Labels detect and display fruit-ripeness

A new labelling technology foor fruit senses the ripeness of the underlying comestible and changes color accordingly:
The system, developed at the Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand, uses a punnet that traps the volatile compounds fruit emit. As the fruit ripen, the colour of the label changes in response to changing concentrations of these compounds.

Since pears need to soften before they achieve their best flavour, shoppers often squeeze the fruit to test them, which can damage them, says Ron Henzell, who led the research team.


Replace storage with the bag it came in.

Anti-static plastic, the kind used in RAM envelopes and other component-wrappers, is an excellent candidate for high-density storage. Reminds me of the Lily Tomlin bit: "I bought a garbage can and brought it home in a plastic bag. When I got there, I put the bag in the can."
Any device resulting from their work would be a "write-once, read-many" format and could perhaps be used to store films or music.

The researchers speculate that very dense memory blocks could be created by stacking the thin layers of the material on top of each other.

They team estimates that working devices could be up to 10 times more dense than current hard disks.

Link (via /.)

Custom crocheted laptop sleeves

For 60 Euros (and up), avant-gardge Viennese artist Evelyn Fürlinger will hand-crochet you a custom laptop sleeve with a design of your choosing: I'm especially fond of the red go-faster stripes. Link (Thanks, Johannes!)

Lockers create love hotel loyalty

According to Joi Ito, Japanese love-hotels have lowered churn and increased customer loyalty by adding storage lockers, because:
Married couples found it convenient to store adult toys and other things that they didn't want their children to find in these lockers. These lockers created a relationship between the customer and the hotel and dramatically increased customer retention. Now these lockers are used to store all sorts of "Not Safe For Home" things.

P2Pnets: where deleted documents are reborn

Matt Jones posted a strategy document he'd his co-workers had written for the BBC, his then-employer, on his blog. They asked him to take it down. As is inevitably the case when this happens, people are coming by and posting to the comments section, asking where the document can be had. Turns out, it's circulating on Kazaa. Link

Sociology of cellular

"The Effects of Mobile Telephones on Social and Individual Life" is an interesting paper by Motorola sociologist Dr. Sadie Plant. Joi points out the fascinating stuff on cellular body-language:
Those who use their mobiles with this light touch often have their index finger aligned with the aerial at the top of the phone. There are also variations in the ways in which people’s eyes respond to a mobile call. Some mobile users adopt the scan, in which the eyes tend to be lively, darting around, perhaps making fleeting contact with people in the vicinity, as though they were searching for the absent face of the person to whom the call is made. With the gaze, the eyes tend to focus on a single point, or else to gaze into the distance, as though in an effort to conjure the presence of the disembodied voice.
1327k PDF Link (via Joi Ito)

Big Mouth Billy Bass runs Linux, does impressions

Now that the antimated talking fish doll Big Mouth Billy Bass is out of fashion and can be had at pennies on the dollar, why not try your hand at installing Linux on it and getting it to lipsynch funny Simpsons quotes or act as the phyical avatar for someone at the other end of a teleconference line?
We will make the following improvements to Big Mouth Billy Bass.

* User defined audio clips
* Lip syncing
* Video recording
* Audio recording

By adding this functionality to the bass, in addition to networking protocols, the bass will be transformed into an H.323 compliant video teleconferencing host. It will be possible to use Microsoft NetMeeting or CUSeeMe to connect to your bass at home and talk with your loved one ones!

Link (via Smartpatrol)

Wayne Correia's Magic Bus

The satellite-equipped rockstar tour bus of Critical Path founder and geek's geek Wayne Correia is the subject of this San Francisco Chronicle article. He (and his bus) saved my ass once in Black Rock City. I rode around with 30 pounds of gear on a young girl's banana-seat Huffy bike, all day long in burning heat and whiteout dust storms, all over the desert, looking for a functional satellite connection to file an audio report on Burning Man for NPR. My skin was sunburned, my butt was aching, and I was as dehydrated as an overdone tofurkey. And then, when I'd all but given up -- I stumbled on Mr. Correia. He said "Hey, I know your face from Friendster!" -- and opened the door to a bus filled with nerd hotties and unwired bandwidth.
The bus cannot be described as "regular." It's a luxury cruiser of an ungainly vintage -- 1992, to be exact -- and is rumored to have belonged to Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees. The carpet is teal, with an ivory dolphin carved into the weave. (To be fair, Wayne swears he's about to tear out the carpet because, he says, it's "silly.") The wall lights are a peculiar construction of brass and graduated glass rods that would fit on a set for "The Sopranos." Gilt-edged cocktail glasses nest in the glass cupboards. In the front of the bus are gray leather captain's chairs on swivels. In the back is a bedroom lined with mirrored cabinets.

