Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Administrative note: GeekPress will take a one week break. We'll be back on November 8th!
Recharge your computer and mobile phone batteries with a wireless charging station.
Google Sets will try to predict other elements in a set if you provide just a few examples.
"Before There Was E-mail: Forwarding Jokes Through History"
Why does Antarctica use Daylight Savings Time? (Via MemeMachineGo.)
Icelandic scientists have invented a nonpolluting device which generates electricity from hot water.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Bulletproof cars for sale here. (Via Aberrant News.)
Celebrate your next birthday with a bioluminescent birthday cake. (Via Boing Boing.)
Rather than actually surfing the web, you can try the Realistic Internet Simulator.
"Iraq Denies Having Nuquler Weapons Program"
Top Ten Mac OS X Tips for Unix Geeks. (Via Linkfilter.)
Indian scientists say they may have found evidence of microscopic extraterrestrial life.

Monday, October 28, 2002

Shaking hands over the internet.
The weakest link in computer security is, of course, always the people. (This is just one article in the excellent Economist overview of computer security.)
A special cooling glove may help improve the performance of long distance runners.
Spammers vs bloggers.
Mathematicians in India have found a new algorithm for detecting prime numbers that is much more efficient than previous methods. Plus one variant of the new algorithm lends itself quite well to distributed computing.
More time wasters: Online pinball games. (Via Linkfilter.)

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Fake fireplaces are now hip. Or at least they're no longer considered tacky. (Via Techdirt.)
Scientists are working on "gait recognition systems" to identify people by their unique walks.

Saturday, October 26, 2002

If it's Halloween, then it's time for Virtual Pumpkin Carving. (Via Linkfilter.)
Tetris is hard.

Friday, October 25, 2002

"Indecent Proposal": This is the funniest Mastercard "Priceless" parody I've ever seen. Excellent production values, BTW. (Via Metafilter.)
Airlines are working on ways to get passengers in-flight high speed internet access at prices considerably cheaper than the $4 per minute charged by the current Airfone service. One reason they are doing this is to provide an alternative for their passengers who are BlackBerry addicts. Apparently, BlackBerries still work quite well even in mid-air, and their surreptitious use is nearly impossible to detect because they only require being connected to the internet for a burst of a few seconds.
"Is there a 'geek' syndrome?" (Via Mike O'Ronain)
More cool BMW short films coming. (Via Techdirt.)
IBM researchers have built a computer circuit made of carbon monoxide molecules. The best part is that the system works like a miniature set of cascading dominoes.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Why so-called "ballistic fingerprinting" is a bad idea.
Googlism: What does Google think of you?
Quantum computation researchers have implemented their first digital logic operation -- a NOT gate.
Two companies are developing cell phones that can be used on airplanes without disrupting the flight control electronics.
You can send your stuff to the Moon for as little as $2500. TransOrbital, the first private company granted permission to land on and explore the Moon, will let you "send a lock of your hair up on the ship, or a business card, for $2500. The launch vehicle has room for corporate logos on the side (think NASCAR, but faster) for $25,000 and up". Interested customers can find more details here. (Via Boing Boing.)
Potential new legal nightmare: A technique known as "phylogenetic analysis" could in theory let people trace who gave them the flu. Let the lawsuits fly! (Via Metafilter.)
Dogs prefer Bach to Britney Spears or Metallica.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Online fraud is one of the top 5 industries in Nigeria.
In a sensible legal ruling, a Federal judge has decided that the Americans with Disabilities Act does not apply to websites, but only physical spaces. This means that commercial websites will not have to design their interfaces to accomodate the blind, deaf, etc. websurfers -- something that could have cost companies enormous sums of money.
Japanese researchers have created a prototype transparent computer processor on a sheet of glass.
Unknown parties attempted to cripple the Internet on Monday in a massive distributed denial-of-service attack against the 13 root servers that make up the Internet Domain Name System. Fortunately, the attack was unsuccessful.
Here's a good way to avoid a speeding ticket, but it probably won't work for everyone.
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to destroy the Internet. (Via Linkfilter.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

A brain tumor has been shown to be the cause of pedophilia in a 40-year old married man. The man displayed no predisposition toward pedophilia until he developed an "egg sized tumor" in the right lobe of his orbifrontal cortex, a part of the brain which affects judgement and impulse control. After the tumor was removed, the pedophilia went away.
Build your own lie detector. All you need is "a set of Atari paddles, some insulated wire, a phillips screwdriver a pair of needle-nosed pliers, two pieces of aluminum foil, two rubber bands, four alligator clips, any Atari computer and your favorite pathological liar" plus the BASIC program listed in the article. (Via Linkfilter.)
"What European Tribes Think About One Another"
The last thing we need is this diabolical combination of popup ads and spam.
Wired houses of the rich and famous.

