Blog Posts by Tori Floyd

  • (Screengrab from the tedium of updating your status across all social media is just too much to handle, don’t worry : there’s an app for that.

    At this year’s Hack Princeton hackathon, a group developed “What would I say?”, an app for Facebook that can spit out statuses on your behalf so you don’t have to write them.

    In an effort to try and emulate what you’d say, based on what you’d posted in the past through probability algorithms. Here’s the explanation from the creators:

    “Technically speaking, it trains a Markov Bot based on mixture model of bigram and unigram probabilities derived from your past post history.”

    Markov Bots are programs written with artificial intelligence based on a Markov chain. In simple terms, it is a random process that works within a finite set of variables, creating the illusion of conversation when really it’s just picking from terms you use and short phrases it has been programmed with to seem as if it’s somewhat intelligently responding when you give it information. These

    Read More »from ‘What Would I Say?’ app generates Facebook statuses for you… sort of

  •  Batman is a favourite superhero for many little boys and girls, and that’s especially true for five-year-old Miles.

    In fact, his dream was to one day fight crime like Batman. And that day is today.

    On November 15, San Francisco was transformed into Gotham City, all so one little boy could be its hero. Miles has been battling leukemia, and as part of his Make-A-Wish Foundation dream, 12,000 volunteers showed up in superhero capes and to help make the world of Batman come to life for Miles.

    According to NBC Bay Area, Miles’ day started when the Batphone rang at the Grand Hyatt hotel. Miles was transformed into Batkid, donning a Batsuit complete with muscles, a cowl and the all-important utility belt. He also brought along his trusty sidekick, Robin (who’s alter-ego is Miles’ little brother).

    In addition to the thousands of volunteers, Batkid’s heroic

    Read More »from Batkid’s dream comes true as San Francisco becomes Gotham City
  • The newest gaming system from Sony is only days away from hitting store shelves in Canada and the U.S., and fans are getting hyped. On November 15, expect to see lineups out the door at your local electronics and gaming stores, with eager fans hoping to get their hands on what will be an exciting leap forward in the world of video games.

    I had the chance to test out a PlayStation 4 at a preview event this week in Toronto to play one of the launch titles, Knack, and get a feel for what Sony’s next console is like:


    On the outside, the PlayStation 4 looks like a streamlined (almost italicized) PS3. It appears slimmer, and has lost the curve of the PS3 in favour of sleek angles. The ports for controller plugs and the disc slot appear almost invisible in the new style of console, as the area for them is inset into the middle of the front panel.

    Inside, there have been plenty of changes, too, although if you want to know all the nitty-gritty, I recommend checking out this link. From my

    Read More »from PlayStation 4: A sneak-peek at Sony’s new gaming system launching this Friday
  • (Image from YouTube)While the rest of us are marveling at how smartphones are evolving, or dreaming of the day we’ll have Minority Report-style screens at our fingertips, another community is thinking of the future in an entirely different ways, looking for ways we can hack our bodies and change the way we use them with evolving technology.

    Tim Cannon, a biohacker in Essen, Germany, has implanted a Circadia 1.0 computer chip into his arm, one of very few people to have such a procedure done. In an interview with Vice’s Motherboard blog, Cannon shows off the cellphone-sized implant in his left forearm and explains how it was implanted under his skin by a body modification professional.

    Watch Cannon’s interview with Motherboard to learn more about the device (note: some strong language used):

    Because the device isn’t approved by medical authorities, Cannon had to turn to the body mod community for expertise in safely implanting the device. Steve Haworth, who Motherboard describes as one of the pioneers of body

    Read More »from Biohacker gets computer chip implant, transmits body stats to smartphone
  • Swedish furniture manufacturer IKEA has just concluded its first virtual flea market, which sought to help its customers sell their old furniture with a boost from IKEA’s marketing department.

    While the campaign was, at its core, a unique advertising opportunity for IKEA, it also shows how companies can work with customers using their various digital channels to help sell their goods.

    According to Mashable, a Norway-based advertising agency partnered with IKEA Norway to sell the used furniture of 50 customers. Agency SMFB promoted the products online through the IKEA Norway Facebook page, as well as in print, broadcast and billboard advertisements for the second-hand furniture. Each ad featured the name of the person selling it and their phone number, just like a traditional classified ad.

    The campaign was designed to promote the new IKEA catalogue under the premise that the people selling their furniture needed to make room for their new IKEA furniture. While the benefit for IKEA is

    Read More »from IKEA virtual flea market may herald the future of online reselling
  • A little boy who wandered on stage during an appearance by Pope Francis seems to be quite attached to the Pontiff.

