Geeky stuff


To aid the next step in the robot takeover of humankind, naive researchers are letting these cyberbrains get a sense of humour. Yep, when the Terminator really does come into existence and start enslaving us all at least it will have the electro-nous to give witty Arnie-Schwarzenegger style one-liners.

The New Scientist reports on research by Julia Taylor and Lawrence Mazlack of the University of Cincinnati to program a bot to understand that most refined techniques of humour; the pun. Soon your computer might chortle out loud when it spies on your emails and finds that, for instance, they've brought out a portable stereo which looks like a big chocolate cake, which is, inevitably, called a gateaux blaster.

Download and save Youtube videos for posterity

Youtube, time-wastering site of the decade (Facebook aside), is stuffed to the gills with vital, important and amazing video clips, not to mention a billion huh huh videos taken by 13-year-olds on their dodgy phone camera.

However, for those lost, lonely times where you need to view say Spiderpig (*) whilst away from the cyberhighway it is not entirely intuitive as to how to download it for offline use in a non-flash format there is a chance your computer, PDA or mobile might be able to repetitively play until your colleagues kill you.

View complete articles inside Google Reader

Geeks! Who doesn't love their RSS fix of the day? Web-based aggregators are clearly the way to go, allowing you browse the inane jibber of the blogosphere from the confines of your wifi-enabled bed and during skive-time at work without getting all de-synchronised. Google Reader is one of the Poorhouse's favourite examples of this, and it just gets even better if you add on the Google Reader Preview Enhanced script.

A decent free PDF creator

Despite seeming a little old-skool and inaccessible at times, the computer world still requires you to mess around with Adobe PDF - Portable Document Format - files now and then.

Looking at them is free and easy with Adobe's official Acrobat Reader amongst other software (the Poorhouse has heard good things about Foxit, but never tried it). Creating them is a bit more of an obstacle; traditionally one would use the full Adobe Acrobat, but with a cost of £250+ who really loves PDFs enough to bother? Luckily there are free alternatives.

How to cure a stuck voicemail indicator

With all the flashy control-the-world-from-the-palm-of-your-hand stuff that exists these days the Poorhouse realised some of the back to the basics features of mobile phones were being a bit taken for granted. Voicemail eh? Borrring! Using your ears!? Who needs it when you can twitter your life away in a facebook of madness?

Nonetheless, for those who don't minute by minute push-commentate their dull and insignificant little lives voicemail is still a nice useful feature. It went wrong on the Poor-phone recently, insomuch as the "you have voicemail" symbol and sound got stuck on forever.

Scientific crudity

Close-up of an arsoleClose-up of an arsoleScientific nomenclature - i.e. what top boffin scientists insist on calling things to in order to sound clever - is not known for its hilarity. Names like sodium chloride (table salt), aluminum potassium sulfate (alum) or magnesium silicate (talc) are long-winded for sure, but in no real way funny.

Fortuitously, there have been rare exceptions. Certain high-level chemistry books must be almost as funny as that joke from Monty Python that is so funny it was used as a deadly weapon by the Ministry of War.

Record streaming video

Now the world is broadband-tastic, you can get a lot of video via the Internet. Some of it you can download as you wish, but much is "streaming", meaning you watch it kind-of live within your media player as it is pushed piece by piece down towards your computer.

This is good because you don't have to wait for the whole thing to download before watching it. However it is bad because a) you have to be on the Internet to watch it, b) you either can't fastforward it or, if you can, you suffer big delays, c) if your network connection isn't good the video might be unwatchable and generally d) you can't get your own copy to do as you will with.

Print out your photos nicely in Windows

Not sure if this is the Poorhouse being rather stoopid-basic in only have just found it out, but a vaguely interesting feature cropped up in Windows XP yesterday. Yep, you can just tell this article is going to be a thrill can't you? The feature is...Photo Printing Wizard. Whoo! Still, it is quite handy for some auto-instant resizing and formatting of your digital photos to something respectably comparable to an albumesque page of "real" photos in appearance.

How to record streaming radio (or any sound you hear on your computer)

The Internet is full of sound. Most of it is annoying, but occasionally there might be a streaming radio station, RealAudio file or something similar that is actually interesting and you'd like to keep a copy of. Unfortunately some sound formats do not lend themselves to being easy to download and copy, whether this be as a piracy prevention precaution or just a technological flaw.

Enter then the slightly strangely named but totally free-of-charge MP3myMP3 Recorder, as mentioned on the excellent Lifehacker. Its tag line: "If you can hear it, you can record it".

Again, beware what you publish

Living in the cyberworld, as we all do these days, has its mega-pluses, but also creates new problems - for instance the trail of indelible stains on your character you might be exhibiting for the world at large to see. The Poorhouse has seen a few surveys now reporting that your prospective masters are researching your electronic records, even if you're not a wayward Tory-boy public figure.

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