Monday, October 21, 2002

"Saddam Hussein Invited to Virginia Gas Stations"
All Look the Same? Can you tell Chinese, Japanese, and Korean people apart? Take this online quiz to find out. (Via Linkfilter.)
More Inventions of the Day: Office desks that can help you exercise or take a nap while at work. (Personally, the napping desk "that converts into a giant pillow at the push of a button" sounds a lot more cool...)
John Hawkins of RightWingNews posts his favorite Simpsons quotes.
Japanese Invention of the Day: A giant photocopier designed to copy the entire human body in one sweep. (Babelfish link via Boing Boing.)
The last online vestige of the now-defunct Soviet Union, the ".su" domain, will be revoked next year.
Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, talks about how things have changed in the economic downturn. Bottom line -- "when things are bad, it's good for Dilbert".

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Another anti-telemarking script (via David Lewis.)
Radical animal rights-activists from PETA had to be rescued by police after they attempted an anti-milk protest at a Scottish school. The two men, one dressed in a cow suit, were passing out leaflets condemning milk-drinking when about 100 schoolchildren started a counter-protest around the PETA activists, shouting "milk for the masses" and drenching the PETA men in milk.
A man has been cleared of sexual assault charges by proving to the court that he could not have committed the crime because he has an embarassingly small micropenis. (Hey, it also worked on South Park in their "Chinpoko Mon" episode.)
Oops, never mind: Back in June 2000, open source software guru Eric Raymond boldly predicted the death of Microsoft within a year. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, he predicted that a confluence of business factors would "topple Microsoft by first quarter, or early second quarter of 2001". Of course, it's now the fourth quarter of 2002 and Microsoft is still going strong. Although I have a lot of respect for Eric Raymond, it's clear that his predictions were seriously off target.
"Wallace & Grommit" short films are now available online.

Saturday, October 19, 2002

The man-vs-machine chess match between the world human chess champion Vladimir Kramnik and the Deep Fritz computer program has ended in a draw.
Canadian game of the day: For all you curling addicts that couldn't get enough during the Winter Olympics, here's virtual curling. (Via Madville.)
A snake has survived for a year preserved in a bottle of alcohol. (Via Fark.)

Friday, October 18, 2002

Earth Erotica: Nature photographs that look an awful lot like porn. (Via Metafilter.)
Google Poetry. (Via Linkfilter.)
What happens when you shine a light straight into a black hole? You get a bunch of concentric rings reflecting back. Interestingly enough, "for perfect alignment of the lens, source, and observer, the rings are of infinite brightness" -- whatever that means. (Via Solsberg.)
Top 11 Reasons that Steve the Dell "Dude" should be fired. (Via BBspot.)
Important safety tip: Don't ever mix dry ice with the mysterious blue toilet liquid when on an airplane flight.
The chess match between Vladimir Kramnik, the world human chess champion, and the Deep Fritz computer program is all tied up with one game to go.
A 14-year-old girl in south-eastern Brazil has given birth to a baby boy with two heads. According to the article, "doctors found the boy had one heart, one liver and one set of lungs, but two heads, two spines, two brains and two oesophagi..." The personal identity philosophy scholars will like the next sentence: "'I believe there are two children, because there are two heads and two separate brains', Dr Jose Sabino de Oliveira, director of the hospital's paediatric intensive care unit, said in a televised interview." According to physicians, "The child is healthy and can survive."

