September 15, 2008
MoofTronic Mini Synth
TechnoDolts™ will please move along, nothing to see here.
Everyone else, check out Brian McNamara's article in the new issue (volume 15) of MAKE magazine wherein he demonstrates how to build your very own MoofTronic Mini Synth (above and below).
"This zip file includes software, diagrams, instructions, and everything you need to make the MoofTronic Mini Synth yourself!"
You''ll find Picaxe Programming Editor software here.
Don't have a clue what a MoofTronic Mini Synth is or does?
"Brian lives in a small town near Canberra, Australia. By day he works at a university designing and repairing biological research equipment; by night he designs, hacks, and bends kids' toys and musical instruments."
eHarmony for koalas — 'Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?'
Computerized matchmaking for zoo animals has arrived and not a moment too soon, in the view of Killarney, a "notoriously prickly" koala at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, South Carolina (above).
- Seeking Mates for Furred and Clawed
Attention, amorous guys: Killarney is an Australian cutie, but woo her with care.
A feisty koala, Killarney once swatted at a suitor who got a little close, and gave another poor fellow the cold shoulder during their introduction.
Undaunted, her friends keep updating her online profile in the hope of finding her Mr. Right. Like many of her contemporaries, Killarney might find her dream date waiting somewhere in the files of a computerized matchmaking service, keepers at the Riverbanks Zoo here hope.
Like the digital dating services that pair up people, so-called studbooks are used to match most animals held in captivity. The databases containing information on sex, age and weight — not so much about favorite foods or long walks on the beach — are used by more than 200 zoos nationally and some internationally.
Now, new software has been developed that promises more easily accessible data, faster matches and — taking a page from human dating sites — details on animals personalities to ease what can be a testy process.
Zoos will not be required to document each animal’s turn-ons and turn-offs in the Zoological Information Management System, a collaboration by about 150 zoos and aquariums that is a year or two away from wide distribution.
At the very least, though, the software will give zookeepers better access to species-level details now found only in zoo husbandry manuals that are mostly e-mailed back and forth, said Bob Wiese, director of collections for the Zoological Society of San Diego.
While there is no candlelight in the back rooms of zoos, there are endless tricks used to get animals ready to mate, said Mr. Wiese, widely considered the authority on the information system. In China, breeding experts have claimed success after showing pandas images of other pandas mating.
“There are some frogs that you have to simulate rain for or they won’t come out and breed,” Mr. Wiese said. “Other frogs, they just need to hear the sound of rain and the sound of lightning and thunder. That’s what sets off their hormones.”
Around since the 1980s in paperback form, most of today’s studbooks are in computerized databases. Basic information like family trees, medical histories, age and weight are entered by studbook keepers, then sent to a central location.
But the databases have their limitations. They are not updated quickly and do not include the extra information from the dog-eared husbandry manuals on setting the optimal conditions for an animal’s breeding.
So zookeepers who rely on the databases might not know, for instance, that fighting equals foreplay for giant leaf-tailed geckos or that expectant gecko mothers should eat snails.
That could mean the difference between a sustainable population and extinction of a species, said Ed Diebold, director of animal collections at Riverbanks Zoo, one of the only zoos to successfully breed several species of geckos.
“Big populations out in the wild breed randomly,” Mr. Diebold said. “In captivity, usually these populations are considerably smaller than wild populations, which is why you can’t afford to allow animals to inbreed or breed along closely related lines. That’s why you have the studbooks.”
Careful planning among zoos also ensures that the most genetically diverse animals breed, said Steve Feldman, spokesman for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which oversees the majority of studbooks for exotic species in the United States.
“To paraphrase an old Jeff Foxworthy joke, it’s important that your family tree forks,” Mr. Feldman said. “This way we can have a genetically diverse population.”
The Columbia zoo is one of about 20 chosen to test the information system software once it becomes available. Walt Disney World, which manages one of the largest collections of studbooks in the country, will be another test site.
“Studbooks are the key to our long-term breeding plans,” said John Lehnhardt, animal operations director at the Disney Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Fla. “We want to ensure that these endangered species are here for the future, and that’s really what the studbooks are all about. What we’re trying to do is maintain a savings account in species.”
It is not exactly animals finding love online, but experts say matchmaking software for zoos is bringing together the single most important factor in ensuring the survival of animals — people.
“It’s really about us gathering the best scientific information we can get to make the best decisions about the long-term viability of our populations,” Mr. Wiese said.
Rise Above Plastic
The limited edition Sigg aluminum water bottle pictured above is already a collectible, with most places sold out and Amazon offering one for $54.95.
You could look it up.
Lucky for you my crack research team drilled deep and long while you were sleeping to unearth a website offering the 1 liter (33 oz.) lightweight vessel for $28.99.
Oh yeah, one last thing: Don't come whining and crying to me next week or month or as the holidays approach, asking where you can get one — because you won't be able to find it at any price.
Back to the future: Google News Archive Search goes live
Long story short: It turns your computer screen into a microfiche reader and lets you browse the dusty, cobwebbed archives of libraries around the world to your heart's content — with no closing hours.
I don't know how I missed it but it turns out to have gone live last Monday, September 8, 2008.
Beer Box Cowboy Hat
at its finest!"
Something electric — by Kristof Kintera
Coconut, cable, microchip controller, eccentric AC motor.
There is something rather ominous and disturbing about the video, a sense that something is just on the verge of happening.
Solar Powered Chocolator
This bar of calculator may look like a chocolate bar, right down to the paper sleeve and silver wrapping, but don't be tempted to take a bite.
The Chocolator is a solar powered calculator in the shape of a bar of chocolate, with each button on a different chunk.
It won't melt in your hand but be careful, it might make you hungry for the real thing.
The Chocolator measures 4.3" x 2.4" x 0.3".
Bonus: Smells like chocolate.
[via Flautist, bookofjoe's very own Georgia peach]