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Robot Vacuum and Desert Bus: Patience as a video-game virtue

Jordan Yerman
Jul 12th, 2013

Robot Vacuum Simulator 2013: It is what it is.

I am a Roomba

While giving some TLC to my West Van architecture piece, I was forced by the cruel gods of the æther to endure slower-than-normal pageload times. To maintain sanity, I downloaded a video game which I could play on my secondary screen as I waited.

The game? This may sound weird, but it was called Robot Vacuum Simulator 2013. Via the directional arrow keys, I took command of a Roomba-like robot vacuum cleaner, moseying across a domestic floorscape in search of detritus to suck up. Imagine a far slower, much flatter, and way less exciting version of Katamari Damacy.

Russian meteor video: Why do so many Russian drivers have dashcams?

Jordan Yerman
Feb 15th, 2013

Russian dashcam video captures meteor strike in Chelyabinsk.

Russian dashcams capture meteor impact: Why so many dashcams?

By now, you've probably seen that spectacular Russian dashcam video of that firey meteor crashing to Earth in Cheylabinsk. If not, you can see it here. First posted to YouTube on February 14, 2013, the video has well over a million hits so far, and other meteor videos are emerging.

Tamagotchi is Back: Virtual pets for your Android phone

Jordan Yerman
Feb 14th, 2013

Tamagotchi is back!

Nostalgia Alert: Tamagotchi for Android!

Remember your first virtual pet? Sure you do. You killed it because you were irresponsible. Now you can redeem yourself and show off your hard-earned maturity... because Tamagotchi is back.

That's right: Tamagotchi is turning 16 years old, and could legally drive in the USA if they had bodies. Bandai is celebrating with the release of a free Android app, hatching Tamagotchi into the 21st Century.

Tamagotchi was first introduced in 1997, and kids everywhere delighted in the antics of their 8-bit pets. I was too old for the original Tamagotchi craze, but damned if I'm gonna miss it the second time around. That's right... I just hatched a freakin' Tamagotchi... in the name of journalism.

The new Tamagotchi app is called L.I.F.E. (Life Is Fun Everywhere). I'd have preferred C.R.E.A.M. (Creatures Run Everything [on my] Android Mobile), but it wasn't my call. Anyway, it's a free app, so go nuts.

At Maker Faire, DIY takes on new meaning

Terry Lavender
Jun 23rd, 2012

It's not your typical show at the PNE this weekend, as the venerable site hosts the second annual mini Maker Faire, featuring killer robots, crafts of all kinds and even a bucket of mathematics.

Bamboo bicycles. An army of evil robots. A Flying Monkeys Horn Orchestra. A mighty ugly workshop. A bucket of mathematics.

Just what is going on at the Pacific National Exhibition this weekend?

Nothing unusual -- only the Mini Maker Faire, back for a second year in Vancouver. 

The Maker Faire is on this weekend (June 23 and 24) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the PNE, Hastings and Renfrew. Tickets are $17 per day for adults and $12 for children. It's a celebration of DIY culture -- making, tinkering, hacking, crafting and sharing. And not only do local DIYers get to show off their stuff, the audience is encouraged to take part -- you can make your own felt bead, mix your own perfume, or solder your own flashing LED light. You can draw, weave, spin wool or pretend to be an angry bird and throw things at evil pigs.

Are pedestrian issues too pedestrian for Vancouver's bicycle-automobile wars?

Terry Lavender
May 23rd, 2012

Over 80 per cent of pedestrian accidents are caused by cars turning when the pedestrian has the right of way, according to a City of Vancouver report. But pedestrian safety issues often get lost in the heated debate between cyclists and drivers.

"In the future, perhaps our time will be known as the first decade of the Bicycle Wars, with righteous armies fighting over traffic lanes, bike paths and sidewalks, indeed over the very purpose of the streets themselves. Like many wars, it’s a question of territory, and the pedestrian has been losing for years."

