Ankh Morpork's Finest Coder
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Pens were created by the ancient Arabians in the Middle East towards the end of the slushee era before even paper had been invented. Thousands of years have since passed, and every great mind in recorded history has held one, yet most pen-related innovation has concentrated on the tip of the pen: fountain pens from Waterman, ball point pen from Laslo Biro, rollers from Japan. During the last century there have been approximately 150 patents granted connected with pens and improving the writing process. The shape of the holder though has remained the same, looking kind of familiar ... like the stick it was derived from. Until now that is, cos now there's the ergonomically-designed RinGPen.
The world's first practical submarine was built in 1620 by Dutch engineer Cornelis Jacobszoon Drebbel, under the patronage of James 1 of England. Drebbel built three submarines according to the sketchy information available from that time, each larger than the last and the third being capable of carrying 16 people, of which 12 were the oarsmen. No credible illustrations or accurate descriptions remain of Drebbel's submarine, though it seems the last of the three prototypes constructed was probably a decked over and heavily modified rowboat which was regularly seen in the Thames river undergoing trials.
If you're a creative professional, Wacom's new Cintiq 21 UX might just be the tool we've been waiting for. Users can draw directly onto the 21.3-inch screen, eight programmable ExpressKeys and Touch Strips for scrolling, zooming and changing brush settings with the touch of a finger. But wait, there's more, like 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, 1600 x 1200 resolution, a 170-degree viewing angle, anti-glare coating, 24-bit color with ICC colour profile and a 400:1 contrast ratio. Expected in March, the Cintiq 21 UX is expected to cost US$2500 on the street.
A new RFID-enabled pen will be shown for the first time next week at the Paperworld exhibition in Frankfurt. Jointly developed by Dutch company Allwrite and Fisher SpacePen using SOKYMAT RFID tags, the pen offers a number of benefits other than the ability to write on paper. The idea behind the pen is that the RFID tag in it gives the owner a unique ID and can hence be used in a number of very useful ways. We're not so sure how useful it will be.
Wearable displays allow the user to visually interface with the omnipresent digital world whilst navigating their physical environment. It's no exaggeration to say that the SCOPO could very well be to the eye what the I-Pod was to the ear.
Over land, water, ice or snow - the hovercraft offers a cost-effective, multi-purpose vehicle for recreation and transportation with the thrill of travelling on air. And now Universal Hovercraft has marketed a range of affordable hovercraft kits to house up to ten people in this dynamic mode of travelling, including the striking Hoverwing XR with retractable wings.