Originally uploaded by Frans Mäyrä.

After an unpleasant series of respiratory infections (propably asthma-related), I decided to do so something about it. Two days of vacuuming, washing and reorganising was a good start, but I also decided to upgrade my air cleaner. The old one (a Philips) is now washing off the particles in the computer corner, while an Electrolux Z8020 takes care of the bedroom. An interesting example of how the “life sustaining systems” in our homes start to remind you of space stations. This baby can sense both the amount of microparticles and the current sound level, and adjust its speed and power relative to either.

entertaible: electronic gaming and traditional board games

Combining physical and digital worlds is one of the major trends in games evolution currently, and you can see it happening in the physical gaming, movement sensing and location aware mobile gaming, for example. One of the things that we have been researching in the IPerG EU games project is combining board games with digital layers or functionalities (in work package headed by Interactive Institute in Sweden), and it was interesting to have a look at the ‘Entertaible’ concept by Philips. See: the project home page, and a video.

bill and conan making fools of themselves at the CES

Bill Gates’ CES keynote is being reported as giving out the message that the way to success in the future for software companies like Microsoft is to make software more like video games. But actually, if you watch the actual video recording of the performance, you will get a very curious, awkward kind of Conan O’Brian show, coupled with somewhat out-of-place Bill, and some of the most bug-ridden demos for some time shown in public. Hilarious!

the sony e-ink reader

Many interesting things for a gadget freak in the CES this year, again; I just want to point out that Sony is bringing out an E-Ink reader, with a USB connection for downloading and reading websites, JPEGs or PDFs in its completely flicker-free, paper-like screen; see Live From CES: The Sony Reader – by Gizmodo. Now, lets just have it half the thickness, with colour-enabled screen, and double the battery life…

what is your dangerous idea, 2006?

Every year the Edge.org asks some scientists and thinkers to ponder on some big question, this year: What is your dangerous idea? The finished 119 contributions are now available, and this is actually an online book in speculative thinking, and very refreshing visit into into our reality from multiple angles.

non-interactive interactive media, part 1

Like many others (I suspect) I have a secret love: media that does not want my attention or require that I actively use it. On the other hand, I also love the increased possibilities and opportunities provided by the latest information and communication technologies.

There is so much to say about this paradox, and how symptomatic it actually is, but here is just one link in this mini-series, dedicated to non-interactive “interactive media”: the RSS-capable screensaver by Microsoft. There are others, of course, but this was actually easy to install (a plus for us stressed out media people), and despite that this MSN Screensaver is still in Beta, it seems to work. You just set up your favourite RSS feeds, delete all MSN content feeds it attempts to serve you, make sure that the screensaver image folder points to somewhere you actually feel comfortable watching at (it will preinstall a series of pretty landscape photos), and voilá: you can rest your eyes and brain by staring at the semi-transparent info screens, all filled by mostly useless news clippings, sailing by. (There is weather information, too. But no Tampere, Finland; only Helsinki, and for some reason also Nivala and Mynämäki…)

Winter's flowers

Winter’s flowers
Originally uploaded by Frans Mäyrä.

After the obligatory Christmas flu, and the New Year celebrations, I had a little walk with my camera today. There are precious little sunlight hours in Finland at this time of year, and you need to look carefully to find anything among all that snow. But, on the other hand, the darkness, the white blanket covering everything: they have certain calming and eternal quality. Flickr has few of those pictures, my server (http://unet.fi/pics/2006-01-01/) some more.

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