January 22, 2009

Ottawa boy’s invention to protect birds from crashing into windows

Eighth grader Charlie Sobcov wants to stop birds from dying in collisions with windows, but he doesn’t want to ruin anybody’s view.

For his latest school science fair project he has invented painted, plastic decals that can be placed — discreetly — right in the middle of a window pane.

“This paint is a colour that birds can see but humans can’t,” he said Wednesday on CBC Radio’s All in a Day. “It’s like putting a big stop sign in the middle of the window.”

The colour is ultraviolet, beyond the range of colours visible to humans. That means the “stop sign” lets birds know the window is solid, but is nearly invisible to humans.

Full story: Ottawa boy’s invisible invention warns birds about deadly window

January 12, 2009

Know where your child is via GPS

For years, parents have been limited to traditional methods of keeping track of their children’s movements: standing in the playground, watching from the window, or asking them to phone home when they visit a friend’s house. But now anxious mothers and fathers are being offered a distinctly hi-tech method of monitoring their child’s every movement – tracking them by satellite.

Launched this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the Num8 watch from British company Lok8u is said to be the first tracking device specifically designed to help parents keep tabs on wayward offspring.

Full story

December 11, 2008

The Greatest Parenting Invention

Our baby was having a huge meltdown the other morning while my wife was already at work. As I dropped my older son in front of the television and picked a Bob the Builder cartoon from On Demand, I wondered how my parents raised me and my sister before VCRs and DVR players and YouTube. Did they simply have to hope there was a “Sesame Street” episode starting on KQED when the toddler-related chaos hit DEFCON 1? How did they entertain us when “Electric Company” wasn’t on? Elaborate puppet shows?
I’m perfectly happy to take this for granted.

This is a thought I have almost every day. Whether it’s jumpy houses to wear my kids out at the Farmer’s Market or technological developments such as portable DVD players on plane trips, I frequently salute the parenting inventions that have come along during my lifetime.

Full story: The greatest parenting invention of your lifetime

October 8, 2008

Annoy Your Teenager Without Being There

Ford has made parenting a little easier by introducing MyKey, a programmable ignition key for Ford automobiles that monitors teenage driving behavior. With MyKey in place, various driving habits that parents may consider unsafe, or merely obnoxious, can be curtailed.

It covers all the common parental complaints: The car’s speed cannot exceed 80mph. Radio volume is limited to 44 percent of maximum and, if seatbelts aren’t fastened, no sound will come from the speakers at all. Extra-careful and/or paranoid parents can place warning sounds at 45, 55, and 65mph, blasting a warning of potential reckless driving to the youthful driver.

Full story: MyKey Turns Your Ford Focus into Your Mom

September 17, 2007

Animoto.com: Making your pictures come alive on video

I found this amazing site yesterday through one of the feeds on LinkOverLoad.com. Awesome video coming right up…

Animoto basically turns your pictures into a fantastic MTV-style video, with some great soundtracks available on their site for free, or you can use your own audio – with your pictures almost flashing in rhythm to the beats of the soundtrack, with some great-looking special effects.

When I signed up, uploaded my pictures, picked a great-sounding track they had on their site (for free) and tried to create my video (remember, their software supposedly creates all of this in an automated fashion), I got this very friendly error message:

Hi there,

We’re sorry to inform you that we have experienced an error in the
production of your recent video, “Beautiful People”. Rest assured, we’re
on the case and we’ll have it rendered as soon as we can–but, depending
on the complexity of the issue, it could take a little time.

We’ll email you the moment it’s ready. Thanks for understanding!


That didn’t bother me, as they are still in beta, and still hammering out the rough edges. What did surprise me, is that they promptly sent me this email the next day:

Hi there.

We’ve finished your video, so it’s time for you to go take a look.
Head to:

http://animoto.com/play/…..

We hope you like it! Give us some feedback when you get a chance to
let us know what you liked and how we can improve. Remember, no two
Animoto videos are ever the same so keep making videos and see what unique
pieces you can generate.


I excitedly clicked over, and was simply blown away by the results (see video below).

Remarkable idea, great (almost perfect) execution, instantly viral! Pass this along…

Video from Animoto.com