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Sparky - Telepresence Robot Lets You Work At Work In Your Undies

Telepresence robots pop up in different guises, including the Rovio (which lacks a screen to truly telepresence your image), but now there's this DIY project to follow to build your own. At core Sparky the robot has a Mac-Mini, motorized carriage and a Make controller board—though you can use an arduino—and some custom software that works around Skype. Buy the gear, or cobble together your own from spare odds and sods, and you too can work at work while simultaneously sprawling on your sofa in your undies. Like we do.

Sparky uses Skype as the foundation for the video chat, as well as some custom software (and source code) we provide for basic wheel-driving servo controls. You can customize this code to add functionality to your robot - including more servos, gripper arms and sensors& You are limited only by your imagination and ingenuity. 

Keep in mind that each robot will be different, so this guide is by no means complete instructions. Think of it as a starting point, a foundation upon which you design and build your own unique Sparky creation.

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AC/DC Excel Spreadsheet Music Video Has Us Thunderstruck

Sure, AC/DC may be behind the times on digital distribution. And they could be described as "in denial" about the death of the music album, but this Microsoft Excel spreadsheet music video, while not condoned by the band in any way, is rockin' our Hell's Bells this fine Sunday afternoon. Better still, this "music video" was designed with the corporate drone in mind—spreadsheets navigate office firewalls with ease!

The video is the fine work of Phil Clandillon and Steve Milbourne, who work at a division of Sony/BMG in London. They call this "the world's first music video in Excel format."

"Basically, it's come about because we recognized that a lot of people have fairly restrictive internet and security policies at work," said Clandillon inan interview with "What we really liked was that we could actually subvert the corporate firewalls by including AC/DC's music in an Excel spreadsheet, because that's allowed through every corporate firewall there is."

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Melting steel with sunlight, James Mays big ideas

The best way to feed the world's hunger for energy, James May visited a solar furnace to see how powerful they really are. Usually, solar furnaces are used to boil water into steam to generate electricity or make hydrogen fuel. But May thought that the best way to make people understand their insane power is to do something equally as insane: Melt steel almost instantly.

A solar furnace is a mirror structure used to concentrate sun rays into a small area called the focal point. As you can expect, the concentrated rays produce extremely high temperatures: At the focal point, solar furnaces can achieve temperatures of 5,430 ºF (3,000 ºC). The idea is not new—coming from ancient Greece—but their potential is starting to become more relevant now as we try to cut dependency on fossil fuels.

While this furnace is not as big as the largest solar furnace in the world at Odeillo, in the French Pyrenees, it's capable of achieving 4,352 ºF (2,400 ºC)—which, as you can see, it's enough to melt steel in a few seconds and almost disintegrate hot dogs.


Sprint launches Touch Pro at "select national retailers" this week

After a short delay, Sprint has announced that the HTC Touch Pro will be available at select Sprint retailers on October 26th and online starting on November 2nd. Pricing is set at $299.99 with a two-year subscriber agreement, after a $100 mail-in-rebate and a $25-or-higher data add-on or Everything plan with data. Details are available in the press release after the break.

Sprint Introduces the Highly Anticipated
HTC Touch Pro

Advanced TouchFLO™ 3D interface, access to Sprint Mobile Broadband data speeds, desktop-like Web browsing, five-row sliding QWERTY keyboard and Windows Mobile 6.1 merge work and play into one device

Bellevue, Wash. — Oct. 24, 2008 — HTC Corporation, a global leader in mobile phone innovation and design, today launched the HTC Touch™ Pro for Sprint. Bringing a beautiful new angle to mobile business productivity, the HTC Touch Pro uses styling and functionality similar to the recently launched HTC Touch Diamond™ and introduces a variety of business-focused enhancements that make getting work done on-the-go quick and easy.

The HTC Touch Pro is priced at $299.99 with a two-year subscriber agreement, after a $100 mail-in-rebate and a $25-or-higher data add-on or Everything plan with data. Customers will be able to purchase the device in select national retailers beginning the week of Oct. 26 and in all Sprint sales channels, including online at, 1-800-SPRINT1 and Sprint Stores, on Nov. 2.

