Life imitates (science) fiction, yet again

Looking back at old science fiction stories, we can see the seeds of modern technology scattered throughout. One of the most well-known sources of this phenomenon is, of course, Star Trek. Whether it’s the “communicator” which culminated in the advent of the “flip-phone”, or the “PADD”, which pre-dated the Palm Pilot by nearly 10 years, and the now ubiquitous iPad by 23 years, we’ve been drawing real world inspiration from science fiction for nearly as long as there’s been science fiction.

Well, here we go again:

Samsung and startup VTouch are working on a deal that would allow the South Korean giant to incorporate gesture controls into its smart TVs in the future.  The purpose of adding gesture controls to smart TVs is to eliminate the need for remote controls so users can rely on using hand gestures to make the TV do what they want, like changing channels, adjusting the volume, getting more information about the show they are watching.

The basic framework has been in place at the consumer level for a few years now, with technology like Microsoft’s Kinect, the Leap Motion controller, etc. Now they’re looking at incorporating it into home automation.

Of course, Douglas Adams predicted this back in 1979:

For years radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as the technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch-sensitive–you merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope. It saved a lot of muscular expenditure, of course, but meant that you had to sit infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same program.

Zaphod waved a hand and the channel switched again.

Fortunately, we’ve gotten the technology to be a little more discerning than that. Your neighbors might be irritated if a badly timed sneeze were to open all  your windows, crank up your stereo, and start your robo-mower at 0300!

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[Source: Smart TVs may soon control your home, Silicon Angle article, retrieved 3/10/14]

QOTD – 2014-03-05

At SayUncle, from commenter Sigivald, talking about PSH from Illinois real estate agents.

I still just can’t wrap my head around what they expect the sign to do; if the prospective purchaser is not-law-abiding they’ll just ignore the sign and have their gun.

If they are, then they were hardly a threat in the first place.

I can’t really add to that. It’s just such an obvious thing that I can’t wrap my head around the supposed problem either. It must have something to do with Magical Thinking™.

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Heart and soul of a hero.

Presented without comment.

Heroic New York boy gets firefighter funeral

Tyler Doohan, the 8-year-old upstate New York boy who rescued six relatives from a fire but died while trying to save his grandfather, will be laid to rest Wednesday with a ceremony and honor befitting a fallen firefighter, according to local fire officials.

Penfield Fire Company has kept an honor guard standing by the remains of the boy during calling hours since Monday, and at the end of a church service on Wednesday, Penfield Fire Chief Chris Ebmeyer will declare Tyler an honorary firefighter and present his family with a special fire helmet inscribed with the boy’s name.

[…]

As firefighters and sheriff’s deputies responded to a 4:45 a.m. emergency call, Tyler was able to wake six other people in the small trailer, including two more children, ages 4 and 6, the fire officials said.

Then Tyler went back into the blaze to help his grandfather, who was disabled and would have been unable to get out of the home on his own. “By that time, the fire had traveled to the back of the trailer,” Ebmeyer said at the time. “Unfortunately, they both succumbed to heat and smoke.”

The pair were found together on a bed in the back room. It appeared that the boy was trying to lift his grandfather from the bed when he was overcome by the smoke and fire, fire officials said.

It’s a bit dusty in here.

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A Significant Failure in the Victim Selection Process

… seems to be a bit of an understatement.

Thugs Try Brazen Robbery, Get Shot by 3 Workers, Each with their own gun

Nice! I expect they needed new underwear after that little fiasco.

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Snapshot of a College Town

Sitting in the downtown Waffle House yesterday, I heard the folks at the next table discussing, in all seriousness, whether the rise of the Galactic Empire in Star Wars more closely resembles the transformation of Rome from republic to empire, or the rise of the Nazi regime prior to WWII.

Political history as presented in contemporary popular science fiction. Not as unserious as it sounds.

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A surprisingly balanced article on gun control

At the Roanoke Times.

About 30 years ago as a young reporter in Florida, I was assigned a series on gun control in response to gun violence, which had peaked in the U.S. in 1980.

I began the series with profiles of three gun users, including a woman who had killed her would-be rapist, the owner of a sport shooting club and a convicted murderer on death row at the Florida State Prison in Starke.

Most dramatic was the woman, who was attacked as she entered her apartment after work one evening. She had just moved in and boxes were stacked floor-to-ceiling, nary a broom nor a pot to use in self-defense.

In her panic, she suddenly remembered the small derringer in her purse, which still hung over her shoulder. Already, the man had her pinned against the wall. Reaching into her bag, she grabbed the gun, pressed it to his side and, boom! He died instantly. To my question, she replied: “Hell, yes, I’d do it again in a New York minute.”

Or words to that effect.

Most chilling was the murderer, whose name I no longer recall. I do remember that his fingertips were oddly flared and he pressed them together, expanding and contracting his hands like a bellows. No doubt aware that I was nervous, he seemed amused by my questions.

“Sure,” he chuckled. “I’m all for gun control. Because that means you won’t have a gun. And I will always have a gun.” [Emphasis added – Jake]

I may not agree entirely with the author, but it’s at least a balanced and fair article, without the normal heavily anti-gun bias the Roanoke Times usually publishes. Go read the whole thing. It’s worth it.

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[Source: Roanoke Times article, retrieved 9/20/13]

Quote of the Day #2 – 2013-09-12

By Robb Allen:

There’s a sickness in the belief that only a gov’t can keep everyone safe via regulation, regulation, regulation.

‘Nuff said.

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Quote of the Day – 2013-09-12

From Vladimir Putin, of all people:

It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States.

And on the 12th anniversary of the day terrorists murdered almost 3000 innocents, our government openly acknowledges that it is arming that same terrorist organization in a bid to put them in charge of a nation known to possess chemical weapons.

I am certainly alarmed.

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[Source: Yahoo! News article, retrieved 9/12/13]

Never Forget: 11 September 2001

[Image originally found here, but it seems to be gone now.]

A DGU the Anti-Rights cultists won’t count

Because no shots were fired and no one died (Autoplay warning).

CCTV images captured how a man walked into the Missouri shop and pulled out a handgun, apparently demanding money.
However, shopkeeper Jon Lewis Alexander, a former Iraq veteran, calmly pushed the robber’s gun aside and drew his own handgun, pointing it at the man’s mouth.
The would-be armed robber then backed away and ran out of the store.

If the embedding didn’t work, the link should. Check out the video at the link – Mr. Alexander appears perfectly cool, calm, and collected as the would-be-robber waves his gun around like a magic talisman.

No shots fired, but unfortunately the bad guy got away and the cops are still looking for him.

This also earned the “stupidity” tag, because from the video it looks like Mr. Alexander was openly carrying his gun, yet the crook didn’t seem to notice until he was looking down the barrel.

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[Source: The Telegraph article, retrieved 9/5/13]

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