What does a cable car in Niagara Falls have to do with the world’s
first chess-playing machine? Surprisingly, both were inventions of Spanish civil engineer Leonardo Torres-Quevedo.
Next week, as part of our ongoing effort to celebrate Europe’s computing
heritage, we’re commemorating Torres-Quevedo’s legacy and his
remarkable machine—“El
(in English, “The Chess Player”)—in partnership with
the Telecommunication Engineering department of the
Technical University of Madrid.

Photo thanks to Wikimedia Commons

Torres-Quevedo’s inventions span many fields. He was the second in
the world to demonstrate wireless remote control, beaten to the
post only by Nikola Tesla.
His designs for airships were used by both the French
and British during WWI. He was a global leader in cable car design,
creating the “Spanish aero car” over the Niagara Whirlpool
which, nearly a century on, remains a tourist attraction.
However, his most remarkable achievements were in the field of
automation, developing machines that are antecedents to what we now
call computers and robots.

Torres-Quevedo’s ambitions were bold. As Scientific American proclaimed in 1915: “He would substitute machinery
for the human mind.” In the 1890s, Torres-Quevedo built a series of mechanical devices that solved algebraic
equations. In 1920 he wowed a Paris audience with an
electromechanical arithmometer with a typewriter attachment. You
simply typed a formula—say, “24×48”—and the machine would calculate
and automatically type the answer “=1152” in reply.

But El Ajedrecista, an algorithmically powered machine that could
play an end-game of chess against a human opponent completely
automatically, is his most notable creation. Although it’s a far cry
from Deep Blue, El Ajedrecista can lay claim to being
the world’s first (analog) computer game.


Photos thanks to Museo Torres Quevedo

The machine didn’t just calculate its moves—it had mechanical arms
that physically moved its pieces, in the form of electrical jacks,
across a grid. In later models the arm mechanism was replaced by
magnets, and play took place on a more ordinary-looking chess board.
You couldn’t cheat the machine as it could spot illegal moves; and you
couldn’t win, as the game always started at a point (machine’s King
and Rook versus human’s King) from which the machine could never lose.

In honor of El Ajedrecista’s 100th birthday, we’re working with the Telecommunication
Engineering department of the Technical University of Madrid
stage a conference commemorating Torres-Quevedo’s legacy. The
conference, taking place on November 7, will feature lectures and
panel discussions, as well as an exhibition of Torres-Quevedo’s
devices—including El Ajedrecista itself. Attendance is free—if you
want to join us, request an invitation.

The Official Google Blog

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Question by Gerry J: How can I optimize my blog so im making money and make it a fun site to visit for game info like pc and 360?

Best answer:

Answer by kee (WRONG CATEGORY FOR XBOX ?s)
See http://problogger.net for a wealth of information on making money while blogging. Here’s two articles from that site: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2005/12/06/how-bloggers-make-money-from-blogs/ and http://www.problogger.net/archives/2008/08/30/10-ways-to-make-money-because-of-your-blog/ .

NOTE: You can’t make money off a Yahoo! 360 blog, that’s against guidelines.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

To pitch a perfect game, teach yourself online

(Cross-posted on the Inside Search blog)

Searches can become stories. Some are inspiring, some change the way we see the world and some just put a smile on our face. This is a story of how people can use Google to do something extraordinary. If you have a story, share it. – Ed.

My major league pitching career was anything but perfect. The closest I ever came was a seven-inning outing against Milwaukee while playing for the Cincinnati Reds, in which I gave up only four runs and earned the victory. In baseball, you can be successful without coming close to perfect. Just think about batting average: a .400 average is insanely good, but that means you strike out or get out in some other way more than half the time you’re at bat. Hall of Fame pitchers give up an average of more than two runs per game. Seldom does a pitcher throw a shutout. A perfect game—in which a pitcher does not allow a single player on base—is incredibly rare.

In the majors, setting your team up to win involves daily physical workouts, hours of practice and in-depth analysis of the opposing teams’ traits and tendencies. The idea that someone without this training and background could instead go online, gather and process the necessary information and use it to throw a perfect game is unfathomable. Yet that’s exactly what happened to Brian Kingrey.

Brian is a high school music teacher from Hammond, La. and not much of a sports fan. As one of his students put it, “I’ve never heard him say the word baseball.” But Brian is a gamer—so naturally, he was intrigued by the $ 1 million prize he saw in a TV commercial for a new baseball video game called MLB 2K11. He knew nothing about baseball, had never even played the real game in his life, but encouraged by his wife, he went out, bought the game and started playing. A few weeks later, Brian won the $ 1 million prize for pitching the first perfect game in MLB 2K11. And he learned how to do it entirely online.

“I had to figure out what baseball was, not just what a perfect game was,” Brian said. He found that everything he needed to know was online: he was able to search about batters, batting averages, the different kinds of pitches. He combined the information to figure out that he had the best odds in a match-up between the Phillies — with star pitcher Roy Halladay on the mound — and the Houston Astros. He also researched the weak spots of each player—for instance, the toughest batter Halladay would face was going to be Astro’s infielder Bill Hall. After that, Brian was ready to play.

And play he did. On his third try, Brian pitched the perfect game and became a millionaire. “Once I got past Bill Hall, I knew I had it,” he said. “Without online search, I would’ve been in deep trouble. If I had played like it was in my head, I would’ve done it all wrong.” Perhaps if I’d known that search was the answer when I was playing in the major leagues, I might have come a little closer to perfection more often.

The Official Google Blog

The iPad is a game changer

Since January, a part of me has been deeply chewing on how the iPad might affect the internet marketing business — and my own.

Here's a graph (hat tip, the Japan Times) that you may want to give thoughts to, if it hasn't occurred to you yet that this new tablet might make you revisit your business model:


There are no shortage of games on Apple’s App Store; app developers are constantly evolving their ideas to create the next Angry Birds.

Some apps function as useful services, trying to add gaming elements to prompt users to come back to the app, but with gamification often coming as an afterthought, many services fail to attract a large userbase.

Appysnap is an app that motivates users to play a game, not on their handsets, but by interacting with objects in the world around them. The new iPhone application sets users “missions”, challenging users to take a photo of a specific object within a set time (night or day) and rewarding them with prizes for completing them.

Appysnap will prompt the user with a text message style notification, alerting them to a new mission that has been added to the missions section of the application, listing all other outstanding missions that haven’t been completed.

If missions are completed quickly, Appysnap will reward users for completing them before others. Never Odd Or Even, developer of the app, says that users can win iPads, Kindles and Amazon vouchers but we weren’t quick enough to get that all-important notification.

As well as prizes, Appysnap allows its users to collect “caps”, which serve as points that can be redeemed for deals and offers. The user with the most “caps” at the end of the month is also eligible to win a special prize.

Some of the first missions sent to us were requests to take a picture of ourselves and to share a photo that had three or more people in it. The app is available to iPhone owners all over the world but Appysnap will occasionally send missions to players in specific towns or neighbourhoods, opening up ways for the company to partner with local events.

The game is fun but can be annoying to those who aren’t used to their iPhone beeping at random intervals. Whilst we get this is the idea of the app itself, we soon found ourselves looking for the option to turn off the notifications so that it didn’t annoy us whilst we were trying to work.

If you have a little time on your hands or can drop what you are doing at a moments notice, Appysnap could be the perfect fun app that has you competing against others to win some pretty impressive prizes.

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