Saturday, June 29, 2002

GeekPress goes on vacation: I'll be away from June 29 until July 7 attending the 2002 TOC Summer Seminar. Hence, there will probably be no new posts until July 8, 2002.
Tetris with realistic physics. (Via Boing Boing.)
The next step in display technologies could be this 3-D system which projects "5,000 frames per second onto a rotating screen within [a] transparent sphere". (Via Techhead News.)
Andrew Kenny claims that all the recent environmentalist hype about global warming is distracting us from the real climate threat -- an upcoming ice age.

Friday, June 28, 2002

NPR (National Public Radio) has backed down from its earlier inane policy requiring that websites get permission before linking to them. Sort of. There still some very serious problems with their new "enlightened" policy.
"Doctors vs. Geeks": This is a very interesting analysis of the differences between medical culture and geek culture. Given that I am a physician whereas Diana is a geek, much of what the author has written rings quite true.
Not the latest high-tech medical advance: Four women were told that they could have a free "satellite mammogram" if they undressed in front of their windows and allowed the satellite system to examine their breasts for cancer while they were given directions by telephone from the "doctor". According to the article, "All believed what they were told and one even undressed completely".
Thousands of men have signed up online to donate to the first lesbian sperm bank. It's worth clicking through to the site just to see their logo.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Chinese zookeepers are relying on panda porn movies to get their giant pandas to mate.
"GeekPress was here": Japanese scientists are offering a million people the chance to leave their names on an asteroid as part of an effort to publicize their upcoming space mission. You can register your name here.
Virtual reality can be successfully used to help schizophrenics confront their inner demons. (Via Neuroprosthesis News.)
Turn your toy robo-dog into a feral gamma-radiation detector. (Via Boing Boing.)
Dasher looks like an interesting new way to enter text into a Palm Pilot handheld, using a novel zooming interface. (Via Metafilter.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

If the technology sector has slumped so badly, then why are home prices in the SF Bay Area continuing to skyrocket?
If this article is true and terrorists are indeed planning random small arms massacres against civilians in American cities, then this is a reason that every law-abiding citizen should be able to carry a concealed weapon. There's no other way to effectively defend oneself against people whose goal is to kill as many innocent civilians as quickly as possible in this fashion. (Via Rand Simberg.)
The Pentagon's new sonic weapon uses a backwards version of one of the most fear-inducing sounds known to mankind -- a baby crying. (Via Metafilter.)
It is possible for heat to flow between two identical thermal systems that do not have a temperature difference. And without violating the laws of thermodynamics. Here's how.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Surfing the internet will suck your eyeballs dry.
"Behind the Slashdot phenomenon": Rob Malda explains his philosophy of running the oft-emulated but never duplicated Slashdot.
How to make liquid nitrogen ice cream. (Via Madville.)
Simson Garfinkle explains why everyone should have their own domain name.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Taiwan is one of the few countries to have more phones than people with a ratio of 1.007 to 1. (Via Techdirt.)
My life won't be complete without an internet refrigerator.
Invention of the day: A special set of contact lenses designed to help tennis players see the ball more clearly.

Sunday, June 23, 2002

The next high-fashion fabric may be buffalo hair, which can be turned into a fabric as soft as cashmere but doesn't shrink or wrinkle. Here's the US patent on the process.
The Colorado firefighters could really use this giant airship that can carry 1 million liters of water at a time. Speaking of which, here are the indictment papers for Terry Barton, the Forest-Service-agent-turned-arsonist who jeopardized hundreds of homes and lives. Thank God that I never had to deal with any fire-related life-or-death scenarios like this one.
Play The IKEA Game: Given the Ikea product name, can you guess what the product is?

Saturday, June 22, 2002

It sure would suck to successfully break out of jail, only to be eaten by a crocodile.
Scientists have now decided that space is the color of latte.
Nanotubules can be used to purify drugs.

Friday, June 21, 2002

Apparently, I'm a decent match with Diana:

SimilarMinds.com Compatibility Test

Your match with Diana Hsieh
you are 93% similar
you are 91% complementary

How Compatible are You with me?


(I guess I passed her Pepsi Challenge...)

