Minneapolis Bridge Collapsed Last Night


Last night the I-35W bridge that crosses the Mississippi River just north of Downtown Minneapolis collapsed around 6:05 PM CST. This was a pretty big disaster for Minnesota.

Road work was being done on the bridge. There was only one lane of traffic open in each direction and it wasn't moving much at the time. The bridge was 1907 feet in length. So far the death count is only 4, however, there were around 80 people injured and 20 to 30 who are still missing. A school bus carrying 60 children went down with the bridge, but all of the kids on board survived.

Here are some pictures a friend of mine took.

[Update: As of 8/21 there are 13 dead and no more known to be missing.]

Let every man praise the bridge that carries him over.


iPhone iPhenomenon


I'm not sure what to make of this iPhone phenomenon. I have to give kudos to Apple for once again taking the world by storm with an innovative product release along with the usual hype.

I have a coworker that waited all day to get one, and many others that have since purchased one. They all seem to like their new little device a lot. And from the ad-hoc demos I've had of the phone it is pretty impressive. Apple really does know how to make a great user interface. Using your fingers on the touch screen is very intuitive and just works the way you think it should. In fact, I haven't heard much in the way of a negative impression of the iPhone from anyone except for this guy.

One possible negative, depending on what you currently pay for cell phone service, is the price. As this site outlines, the total cost for the first year (assuming you buy the $599 unit) is $1,936. For the first two years, which is the length of the service contract, it comes to $3,232. That's with the minimum voice plan and the unlimited data plan. (What's the point of having an iPhone without the unlimited data plan?) That's a lot of money; about 5% of your net income if you make $50K per year.

Another negative is the constant cleaning of the screen that is required to remove the massive amount of smudges that accumulate from one's greasy finger-tips. I have an acquaintance that compulsively cleans his all day long. Apple might be inadvertently adding fuel to the obsessive/compulsive fire for many of the neurotic tech-gen'ers that will buy an iPhone.

Possibly the biggest down-side is how closed the iPhone development environment is. You cannot load your own applications onto it. Instead, third-party applications must work via the built-in Safari web browser. This means that in addition to traditional web pages, you may run Java Script and AJAX applications. However, it appears that Java and Flash are not supported at this time. I don't think there will be a shortage of web applications for the phone, there are already sites catering to them, and many more will come.

Even though I've listed some issues with the phone, it is really a pretty cool device that has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, I don't see owning one in my near future. I think it is a little expensive for the amount of use I would get out of it. Besides, I'm holding out for one of these. Maybe not as sexy as the iPhone, but they are free and begging to be hacked.

In related news… to keep abreast of what Steve Jobs is up to, have a look at his blog.

AT&T is like an overweight slob that's been given a chance to date a supermodel; if it doesn't shape up soon, it'll be easily replaced.

– Chris Taylor, CNN Article


Photosynth Multidimensional Picture Spaces


Even though I think all of the Microsoft Operating Systems suck eggs, many of Microsoft's other products are impressive. First there was Office, then Visual Studio, and now something really cool… Photosynth.

Have a look at this presentation of it by Blaise Aguera y Arcas at a TED conference.

The only down side is that it only runs on Windows XP or Windows Vista. Hopefully it will be ported to other Operating Systems.

Phase One: Collect underpants. Phase Two: ? Phase Three: Profit.

– South Park Gnomes


Do It Yourself Segway Project


Some First Robotics guys are working on a DIY Segway project that looks pretty promising. Their goal is to make one for less than $1000. I would love to drive (err roll?) around work on one.

A day for firm decisions! Or is it?


Portable Rotary Cell Phone


A while back I read how to make your own rotary cell phone on Hack A Day. I've always liked the idea of building my own, but due to the cost of the parts I've held off.

Recently I saw this article on Make that renewed my interest. Apparently you can take the easy solution and just buy one if you want, from SparkFun Electronics.

Instructions for making your own are supposed to be here, but that link is not working for me as I write this. However, the mighty internet wayback machine has the instructions.

I still don't know when I'll be getting mine, but I would just love to bring one into a bar and put it on the counter and wait for a call while I have a beer. Gotta love the retro gadgets.

Hey barkeep, whose leg do you have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

– Brian (Family Guy)


Human Sized Origami House


I just stumbled upon this and thought it was pretty cool (even though it's a few years old). These guys made a one room house out of paper origami. This video shows their progress as they worked on it. I'm not sure I have that kind of patience.

Duct tape is like 'The Force'. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.