Posts Tagged ‘Larry’

Researchers Create Vomiting Robot To Analyze Contagions

January 3rd, 2013 01:36 admin View Comments


iComp points out an interesting project in Derbyshire, northern England. “Bioboffins at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Derbyshire, UK, have developed a robot that can projectile vomit on command as a tool for studying the spread of the highly infectious norovirus. Reuters reports that the hyperemetic droid has been dubbed ‘Vomiting Larry‘ by its creator, researcher Catherine Makison, who describes it as a ‘humanoid simulated vomiting system.’ The goal of said vomiting system is to study the reach and dispersion of human vomitus, which is one of the primary ways that diseases such as norovirus can spread. Norovirus is a fairly common viral infection that is sometimes known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’ due to its increased prevalence in the colder months. Outbreaks are generally triggered when humans ingest contaminated food or water, but can continue when subsequent people come in contact with surfaces that have been contaminated by the initial patient’s effluvium.”

Source: Researchers Create Vomiting Robot To Analyze Contagions

Kickstarter Games: Where They Are Now

November 28th, 2012 11:54 admin View Comments


We keep hearing success stories of indie video game projects that found funding through Kickstarter. Some have simply met their goals, while others have far exceeded the money they original asked for. Rock, Paper, Shotgun has provided updates on the progress of a huge list of funded projects. Many projects turned out to have unrealistic release dates. For example, Double Fine Adventure missed its August timeframe because it’s getting a new engine. The new Leisure Suit Larry missed its October plans and hasn’t been terribly open about a new one. However, most projects are humming along nicely, and some, like FTL: Faster Than Light have been completed and well received. The article exhorts all developers working on these games to make communication a priority, since the users are the ones who put up the cash, and deserve to know what’s going on.

Source: Kickstarter Games: Where They Are Now

Introducing SlashBI

May 1st, 2012 05:30 admin View Comments

By now you’ve noticed that Slashdot is growing. We recently introduced Slashdot TV, which offers up everything from “amateur” rocket launches to the return of Leisure Suit Larry. We revamped our newsletters. Now we’re launching some new sites devoted to very specific corners of tech. Our first one, SlashBI, focuses on the fast-changing world of business intelligence, and features articles and opinion pieces on everything from how Big Data and analytics could make salespeople extinct, to B.I. apps for your iOS device, to choosing the right database for a business. No matter what your background, chances are good you’ll find something of interest here. Swing on over, give it a look-see, and let us know what you think.

Source: Introducing SlashBI

Leisure Suit Larry Comes Again (Video)

April 19th, 2012 04:52 admin View Comments


In this exclusive video interview, Slashdot chats with Leisure Suit Larry creator Al Lowe, who is working with Replay Games and Kickstarter to bring Larry Laffer to a whole new generation of computers. They’ll maintain the original Larry style of being naughty without crossing the line into porn, which is appropriate for an 80s game about a 70s dork who wears a (shudder) leisure suit. You can donate to this effort through Kickstarter if you like. (We aren’t getting paid to say this, and it’s a labor of love for Al, too, who is more recently famous for running the hokey daily comedy email newsletter, CyberJoke 3000.)

Source: Leisure Suit Larry Comes Again (Video)

Google’s Universal Search for Speed

March 5th, 2012 03:34 admin View Comments

johannawright150.jpgFor the third and final installment of my interview series with the people who make Google Search, I spoke with Johanna Wright, who leads the search project management team. She has worked on search at Google for over six years, leading the Universal Search and Google Instant projects.

In the first installment, I spoke with lead designer Jon Wiley about the design of Google Search. Last week, Google Fellow Ben Gomes explained how Google’s search technology works under the hood. Johanna tied it all together by explaining the most important feature of Google Search: its speed.

Johanna Wright and Google communications rep Nadja Blagojevic on our Google+ Hangout. Nadja must have heard how big a fan I am of these new animal masks in Hangouts.