After joining the site and taking the full test, these are my Enneagram Test Results

TypeScoreSummary
522Fives are basically on some level ambivalent about the world, consequently, their mind is usually their best friend. They like to analyze things and make sense of them (that is their anchor), perception and invention come naturally. The immense inner world of fives can cause them to lose touch or interest in reality.
918Nines are calm, laid-back, and optimistic. They are able to see everyone's point of view, and have a natural desire for making peace. Consequently, they are effective mediators. Fearful of conflict and separation from others, they can be too accommodating and unassertive.
813Eights are natural leaders. They are straight forward, direct, large personalities, that are unlikely to back down to adversity. They have a talent for motivating others. They have a strong sense of justice and are often protectors of the weak. However, they also have short fuses and can become domineering tyrants.
612Sixes are overly alert and anxious. They are skeptical of the status quo but are also fearful of being on their own. They satisfy their need for security and belonging by establishing strong friendships and/or loyally backing a cause.
312Threes derive self worth from success in the external world. They are highly skilled at adapting themselves in whatever way necessary to achieve success. This external success driven image often comes at a price of having a personal identity and they often are uncertain of who they really are.
111Ones are idealistic and strive for perfection. Morals and ethics drive them. They live with an overbearing internal critic that never rests. They are always comparing themselves to others and are overly concerned with external criticism. They can be very judgmental and others perceive them as too uptight.
78Sevens are optimistic thrill seekers that see life as an adventure. They are always thinking of new possibilities and adventures. This constant zest for life can become escapism. Once things lose there fun they are no longer interested, so many projects go unfinished. Essentially, they avoid the difficulties of life because they fear being overwhelmed by them.
28Twos are defined by their empathy of other people. They are uniquely gifted at tuning in on the feelings of others. This makes them great networkers, but being too caught up with other people can cause them to lose track of their own personal well being. Two charity is really a projection of how they want others to care for them.
47Fours are all about being unique and creating their own distinct culture. They experience the highs and lows of life more intensely than other types. They take great pride in their aesthetic tastes. Fours often feel like misplaced children, and they long for a sense of real family.
Is this the first divorce as a result of 9/11?
After Glenn Reynolds wrote about his frustrations with software "version fatigue", Eric Raymond proposed this solution.
The British Army is using a specially modified version of the computer game Half-Life to train its troops. According to a spokesman, one of the modifications includes the following: "In a standard shoot-em-up game, every time you get shot your health goes down by a few percent... The more that happens, the less healthy you become. Here, of course, one bullet and you're out of the game."
NPR (National Public Radio) is now requiring that all websites get written permission from them before linking to their site. Wired has a nice write-up on this inane rule, incidentally also violating NPR's position multiple times in the article. Update: As a result of the unfavorable publicity, NPR is now re-thinking its policy.
A recent study on the nature of envy shows the people would be willing to give up a large amount of their own cash if they could hurt their better-off neighbors by an even greater amount. The article also has some interesting speculations on how this relates to public policy debates.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

As asteroid the size of a football field almost hit the Earth last week, passing closer than 1/3 of the distance between the Earth and the Moon. Even more alarming, this near miss was only detected 3 days after the event. According to the article, "This is only the sixth known asteroid to penetrate the Moon's orbit, and by far the biggest." Had it landed, it would have struck "with a force rivaling the largest H-bombs". Personally, I'm glad it didn't land in some politically sensitive place like the India-Pakistan border, where it could have been mistaken for a military attack and triggered even worse events. The BBC has similar coverage. (Via Metafilter.)
The BBC brings you "The Science of Superheroes". (Via BBspot.)
Can the Metafaq AI system pass the Turing test? We'll find out when it get used as a tech support system for Sony PlayStation users.
It's a lot easier to win money at the track if the computer allows you to place your bets after the race has finished.
Hack your car: Modern automobiles have so many microchip-driven systems that hackers are having a field day. According to the article,
Automotive-minded hackers have taken up the challenge of deciphering factories' proprietary protocols and codes. They've built connectors that go from the vehicles' jacks to PC ports. They've written software that decodes the messages from the controllers and turns them into on-screen readings of RPM, throttle position, air sensor data, and much more. None of this thrills manufacturers, since they'd rather sell those diagnostic computers and keep them in the hands of factory-trained mechanics. I guess they've never heard of the hacker ethic.
(Via Plastic.)
The ultimate disclaimer: This website warns readers, "If you are an Australian, Japanese or Canadian person or are viewing this page from Australia, Canada or Japan you must exit the site by clicking on the 'I disagree' button below." (Via The Register.)
Although this sounds like something from a bad science fiction movie, it's apparently a true story. An intelligent robot sick of fighting other robots in the laboratory instead decided to make an escape attempt. (Via Fark.)