Wayne, who intends to install solar panels on the roof, somewhere near the satellite uplink for his computer, bought the bus on eBay for the bargain price of $200,000 in cash. He says that as he drove it from Chicago, where he purchased it, to the Bay Area, he had a revelation: "I realized, 'Oh, my God, I'm a bus driver! My grandfather was a bus driver in L.A.for 40 years. He got up at 5 am every day. And now I'm a bus driver, too!'"


Microsoft prepares to launch new moblogging services?

On the "Microsoft Windows Mobile Communities" site, this blurb:
Get Ready for Moblogs -- Turn an ordinary blog into a moblog by including pictures from your Pocket PC or Smartphone. Check back here in December to learn how to create yours.
Link (thanks, Jean-Luc!)

Vietnam Veterans' art online

This online gallery features a portion of the works in the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in Chicago, which contains works in various media created by vets from around the US. At left: "Ambush Behind a Thin Wood Line," by John Plunkett:
"Our home base sat at the foot of the only mountain range for about a hundred miles. It consisted of two mountains: Nui Ba Den and Nui Ba Ra. These paintings are from a diary that was written in my brain and in the brains of thousands of others, on a daily basis in Vietnam. Some of the situations did happen to me; others were bad dreams, fears of what might happen, hallucinations; images that seemed to appear out of nowhere, for no reason."
Link (thanks, Invisible Cowgirl)

Persian blogger runs for parliament in Iran

Hossein Derakhshan, Toronto-based pioneer of the Persian blogosphere, just announced he's running for Iranian parliament. Jeff Jarvis on Buzzmachine says:
In the comments, Sassan worries that this will put Hossein in jeopardy. I fear his incredible activities online could do that as well. But if he merely tries to run -- even if from afar, even if not allowed to, even if unable to campaign or win -- sends a most powerful message: Here is a man who has created a new political power base online. We've joked about a blogger running for office in the U.S. Hoder is doing it. We've joked about starting a revolution online. Hoder has done it. I pray that Hoder does nothing to put himself at risk. But I stand in awe of what he has accomplished.

Red Riding Hood dances with DDD-breasted fursuits video

In this TV commercial for a Japanese construction firm, Little Red Riding Hood dances with huge-titted and generously-testicled furry woodland creatures. Link (via diepunyhumans)

update: Jed says, " "Here are eight more ads from this company (with heavily overlapping elements in some of them; the first two are particularly similar). Also, here is more info and a translation, plus a transcription of the lyrics. It seems that the theme of the ad is 'expansion.' And more translation here.

At any rate, the other thing worth noting on that last page is that the raccoon with the giant testicles is actually a tanuki, apparently a raccoon-like nature spirit. Or else actually a raccoon, depending on which source you believe. It's been speculated that Totoro is part tanuki, and there's another Studio Ghibli movie (not directed by Miyazaki) that features tanuki more directly/prominently. And that's more than enough digression for one site suggestion, so I'll stop now."

Mood-recognition coming to Playstation

The next-gen Sony Playstation will have an optical sensor built in for gesture and facial recognition, and is indended to allow for affective game-design that detects and responds to players' emotional states. Link (via Wonderland)

Big Thunder Mountain broken by negligence

Looks like the fatal crash on Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain was the result of poor maintenance. Disneyland's maintenance has been suffering ever since a group of McKinsey and ex-McKinsey consultants advised them to save money by cutting back on preventative maintenance and forcing out experienced, senior cast-members. Management consultants: is there anything they can't screw up?
"Our own analysis found that the accident was caused by incorrectly performed maintenance tasks required by Disneyland policy and procedures that resulted in a mechanical failure," said Leslie Goodman, senior vice president of strategic communications for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

Foldable popcult dollies

Printable templates for folding-and-glueing together Kubrick-like characters from Mario Brothers and other pieces of the popcult pantheon. Link (via KoKoRo)