ReadWriteWeb: What does Google actually do to make search faster?

Johanna Wright: There are three ways I think of this. The first is the bits. How many bits do you send over the wire? How actually speedy is the results page? Does it load quickly, does it react quickly, and how quickly can we get it to you?

The second piece is actually taking fewer steps. This was the core innovation from Google in the earliest days: Getting the best results actually speeds you up. If you have to go to page two or try another query, that slows you down. Internally, we call this idea time-to-result. You may load up your page faster, but if you have to load two pages, then your total time to get your answer will slow down. So relevance is actually a core piece of speed.

The third is user experience. The simplicity of our UI also speeds you up.

RWW: What is Google’s institutional process for improving speed?

JW: Every quarter, we have latency goals to make the page faster. We also have a latency review of every feature we launch. We have to have a process and a methodology to make sure that everything that goes out the door is fast.

RWW: Why is speed such a priority? What are some of the effects of speed on search?

Anytime you make search slower, people search less.

JW: We’ve done studies where we slowed down the search results page from 100 to 400 milliseconds, and what we saw was a decrease in the amount of search queries. When we slowed down, people searched less. We kept this experiment going, and over time, they searched even less. The first three weeks, people searched 0.4% less. The second three weeks, it was 0.75% less.

There was this fatigue. It’s barely perceptible in your own mind. You don’t know that this slowdown is what’s making you search less.

We kept our control group going, and when we undid this for the people in the experiment, we saw that they were still searching less by about 0.2%. So we were seeing this fatigue. The sluggishness slows you down, and it’s a lasting effect. So it has been baked into our processes [at Google] that we have to keep on making this thing fast.

RWW: As Ben Gomes and I talked about in our interview last week Google users get more demanding of search over time, giving it ever more complex questions as it gives them more complex answers. Is the same true of users’ expectations for speed?

googleakamaiwaittime.jpgJW: Absolutely. An Akamai study found that, in 2000, people were willing to wait for eight seconds for a page to load. In 2005, they were willing to wait five seconds. In 2009, still three years ago, they were willing to wait three seconds. So all of a sudden, the expectation is much higher.

RWW: How do newer features like auto-complete and Google Instant affect speed?

JW: So, we’re doing the prediction, and we’re giving you instant results. You can see that while you’re typing and then, almost unconsciously, you can just type a little more to get exactly what you want. It lets you get this feedback as you go along and get you the right results more quickly.

Auto-complete is an interesting speed story because it shows the conflict between our belief that just making the experience fast is important and that second component of speed, the time-to-result.

So we went to Larry and Sergey and said, “Hey, we want to add this great feature to the Google home page,” and Sergey said, “What? Really? This feels slow to me.”

We had this auto-complete on Labs, and it was an awesome feature, and we knew we wanted to launch it. What we saw was a huge decrease in time-to-result. It was a great speed improvement.

So we went to Larry and Sergey and said, “Hey, we want to add this great feature to the Google homepage,” and Sergey said, “What? Really? This feels slow to me.”

We had these grueling product reviews at the time where Sergey opened the code, and he looked at the code in front of the team, and he pointed out four or five things that he thought we should be doing to speed up the code. A lot of these ideas were right, and we were sent back to the drawing board.

We had to make the homepage load in no slower of a time. We were looking at how quick a person could put their mouse into the search box. So if it took any time for that Javascript to load, and therefore you were slowed down, well, then we couldn’t launch it.

So we went back for about six weeks to speed this up before we could even launch it. I think that’s a real story for me about how speed is in the DNA of the company. The thing has to be fast in order for it to go out and for us to put our brand and our pride behind it.

RWW: So did those features produce a relatively big change in time-to-result compared to typical changes?

JW: Yes. They were big changes.

Next page: Ways Google Speeds Up Search Without You Noticing

Page:  1   2  Next  »

Source: Google’s Universal Search for Speed

Should Social Media Affect Your Creditworthiness?

