This is the most interesting thing I've seen so far today.
It's called Soccket, and it's one of the featured projects from the American Express-sponsored Take Part program. Four students at Harvard came up with a soccer ball that retains energy every time it's kicked, dropped, passed and so on. At the end of the day ... plug in a light. The idea is to provide affordable energy in the poorest places. Fifteen minutes of play means three hours of reading light. Remarkable.
Nick and I took in a Padres game last week, during our visit to San Diego; Martha was off to the convention that brought us there. It was a great day in the sunshine, and we had a wonderful chat with four of the folks who hold season passes in the outfield area where we sat in Petco Park. One of them was kind enough to snap this shot just after the game ended.
The Padres, incidentally, lost to Washington 2-0, after a scoreless run through the first eight innings. The funniest thing I heard that day was one of the fans saying to his buddies on the way out, "Someone should tell the Padres baseball has nine innings."
Ouch. Nonetheless, we had a fun time. It was Nick's second MLB game.
The winner of the Indy 500 race downs a bottle of milk upon victory, making it one of the more wholesome beverages to be associated with a sports victory (but not, of course, precluding other drinks from later being quaffed). The Los Angeles Times explains why:
After three-time winner Louis Meyer drank buttermilk in Victory Lane in 1936, a milk industry executive made an effort to have future winners repeat the gesture, and it eventually stuck.
This Mental Floss trivia quiz will give your mind a bit of a workout, unless you're a hockey savant. I got all but five, which isn't bad ... even though I'm kicking myself for missing the St. Louis Blues!
This video has had seven million - yes, million - views since being posted last week, and has probably brought Idaho State's team more attention than any other kind of media coverage. Have a look at what happens when Kamil Gawrzydek makes a free throw against Utah State.
This video has been making the rounds the last few days: it shows Oscar Milton, a 17-year-old hockey player from Sweden, scoring a goal. When you watch it first, you may not even notice how he accomplished it from behind the net, but the instant replay (and a zoom) shows a pretty clever way to get a goal.
I started using the digital storage service Dropbox for a few reasons, but the key reason is simple enough: the utter fear that I might lose some things that simply cannot be replaced.
Well, they actually could. But I frankly don’t have the time to put it all together again, and I can’t imagine where my head would be if something catastrophic happened to my laptop.
I back up my drive, I’ve burned CDs, and I’ve even emailed key things to my Gmail account, just so I have the peace of mind of knowing I can get this or that specific thing later.
But I signed up for Dropbox for that extra feeling of security, knowing that not only is are copies being archived somewhere, but (sweet!) Dropbox actually updates those copies, in real time, as I save the primary records.
Dropbox The phrase “the cloud” has gained currency over the last few years, to describe how computing is using networks to store and exchange data. Sure, I rely on my hard drive a lot, but I store many of my things offsite, in part so I can access to them when I sign into another workstation.
For work as a journalist, quite a lot of the files I generate or edit reside on off-site computers, and some never actually download to my desktop. Remarkable, when you think about what constituted normal workflow just a few years ago.
Dropbox and its cousins are convenient for a whole other reason. More and more, many of us need to move relatively massive files (videos come to mind) that are simply too big to send as an email attachment. A quick solution? Setting up a digital drop where someone can log in and securely download the file.
A few weeks ago, Dropbox added a sharing feature for its users (look for the “Get shareable link” tab) that will make it easier to move things about.
Conveniently, the service is free … at least, that is, as long as your storage needs are within limits.
There are other options.SugarSync gets good reviews from users, and it will set you back for five bucks a month so long as you keep your storage pegged at 30 gigs of data. A free trial is free.
A competitor like Mozy wisely pitches its $5/month fee as a reasonable cost compared to the expense and effort of backing up photo CDs and the like.
Shop around: there are plenty of others. You don’t want to back yourself into a corner, but you’re definitely going to want to have a backup plan, too.