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Does anyone else find this 6-legged logging robot just a little bit scary-looking? (Via Boing Boing.)
Airport kiosks will soon allow travellers to download movies onto their PalmOS or Pocket PC handhelds.
Is this the script for the upcoming Star Trek: Nemesis movie? Needless to say, if this is legitimate then it is the ultimate spoiler. (Via Madville.)
The "Tooth Phone": If your current mobile phone is too bulky and easily misplaced, you might want to consider getting a one implanted in your tooth. (Via Techdirt.)
It may be possible to build a quantum computer with current technology.
This new graphical search engine may not be as powerful as Google, but it has a very slick way of displaying results. (Via Transterrestrial Musings.)
Dominic Basulto argues that the Blogosphere could be good for Wall Street by providing an independent and alternative source of market research for investors, and exposing hidden biases and bad information amongst mainstream market analysts.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Should we use computers instead of professors to grade essays? (Free registration required -- or use "metafilter/metafilter" as username/password.)
Stop worrying about cell phone radiation and start worrying about your cell phone exploding. (Via Techdirt.)
Several articles have bemoaned the high rate of scientific illiteracy amongst Americans. Are you part of the problem? Find out by testing your science IQ with these questions aimed at 4th, 8th, and 12th graders.
"15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense": Scientific American has a nice article refuting the standard "creation science" arguments against evolution.
Iranian women are using weblogs to discuss culturally taboo subjects such as sex and boyfriends. (Via Boing Boing.)

Monday, June 17, 2002

I hate it when Microsoft ships out copies of its software with the Nimda virus on it.
Internet Explorer's "autocomplete" helps convict killer: According to this Boston Globe article, prosecutors were able to disprove spree shooter Michael McDermott's claim that he thought he was travelling through time to kill seven Nazis by examining his computer and showing that he had been performing web searches for "faking mental illness". (Via Declan at Politech. Declan points out that this feature should also be a gold mine for divorce lawyers!)

Plus, the Rorschach test revealed: The same Boston Globe article also has a very interesting discussion of the consequences of the general public having access via the Internet to hitherto confidential details on psychological tests, including the "right" and "wrong" answers to give on the famous Rorschach inkblot test. Although some psychologists are upset at having their secrets published online (one went so far as to call it "an act of psychological terrorism"), you can learn all the details of the Rorschach test here.
Another search engine tries to take on Google. According to the article, AlltheWeb.com is "a hit among scientists, librarians and other researchers looking for more obscure data" because it digs deeper than Google, and has (slightly) more pages indexed than Google.
The words "blog", "blogger" and "blogging" will be appearing in the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. (Via Boing Boing.)
A teenage boy in Austria has cracked into the Pentagon computer system and obtained secret information, including the location of US nuclear missiles. The FBI is not pleased, and they are on their way to Vienna to question him. (Via Madville.)
Toyota is testing a flying automobile aimed at the consumer market. List price for the vehicle will be around $50,000, similar to that of their Lexus. (Via Wonkoslice.)
The threat of viruses infecting JPEG picture files may be exaggerated according to discussions here and here.

Sunday, June 16, 2002

This handy website will translate between normal English and teenager SMS lingo.
Educational site of the day: Pimpology 101. (Via Madville.)
US soldiers of the future will wear all sorts of cool stuff.

Saturday, June 15, 2002

A new wearable virtual reality system helps you with your billiards skills by analyzing the position of your pool cue, the ball, and the pocket, and overlaying the computed trajectory over the real life image of the table.
The new "T-ray" space camera can also see through clothes and walls.
I'd like my commuters medium-rare, please: A Japanese scientist has found that electromagnetic radiation from cell phones reflects off of the interiors of train cars. The radiation level is such that if a significant fraction of commuters on a train all used their cell phones at once during a busy rush hour, it would be comparable to the radiation generated by a microwave oven set on "low". (Via Wonkoslice.)

Friday, June 14, 2002

The game of "Tag" is now politically incorrect because it might damage some children's self-esteem.
Because of the many mysterious UFO sightings in this small Chilean town, the mayor did what any shrewd civic leader would do. He turned it into a tourist attraction. Ka-ching!
The Top Ten bizarre laptop deaths.
Bloggus Caesari: the weblog of Julius Caesar. (Via Metafilter.)
A new computer virus can infect picture files.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

