] is a typographical design or artform that may be read as one or more words not only in its form as presented, but also from another viewpoint, direction, or orientation.

The words readable in the other viewpoint, direction or orientation may be the same or different from the original words. Different ambigram artists (sometimes called ambigramists) may create completely different ambigrams from the same word or words, differing in both style and form.

December 22, 2010

Coca-Cola Freestyle

Freestyle is a touch screen soda fountain introduced by The Coca-Cola Company in 2009. The machine features over 100 different Coca-Cola drink products, and custom flavors. Microdosing blends one or more concentrated ingredients in 46-ounce packets with water and sweetener at the point where the beverage is dispensed, thus avoiding the use of traditional 5-gallon boxes of syrup (also known as a bag-in-a-box). Cartridges store concentrated ingredients in the dispenser cabinet and are RFID enabled. The machine uses RFID chips to detect its supplies and to radio resupplying needs to other units.

These machines include flavors not previously available to the American market including Orange Coke which was previously sold only in Russia and the Baltics, and flavored Dasani waters. The machines transmit supply and demand data to both Coca-Cola and the owner including brands sold, times of the day of sales, troubleshooting information, and service data. They also use Coca-Cola’s loyalty program to let people earn secret flavors.

December 22, 2010

Chuck Close

big self portrait

big self portrait 1991 by chuck close

Chuck Close (b. 1940) is an American painter and photographer who achieved fame as a photorealist, through his massive-scale portraits. Though a catastrophic spinal artery collapse in 1988 left him severely paralyzed, he has continued to paint and produce work that remains sought after by museums and collectors. Ironically, while being one of the most successful portrait artists of his time, Close is also afflicted with prosopagnosia (face blindness), a condition that prevents him from recognizing people’s faces.

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December 22, 2010

Joe Camel

Joe Camel (officially Old Joe) was the advertising mascot for Camel cigarettes from 1987 – 1997, appearing in magazine advertisements, billboards, and other print media. The U.S. marketing team of R. J. Reynolds, looking for an idea to promote Camel’s 75th anniversary, re-discovered Joe in the company’s archives in the late 1980s. The caricatured camel was created in 1974 by a British artist, Billy Coulton, for a French advertising campaign that subsequently ran in other countries in the 1970s.

In 1991, the ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’ published a study showing that by age six nearly as many children could correctly respond that ‘Joe Camel’ was associated with cigarettes as could respond that the ‘Disney Channel’ logo was associated with Mickey Mouse, and alleged that the ‘Joe Camel’ campaign was targeting children, despite R. J. Reynolds’ contention that the campaign had been researched only among adults and was directed only at the smokers of other brands.

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December 22, 2010

Shadow Hand

shadow hand

The Shadow Dexterous Hand is a humaniform robot hand system developed by The Shadow Robot Company in London. The hand is comparable to a human hand in size and shape, and reproduces all of its degrees of freedom. The Hand is commercially available and currently used by NASA, Bielefeld University and Carnegie Mellon University. It reportedly costs more than $100,000. The Hand uses the sense of touch, pressure, and position to reproduce the human grip in all its strength, delicacy, and complexity.

The SDRH was first developed by Richard Greenhill and his team of engineers in Islington, London, as part of The Shadow Project, (now known as the Shadow Robot Company) an ongoing research and development program whose goal is to complete the first convincing humanoid. An early prototype can be seen in NASA’s collection of humanoid robots, or robonauts. The Hand has haptic sensors embedded in every joint and finger pad, which relay information to a central computer for processing and analysis.

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