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Puzzle of the day: I found this on the PostPolitics website, taken from the most recent issue of Scientific American.
You have a bunch of spies ready to go into enemy territory. When they return to cross the frontier into your country, you want to avoid getting them shot, while at the same time preventing enemy spies from entering. So each must present a password to the guards, which the guards will verify. Whereas you trust your spies, and your guards are loyal, you believe the guards may loosen their tongues in bars at night. What information should the guards receive, and how should the spies present their passwords, so that only your spies get through and nobody else, even if the guards go out for a couple?
(My own proposed solution is here.)
Computer technology is advancing so rapidly that we're running out of Greek superlatives to describe memory capacities. "Kilobyte", "megabyte" and "gigabyte" are now commonplace terms, and many people are familiar with "terabyte". After "giga-" and "tera-", we still have "peta-" and "exa-", but then we run out of Greek prefixes. As corporations start archiving more and more data, this could become an interesting problem. (Via Techdirt.) Update: Christepher McKenney was kind enough to point out that the SI system includes additional prefixes beyond "exa-" including "zetta-" and "yotta-". Reminds me of the imaginary letters past "Z" in my favorite Dr. Seuss book, On Beyond Zebra.
Astronomers have now confirmed that there is a giant black hole in the center of our Milky Way galaxy. According to the article, the black hole "has a mass 3.7 million times that of our Sun, but is just 17 light hours across".
A British company will start placing coin-operated mobile phone charging kiosks throughout London for frustrated users caught with dead batteries. Users can pay 50p to get 20 minutes of fresh battery life (which takes 5 minutes to charge) or 1 pound for 45 minutes of fresh battery charge (requiring a wait of 10 minutes). More information is available at the Charge Me website.
Now your AIBO robotic dog can have his own skateboard. You can also teach him to do tricks "with voice commands such as 'turn left' and 'super slalom'". (Via Boing Boing.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

The passage of time as shown in this terrific series of family portraits taken over 27 years. (Via Metafilter.)
For the Japanese, mobile phone text messaging is now passe. The "in" thing is mobile phone picture messaging. Among other applications, young Japanese women use this to check out what their potential dates look like before going out with them.
What a great idea: A telemarketing counterscript. (Via BBspot.)
For less than $6000, two companies will let you briefly experience zero-gravity by taking you on a commercial version of the "vomit comet" that NASA astronauts use to train. These are jets which take a high parabolic arc such that for approximately 30 seconds, passengers are in a free fall that simulates zero-gravity. And you don't have to share the ride with any damned flying crabs.
A Spanish engineer has invented a device which he claims will translate the meaning of babies' cries for adults with 98% accuracy.
Now this is the way to ensure airline security: "FAA Considering Passenger Ban".

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Redheads apparently feel pain more intensely.
If you're going to insult someone, make sure you use the correct derogatory term. Warning -- this is so not politically correct. (Via Linkfilter.)
Fetuses can see light from outside the mother's body.
3-D glasses are back.
"Dead Grandmother/Exam Syndrome": An alarmed biologist has noticed an ominous trend -- namely that a college student's grandmother is far more likely to die suddenly just before the student takes an exam than at any other time of year. He hypothesizes that this is because students' grandmothers are worrying themselves sick over their grandchildren's academic performance and proposes some solutions to protect our elderly population. (Via GMSV.)

Monday, October 14, 2002

"Spacewoman Stuck in Orbit With Too Much Shrimp": Astronaut Peggy Whitson is on her 130th day in orbit, and she said, "Sometimes, when you come to space, your tastes change. One of my favorite foods on the ground is shrimp, and up here I can't stand it..." Apparently, she had planned over 40 shrimp meals for herself during her stay.
Do we really need an $8000 refrigerator with its own internet browser built in? (Via Plastic.)
Jetson chic: Personal hovercrafts and other toys you can blow your discretionary income on.
The History of the Universe in 200 Words or Less. (Via Linkfilter.)
Law geeks can now play "Fantasy Supreme Court League". In this league, players will attempt to predict how the US Supreme Court will rule on 9 cases during the 2002-2003 session. Points will be awarded for predicting the rulings successfully as well as predicting the split in the votes (e.g. 9-0 or 7-2). The winner will receive a $500 prize and will be named "Armchair Jurist of the Year". (Via RightWingNews.)

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Is the Washington, DC sniper a former US military special forces operative? Here's one article that makes that claim. And if you type "special forces sniper death card" into Google, here's what you get. Or is this just paranoia? (Via Linkfilter.)
Some features you may need on your computer. (Via Madville.)

