Robot caterpillar heart surgeon
That sounds like a randomly generated nonsense phrase, but researchers at Carnergie Mellon University in Pittsburgh are developing just such a thing. It’s 20 mm long and has two suckers for feet on its bifurcated body. Inserted through keyhole surgery, it can move across the surface of a beating heart at a rate of 18 cm per minute, injecting drugs or inserting pacemaker leads on the way.

Creeped out yet? This story from New Scientist links to a video of the caterpillar crawling across a beating (model) human heart. If that don’t make your skin crawl, it’s on too tight.

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It’s official: Will Ferrell is everywhere
It’s the hottest viral hit on YouTube, featuring the ubiquitous Will Ferrell and a potty-mouthed two-year-old. For some reason it’s financed by venture capital. Can’t be certain, since I wasn’t interested enough to read the story. In a tangentially related development, I’m going to Blades of Glory next week.

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This just in: Rutger Hauer not gay
Don’t ask me how I know that, I just do. OK, the only reason I know is because I read it here.

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Beulah, print me a peeled grape
Time to get the old printer out of storage. Bought one a couple years ago, one of the practically disposable $70 inkjet types. It hasn’t been plugged in for a while, and I’m sure the ink in the cartridges has evolved into something nasty.

I’m SO behind the curve when it comes to printers. While mine has been serving as an office trinket of limited decorative value, though quite useful as a paperweight, others have been pushing the standard No. 10 envelope with respect to alternative uses for inkjets.

A Chicago restaurateur has beenprinting meals with flavoured inks on sheets of soybean and potato starch for about a year now.

And recently, a British PhD student used an inkjet loaded with metal salts and Vitamin C to print electronic circuits.

It’s a much more environmentally-friendly approach than the reductive approach of stripping surface with a cocktail of poisons that is the chip manufacturing process today.It’s time to wonder aloud what else lies in the future of the modified office printer. Let me print us a couple martinis while we consider it.

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The pen is mightier than the ‘board
Teaching penmanship may be falling by the wayside in an age in which computer literacy is a more pressing requirement for our disaffected youths, but experts expect cursive handwriting to survive a few more generations.

A Georgetown professor has banned laptops from his lectures, feeling that students in steno mode doesn’t process information as well as one taking notes with pen and paper. My attachment to an old-fashioned 2HB is thus justified.

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Always-on goes off
The symptoms are clear to anyone who wants to see them: the watery eyes, the twitching thumbs, the palm sweats while he awaits the chime of an incoming message. Beware CrackBerry addiction – that pathetic creature could be you.

And if it is you, you’re melting down as I write this. History in the making, reporting live from the vortex of an epoch-defining event. BlackBerry. Service. Is. Down.

Airports across the Western Hemisphere are trembling with the collective shakes of thousands of executives and middle managers in the throes of withdrawal. The always-on crowd is having a communal DT fit. Fist fights are breaking out at Internet kiosks. The casualties of messaging rage clutch their useless devices, tortured faces twisted into a mask that howls one word: “Whyyyyyyyieee?”

This could be RIM’s formal declaration of its worldwide dominance. Or maybe it’s a mass-scale intervention. Gaia is demanding Peace And Quiet For Just Five Freaking Minutes, Okay?

Oh. Service restored. Never mind.

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Get the cherry! Get the cherry!

Dot-gobblers be proud. You now have a venue to recognize your outstanding Pac-Man skills. Namco Bandai will host a Pac-Man World Championship, bringing together the highest-scoring players from around the world. There’s one slot reserved for Canada. Registration begins April 25. Sign up today.

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How to blow an IT budget
I’ve long suspected that Britons have a certain, well, attitude towards their former colonials. We just don’t measure up culturally; regardless of what we do, we don’t do it quite as well as the British.

Well, they can bolster their case with news out of Parliament (the REAL Parliament, not our pale Canadian imitation) of the biggest IT project in the world, a National Health Service central IT system.

Apparently, it’s doomed to fail in the most spectacular way, reports The Telegraph. The Commons’ Public Accounts Committee found pilot projects two years behind schedule, costs spiraling out of control and the unlikelihood that “significant clinical benefits will be delivered by the end of the contract period.”

The tab? About $25 billion.

City of Toronto leasing scandal? Peanuts. Gun registry overruns? Pah. If a job’s worth screwing up, it’s worth screwing up royally.

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Voting irregularities? In Florida?
A Florida congressional election is being contested in court because of the high volume of lost or uncast votes. It’s symptomatic of a known software flaw with the voting machinery. The Republican candidate edged his Democratic counterpart by about 400 votes. More than 18,000 blank votes were recorded.

Democracy is certainly in safe hands when you’re deploying voting machines with known software flaws, innit?

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On the other hand, we fling less excrement
Humans are less evolved than chimps, according to recent research. Scientists found more genes had mutated in chimpanzees than in humans since we split from a common ancestor six million years ago.

No real technology hook. Just thought you should know.

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Do you wilf?

So anyway, I was on the Web the other day. I was looking for shoes. I think it was shoes. No, curtain rods. Otherwise why would I be at the Ikea Web site? Maybe I was looking for shoes first. After I saw that link in the New York Times fashion article that I read when I saw it on the home page after I’d gone there looking for a story about Bee Colony Collapse Disorder and the possible relation to cell phone activity. Anyway, somehow I ended up at this Telegraph article on wilfing.

It’s a phenomenon as old as the Web itself, but the name is new. “Wilf” is a rough acronym of “what was I looking for?” To wilf, thus, is to wander aimlessly through cyberspace, having long forgotten why you were there in the first place, like when you start out looking for your keys and find yourself cleaning the bathroom.

The story says a study of 2,400 people found 70 per cent wilfed, for an average of two days a month.

The report seems to position wilfing as a habit, something to which we must apply willpower to overcome. I disagree. It is not a habit, it’s a disorder, suffered by those sensitive to the stream-of-consciousness architecture of the Internet, kinda like the way my CDs are organized, with the ones I just played on the right and the new ones, like that Low Millions CD I just picked up, on the top shelf. You know Adam Cohen in the band is Leonard Cohen’s son? I love Chelsea Hotel.

(Ahem – editor.)
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My point, and I do have one …
German researchers say cordless and cell phone radiation may be scrambling the homing mechanisms of honeybees, which then fail to return to the hive, causing the beehive die-offs that have plagued North America for the last six months or so. Scientists placed cordless phone docking units in beehives (then, presumably, ran up long distance bills on the university tab) to test this theory.
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