December 15th, 2011 12:07 admin View Comments


theodp writes “Betabeat’s Adrianne Jeffries takes a look at the questionable young science of using social media to evaluate creditworthiness. As banks start nosing around Facebook and Twitter, Jeffries explains, the wrong friends might just sink your credit. ‘Let’s take a trip with the Ghost of Christmas Future,’ she suggests. ‘The year is 2016, and George Bailey, a former banker, now a part-time consultant, is looking for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for a co-op in the super-hot neighborhood of Bedford Falls (BeFa). He has never missed a loan payment and has zero credit card debt. He submits his information to the online-only, but halfway through the application process, the website asks for his Facebook login. Then his Twitter. Then LinkedIn. The cartoon loan officer avatar begins to frown as the algorithm discovers Mr. Bailey’s taxi-driving buddy Ernie was once turned down by PotterBank for a loan; then it starts browsing his daughter Zuzu’s photo album, ‘Saturday Nite!’ And what was this tweet from a few years back: “FML, about to jump off a goddamn bridge”?’ So, could George piggyback his way to a better credit score by adding Larry and Sergey to his Google+ Circles?”

Source: Should Social Media Affect Your Creditworthiness?

Adobe Ends Development of Flash On Mobile Browsers

November 9th, 2011 11:00 admin View Comments


larry bagina writes “Jason Perlow of ZDNet is reporting that Adobe will stop developing Flash for mobile browsers and focus on AIR and HTML5 tools. I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if 750 voices screamed out in terror and were laid off. But that noise was overshadowed by everybody else celebrating.”

Source: Adobe Ends Development of Flash On Mobile Browsers

The RMS Tour Rider

October 28th, 2011 10:22 admin View Comments


larry bagina writes “It’s no secret that rock stars have riders — provisions on their contractual appearances that require a bowl of brown-free M&Ms or specify the exact brand of bottled water, cocaine purity, etc. Well, Richard Stallman has his own quirky list of provisions.” Some of the best stuff is at the end, including: “I do not eat breakfast. Please do not ask me any questions about what I will do [for] breakfast. Please just do not bring it up,” and “One situation where I do not need help, let alone supervision, is in crossing streets. I grew up in the middle of the world’s biggest city, full of cars, and I have crossed streets without assistance even in the chaotic traffic of Bangalore and Delhi. Please just leave me alone when I cross streets.”

Source: The RMS Tour Rider

More Than 300 Patents In Steve Jobs’ Name Stand Testament To His Attention To Detail

August 26th, 2011 08:30 admin View Comments

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs’ attention to the finest of details is well known throughout the tech world, the latest testament to that is Google VP Vic Gundotra’s recollection of his phone call with Jobs in 2008 about an imperfection in the Google logo on the iPhone when pinned to the homescreen.

Another example of Jobs’ immense attention to the finer aspects of product design and everything else is Apple’s patents, 313 out of which list Jobs as an inventor.

These patents cover a broad range of products including Desktop Computers, iPods, iOS devices, product packaging, power adaptors and even the glass staircases you would find in Apple stores.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates has 9 patents to his name while Google’s Larry and Sergey have a dozen patents, which is nowhere near Steve’s 313.

Some of the filings date back to the 1980s, when Apple was a relatively young company, which was about to challenge the might of IBM, and in the future a lot of other companies as well. We have a look at some of Jobs’ most remarkable patent applications, some of which made their way into the consumer market while some stay buried inside Apple’s offices.

Jobs’ First Patent Filing – The Design For A Personal Computer

Apple I

This patent covers the design of the Apple I, the company’s first product which was hand built by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, which sold for $666.66 because Woz liked repeating digits. The patent claim reads “The ornamental design for a personal computer, substantially as shown”. To get an idea of how complicated the process of getting the Apple-I to work as compared to present day computers was, have a look at the Apple-I manual (PDF link), which also features the earliest Apple logo with Newton sitting under an Apple tree.


