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Robotics

Willow Garage Robot Fetches Beer, Engineers Rejoice 114

kkleiner writes "Willow Garage has pulled off the ultimate engineering feat: teaching a PR2 robot to fetch you a beer from the fridge. Not only can the PR2 select the correct brew from the fridge, it can deliver, and even open the beer as needed. That's right, all the humans have to do is drink and relax. Prepare yourself for some major robot-envy as you check out the PR2 delivering much-needed refreshment in the video."

Comment Re:easy. (Score 1) 842

I'm not so sure that physical vs mental makes long hours any better. There are many days I go home with a ringing head and blurry eyes because I've been staring at a screen for hours and in meetings with people who all want a different outcome (thus no solution is acceptable to all).

One of my first jobs was very physical, and although I went home with tired arms and back and sore hands, there was something numbing about that which I found pleasant.

I think the difference between long hours depends on how hard you're working -- whether physical or mental -- vs those who just get by, whose days come easily to them because they are not challenged or do not challenge themselves.

Comment Re:Silly Brits (Score 1) 568

From what I gather the UK system was rather screwed up and in 1832 they had a huge reform, making it more like the US system with first past the post. Not sure how much the Brits cared about what the Americans did at the time, but it seems they already brought the US system back. Not the best choice, then again there weren't that many great choices in Europe at the time...

Comment Re:Banning doesn't do what they think it does (Score 1) 143

The empirical evidence from the current regime is that where a game is refused classification, the publisher will almost always make the necessary alterations (toning down certain amounts of gore etc) in order to achieve an MA15+ rating. The current system has thus been reasonably effective -- ensuring that games are made suitable for a 15+ audience, and given that anyone in the 15-18 category is unlikely to be prevented from accessing a title simply by its having a higher rating that is a defensible approach (by which I mean "there is an argument for it" not "it is the correct approach").

True, in most cases the publisher has altered their game to get the MA15+ rating - but not in all cases.

Additionally, games that have been rated higher in other countries have been rated MA15+ in Australia because we have no higher rating. This I don't personally mind, but it suggests our rating system is flawed.

But I find the biggest hypocricy is in its present state, our ratings system for games doesn't even pass the first guiding principle of the Australian Classification Code;

"adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want"

Gamers for Croyden are a new political party just set up and hopefully they'll get a few votes in Michael Atkinson's seat. They may not change his mind, but hopefully they can spread the word

Movies

Submission + - Avatar could have been so much more (sffmedia.com)

bowman9991 writes: Avatar’s story is predictable and clichéd, its characters 2 dimensional, yet it still manages to be a visual masterpiece. Futuristic visual display panels, beautifully constructed spacecraft, and high tech military air and land machines are all believable and captivating on multiple levels. Floating mountains, tangled forests and evocative landscapes are beautifully rendered. However, Avatar’s main characters are cardboard cut-outs, it's story predictable and clichéd. The dialogue never rises above the level of a computer game or TV show. "My goal is to rekindle those amazing mystical moments my generation felt when we first saw '2001: A Space Odyssey,' or the next generation's 'Star Wars.', Cameron originally revealed when promoting the film. Unfortunately though, he has failed. Compared to a film like 2001, Avatar is seriously lacking. Stanley Kubrick’s film had ground breaking special effects sequences (for its time), but unlike Avatar it also had a plot layered with new ideas, mystery and intrigue. What exactly is the monolith first found on the moon? Why did Hal, the shipboard artificial intelligence, lose its mind and start killing crewmembers? Some of 2001’s dialogue was decidedly average like Avatar, but at times it was fantastic (“Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a... fraid.”) and there were so many wonderful moments and intrigue 2001 has been a subject of discussion for decades. Perhaps Cameron should have kept the directors chair but left the writing to someone else.

Submission + - Surgery Museum Makes You Grateful for Any Modern H (wired.com)

Xerfas writes: Granddads would have you believe things were better in the good ol' days, but a short stroll through the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago makes liars of them all.

From graphic paintings of childbirth to a vast collection of often-ghastly tools of the trade, the Surgical Museum is a morbidly fascinating journey into the blood-spattered beginnings of modern medicine. After a look at these hair-raising exhibits, you might remark that while the United States may be in serious need of health care reform, at least we have anesthetics and the germ theory of disease.

Read on for a photo tour of the museum that will make you grateful you weren't sick back when surgeons wielded tools that would make Sweeney Todd blush.

Comment Re:Purity (Score 2, Informative) 135

While we're talking about real Australian beer, try some Coopers, the last remaining brewer of the traditional Australian Sparkling Ale style. Some of the new micros have started to get interested in this style too - Bridge Road brewers brew an Australian Ale I believe - but Coopers have consistently brewed this ale for over 100 years.
Another traditional Australian beer worth a shot is Tooheys Old.

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