Outer space could become very profitable for private industry in the next decade. (Via Techhead News.)
Two research teams have created transistors from single molecules.
How to disable library censorware. (Via Three River Tech Review.)
The Russians have invented their own backpack helicopter. According to the article, "The weight of the helicopter is 20 kilos, the flight speed is 120 kilometers per hour, the flying height is 1000 meters, and the active time of the flight is 25 minutes. When the helicopter is folded, it looks like a roll 50 cm long". (Via Madville.)
Meet the Bonnie and Clyde of cyberspace.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Biology news of the day: Humans gave tapeworms to cows, pigs and dogs, not the other way around as has been previously thought.
What sort of system of government would we need on a Mars colony? Glenn Reynolds (of Instapundit fame) argues that contrary to conventional wisdom, a complex highly interdependent colony might require more emphasis on individual rights, not less.
Not everyone hates spam: McDonald's will be test marketing a new breakfast meal consisting of eggs, rice, and Spam in Hawaii, which has the highest per capita consumption of Spam in the country. (Via ObscureStore.)
People on IRC say the darndest things. (Via Memepool)
The city of Sydney, Australia will shut down for two days to allow the producers of "The Matrix Reloaded" to film their final dramatic action scene. (Via Fark.)
Forget about a mere "dirty bomb": The BBC claims that it would be "frighteningly easy" for terrorists to make a genuine nuclear bomb.
On the set of "Terminator 3". (Via Madville.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Fire update: We're still on standby to evacuate Sedalia due to the wildfire. The Douglas County sheriff's office has told people in our area that we are "highly encouraged" to leave now, but the order is not (yet) mandatory. A mandatory evacuation order is considered highly likely later this afternoon. Diana will have more detailed updates in her blog.
"Sniffer dog" site overwhelmed with traffic: The Australian website www.snifferdogalert.com has had to temporarily shut down to upgrade its server due to overwhelming web traffic. The site sends subscribers urgent SMS text messages when their field scouts detect police drug sniffer dogs in their vicinity. Although Australian NSW Police Minister has asked that the site be taken down, the website and associated service is apparently legal under Austrialian law.
Nanotechnology invention of the day: IBM has invented a new type of ultradense storage medium. Their system is a miniaturized version of old-style punch cards using thousands of "heated spikes that can make, or read, tiny indentations in a polymer film". According to the article, "these new techniques promise far greater storage data, allowing consumers to store several movies on a personal video recorder, but in the space the size of a sugar cube."
Cell phones can be used as eavesdropping devices. Fortunately, an Israeli company has developed a way to detect this.
Wired discusses the after-effects of a "dirty bomb". MSNBC has a similar story.
How many calories do you consume during sex? (Via Linkfilter.)

Monday, June 10, 2002

Due to the Colorado wildfires, Diana and I may have to evacuate from Sedalia on very short notice. Hence, posting may be sparse for the next couple of days.
I hate it when a massive lava flow twice the size of Europe destroys all life in its path.
Japanese scientists have launched a paper airplane with a laser beam. From the article, "The plane can be launched from afar, as long as the laser beam can be focused onto it... Next, the researchers hope to use the laser to guide the plane's motion. It could blast away pieces of the material on one or other of the wings. Alternatively, the wings could be fashioned from metal alloys that change shape when heated, and the laser used to warm them."
Harvard may ignore early decision college application results and enroll students who have in theory already committed to other schools. On one hand, this does encourage applicants to break their (non-binding) promises to other schools and is very close to tortious interference with a contract. On the other hand, these are not legally binding contracts and hence Harvard is not required to refrain from offering them a spot even after they've supposedly "committed" to another Ivy League school. Given the current problems with early decision programs (also discussed here), this could be a very interesting development. (Via Metafilter.)
"Why Be An Armed Liberal?"
How much money did your favorite Silicon Valley executive make last year?
"Professor reconstructs unfinished Chopin prelude": The AP story is here, but there are more details in this NY Times article. You can listen to the piece here. (Via Linkfilter.)

Sunday, June 09, 2002

Is there a rift between the old bloggers and the new "war bloggers"?
Cheating in online games has become such a problem that game companies are looking into "military grade" security to retain honest customers and preserve a pleasant gaming experience.
"My Blog, My Outboard Brain" (Via Neuroprosthesis News.)
Don't like any of the current South Park characters? Then create your own. (Via Metafilter.)
Superstring theory for the layperson.

Saturday, June 08, 2002

A Chinese newspaper has inadvertently reported a satire story from The Onion as a genuine news story. The Onion story was entitled "Congress Threatens To Leave D.C. Unless New Capitol Is Built". If only it were true!...
Practice open heart surgery with this online simulator. (Via Linkfilter.)

