Category Archives: Health

Control a Keyboard With Your Brain Using intendiX

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Have you ever dreamed of the day we would be able to type on a computer without using a keyboard or our fingers? What if it were possible to type using your brain? This is an idea which has been in development for more than twenty years. During ceBIT 2011, Intendix showed off a product designed to help people without motor skills type on a computer. The future of technology is here, folks!

I volunteered to try this cap out, despite being a little nervous – and yes, I am aware I may have looked a tad silly in this getup. The system is based on your EEG potentials, enabling you to select characters in sequence from a matrix on the screen… just by paying attention to your target for several seconds. It’s not a fast process, by any means – but it DOES work.

The intendiX requires a bit of training, but after about ten minutes you will be able to spell 5-10 characters per minute! The cap uses an algorithm to detect what you’re thinking, so that it only selects characters when you pay attention to the system. Besides typing, the user can also use the system to trigger an alarm, make the computer speak written text out loud, print or copy the text into emails or even send commands to external devices!

The extension tool used to control external devices is called the extendiX. It runs on a separate computer which controls other devices and applications such as a television, music, assistive robots and even games. The extendiX receives commands from the intendiX cap via UDP. The entire system is designed around a Brain-Computer Interface:

A Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) provides a new communication channel between the human brain and a computer. The BCI system detects such changes and transforms them into control signals, which can be used for moving objects, writing letters, opening doors, changing TV channels and other everyday household activities.

It’s mind-boggling to try and understand all of the technology behind this device and the protocols that make it work. The important thing, though, is that it DOES work. We are watching advances in technology that will literally change the world.

How to Adjust Screen Resolution in Windows

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Screen resolution refers to the size of the whole image that is displayed on your monitor. It specifically refers to the number of individual pixels that are shown at once. The more pixels on your screen the more detailed your images will be. With less pixels, the elements will look larger… but there will be a lot less space on the desktop for programs to run.

Your monitor has a native resolution – unless it’s an older model. Most LCD monitors these days can display a lot of different resolutions, but the native one always looks the best. This is because that is the resolution that matches the number of pixels inside of your display. Any other resolution might look a bit distorted since the number of pixels used won’t match the actual number in the display.

However, there are times when you may need to change your resolution to make it easier for you to see properly. Our monitors have an optimal resolution setting that works best for the monitor – but it may not work best for our eyes. Changing up the resolution is a pretty simple matter, thankfully. Before adjusting the resolution settings, make sure your display drivers and monitor drivers are up to date.

To change your resolution in Windows 7, right-click on your desktop and then choose “Screen Resolution.” You will find a drop-down menu next to the word “resolution,” showing you all of the different resolutions that your monitor can support. Further down on that same screen, you will see blue words: “Make text and other items larger or smaller.” Clicking here will help you quickly and permanently adjust your font and image size to meet your vision needs. Additionally, you can temporarily change text size on a page by holding down your CTRL key and scrolling the mouse wheel in or out.

Again on that same screen, clicking on the blue words “What display settings should I choose?” takes you to a Help topic which explains each of the changes you can make in detail. This page can help you make decisions on choosing color settings, brightness and contrast settings and more.

Microsoft has put together a fantastic tutorial to show you all of the ways you can customize your Windows 7 installation to meet your particular accessibility needs.

How to Clean Pet Hair Using the Dyson DC24 Animal

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Cleaning your floors is a necessary part of housekeeping, but it becomes particulary important when you have pets. I recently took a look at the Dyson DC24 Animal, which is an ultra-lightweight and compact Dyson Ball vacuum cleaner optimized for pet hair removal and dirt elimination.

The ball helps provide maneuverability as I showed in this video demo of the Dyson DC24. The Dyson DC24 pet brush helps clean loose hair from your pet, which I demonstrated on a less than willing Wicket.

A second Dyson vacuum – the Dyson DC35 Multi Floor – offers additional versatility for vacuuming hardwood floors in addition to cleaning carpets. I have a lot of hardwood floors in my home, so this is the perfect compliment to my cleaning arsenal.

And yes – I actually clean my own house most of the time.