- Christopher Grey, New York Times, November 10, 2011

Yoyomama.ca helps urban mothers with the ups and downs of parenthood

Terry Lavender
Apr 11th, 2012

Annemarie Tempelman-Kluit is dedicated to making the lives of local families less yoyo-like.

Annemarie Tempelman-Kluit was stuck for a domain name for her new website. The mother of two young daughters, she had noticed a dearth of local parenting information on the Web, and was determined to launch her own site to fill the void. Her initial choice of a name had already been taken, and Tempelman-Kluit felt that the price the domain squatter was asking was too high.

Then one morning, Tempelman-Kluit sat down in exhaustion after tending to the needs and whims of her two young daughters. Abruptly, her two-year-old asked her for something else. 

“I’m not a yoyo!” Tempelman-Kluit exclaimed, not too thrilled at the prospect of jumping up once again. It then occurred to her that parenthood was also an emotional yoyo -- the high of elation one moment, the depth of despair the next.

And so yoyomama.ca was born.

Girls Around Me: Free iPhone app preys on women using Facebook, Foursquare

Terry Lavender
Mar 30th, 2012

Screenshot of Girls Around Me

At first, Foursquare seemed like a harmless, fun way of letting people know where you hung out. It mixed in an element of competition (whoever visited the local Starbucks, or Blenz or whatever the most became "mayor" of the place) and you could have your accomplishments sent out automatically via Twitter and Facebook.

Soon Facebook itself got into the game. And so did Twitter. You could have your updates and tweets include your location. A harmless, easy way of letting your friends know where you were.

But it's harmless no more. Police have been warning for a few years now not to brag about where you are on vacation on Facebook, and privacy watchdogs have also issued warnings. But we ignored them.

But now there's no excuse. A new free iPhone app, Girls Around Me, turns Foursquare and Facebook into tools for stalkers. Here's what Pulp Tech's Violet Blue says about it:

Invoke Media: It's more than just Hootsuite

Terry Lavender
Mar 28th, 2012

David Tedman and the Invoke Media team are hard at work on their next big product.

Hootsuite is one of the most popular Twitter clients available. And no wonder -- the web browser-based app can show multiple Twitter accounts at the same time, along with LinkedIn, Wordpress, Foursquare and other accounts. You can schedule tweets, get analytic reports and much more. The premium version is even more versatile and there are also mobile apps - for the iPhone and iPad, Android, Blackberry and others.

Hootsuite was developed by Vancouver-based Invoke Media and spun off as a separate company about three years ago, says Invoke’s Co-CEO David Tedman. While Hootsuite’s CEO Ryan Holmes seems to be everywhere -- at conferences, in the media -- Tedman keeps a lower profile as he works to ensure Invoke is not a one-off fluke.

Why Harper can't be impeached

Terry Lavender
Mar 13th, 2012

Impeach Stephen Harper!

More than a few Canadians have been making that demand in recent weeks. The robocall scandal, the (temporarily withdrawn) internet privacy legislation and a contemptuous attitude towards opposition parties in Canada's Parliament and other critics has led to rallies and protests across the country at which the impeachment cry went up.

But it ain’t gonna happen. Although some constitutional experts say it is theoretically possible to impeach a Canadian politician, many others say it isn’t, and not one believes it is remotely likely that Harper can be impeached.

But why do so many Canadians believe that Harper CAN actually be impeached?

Zite, the Vancouver app that is reshaping how people read news

Terry Lavender
Mar 8th, 2012

UBC law graduate Ali Davar and his colleagues at Zite are changing the way we read our news.

Zite. Say it aloud and it sounds like a sneeze. But Zite, the brainchild of two former UBC students, is changing how we get our news.

Until a few years ago, I started the day with the Globe and Mail, first on newsprint, later on my laptop and, most recently, on the iPad.

But I’ve abandoned the Globe. My morning news now comes courtesy of Zite, a Vancouver-born iPad app.

Zite, which is also available for the iPhone and HP's TouchPad, aggregates (or brings together) stories from a variety of sources. Since it was launched, it’s been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times, and was recently bought out by CNN.

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