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drupal block-within-a-block for consolidating content

I recently thought it would be a good idea to syndicate AMBER Alerts on my site as a public service.  I already have a drupal block created using the Ad module where I rotate different content.  When using the Aggregator module, it creates a block that can be assigned to a content area, but I didn't want to add a second one, I wanted to combine it with the one I already use via Ads.  I found the answer at .

For my case, I created new Advertisement content item and made sure to use the PHP input type.  If you wanted to create a new block instead of using the Ad module, it would be done the same way.

Next, I pasted in the following:

<?php $block = module_invoke('aggregator', 'block', 'view', 'category-7'); print $block['content']; ?>

In the above code, the first parameter is the module name that supplies the block, parameter two and three tell it what (block) and what to do with it (view) so those stay constant.  The fourth is the block ID that you want to display, which will be different depending on the module and item creation order.  In the Blocks admin area, you can mouse-over the URL of a block item to see the module and block ID.

A more simple example would be for embedding the "Who's Online" block content inside of another custom block of your creation:

<?php $block = module_invoke('user', 'block', 'view', 3); print $block['content']; ?>

I thought it was a handy trick.

Tree-climbing robot snakes and tankified skateboard Segways

Two videos that passed my way today that I thought were kinda cool.  In the first, the Biorobotics Lab at Carnegie Mellon University has developed a that can climb a tree.


In the second, BPG Werks has created a hybrid skateboard on tank treads for both military and civi use called the DTV Shredder.  You can't go wrong with something called The Shredder.  Looks crazy fun!  If only I had an extra $5K lying around...


Breakthough: Scientists make artificial electronic skin

I think I need a "Scary" tag.  Or maybe "Creepy" would be better.  needs one or the other.  I can see some pretty cool applications for something like this though.

Biotech wizards have engineered electronic skin that can sense touch, in a major step towards next-generation robotics and prosthetic limbs.

The lab-tested material responds to almost the same pressures as human skin and with the same speed, they reported in the British journal Nature Materials.

Important hurdles remain but the exploit is an advance towards replacing today's clumsy robots and artificial arms with smarter, touch-sensitive upgrades, they believe.

"Humans generally know how to hold a fragile egg without breaking it," said Ali Javey, an associate professor of computer sciences at the University of California at Berkeley, who led one of the research teams.

"If we ever wanted a robot that could unload the dishes, for instance, we'd want to make sure it doesn't break the wine glasses in the process. But we'd also want the robot to grip the stock pot without dropping it."

The "e-skin" made by Javey's team comprises a matrix of nanowires made of germanium and silicon rolled onto a sticky polyimide film.

S3480 introduced, federal government could get kill switch to the internet

On 6/10/2010, - was introduced.  It also had 1st and 2nd readings before being shuffled right to committee.  There are a lot of things I don't like about this bill.

The first question that popped into my head was who uses the term "cyberspace" anymore?  Lieberman?  Really?

Ok, now that I have that off my chest, let's get into the text of the bill.  It's easiest to go in order and work through it.  Definition: Critical Infrastructure.  In PCNAA, this is defined as it is in the Patriot Act.

"systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters."

Who gets to determine what those assets actually are?  While I do believe that one defined authority of the federal government is the security of the nation, it's a bit broad to not specifically define what is or is not going to fall within the scope of this law.  Actually, this comment is more directed toward the Patriot Act, but the PCNAA inherits it.  If this were limited to just the infrastructure pertaining to government, not involving the private sector, it would not have been as big a deal.

On to the bureaucracy.  This bill would create a new Office of Cyberspace Policy.  Yay!  Based on the qualifications for the Director spot, anyone that knows as much as a high school hacker could be appointed. 

Human trebuchet looks crazy, scary, insane, dangerous, and fun

It is just what you would think from the words "human trebuchet."  I can't tell what they are saying but I can see what they are doing.  If I wasn't already positive that I'd lose my lunch, this would be a blast to try out.  Meh, maybe it's worth it Wink


Advanced "Little Dog" autonomous robot from USC is scary-cool

Skynet has got to be close to full blown Terminators now.  This bot is little brother to   The ability to move over unlevel terrain is amazing.  It has the ability to learn when it encounters problems and can traverse gaps that are equal to the reach of the legs.  Crazy stuff.


Evoluce ONE 47-inch HD multi-touch display with spacial recognition

This thing is THE BOMB!  The Evoluce can handle unlimited inputs from many people, objects, pens, etc. at the same time.  It understands gesturing, multi-touch gaming looks awesome, and it even works with gestures above the table!  Crazy cool!


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by Dr. Radut