Recursive patents

IBM once had great innovators working for them, many holding Nobel prizes etc but for a while they haven’t had a great idea… until NOW!

It’s a genius idea that will revolutionize the whole patent scheme: They’re filling a patent on Getting money out of patents.

Quoting The Register: If Big Blue gets its way, Microsoft’s promises to Novell and Xandros not to sue over alleged infringements of its Windows patent portfolio ought to mean Redmond pays a kickback to IBM.

If that doesn’t change the completely stupid and out-of-this-world patent system in US, I don’t know what will…

Geeks United! It’s time to recycle!

It’s time to recycle using your hand craft abilities!

Computer Chip Trivet

Don’t you know what to do with those old computer chips laying around? What do you think about a stylish trivet? Instructions are simple to follow: all you need are some computer chips , grout, adhesive, and a tile square.

Once you’re all finished, you’ll have a nicely geekified trivet for all your hot stuff.

You’ll really impress your geeky friends with this genuinely useful kitchen tool that you can make: a trivet built out of old computer chips.

Follow this link for full instructions.

Hard Drive Wind Chimes

The drive platters themselves are also quite remarkable: precisely made aluminium patters with a surface not unlike recording tape. The disks make a lovely clear note if you strike them, so it was only natural to make them into a set of wind chimes.

An interesting side effect is that the shiny shiny platters reflected little spots of light into the house. Naturally, if you have cats, they’ll love it too.


Follow this link for full instructions.


Hard Drive Picture Frames

So, you’ve disassembled hard drives, taken the magnets out, made wind chimes out of the platters, and so on. One thing that you might have left over is a set of printed circuit boards. Funny shaped printed circuit boards, with holes in them.

Here’s how to turn those leftover PCBs into fabulous geek-chic picture frames.

It’s done! Hang it on something ferromagnetic!

Here’s a completed picture frame, hanging on a wire bookshelf.

Follow this link for full instructions.

Build your own Flower Robot!

Finally!

Now you can build your own robot! Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, USA, has released its recipes to build robots as home.

Using TeRK (Telepresence Robot Kit), you can find all pieces you need and even adapt others parts to do your own robot.

Right now, they have 4 recipes:

Qwerkbot Classic (The Qwerkbot Classic is the simplest mobile robot that you can build using a Qwerk processor. Utilizing the holes in the Qwerk enclosure as mount points for two motors and a caster the Qwerkbot recipe literally turns your Qwerk into a robot.)

Qwerkbot+ (The Qwerkbot+ adds a pan-tilt head to allow independent motion of the camera and robot base. This version is somewhat more challenging to build than the Qwerkbot Classic.)

AC Power (The AC power Adapter allows you to power a QweRK from an ordinary AC wall outlet.)

Flower (The Flower is a stationary robot with seven degrees of freedom. Once you have built the Flower, you can use TeRK’s Robot Universal Remote and Flower Power software to program its movements. You can program your Flower to rise or wilt and program the motions of its petals. Because the Flower is equipped with IR sensors on three of its petals, it can track objects moving in front of it. It can even catch a lightweight ball.)

While all others bots are for beginners, the Flowers is quite more complex and you can spend 10 hours building it.

But, how cute is that!

Flower Robot

They also have softwares for controlling your TeRK robot, like this Flower Plower to program your Flower Robot.

Flower Power Software

Actually, the robot’s secret is the internal electronic controller Qwerk, a microcomputer using Linux to control all cameras, USB devices, engines and sensors. The robot’s sftware is Open Source and you can use virtually any computer language.

Oh, yes! There are bad news… Now, they are selling the kit just in US. By the way, the Flower Robot Total cost of parts is $725,00.

VI: a love story

The first editor I’ve used on Unix was VI. Since then, I’ve been using lots of different editors for both code and text files but I still can’t find a replacement for VI.

VI, now called vim, is the most powerful and simple editor in existence (Yes! Emacs users, it *is* simpler than Emacs). Of course, there are simpler or more powerful editors around but not both. At that time (early 90’s) VI wasn’t so complete and powerful but it was simple and widely available on Unix world and that’s what made it famous.

But before using VI for coding, I used Borland’s fantastic Turbo C (for DOS) and the need for a smarter IDEs was something I always had in mind. It began, then, the search for a TC-like IDE. Borland made later several great IDEs for Windows but once coding on Unix it’s very hard to turn back and code on Windows, so I had to find a good IDE, for Linux.

Early tries

After coding for so long in VI I was feeling like it was a natural choice to use VI every time I wanted to edit a file, whatever it was. I never bothered to find other text editors (such as joe or emacs) but I did use a bit of pico (later nano) and it was terrible.

When Gnome and KDE came to substitute WindowMaker they came with lots of text editor but they were, after all, notepad clones. Later they became a bit better but still not as good as VI so, why bother change?

Well, one good reason to change was that, every time I need to edit a file I had to go to the console and open the VI. That was not such a bad thing because I always have a console open somewhere and navigating through the filesystem is easier anyway, but a few times it was annoying and I used Kate (from KDE, my WM of choice). Anyway, it was around that time that VI gained a nice brother, gvim: the graphical editor! One reason less to not use VI.

Kate was really good in fact but I found out that I had lots of “:wq” (the command to save and close VI) on my files when using any other editor. I also tried to use Quanta for HTML but it was so cluttered and I had so much “:wq” on my pages that I just gave up.

Java?

When I started programming in Java I found out the Eclipse IDE. A fantastic tool with thousands of features and extremely user friendly editor and all gadgets that a coder would want to have! And it was free and faster than any other Java IDE available at the moment. And it was free! too good to be true?

Nah, for the Java community it was *that* good, but for the rest of us it was crap. The C++ plug-in was (and still is) crap, as well as the Perl plug-in. It didn’t understand classes, inheritance and most important, didn’t have all nice features as for Java for refactoring and understanding the code.

So, why use a gigantic (still fast) IDE that doesn’t speak your language? If it’s not to speak the same language I very much prefer VI! So I went back, once again. Also, by that time, VI got a wonderful feature: tab-completion (CTRL-N in fact).

KDeveloper

The most promising rival is KDeveloper and it’s almost as good as I wanted to be, but not quite enough. It have CVS integration (not much easier as using the console), class structure information, integrated debugger, etc etc etc. But, it’s still a bit heavy (as expected) and not useful for all development projects.

VI re-birth

For a while I only used VI at work and for text files at home, specially while I was busy trying all possibilities of KDeveloper, and that’s because I still missed one very important feature of an IDE that VI didn’t have: tabs.

Editing with tabs is so much simpler than switching buffers or splitting windows. That’s why I revisited Kate a few times later than have abandoned it and that’s why I didn’t use much VI for a long time in my personal projects.

But than VI 7.0 came out, with lots of improvements and the long wanted tab support. It was like one of those amazing sunsets in the country with birds singing and all that stuff. Also, the tab-completion (still CTRL-N) is really smart, it understands includes, class, defines, typedef, everything and have a very simple interface to use.

VI, or now vim is complete! And I’m happy! 😉

Thanks Bram Moolenaar for this amazing piece of software!