    At a gathering at the Vatican last weekend to celebrate the Year of Faith, an unknown boy ran up on stage and gave Pope Francis a hug around the leg. Pope Francis patted him on the head, and carried on with his speech. It was clear the boy had no intention of leaving, however, and stayed on stage with the Pontiff for several minutes.

    Despite the encouragement of aides, he refused to return to the crowd.

    [ More Good News: British teen with acute stammer finds his voice ]

    He even briefly joined Pope Francis’s staff, helping to lead a little girl up to meet him. It looked like he may have even higher job aspirations, however, as he took a seat in the Pope’s special white chair for a brief stint.

    It doesn’t look like Pope Francis really minded having the boy on stage with him. He simply patted him on the head occasionally, and continued with the event.

    Read More »from Little boy steals the show, won’t leave Pope’s side at Vatican event
  • 11-month-old polar bear cub (Facebook)The news just keeps getting better for an 11-month-old polar bear cub in Winnipeg. Not only has she recently been rescued after being found orphaned near an airport in Churchill, Man., but she may soon be getting a new friend from south of the border.

    Just last month, a polar bear named Hudson was the only polar bear resident at Assiniboine Park Zoo. Today, though, he’s one of three with possibly a fourth on the way. He’s joined by an unnamed bear who was brought in earlier in October, and the 11-month old female cub. And they may all soon be saying “Hola!” to Arturo from a zoo in Mendoza, Argentina.

    If deemed fit enough to travel, The Winnipeg Free Press reports, the 28-year-old male polar bear could be a part of the zoo’s Journey to Churchill exhibit when it launches the summer of 2014.

    This Sunday, the chief operations officer of Assiniboine Park Conservancy Don Peterkin will be heading to Argentina to meet with Arturo’s caretakers and discuss the health of the polar bear and the

    Read More »from Orphan polar bear at Assiniboine Park Zoo may soon have a new friend
  • B.C. man makes boating accessible to the wheelchair-bound

    The ability to head out on a lake and go fishing is a simple pleasure for many, but for those whose mobility relies on the use of a wheelchair, they often can’t go further than the edge of the dock.

    A man in Nanaimo, B.C. has made it his mission to change that, and wants to make sure everyone can go fishing if they so choose.

    Jon Pimlott is the mind behind ‘Fishing for All,’ a group that seeks to develop ways for people in wheelchairs to go boating. Pimlott has developed two different assistive devices, the Chairower and the Canoe Catamaran, which allows someone in a wheelchair to ride alongside two canoes, or to row his or her own boat.

    “It’s been amazing putting a fishing rod into the hands of someone who hasn’t been on the water in 10 or 12 years,” Pimlott told Good News Network.

    [ More Good News: Woman carries injured pit bull down mountain, adopts him ]

    Pimlott teamed up with Accessible Nanaimo to find people to test out his devices, and became friends with one of his testers, Paul

    Read More »from B.C. man makes boating accessible to the wheelchair-bound
  • Google Glass earns woman a ticket while driving

    The same week that Google announced it would be updating and expanding the availability of its Project Glass devices, debate over when it’s appropriate to be sporting Glass has reignited.

    Google Glass user Cecilia Abadie posted an image of a ticket she received from a police officer to her Google+ account, citing her for using Google Glass while driving:

    A cop just stopped me and gave me a ticket for wearing Google Glass while driving!

    The exact line says: Driving with Monitor visible to Driver (Google Glass).

    Is #GoogleGlass ilegal while driving or is this cop wrong???

    Any legal advice is appreciated!! This happened in California. Do you know any other #GlassExplorers that got a similar ticket anywhere in the US?

    (Image from Google+)Phandroid’s story about the incident quickly gained traction on Reddit, prompting users to discuss what the legal ramifications of wearing the tiny computer screen while driving are. Some suggest that it counts as the driver watching a video screen while in motion, and that even if

    Read More »from Google Glass earns woman a ticket while driving
  • (Image from Motorola Blog)If you thought Motorola’s announcement about Project Ara today sounded an awful lot like the previously-discussed Phonebloks concept, that’s because it is.

    In a post on the official Motorola blog, the company announced its modular phone concept, which would allow consumers to purchase the parts of a smartphone that they want and create their own customized device. Currently, Motorola says they’re in the development stage, and will begin sending out invitations to developers to start creating modules for the Ara platform, the post says, with an early release planned for the winter.

    The concept of a modular phone became tremendously popular last month, when designer Dave Hakkens began promoting Phonebloks, a conceptual device that would allow users to customize their phones with a building-block style interface. Sound familiar?

    [ Related: Phonebloks seeks to make phones more customizable, environmentally friendly ]

    Motorola thought so, too, as they say they’ve been working on Project Ara for

    Read More »from Project Ara is Motorola’s way of making Phonebloks a reality


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