Thursday, June 15, 2006

Stinky cold gone.

Since we last spoke I’ve been mainly cycling around London, regularly topping up my sun protection, and stopping in nice places to work. That means if you’re waiting on The Writer And The Money or The Wrong Headed Notion, you won’t be waiting much longer. Also if I promised you pitches they’ll be with you shortly, too.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you’re not any of the people waiting.
Which is fine.

Last week’s J1P launch party was a good night out, and it was great being there when the cheque was handed to Childline, knowing that I helped out at least a little.
And without further ado – some photos…

Sean makes a face and Ade does his 'for the camera' smile

Ade hands over the cheque while Mike dances a jig

Dan surveys my sunburnt head

And, because I know you’ve had nothing to read all week, here are some things you should spend some time with:

The Times has gone Google mad this week with three articles:

On the banks of the Colombia river, the company is planning to build a machine so powerful that none of us will need a computer of our own. Our correspondent reports on the race to beat Yahoo and Microsoft
IN LARGE black letters on a 50-foot-wide suggestion board hanging in the lobby of Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters is scrawled the message: Take Over The World.

Some of the ideas on the board are doubtless tongue-in-cheek, but this one sums up Google’s ultimate ambition.

The company has created a café society with dozens of outdoor tables where nutritious vegetarian and organic food is served free around the clock. Clutches of young Indian men earnestly sip fruit and vegetable cocktails, locked in debate about whichever of the life-changing ideas they happen to be working on. Inside, young people in student garb sit in massage chairs or on exercise bikes or stand around pool tables; one even plays the piano. All of them, the company insists, are deep in thought. There is a free laundry, several dry-cleaning drop-off boxes, even an onsite mechanic. The mundane is taken care of so the Google boffins can concentrate on their inventions.


There are suggestions that Google wants to build its own version of the internet. Already the company has offered to make San Francisco into one giant "hotspot" – where people with a wireless connection can access the web for free. But it has also advertised for experts in "dark fibre" – the thousands of miles of optical cable that were laid at the height of the dot-com boom but which have since gone unused. It could conceivably use these as a kind of super-internet, capable of transmitting much more information at much higher speeds than currently possible on the web.

And if you need to urgently send a payload into space, there’s even a chance it will be able to help you there as well.


Like a real-life version of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, the mysterious compound is the size of two football fields, with twin cooling towers rising above a small town on the banks of the Columbia River.
“They’re being very standoffish in the community,” Susan Huntington, the executive director of The Dalles area chamber of commerce, said. “They’re trying to keep it out of the news. They want to be left alone to do what they’re doing out there.”
At least one thing is known: the factory is owned by Google, and is part of its secretive quest to build the biggest supercomputer. This computer, which shares the nickname Googleplex with the company’s headquarters and a device in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is made up of installations across the globe, linked by fibre-optic cables that can handle billions of search queries a day. Some say that the speed of light is its only limitation.
I’m very impressed with Google’s recent acquisition – SketchUp, which they’ve released a free version of.

I remember the pain of extrapolating 3D models from 2D elevations on old PCs at secondary school. When I asking the teacher why we were bothering with this when we could produce the same end result much faster on a drawing board he said, ‘For the marks. This is worth half the module.’

Ah… School…

SketchUp is about a hundred times faster than a drawing board and a bundle of fun. Download and play.

(There are some good tutorials here, that tell you everything you need to know to get started)

An alternative to the World Cup...

A football tournament played by teams of robots has kicked off in Germany.

The 10th annual RoboCup, being held in Bremen, will see more than 400 teams of robots dribbling, tackling and shooting in an effort to become world champions.

The organisers of the tournament hope that in 2050 the winners of the RoboCup will be able to beat the human World Cup champions.

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