Elsewhere this week
Google Sightseeing Google Earth and Google Street View have each changed how we look at the world – specifically, very particular corners of it. Zoom in on an archeological wonder, cruise by a famous address, peer at a place described in your guidebooks … all without looking away from your laptop. Google Sightseeing is a long-running and popular blog, and not officially connected with Google itself. Poke around to see the latest curiosities (a Terry Fox statue, for instance) or browse through the geographic index to see what’s on offer.
Worst Hockey Logos The Anaheim Mighty Ducks, folks, are just the tip of the iceberg of these design guffaws. Imagine what the sods wearing the jerseys must have felt as they tried to skate with their dignity intact.
St. John’s Cricket Club I did not know until given this address that St. John’s even had a cricket club. The members appear to operate fairly quietly, but if you’re curious, look here to get started.
"Although golf was originally restricted to wealthy, overweight Protestants, today it's open to anybody who owns hideous clothing." - Dave Barry This quote resonated with me, particularly after a recent conversation with friends about the difficulty I had growing up finding clothes that fit me. I'm quite tall, and in my late teens, before I discovered mail order, my options often came down to which type of golf pants I could tolerate the most. I never had anything as awful as above, but I had to put up with a few pastel colours that made me gag.
My grandfather was a keen observer of the weather, and during my visits with him, Skipper (as we all called him) had a chestnut or two to share. As I recall, he was the first person to explain to me why a pretty red sunset was great news … especially for a trouting enthusiast like himself.
Sailor’s delight at night, sailor’s warning in the morning … those are the things we learn about red skies as kids. But there’s a lot more than that, you know.
A weather synopsis that’s worth saving is just the start of this week’s web tour. We’ll also keep you posted with a local eye on the World Cup, pour up some laughs from one of the best comedy troupes in the world, and dish some politics from the right side of the political pew.
How to forecast weather without gadgets I downloaded this oversize graphic after thoroughly enjoying the clever way it presented a trove of common-sense information about weather and how we can observe the world around us. Did you ever think it was folk wisdom, for instance, that you could smell a rainstorm in advance? Well, actually, you sort of can; plants release waste when a low-pressure system moves in, meaning that that earthy smell is a sign to take in the laundry.
Andrew Brown One of the young reporters working with me at the CBC newsroom these days is Andrew Brown (you may remember his dad, Jim Brown, from his years hosting the Morning Show). Andrew is also writing a blog on the World Cup for our sports colleagues. Andrew has been having, from the looks of it, quite the slice keeping track of each day’s action, as seen through the lens of St. John’s fans. The link above is for Andrew’s Twitter feed, which features blog links and more.
Vuvuzela app Speaking of soccer … No doubt the vuvuzela, the contentious instrument that makes a buzzing racket, will be a key memory (good or bad) from this World Cup. Why limit your exposure to just the games? This Dutch company has made a wildly popular – more than 1 million downloads, if you’re curious – app for the iPhone that lets you blare away, whenever you want. Surely this could bring a whole new element to staff meetings, no?
Gulf oil spill map I wanted to draw your attention to this interactive map prepared by the U.S. Environmental Response Management Association, which shows the area in the Gulf of Mexico involving the massive Deepwater Horizon spill. Using overlays of data, you can select from many facets, from the infrastructure of the oil industry to the flora and fauna of the area, to industries like the fishery. It’s a great way to get insight into one of the biggest, most complex stories of our time.
UCBcomedy.com UCB comes from Upright Citizens Brigade, a comedy troupe that launched Amy Poehler and other funny folks to stardom. The current batch are funny enough; I and many others (a couple of million, actually) have had a jolly good laugh at their take on the BP disaster, which depicted executives at a loss as to respond to a coffee spill. There’s more where that came from.
Ricochet For several years, I’ve enjoyed a short, bright podcast called Martini Shot, written and read by Rob Long, a writer who made his bones on the sitcom Cheers. It’s largely about the entertainment industry. While he writes it for the U.S. public radio station KCRW, don’t assume Long fits the Volvo-Democrat-organic stereotype; he’s also well-known for his conservative punditry. Ricochet is a project he’s backing, aimed at centre-right voters. (That is, voters who are way to the right of Barack Obama, but not at all comfortable with the Palin brigade.)
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.