Saturday, October 12, 2002

Alternative lifestyle Barbie. (Via Linkfilter.)
"Zookeepers suspended for eating animals": Two zookeepers in a German zoo have been suspended and are currently under police investigation for eating the zoo's animals. The men were caretakers in the children's "petting zoo" section and are accused of having "slaughtered and barbecued five Tibetan mountain chickens and two Cameroonian sheep".

Friday, October 11, 2002

PhysicsWeb has an interesting article on the application of quantum mechanics to game theory -- two fields that I would have thought would be quite disconnected. (Via Techdirt.)
Obligatory non-geeky political link: Since I don't read political blogs very frequently, I hadn't heard of the term "Transnational Progressivism" until today. But when I read Steve DenBeste's review of this thought-provoking John Fonte essay, it really struck a chord. It pulls together a lot of data points and trends in international politics that have developed over the past several years. Well worth reading for any libertarian.
Nobel Prize winner graduated at the bottom of his college class: "Masatoshi Koshiba, one of the three winners of this year's Nobel Prize in Physics, on Wednesday provided evidence of his earlier claim he was the worst student in his university class by making public a copy of a transcript issued by his alma mater, Tokyo University."
Driver assistance automobile computers could eliminate traffic jams.
This Lego harpsicord is playable.
Yet another computer interface based on hand motions. More details at the FingerWorks website.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Tivo a Dinosaur? This piece in Slate suggests that TiVo is going to die. As I am one of the many fanatical TiVo fans, I find this alarming, of course. Personally, I think that TiVo is missing out on a prime network externality by not setting up a mechanism whereby I could send automatic recommendations to friends.

Imagine that I'm scheduling something on my TiVo, and I think, gee, Paul and Diana would like this. I could flag the selection to be forwarded to them at the next phone call, and then if their recorder wasn't doing anything, they'd record it. This type of system leads pretty obviously to network externalities, as I'd want to influence all my friends to buy TiVo brand instead of any upstart.

French automotive Big Brother: "France is preparing to test satellite technology that will automatically slow speeding cars by overriding driver control... Drivers breaking the speed limit will find the accelerator pedal becomes inoperable because the fuel injection will be regulated by an on-board computer, which itself will be connected to a global positioning system."
The Japanese high-tech toilet wars "started in February, when Matsushita engineers here unveiled a toilet seat equipped with electrodes that send a mild electric charge through the user's buttocks, yielding a digital measurement of body-fat ratio. Unimpressed, engineers from a rival company, Inax, counterattacked in April with a toilet that glows in the dark and whirs up its lid after an infrared sensor detects a human being. When in use, the toilet plays any of six soundtracks, including chirping birds, rushing water, tinkling wind chimes, or the strumming of a traditional Japanese harp." That was just the beginning.
Googling your e-mail.
The Internet Bookmobile is coming.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Dick Ruttan's latest airplane for the X-Prize competition looks a lot like a Klingon warship.
How to zap surveillance cameras with a laser pointer. (Via Boing Boing.)
Resistance is futile: Apparently, it is possible to kill yourself with a 9-volt battery.
Geeks need both tools and toys.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Life imitates The Onion:
The Onion 8/3/2000 - "Hershey's Ordered to Pay Obese Americans $135 Billion".
Orange County Register 10/8/2002 - "New Legal Target: Chocolate".

(Via Best of the Web.)
Astronomers have discovered a new world circling the Sun beyond Pluto. The object is called Quaoar, although it has not been designated a "planet" yet.
Carbon nanotubules may be the key to building a space elevator.
The next political trend may be the SouthPark Republicans. (Radley Balko points out that they sound an awful lot like "libertarians".)
More robots: Self-reconfiguring robots.
Robots aren't (yet) intelligent, self-aware beings. But if/when they do achieve sentience, the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Robots (ASPCR) will be there to protect their rights. (Via Neuroprosthesis News.)

