Sunday, 29 June 2008

LA Times macabre map of murder!

IMAGE: LA Times homicide mapLA Times helpfully mapping out the murders of Los Angeles.

Anyone that travels, knows that a most vital bit of kit for venturing into the unknown, is of course a map. But how good is your map? Does it give you all the 'essential' information? What information IS essential?

Okay, so you have a highly detailed up-to-date map. It shows the quickest routes, local amenities, train and bus stations, parking areas and probably places of local interest.
BUT! Does it pin point and highlight for you the local streets with the highest homicide rate so far this year, indicating that it may not be in your best interests (so to speak), to use that route just because it looks the quickest?

Well the helpful folks at the L A Times have a helpful page on their website, listing and displaying on a Google map the homicides in Los Angeles so far this year. A 'murder map' if you will.
They describe it as "a visual interface to The Times Homicide Report".

The Times Homicide Report records all the homicides in the Los Angeles area. Information including, the victim(s), the perpetrator(s) (if known), method of murder, location of murder, age, sex and race of victim(s).
Now this is where the fancy murder map web page comes in.

IMAGE: LA Times murder map filterThe page displays the total homicides in LA so far this year (362 at time of writing).
Below this number, the weekly toll is indicated and displayed across the months, appearing as a bar graph (as seen in pic above).
By default all homicides are displayed on the map, but websites being the commonly interactive things they are, you are able to tick boxes in a filter to only display specific results.

The filter is split into
  • Age
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Cause of death
  • Day of week
  • Killing by police
  • Suspected domestic incident
Fiddling around with these boxes gets you some interesting results. On the right, under the map, the names of the homicides currently being displayed on the map are listed.
Each name is a link to its corresponding entry in the 'Homicide Report'.

Check out the LA Times Homicide Map here.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Are you feeling your FPS games yet?

IMAGE: FPS gaming vest camoIMAGE: FPS gaming vest blackIMAGE: FPS gaming vest pink
Really feel your FPS games with the FPS '3rd Space' gaming vest.

There are those that say videogames are becoming too realistic. Near photorealistic graphics and frighteningly accurate artificial intelligence immerse the gamer ever deeper into his/her gaming experience. But for some, it seems, the realism isn't enough. They require even more interactivity with their games.

Force feedback in games has been around for quite a while now. The feature that makes your controller jump when you fall from a great height or crash your car, or rumbles in your hand after a particularly large explosion.

But the guys at TN Games have taken things a step further to enhance the game experience of the very popular FPS (First Person Shooter) genre of gaming.
They have come up with the FPS "3rd Space" Gaming Vest. A flak jacket to be worn when playing your favourite FPS game.

TN Games explains on its website that:
"The FPS Vest is an impact-generating device designed to enable you to feel the game's action for the ultimate gaming experience. It contains eight active zones that simulate the direction and forces of bullet fire, crushing explosions, and fear-inducing finger taps as they occur in the game."

The vest comes in three varieties: Black, pink and of course camouflage. The vest/game bundle can be purchased for $169. This includes the vest and TN Games very own 3rd Space Incursion game along with Call of Duty 2.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Monkey mind control!

IMAGE: Monkey with exposed brainScientists probe the minds of monkeys

Apologies for the two week gap between this post and the last, but I'm afraid it was due to unforeseen laziness.

Time for some weird news I think!
This story is all over the place at the moment. It's one of those stories that could've been easily made up just for the internet. Another internet myth circulated around as fact. When in actual fact this is (errr) actually factual(ly - sorry couldn't resist).

Some (mad) scientists based at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have managed to hook up a monkey's brain to a robotic prosthetic arm.
The monkey had probes inserted into its primary motor cortex (the part of the brain that controls movement).
Once trained and with its own arms restrained, the monkey was able to use the prosthetic limb to feed itself. Controlling the limb with its brain.

The scientists believe that their research could eventually help amputees and people who are paralysed.

See full story and video: BBC news