Can Apple Survive Without Steve Jobs?

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Over on the Lockergnome Q&A site, someone recently asked if Apple would die without Steve Jobs. What a timely discussion to be having, in light of the news spreading today about his health. There is no doubt that Jobs was instrumental in building the company into what it is today. But that doesn’t mean it will shrivel up and die without him.

Apple has been based on Steve’s eye for product for many years. I don’t think the company will go to hell in a handbasket though. I’d like to believe he’s imparted enough insight and foresight to his employees that the company will carry on just fine. It won’t be the same, no. If Apple doesn’t maintain its course in the way it does things, it will slip into obscurity.

Some people like to claim Apple is “dead” anyway. They’ll tout “Windows this” or “Android that.” I don’t know that Apple has ever tried to be some mythical “number one” at anything, though. Let’s take a look at money made just from handsets alone. That number – for Apple – is so high, my hand went off the screen during the video. As an operating system, Android could be “number one.” But they aren’t making as much money as Apple is.

For me, it’s about having the best-working device and experience possible. I wasn’t an Apple fan up until just a couple of years ago. I shifted when Apple began to shift. It’s about quality and elegance. That’s something that isn’t rivaled by any other company. Everyone else is just a kluge. I’m saying that with all due respect, but no one has the style that Apple is throwing out the door every day.

Apple has a fine attention to detail. That’s what makes them the power company they are. The hope is that the same attention to detail has permeated every employee. The company will succeed just fine without Steve Jobs. Does that mean we won’t mourn his loss? Of course not. He’s a leader… a visionary. But he’s not the only person who possesses those qualities.

Steve Jobs’ Cancer is a Call to Action

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Today, word came across the wire that Steve Jobs was undergoing treatment for his pancreatic cancer. It’s possible that he only has weeks to live, which would only cast a dark cloud over the entire consumer electronics industry.

We need a Steve Jobs – just as we need every other tech visionary. He may not always play ball, but that’s PRECISELY WHY we need him.

When I Tweeted this news yesterday, I said that if Steve Jobs were to die, a piece of me would die with him. Many people responded with their agreement, but one kid in particular sparked this video. He replied and stated that if the worst happens to Jobs, he (the kid) would celebrate. I forgave him that, because he IS a kid. The problem is, this kid is also a geek – in a big way.

Even if you don’t like Steve Jobs or Apple, you cannot deny the ways in which they have influenced you. Losing that inspiration is not something to celebrate. The way the world works is through inspiration. Art inspires art. Technology inspires technology. People inspire people.

Speaking as someone who didn’t care too much about Apple or Steve Jobs himself until recently, you should pause before saying something so incredibly short-sighted. Even though it was a kid who Tweeted that, I’m pretty sure there are plenty of adults who would say something similar regarding the loss of this man who is a visionary and a great leader. You cannot deny his influence and inspiration.

At any point in the future – no matter how long it takes – when it happens, keep in mind that Steve Jobs inspired something in your life… directly or indirectly. To celebrate the loss of his life is making you look like a moron. I wouldn’t consider you someone worthy of my respect were you to say something rude about any visionary leaving this Earth long before their time. I’d be saying the same thing if we were discussing Steve Ballmer right now.

Like it or not – Steve Jobs is a leader. That’s the type of leadership that every single one of us geeks has been inspired by. He is the type of leader we need more of, folks. We need people who can step up to the plate and take on the challenge of leading a technology generation into the future. It’s not something that everyone could do, obviously, but it’s something that needs to happen.

Instead of spending your time trolling and doing nothing with your life, why not do SOMETHING? Take this as a call to action. Become the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. You have that power in you. Fifty years from now, the world could mourn your loss and be inspired by the things you did.

Don’t just sit there. DO SOMETHING with your life. Realize that you don’t have to be the next Torvolds or Gates or Jobs – as long as you’re doing something. There are small ways you can inspire others… small ways you can leave your mark on the world. But by God – get off your butt and make that mark. Stop being afraid. Stop holding yourself back with excuses. Stop whining about how everyone is against you and there’s nothing you can do about it. Many others before you have blown those excuses out of the water, and so can you.

