‘Toy Story 4’ — starring Buzz, Woody and … Rickey Henderson?

first_imgBuzz and Woody, meet Rickey Henderson.Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” hits the big screen this summer and with each installment of the popular franchise comes a few new toys. So get ready for an Oakland A’s bobblehead doll in the form of the “Man of Steal.”We’ve had the chance to view some scenes from the highly anticipated movie during a screening at Pixar’s studio in Emeryville and are happy to report that Rickey —  all clad in green and gold — makes a cameo appearance.Pixar producer Jonas Rivera …last_img

Standards: California Enters ODF versus OOXML Debate

first_imgA new generation of document creation applications is again sparking a war of competing file formats.  Microsoft’s .doc Word format won the first round and has remained for some time the most popular file format and de facto standard for exchanging editable document files.  But widespread acceptance of XML is forcing that to change.Governments worldwide have expressed their desire to create and exchange documents that are based on internationally agreed open standards.  Governments want to be able to create documents that can be distributed to anyone for over long periods of time.  Many people have identified an XML-based open format as the best available current option for ensuring long-term document retention and access.The OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (ODF) was created as an XML document file format.  ODF is a published ISO and IEC standard, approved in May 2006, and it has been heavily promoted by Sun, IBM, and Google.The ODF Alliance cites the following benefits of ODF:Access.  As an open standard, documents in the format should be available in the future by anyone and at any time.Choice.  An Open Standard for the file format allows many vendors to create office suites and applications around the same standard.  It promotes competition and choice.Innovation.  An open standard encourages vendors to compete and to foster innovation.Massachussetts has already adopted ODF as a state standard and now mandates that all state agency documents conform.  In early February, Texas and Minnesota introduced bills that would mandate the use of an open XML-based file format that is “interoperable among diverse internal and external platforms and applications; fully published and available royalty-free; implemented by multiple vendors; and controlled by an open industry organization with a well-defined inclusive process for evolution of the standard”.Today California is also beginning to consider legislation that would require state agencies to adopt an open document format for all document records. Microsoft is fighting back and has created a new file format for their just-released Office 2007 product that is positioned in direct response to ODF.  Office 2007 introduces the OOXML (Office Open XML) file format.  OOXML is a 6039 page specification that was accepted by Ecma International in December.  Microsoft has gotten some support for the format from Intel, Apple, Canon, Novell and The US Library of Congress.But Microsoft is in trouble with acceptance of OOXML as a standard.  It did receive a favorable adoption vote by Ecma last December, but then it advanced to a review stage called the contradiction phase.  A contradiction could be voiced if a country feels that the standard would disrupt another one, or redefine another one, or incorrectly use another one.  Countries have a short period after the adoption vote to voice ‘contradictions’.Twenty countries responded during this phase to raise contractions.  They include:  Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Singapore, Sweden, and the UK.  Next there will be a vote of acceptance from all countries.  Of the 30 countries carrying some weight in the vote, 16 have raised contraditions.  It seems unlikely, given the number of countries that have voiced concern, that OOXML could be accepted. Microsoft already has a plugin to allow ODF compatibility from Microsoft Office.  And if the pressure continues, Microsoft may find itself in a position where it will need to support ODF “out-of-the-box”.last_img read more

Finally, a contest to reward the world’s crappiest fighting robots

first_imgRelated Posts Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Follow the Puck Tags:#Arduino#Hebocon#japan#Maker Faire#robotics#robots#Tokyo Since the first competition held in 2014 in Tokyo, Hebocon has spread over 25 countries and over 60 competitions has been hosted. In the latest International contest in August, participants hailed from Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Iceland, France and Hungary. It’s easy to mock the Hebocon awards for comedy effect alone, but the reality is that they bring robotics (albeit in it’s most primitive form) to those who either lack technical ability or might be creatively or technically blocked. As the creators encourage:” Go into a toy store and buy one of those moving toy dogs, rip off its exterior, and stick some cardboard on there, and you’d be looking at your original robot. Get some pieces of wood, sharpen them, and give your robot some horns: your robot’s attacking ability has just sky-rocketed. You might even get more creative and install a motorized weapon onto your robot. Didn’t quite work side effects of viagra and alcohol out? That’s Okay! That is what we call Heboi. Grab that faulty robot of yours, and participate in a Hebocon competition!”With sponsors like Arduino and Maker Faire and a cult following, it brings a sort of robotics to the masses. Cate Lawrence “If one crappy robot and another crappy robot fought each other — what would happen?”In an era where robots like Nao, Pepper, Sophia and Atlas manage to amaze us with their respective abilities to walk, learn, communicate in different languages,  recognize different people and partake in heavy lifting, another suite of robots is hard at work lowering the bar of robotic achievement.Hebocon is an annual robot competition for the technically ungifted where 31 robots compete in sumo style wrestling matches where the robots try to push their competitors off a board through a combination of pushing, shoving, whirring and sheer persistence. The biggest challenge can be getting robots to move at all, let alone deliver attack moves and self-defence techniques.  The World Championship was recently held in Tokyo.See also: Will robots finally take farmers’ jobs?The word Hebocon derives from the Japanese word Heboi, used to describe something that is technically poor, or low in quality and with this spirit in mind, robots are made with a bizarre array of equipment including fast food wrappers, instant noodle containers, sex toys, wind up toys and Barbie dolls.  According to the organisers, “entrants will need compromise and surrender instead of ideas and technical skill.” Robots are actually penalised for having high tech features and assistance from the maker is not unusual in the competition, such as a helping finger to get the robot moving when a motor has failed. It a competition where failures in technical output can be thwarted by strategy and dogged persistence.The souls of robots that would be considered scrapheap fodder are respected, as winners in each round opt to attach parts of the losing robots to ‘carry on the will’ of those knocked out.Hong Kong representative Kit da Studio won the NicoTsuku award with his table-flipping robot. (The robot actually flipped itself over when it was trying to flip the desk.) Overall winner, Ricky Chan, built a robot called the “Robot-Controlled Controller Robot,” which consists of two components – a controller that looks like a tiger robot, and a robot that looks like a controller. How Myia Health’s Partnership with Mercy Virtua…last_img read more

