I’ve been noticing in the browsing statistics of various websites with which I am involved that mobile devices (think smartphones) are quite recently becoming very much more noticable.

On one ecommerce site, in a week, I saw nearly ten percent of purchases made using Apple Iphones where last year I would have seen none. The site in question retailed products which were in no way I.T. or telecoms related so this came as quite a surprise. Further, this site was not specifically designed to work with mobile browsers although it did have some design features implemented to make browsing on small-screen devices easier. I’ve also spotted numerous visits from Blackberry and Android OS devices across a broad range of sites.

So, are mobile browsers going to take over the internets?

Probably not but they’re certainly going to be a significant presence. In the West, mobile browsing devices now account for as much as 7% of traffic and the rate is growing quickly. I expect that in the near future there will be a significant push by web developers to provide mobile-native versions of their websites due to this expansion.

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If you move in tech related circles, you may have heard of Google Wave by now which Google hopes will replace the concept E-Mail.

Google Wave is a multimedia communication platform running on an extended XMPP (think jabber) protocol allowing everything from basic instant messaging thru collaborative document modification to voice/video conferencing.

I also discovered in the last few days that Google Wave will also implement an API or ‘Apps’ platform allowing Apps written by third party developers to be run within a Wave. Barring the obvious potential for attempted malicious use of Google Wave Apps, there could be quite a market for new interactive applications which could draw developers from the Facebook API arena.

For now, Google Wave is a limited closed Beta (invite only). I look forward to getting a look-in soon.

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Today’s XKCD strip is rather insightful and just a little bit chilling.

XKCD More Accurate

Alt text: “We live in a world where there are actual fleets of robot assassins patrolling the skies. At some point there, we left the present and entered the future.”

It can’t be bargained with, can’t be reasoned with……and it absolutely will not stop. Ever……… or at least until it runs out of fuel. 😉

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Earlier today I was introduced to the Left 4 Dead 2 Trailer from Valve.

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I’m not sure what to make of this. It’s a wholely separate game to the original L4D which although probably the best in the Zombie-Survivor genre, gets tired quite quickly. Valve did promise free downloadable content patches (DLCs) for L4D which have so far comprised the ‘Survivor’ mode which introduces one mini-map and an extra mini-campaign will be coming in September.

I can’t help thinking the rest of the aforementioned free DLCs have been packaged up and had a price stuck on their head to cash-in on L4D’s original popularity.

The redeeming feature me is frying-pan-armed combat 😉

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Earlier today, I had one of those classic ‘doh!’ moments.

I had a 5.25in DVD/RW drive externally connected to a virus-infected Windows laptop via USB (running ClamAV if you’re interested).

For some unfathomable reason, I moved the drive with my hand while it was spinning, imparting just a little tilt to it. Even as I did so I knew the result which was about to happen. The CD was already tilting off it’s normal axis of rotation with relation to the drive, trying to maintain it’s original orientation in space due to gyroscopic precession. The inevitable grinding noise indicated that the CD had run out of room to maneuver and collided with the optics / drive internals.

The level of vibration which continued until I yanked out the power was rather impressive; I was glad of the aluminium casing containing the fast moving disc and motor.

I managed to pull the CD tray out and took hold of a CD which was now quite hot around the edges and promptly cut myself on the ground-down and sharpened rim. The drive itself, of course, had ceased to function as a drive of any usable sort.

The moral here is: “Don’t break your own rules”

(Or just don’t be an idiot 😉 )

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I’ve found the Japanese to have a somewhat worrying obsession with robots; everything from the 4-foot tall Asimo types to the 50-foot high flying types.

They also make some rather impressive bipedal robots which can be seen in videos all over the internet accomplishing impressive feats such as running and tackling stairs. They do, however, seem to have a slightly odd gait which looks as if it was borrowed from a ‘dog-walker’ as the feet and knees preceed the robot noticably as it moves. Apart from Hubo, there have been few attempts at turning the ‘robot’ into an ‘android’

Now, researchers at AIST (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology) have produced a biped Android (or more correctly a Gynoid) known as HRP-4C.

The robot has the broadly realistic human proportions correspondent to a Japanese woman and also comparable weight. The simulation of human likeness only extends to the face which has some level of animation and the hands which I am yet to see change pose during a demonstration. The rest of the body appears as if in a fitted suit of armour.

Apparently she Linux in the form of an AIST developed platform known as ‘Actual Time Linux’ (ART-Linux2.6).  Although difficult to decipher from the translated text, it appears that much of HRP-4C’s development revolves around and contributes to open projects.

The walking gait is rather more natural in appearance than an Asimo unit but could still do with more damping as there is an obvious jarring in the step. Thus far I have only seen the gynoid perform basic walking and a short bow. On examination of a translation of the japanese information page, it seem that the unit is designed for entertainment or fashion modeling. An odd choice of target market to my mind but the size/weight constraints probably prohibit any industrial uses.

The HRP-4C stands about 1.6m tall and weighs approx 50kg.

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If they could increase the abilities of an android of this scale, I reckon it could play a critical role in caring for Japan’s ageing population. I’ll be really impressed but don’t doubt that I will soon see a biped android powerful enough to lift a human safely.

In the mean time, I’m saving up for my RX-78NT1 Gundam 😉

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