Danish flamethrowing robot – ’nuff sed

<pRobo-Dane to exterminate unwanted greenery
The Danes are good at a lot of things. Uhhh… Well, I’m sure their nation is famed for something. Writing stories about mermaids, for example. And also preparing very nice breakfast pastries. There you go. Less known is their ability to produce flame-throwing robots. Perhaps because the market for such things is still somewhat slender. Or perhaps because flame-throwing robots scare the living crap out of people and they’d rather not buy one.

But the Danes, crazy as they may be, have identified gardening as a potential venue for the aforementioned killing machines – specifically, weeding. This particular robot, “Hortibot,” is programming to terminate weeds with extreme prejudice using GPS, lasers and, of course, searing gusts of fire.

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Grandma’s got teeth
A Texas grandmother is taking a stand against the RIAA. The recording industry’s professional thug squad had demanded that the woman pay a fine of $4,500 for alleged filesharing indiscretions. The woman, for some reason only identified as Ms. Crane in this article, filed a countersuit, claiming that the RIAA had violated her privacy. If her suit holds up, it could serious ramifications for future RIAA allegations. Serves ’em right for picking on the grannies. What’s next, puppies?

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Not so energetic after all
In an announcement that surprised nobody, a company that claims it has invented a free energy has cancelled its first demonstration.

According to this article:

“The public display of the Orbo device has been delayed ‘until a future date’ because efforts to fix initial technical problems while setting up the device caused additional problems, Sean McCarthy, CEO of technology development company Steorn, said in a release Friday. The company was planning to demonstrate the ‘magnetic field interaction’ device on Thursday at a London gallery, and was to make streaming video from four cameras available on its website. Steorn claims Orbo can produce free and clean energy without interruption, using a wheel that rotates with no visible means of power.”

I still can’t figure out how to get call display without adding $4.95 onto my phone bill, so good luck with that whole re-writing the laws of the universe business.

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Steve Jobs wants to be your boyfriend
You’d think it’d be a pretty decent life, being Avril Lavigne: money, looks, career, a nice tie collection. But it’s a little tougher when you’re being sued for stealing stuff, in this case, her song “Girlfriend.” Plaintiffs James Gangwer and Tommy Dunbar allege that Avril’s song is based on their 1979 non-hit “I wanna be your boyfriend.” Okie-dokie. Maybe she did steal it, maybe she didn’t. But what’s interesting here is that Apple is also named in the suit, purely for being a distributor of the song. It’s tough to imagine Steve Jobs bopping along to the peppy strains of “I wanna be your boyfriend,” but perhaps he’s the connection. In 1979, he was a hipster computer geek with a penchant for mind-altering drugs, so it’s possible he just heard the song during a three-day acid trip and forgot.
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iPhone now just ‘i’
Speaking of cracking the Jobs brain, famed hacker DVD Jon, A.K.A. Norwegian Jon Johansen, claims to have broken the bonds that tie the iPhone to AT&T. The only problem is, the phone portion won’t work anymore, so what you’re left with is a suped-up iPod with a nice, wide screen. (Come to think of it, that’s not a bad thing to have.) The hacking community promises to right this wrong before long and allow the iPhone to be used as a non-AT&T phone.

Other circumlocutions thus far include: signing on for an AT&T iPhone then deliberately failing the credit check and trying to cram a SIM card into a Newton and hope for the best.

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Vista sucks: Dell
Dell is backing away from Vista. Well, not so much backing as turning tail and heading for the horizon. The company, which has taken a few lumps for pulling Windows XP as an optional OS, is now saying that Vista is going to give its users a migraine. Anticipate upgrade problems, says Dell, if you go with Vista. Kind of an odd strategy considering that Dell’s somewhat laudable attempt to sell Linux PCs isn’t exactly going like hotcakes, but who is Insider to question the great Michael Dell?

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Don’t be rushin’ to this site
There are some times you probably wish you weren’t sitting at your desk, but just be grateful you’re not a receptionist at a Russian parquet flooring company. That poor woman is currently fielding more calls this week than she’s probably had in her entire career. The recently shutdown allofmp3.com seems to have set up shop under a new site called mp3sparks.com. The contact number listed on the site is the aforementioned Moscow floor shop. The bewildered woman on the phone has been quoted saying, “Why do people keep calling here?”

MediaServices, the company that runs mp3sparks.com, and ran allofmp3.com before it, still claims to be legit.

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Stays crunchy in milk
Scientists believe they may have an explanation for one of our solar system’s weirdest objects: Hyperion, the Saturn moon. It looks for all the world like some kind of sponge, or in my estimation, a Cap’n Crunch cereal flake. Apparently, it’s deeply pocked surface is due to objects burying themselves into its porous surface.

“The craters stay a little fresher and deep as they accumulate, so the surface looks more like a sponge rather than smoothing everything out,” said Peter Thomas of Cornell University in this article. Now that’s some wacky space stuff, but I can achieve the same effect by chucking darts at my office wall. It’s starting to look a bit like Cap’n Crunch as well.

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How to use dangerous elements to melt pennies
There’s a number of reasons why I read Popular Science, but one of them is definitely due to the fact that they not only suggest highly dangerous scientific experiments, but also tell you how to do them. In this particular one, they show you how to strip the copper off a penny by using acid. A neat twist on the experiment, where you dissolve the nickel, leaving the copper whole, calls for cyanide and persulfate.

“It works,” says the article, “but it’s most definitely not something you should try at home (the process uses enough poison to wipe out everyone in a city block).”

That’s good advice. For those interesting in trying this, it registers four out of five on Popsci’s dangerometer.

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Gates’ fortune goes south
Bill Gates hasn’t been defeated by a Mexican since he had a hard time finishing that chimichanga back in 1982. A Mexican Web site reports that he has again fallen to a member of the Latin set: The jauntily named Carlos Slim has apparently knocked Gates off the top of the Forbes world’s richest list. Slim amassed an amazing US$19 billion in a year bringing his total wealth to US$67.8 billion. Gates, by comparison, is worth US$56 billion. Slim made his fortune in the telco and tobacco businesses, presumably through people smoking while on the phone. He’s considering buying his native country and renaming it Slim’s Place.
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Chinese want Billy babies</b
Since Gates needs to make a few more bucks to put himself on the top of the heap, his best bet might be to move to China where his sperm is in high demand. According to China’s Self magazine, Gates’ swimmers are the nation’s second-most desirable, behind top box office draw, Andy Lau. The top 10 sperm list reads like a who’s who of the Hong Kong acting community, but Gates’ smarts and debonair way with the ladies vaulted him to the second spot.

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Brain-sex link established in mice

While we’re on the topic of sought-after sperm, it turns out that female mice increase brain cell production when they’re pursuing males. Pheromones given off by boy mice are so enticing to the girl mice that they create new memories to remember just how horny they are.

According to this article:

“The theory is that by building the memory portion of a female mouse’s mind, she will remember the stronger, more aggressive male and pursue them when given the chance.”

There’s a lesson to be learned here somewhere, but so far it has eluded me.

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