Friday, June 07, 2002

If you're British, you can donate your excess skin for bioweapons research.
"A Guide to the Appreciation of Robotic Combat Sports"
China is losing its grip on the internet. But not without a fight.
More ways to defeat biometric security systems: Many commercial biometric security systems are surprisingly easy to defeat with attacks even simpler than the Gummi Bear fake finger trick. In one case, merely breathing on a fingerprint sensor allowed unauthorized users access. (Via Ars Technica.)
Japanese kids are so addicted to using their mobile phones for instant text messaging that they have their own name -- "oyayubi-zoku" or the "thumb tribe".
Today's nanotechnology invention is the laser "pea-shooter" that can propel tiny particles along hollow optical fibers.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

It's not often that you see a picture of 4 galaxies colliding. (More details here.)
A Florida high school student has admitted hacking into his school's computer and charging $5 to change his fellow students' grades. All the grades now have to be re-examined. He apparently never learned that you shouldn't make obvious alterations like changing a 0 to a 100. (Via ObscureStore.)
The Middle East crisis has created a booming (no pun intended) market for novel security products such as bullet-proof baby car seats.
How many memetic viruses have you been exposed to? Find out with the Human Virus Scanner. (Via Madville.)
The National Security Agency has launched a new ad campaign exhorting our military troops to maintain information secrecy. It includes propaganda posters reminiscent of some of these classic WWII posters.
"What Do You Think?": The Onion's weekly survey tackles the India-Pakistan conflict.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

The newer computer viruses can jump back and forth between Windows and Linux platforms and are better able to hide from antivirus software.
UC Berkeley is offering a course on blogging.
Take the National Security Quiz.
A company claims that it can create "a database that differentiates actual child porn from the computer-generated kind".
The US Postal Service has purchased 40 Segway scooters for field testing in six US cities. (Alas, Denver is not one of them...)

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

For people with too much money: Aircraft Homes. Personally, if I had that much money, I'd go for a Missile Silo House... (Via Redwood Dragon.)
Health care costs aren't too high. For the benefit patients receive, they're too low.
Swarm intelligence: A computer program which models creativity as a swarm of virtual "insects" following simple rules is able to compose music that sounds like that written by human beings.
Oil: The renewable resource.
A new video game from Syria is a big hit with Arab youth. In this game, the player takes the role of a young Palestinian engaged in the intifadah against Israel. He starts with stone throwing, then moves onto shooting Israeli settlers, then finally progresses to engaging the Israeli military in South Lebanon. Interestingly enough, suicide bombing is not an option. And in the game, there is no ultimate victory against the Israelis.

Monday, June 03, 2002

Map of the Blogosphere: N.Z. Bear has published this nice map of the Blogosphere. Based on the data from his Blogosphere Ecosystem analysis, I'm proud to say that Diana and I are both "Insignificant Microbes". But we're in good company, along with Declan McCullagh, Eric Raymond, and Jerry Pournelle. (It looks like Will Wilkinson barely missed the cut into "Lowly Insects".)
New stock market scam: As opposed to the "pump and dump" maneuver of the 1980's, a number of scam artists are using the "short and distort" trick wherein they sell a company's stock short, then spread false malicious rumors about the company's health thus allowing the scammer to pocket the difference. This works especially well in these economically fragile times when many investors are inclined to believe that companies are doing more poorly than is publically acknowledged.
Breaking medical science news: Surgeons who stay up late at night drinking alcohol make more mistakes in the operating room the following morning.
The Virtual Theremin: "The Theremin is a musical instrument that uses the positions of the performers hands to create sound. The Virtual Theremin aims to mimic the Theremin using just a computer and a cheap web camera. It tracks the hands of a performer, using image processing techniques, around a picture of a Theremin superimposed on the video stream. The positions of the hands are then converted to sound that mimics the response of the Theremin." (Via Linkfilter.)
Invention of the day: A new piracy-proof music format. (Via Instapundit.)
When hacking competitions go wrong: "A hacking contest that promised $100,000 as first prize appears to have been weighted so heavily against competitors that some decided to hack the competition rather than the target server."
Turning a side effect into success: Leonard Schliefer tried to develop a drug that would cure ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), but it failed because patients kept losing too much weight as a side effect. Now, his company Regeneron thinks it could turn into the next big weight loss drug for obese baby boomers. Viagra redux!

Sunday, June 02, 2002

IBM is going to make a big push into nanotechnology research.
Players wanted for life-sized foosball: A charity event in England is "looking for teams of five to take part in human table football which involves attaching people to poles and moving them from side to side in the formation of the popular table game." (Via Fark.)
There some things you should not give as Christmas gifts. (Via Madville.)
Some basics of Instant Messaging etiquette.

Saturday, June 01, 2002

To prevent hijackings, Eric Raymond argues that we shouldn't be arming the pilots -- instead we should arm the passengers. (Look for his entry dated 6/1/2002.)
"Want to build your own cruise missile? It's easier and cheaper than you'd think": Inventor Bruce Simpson is warning that rogue states or terrorists could build crude-but-effective LCCMs (Low Cost Cruise Missiles) for as little as $6-$10k. (There's lots of discussion on this Plastic thread.)
I almost feel sorry for this poor Nigerian scam artist. (Via BBspot.)