Apple Macintosh

This device, which was unshered in by the famous “1984″ commercial, was the first successful computer to feature a mouse and a graphical user interface. The patent however doesn’t say anything about the GUI, it instead talks about the all-in-one design of the computer which can be found even in today’s iMac models.

The Dock


This patent was filed on behalf of NeXT Computer Inc., which later went on to merge with Apple. The patent, filed in 1991, describes the concept of a dock found in modern day operating systems like OS X and iOS. Although the idea of a dock may seem trivial right now, twenty years ago it wasn’t all that common. The patent has various flowcharts describing different tasks like launching applications, rearranging icons and adding new applications to the dock.

Power Adapters

Steve Jobs’ desire for perfection showed not just in software but even in accessory design. The iPad 2 smart cover, USB cables and power adapters are all examples of excellent design. (In some cases however the priority given to design makes the product more vulnerable to wear and tear, for example iPhone and iPod cables.)

Apple Adapters

Apple has multiple power adapter patents to its credit, each of which illustrate a different kind of design. The first patent filing showed a circular adapter, which later changed into a rectangular avatar and finally became the roundrect Magsafe adapters we all know of.


ipod patent

This was Jobs’ way of revolutionising the music industry. First a device, then a digital store both with a large number of users forced music companies to sell their songs for a dollar resulting in a win for customers. Steve’s name appears on 85 iPod patents, most of them dealing with the design of the product.

Pre-iPhone Patents

Pre iphone patents

A number of patents filed in 2005 give us a glimpse into the iPhone’s birth stages. The patent applications nowhere explicitly mention the iPhone, but familiar UI elements like table views, battery indicators and page indicators make an appearance in the images. One of these filings also reveal that at one point of time Apple envisioned an iPod clickwheel style of phone as well.

iPhone UI And Hardware Design

iPhone Patents

Numerous iPhone patents have been filed by Apple since its launch, perhaps foreseeing that it would have to battle out other hardware manufacturers in the future. An interesting image found in one of these patents, embedded above shows a trial option in a mockup of the AppStore.

Glass Staircases

Apple Glass Staircases

Like Apple’s products, its stores have been constant subjects of admiration. Turns out the glass staircases found in many Apple Stores has also been patented, with one of its inventors being Jobs himself.

Jobs has been named an inventor in more than 300 other patents pertaining to iPod headsets, packaging, laptops, displays and keyboards. While products like the “Clickwheel phone” didn’t hit the shelves, many of these inventions were and still are critical to Apple’s success. As New York Times points out, Jonathan Ive, Apple’s design guru, shares more than 200 patents with Jobs hinting that Steve and Ive share the same design instincts.

The New York Times has a nice interactive feature on Steve’s patents, hit the source link to have a look at it.

[via NYT]

Source: More Than 300 Patents In Steve Jobs’ Name Stand Testament To His Attention To Detail

Mark Zuckerberg Is The Most Followed User On Google+

July 4th, 2011 07:27 admin View Comments

In what has to be somewhat embarrassing for Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is the most followed user on Google+, according to the Google+ Statistics counter.

The Facebook CEO has 21,213 followers, compared to the Google CEO at 14,798, Google social czar Vic Gundotra at 13,783, Google co-founder Sergey Brin at 11,629, blogger Robert Scoble at 11,389, Google spam avenger Matt Cutts at 9,153, TWIT founder Leo Laporte at 7,566, Google’s Bradley Horowitz at 7,187, TechCrunch’s MG Siegler at 6,579 and blogger Gina Trapani at 5,649.

Google+ Statistics creator Boris Veldhuijen van Zanten explains the CEO’s unlikely popularity thus, “He has the most friends in the world, they made a movie about him, and he is more handsome than the Larry and Sergey.” I think the answer goes more like this; The more media coverage someone receives related to Google+, the more followers they get, hence MG Siegler at #9.

I’m at #104. Discuss.

Source: Mark Zuckerberg Is The Most Followed User On Google+