If you have a dream – make it happen. If you have an idea – turn it into a reality. If you have passion – act on it. Your life is going to be what YOU make of it. Make it something good.

Edited to add: After this video and post had gone live, I received the following email from Jamo. He has given me permission to post his words verbatim. If what I had to say didn’t touch you in some way, perhaps Jamo’s words will strike a chord within you.

Something possessed me to type up part of your monologue from your “Steve Jobs’ Cancer – Dying Soon?” video. If I had to say why I did, it would be because it struck a chord with me in one way or another. I am only an 18 year old kid (I say kid and not adult because I feel I am not yet mature or wise enough to call myself a true adult. And I am sad to say that I also don’t believe that a good amount of ‘adults’ should call themselves that either) so I still feel I have time to wise up and make the world a better place and I will most certainly do my best to do so. I am so glad that you are using your unique position in the world to tell people that they really need to do something. I also applaud you being so direct and not fearing the backlash that may come with it. I think that people need to hear this. I decided to bold the parts that really stuck out to me:

“Unfortunately, I would go as far as to say, unfortunately, 90% of the people that comment on this video have done nothing with their lives, nothing. And sadly, they will likely continue to do nothing with their lives. So take this as a call to action. Become the next Steve Jobs. Become the next Bill Gates. You have that power in you. So that 50 years from now the world would mourn your loss and be inspired by the things you did, because if you’re not providing inspiration, quite honestly, you are taking up space; you are wasting your life.

I very much agree with this and I want you to know that it has done nothing less than strengthen my testimony of the importance of doing something of use in life and not just being a stagnant lump on society’s butt. I wanted to make aware that what you said has strengthened at least one person that listened to it.

So I would like to end this by saying thank you for making this video, taking you time to read through this email and doing your part to inspire the world.

3D Mammography Approved by FDA

Cancer in any form is nasty business. I could sit here all day and write about the horrors of the disease, but I honestly don’t need to. You already know the destruction it causes, to the victim as well as to the family and friends who support them. The statistics are staggering, no matter which variation of this illness you’re researching. For women, the words breast cancer alone can send chills up and down the spine. Those particular numbers blew my mind when I looked them up for this article: on in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime… ONE. IN. EIGHT..

Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States. It is also one of the leading causes of cancer death among females. According to the CDC, 202,964 women in the US alone were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 (the most recent numbers available), and 40,598 women in the US died from the disease. That’s 40,598 more than ever should have been lost.

Strides are made every day when it comes to detection, treatment and cures. Just Friday, the FDA approved a new 3D Mammography device – the first of its kind. The machines will generate 3-D images of the breast, potentially helping doctors spot more cancerous tumors – and smaller ones. After all, the sooner a tumor is found the better the odds are in the race to the cure.

“Physicians can now access this unique and innovative 3-D technology that could significantly enhance diagnosis and treatment approaches,” said Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA’s device division, in a statement.

I’ve written before about the Keep-a-Breast Campagin. This is just one of many fantastic organizations dedicated to helping fund research and to help patients. The reason I chose this particular one to support is those fun bracelets which are pictured above. What guy wouldn’t want to sport a tshirt or bracelet which say “I Love Boobies!” in public – and get away with it?

The foundation is dedicated to “helping eradicate breast cancer by exposing young people to methods of prevention, early detection and support. Through art events, educational programs and fundraising efforts, they seek to increase breast cancer awareness among young people so they are better equipped to make choices and develop habits that will benefit their long-term health and well-being.”

The purpose of Keep A Breast’s “I Love Boobies!” Campaign is to speak to young people in their own voice about a subject that is often scary and taboo. Sadly, there is a real need to do this: girls as young as TEN years old have been diagnosed with the disease. Although the incidence of breast cancer in young women is much lower than that of older women, young women’s breast cancers are generally more aggressive, diagnosed at a later stage, and result in lower survival rates. In fact, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in young women under the age of 40.

With tech advances such as the new 3D Mammography machine approved by the FDA and campaigns such as I Love Boobies!, we may finally one day be able to wipe out breast cancer for good.