Monday, October 07, 2002

Escher Lego. (Via BBspot.)
Online magazine subscription services like Zinio and NewsStand will allow users to download copies of their favorite magazines and newspapers while duplicating the "look-and-feel" of handling paper copies as much as possible on their laptops.
Robotic home appliances may become more widespread as the prices continue to drop. One example is the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner. According to this article, "The $199 robot independently vacuums carpets, tiles and hardwood floors, scooting beneath chairs and couches in search of dirt, but promising never to crash into freshly painted walls or accidentally suck up the family pet. Roomba has the smarts not only to navigate, but also to find its way out of tight spots when it gets stuck."
"The Shape of the Internet": The Economist explains that the internet as a whole (as well as the World Wide Web) has a scale-free topology and what that means. As a way of illustrating this concept in everyday terms they note, "Research has shown that the network of human sexual partners seems to be scale-free, too. In other words, some people have all the luck, while others have none."
Biology students can now perform a virtual frog dissection online.
Scientific American has a great review article on quantum information theory.

Sunday, October 06, 2002

More computer chess news: On the other hand, world human chess champion Victor Kramnik is beating the computer "Deep Fritz" in his match.
"US chess champion Larry Christiansen has been trounced by the Chessmaster 9000 program in a four game match." More details here. Seems like the machines are gaining on us humans...
Gosh, I had no idea that the Sun was going to explode and destroy all life on Earth in the next 6 years.

Saturday, October 05, 2002

Italian families are turning into clones of "The Simpsons" according to alarmed Italian health care experts. The article states, "Parents Homer and Marge and children Bart, Lisa, and Maggie from the cult American series have become real-life role models for Italians, say Dr. Loris Moroni and colleagues. The trend is so widespread that linguists, nutritionists, psychologists and sociologists have set up a 'City of Simpsons' conference to look at similarities". I wonder how many of these Italian families also had fathers that were astronauts and won Grammy Awards? (Via Linkfilter.)
"Microsoft Announces Ads for BSOD" (satire)

Friday, October 04, 2002

Time for a good old-fashioned GoogleFight!
The Ig Nobel Prize winners have been announced.
Timewaster of the Day: Bookworm. (Via Madville.)
Secure communications with quantum encryption can now be transmitted via a photon stream for a distance of over 14 miles. Scientists hope to be able to use this technique with communications satellite transmissions within the next decade.
Building a better Moonbase for fun and profit.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

These are the world's funniest jokes?
The "Mouse Gesture" and other "kinetic mouse commands" are starting to catch on with interface designers. Could this be the beginning of a real-life version of the fictional user interface featured in the recent science-fiction movie Minority Report?
An automotive "Easter egg" for the BMW M3 allows the driver to activate automated 4000-rpm clutch-drop, clutch-slip "racing start" and "burnout" modes for the manual transmission. (Via GMSV.)
"British scientists have developed a Star Trek style device which measures vital health signs without the need for skin contact." American scientists are also working on a similar device. (Via Techhead News.)
The Internet Weather Report: Animated maps of the current internet lag. (Via Linkfilter.)
The computer game company Acclaim Entertainment has offered to pay the speeding tickets for anyone caught speeding on camera in the UK on October 11, as part of its marketing campaign for its new game Burnout 2: Point of Impact. The British government is not amused. (Via Wonkoslice.)

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

MIT's Open Courseware is now online.
The French have decided that the iPod is illegal because it is too loud. The current iPods can generate sounds of up to 104 dB through their headphones, which exceeds the French maximum of 100 dB. Legal versions should be available soon. (Via Boing Boing.)
Psychologists say that online dating is good, in part because participants are more likely to reveal their true selves to others online than in conventional dating. Yeah, right. (Via Techdirt.)
Blondes apparently won't become extinct after all. (Via Fark.)
Geeky frame-by-frame analysis of the trailer for upcoming Lord of the Rings:The Two Towers movie. Here's the trailer, as well. This is going to be a great film. (Via Metafilter.)
One more reason to wear contact lenses: According to a recent study performed in a British nightclub, "Swapping glasses for contact lenses can dramatically increase success with the opposite sex"...
Scientists have developed atomic-scale memories allowing extremely dense storage. The current implementation uses a mere 20 atoms to store one bit of information.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Administrative note: Due to internet connection problems at home, GeekPress updates may be sparse for the next few days until Diana can sort things out.
How to make money from the upcoming war with Iraq.