Lightning Fast Connectivity
The HTC Touch Pro for Sprint provides a mobile Internet experience that uses the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network. With EV-DO Rev. A technology access, the HTC Touch Pro provides customers with blazing fast speeds that reach more than 253 million people, 16,986 cities and 1,625 airports and brings customers instant gratification so they stay connected to life and work fast and on-the-go. With EV-DO Rev. A, peak download data rates increase to 3.1 Mbps and peak upload data rates increase to 1.8 Mbps; average download speeds improve to 600 Kbps to 1.4 Mbps and average uplink speeds increase to 350 Kbps to 500 Kbps.

Beyond this lightning-fast connectivity, customers can also interact with their device in new ways. With the new HTC Touch Pro for Sprint, users can zoom and pan Web sites and automatically view optimized content that has been specially created to fit the display. Using gravity-sensor technology, turning the device sideways automatically rotates the Web page view from a portrait to landscape view.

In addition to game-changing Web browsing, the HTC Touch Pro offers direct access to exclusive Sprint content, including live and on-demand programming from Sprint TV® as well as over-the-air song downloads from the Sprint Music StoreSM and even a custom YouTube application for watching a variety of user-generated video content.

To take advantage of all the great features on these new phones without having to worry about additional monthly charges, Sprint customers can sign up for the $99.99 Simply EverythingSM plan, which includes unlimited domestic calling, messaging, email, Web surfing, GPS navigation, Sprint Music Premier, Sprint TV® Premier, NFL Mobile Live, NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile, Direct Connect and Group Connect on compatible phones. The Simply Everything plan is available to current customers without renewing their contract. New lines of service require a two-year agreement.

Key HTC Touch Pro Specifications

* Size: 4.17 (L) x 2.05(W) x 0.70 (D)
* Weight: 5.3 ounces
* Connectivity: CDMA 2000 1X/EVDO Rev.A/1xRTT and IS-95A/B voice or data. Dual band (800 and 1900 MHz)
* Operating system: Windows Mobile® 6.1 Professional
* Display: 2.8-inch VGA touch screen
* Camera: 3.2MP, with autofocus, flash and video calling
* Internal memory: 512 MB flash, 288 MB RAM
* Expansion slot: microSD™ memory card (SD 2.0 compatible); supports up to 16 GB
* Keyboard: Slide-out five-row QWERTY keyboard
* Bluetooth: v2.0 with A2DP support (Stereo Bluetooth)
* Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
* Interface: HTC ExtUSBä (mini-USB and audio jack in one; USB 2.0 High-Speed)
* Battery: 1340 mAh
* Talk time: 250 minutes
* Chipset: QualcommÒ MSM 7201Aä 528MHz

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BlackBerry 9220, 9900

Word has it that RIM will be rolling out its BlackBerry 9220 and 9900 smartphones sometime in the second half of next year - or at least that's what a Rogers Wireless roadmap says. Guess it will be a busy time for RIM, and hopefully these new releases won't tank like the BlackBerry Pearl Flip but instead pull up their share prices. AT&T and T-Mobile USA will follow Rogers' footsteps sometime next year as well, so now would be a good time to save if you want to get a new smartphone.

  • Available Features : Wireless email,Browser,Camera (2.0 MP& 3.2 Mp),Video Recording,Media Player,Built-in GPS,Wi-Fi® Support,SMS,MMS
  • Size and Weight : 4.48"/114mm (Length), 2.6"/66mm (Width),0.59"/15mm (Depth),4.8 oz/136g (Weight)
  • Voice Input/Output : 3.5mm stereo headset capable,Integrated earpiece/ microphone,Built-in speakerphone,Mono/stereo headset, hands-free and serial port profiles supported (Bluetooth® technology),M3, T3 (Rating for hearing aids)
  • Media Player : Video format support: DivX 4, DivX 5/6 partially supported, XviD partially supported, H.263, H.264, WMV3,Audio format support: .3gp, MP3, WMA9 (.wma/.asf), WMA9 Pro/WMA 10, MIDI, AMR-NB, Professional AAC/AAC+/eAAC+
  • Display : Half VGA resolution 480 x 320 pixel color display,Transmissive TFT LCD, supports over 65,000 colors,Font size (user selectable),Backlighting,Light sensing screen
  • Battery Life : Up to 13.5 days days (Standby time),Up to 4.5 hours (Talk time)
  • Memory : Expandable memory – support for microSD™ card,1GB On-board + 128 MB Flash
  • Modem : RIM® wireless modem,Tethered modem capability
  • Accessories : USB cable,Wall charger
  • Device Security : Password protection and keyboard lock 
  • Wireless Network : Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g

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