Lawyers spar over conflicting accounts in sailors sexual assault case

first_imgHALIFAX – A military judge is expected to render a decision Monday in the court martial of a Halifax sailor accused of sexually assaulting a subordinate.Lawyers for the prosecution and defence gave closing arguments in a Halifax military court on Saturday, both of which largely turned on the question of whose version of the events aboard the HMCS Athabaskan in November 2015 is to believed — defendant Master Seaman Daniel Cooper or the alleged victim, whose name is protected by a publication ban.Prosecutor Maj. Dominic Martin began his submissions by arguing that Cooper and the junior officer’s accounts of the night of drinking before the alleged incident were “pretty compatible” up until when the sailors returned to their sleeping quarters on the navy destroyer, which was docked in Spain as part of a NATO exercise.But that’s where their testimonies diverge, lawyers on both sides said.Cooper, a naval communicator at Canadian Forces Base Halifax, has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and ill treatment of a subordinate.The alleged victim has testified that he awoke in his bunk to find Cooper performing oral sex on him.Under cross-examination Saturday morning, Cooper maintained that he twice asked the junior sailor if he wanted to engage in sexual activity and the other man agreed.Martin questioned Cooper about what he characterized as inconsistencies between his testimony before the court martial this week and portions of a filmed interview with military police Cooper gave in March 2016, which was voluntary and not sworn under oath.Cooper told the court martial he withheld certain details during the interview because he did not feel comfortable talking to investigators about a homosexual encounter, but said the account he gave investigators was largely accurate aside from the omission of what he says was a consensual sex act with the junior sailor.“It’s not an easy thing to talk about, going into the details of a homosexual act with people who aren’t homosexual,” Cooper said, adding that interactions with military police prior to the interview led him to believe the investigators were not interested in hearing his side of the story.Cooper testified Friday that after a night of drinking, he and the junior sailor went back to their sleeping quarters, and as they were talking by the other man’s locker, he noticed that he had become aroused.Cooper said he asked the junior sailor if he wanted to become intimate and the other man agreed. Cooper told the court martial he then followed the other man to his bunk, asking him another time if he wanted to become intimate before engaging in sexual activity.He said he performed oral sex on the subordinate, and that the man didn’t tell him to stop until about 10 minutes later when he sat up and said, “I’m not gay,” at which point Cooper said he immediately returned to his own bunk.During closing arguments, Martin asserted that Cooper fabricated the alleged conversation near the locker in an effort to “absolve” himself of guilt.Defence counsel Maj. Phillipe Boutin argued that it was the alleged victim’s account that lacked credibility past “the point of no return.”Boutin said the alleged victim testified that he could not remember many details during the period of time in question, especially those that may put him in “a bad light.”However, Boutin said, the junior sailor was “adamant” that the alleged conversation by his locker did not occur.Martin said the alleged victim had no reason to take note of the details of the night the incident allegedly occured until he was awoken in his bunk to a superior sailor performing oral sex on him, at which point he became very “attentive.”On Wednesday, the alleged victim told the military court it was dark and he couldn’t really see, but he recognized Cooper’s voice.He became emotional in the courtroom as he spoke about fearing for his safety and attempting to alert a crew member in the bunk below him — but he said his pleas for help went unanswered.The sailor from the lower bunk testified Friday that he remembered the alleged victim attempting to wake him up on the morning in question.The bunkmate said the two men then reported the incident to a superior.Boutin said Saturday that if the alleged victim had wanted to withdraw consent, he should have communicated that to Cooper, not his bunkmate.Boutin reminded the military judge that the prosecution bears the burden of proving the sexual-assault charge beyond a reasonable doubt, and said if Sukstorf had reason to believe that the alleged conversation near the locker occurred, she should find Cooper not guilty.Martin said if she decided the alleged victim was unconscious when the sexual activity began, she would have to rule the other way.Military Judge Cmdr. Sandra Sukstorf said she expected to reach a verdict by Monday afternoon.last_img read more