Change Your Eating Habits with Fooducate

Do you know how much sugar is actually in that cereal your kids are begging for? How can you quickly and easily determine the amount of bad fats vs. good fats in the latest diet bars to hit the shelves? The supermarkets are full of choices these days, but are you making the right ones? Fooducate is here to help you be more informed and to help you get healthier.

The iPhone app will allow you to scan the barcodes of more than 200,000 food products at any local store. You will instantly be able to see how nutritious they really are. Shoppers will learn the WHOLE truth – as well as recommendations for healthier alternatives.

Fooducate gives every product a letter grade, much like on a child’s report card. You’ll also find brief explanations and warnings about that product’s nutrients and ingredients. You will find out what it is that the manufacturers may not want you to notice, such as:

  • excessive sugar and sodium
  • tricky trans fats
  • additives and preservatives
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • controversial food colorings

Fooducate’s mission is to help millions of shoppers choose healthy, tasty, and affordable food, and to affect positive change on the food industry. This free app can help you get healthy – and stay that way.

Speak to Tweet for Egyptians

Just like all of us, the folks at Google spent the weekend watching the events in Egypt unfold. They were flabbergasted, feeling helpless as they watched the people there who are desperate to be heard. The engineers knew that if anyone could help give them a voice, it would be them. They put their collective brains together and came up with a service they are calling “Speak to Tweet,” which gives anyone the ability to Tweet using just a voice connection.

The hope is that this project will help the people of Egypt to stay connected during such a horrific time in their lives.

We worked with a small team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow, a company we acquired last week, to make this idea a reality. It’s already live and anyone can tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855) and the service will instantly tweet the message using the hashtag #egypt. No Internet connection is required. People can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to the official Twitter account.

According to reports, the only remaining ISP holdout over in Egypt was taken offline earlier today, leaving the entire country paralyzed with no Internet connection. I cannot begin to imagine the horror of what these people are already living through. People from all over the world have been working together to try and find ways to reconnect the Egyptians with the outside world. It’s fantastic to see that the team from Google, Twitter and SayNow have come up with what appears to be a perfect solution.

Do You Facebook From the Bathroom?

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A survey that was posted in the Consumerist stated that 27% of Facebook users update their status in the bathroom. What’s even weirder is the breakdown: women are 54% more likely than men to spend time on Facebook while, ahem… doing their business.

Lamarr thinks this can potentially be pretty disgusting, although he wonders if the iPhone would have an “app for that.” When you think about it, it really is pretty gross. Do you wash your hands BEFORE touching that screen – even while still sitting on the pot? Of course you don’t. Do you take some Lysol wipes to the screen AFTER you are finished? Likely – not.

I’m willing to bet most people have never thought of this before. We’ve done articles in the past about germs spreading in the home – and home office. The bathroom is pretty germy. Do you seriously want your phone in that room where “those” germs are flying around?

Are you one of the guilty parties?

Drunk Driving Could Lead to Facebook Shaming

One California beach town is fed up with the number of repeat offenders being caught driving while under the influence of alcohol. A town council member has proposed a directive that would – if passed – allow the city to place mugshots of these criminals on the city’s public Facebook page. Drunk driving is a problematic issue in Huntington Beach. According to the Associated Press, 1,687 people were arrested in 2009 for drunk driving within the city’s limits.

City residents have been complaining about the recent decision to stop posting police arrest information in the local newspaper. Councilman Devin Dwyer says that in his view, “posting this information is a reasonable step to take to enhance the safety of Huntington Beach residents and visitors.” He feels that the “public shaming” on Facebook will serve as a deterrent, forcing people to hopefully think twice before getting behind the wheel after imbibing.

The police department isn’t keen to back the proposal. They feel it could breed distrust and resentment among residents. A spokeperson for the deparment said the idea has “no value,” arguing “law enforcement is not about public shaming.” Many people disagree, though, as evidence by the sheer amount of local support this issue is raising.

What are your thoughts? Would you be in favor of placing the mug shots of people like this right on Facebook for all to see? Do you feel it would help cut down on the number of DUIs handed out?