Gotta get down on Friday

Friday Five: Robots, lolcats and geopolitical indexes

Elliot Bentley
cat1

It’s Friday, and time to start getting ready for the weekend by going a bit off-topic. Here’s a few cool things that caught our eye across the web this week.

It’s
Friday, and time to start getting ready for the weekend by going a
bit off-topic. Here’s a few cool things that caught our eye across
the web this week.

1. A Google-powered Java speech API
Let’s start with some Java. Luke Kuza’s speech API uses
Google technology to both recognise speech input and synthesise
output – meaning that, yes, you too can build a hands-free
Siri-style assistant for your app. The only apparent downside is
that, like Siri, it also requires an internet connection. While we
haven’t had a chance to try it out ourselves, we’d love to know if
you do anything cool with it – drop us a line on Twitter @jaxentercom.

2. TextMate lives again
Here’s one for Mac users: when OS X code editor TextMate 2 was made
open-source last month, there was plenty of cynicism over whether
the old dog still had life in it. Yet, to everyone’s
surprise
the app has seen a new lease of life, with over 400
commits and a whole bunch of updates. So why not take it for a
spin
? Or better yet, contribute to the
codebase
?

3. The record-breaking Cheetah robot
Not even Usain Bolt himself can run from this terrifying military-developed
robot
, demonstrated yesterday reaching 28.3mph (45.5km/h). The
headless metal beast, nicknamed the “cheetah” for fairly obvious
reasons, is the latest experimental limbed robot from Boston
Dynamic (they also made 2008’s uneven-terrain-walking ‘big dog’). We
couldn’t agree more with Noel Sharkey, an academic at Sheffield
University, when he describes it as “an incredible technical
achievement, but it’s unfortunate that it’s going to be used to
kill people”.

4. TimBL’s Web Index
Forget the Olympics (and Paralympics): the only table of countries
you need is the Web Index,
published today by Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web Foundation. The
index takes into account the web’s political, economic and social
impact on each country, as well as their internet infrastructure
and the level of use. Current #1 is Sweden, with a web index score
of 100, followed closely by the USA (97.31), UK (93.83) and Canada
(93.42).

5. The Online
Cat-Industrial Complex

And finally… we all love cats on the internet, but it seems that
Japan’s passion for them runs even deeper. Wired’s Gideon
Lewis-Kraus has written an epic
6,400-word essay
on the subject, in which he catalogues the
history of cats on the internet, attempts to secure an audience
with the world-famous Maru, and ponders what it is about cats that
make them so lovable. Oh, and it’s accompanied by a compilation
some of the best cat pictures on the net.

Cute cat photo by
dougwoods
.

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