Saturday, May 31, 2003

What is The Matrix-XP? (Via BBspot.)

Friday, May 30, 2003

Interesting use of HotOrNot: Simon Wright acknowledges, "I can't compete with Brad Pitt or Ewan McGregor. I can't even compete with John Smith and Joe Average. But, I ask myself... Could I compete with Hitler?" As a comparison, here's Adolf Hitler's entry on HotOrNot. (Via Metafilter.)
The secrets of Ronald McDonald. (Via Obscure Store.)

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Artificial black holes.
Removable "keychain" hard drives are now popular items amongst kiddie porn collectors, due to a combination of portability, small size, large storage capacity, and the fact that law enforcement officials often don't realize what they are.
Playing video games is good for your eyesight. More information is available here.
Top 10 MIT Hacks

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

"Dynamics of a Blogosphere Story"
Online divorces are growing in popularity due to a combination of convenience and low price.
Google ranks Google 3rd for search engines. (Via Fark.)
The Onion has some good ideas on how to handle the spam epidemic.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

I hate it when my anti-spam software inadvertently blocks all e-mail containing the letter "P".
"Physicists at Rice University have completed the first real-time measurement of individual electrons". According to the article, this could help in the development of quantum computers.
Wine tasting is a cognitively demanding task.
Vancouver does have funny street signs. (Via Boing Boing.)
Ethernet hits the Big Three-O.
One step closer to a real-life "Truth Machine". (Via Techdirt.)

Monday, May 26, 2003

Recruiting scandals in college sports are nothing new, but for college chess? Some schools are offering scholarships to 40-year old grandmasters to get them enrolled as students, and hence eligible to play on the school chess team. (Via Metafilter.)
This web browser is controlled by your brain waves.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Admin note: GeekPress will be taking a break for the Memorial Day weekend. See you on Tuesday, May 27!
Time waster of the day: Asteroids Alive

Friday, May 23, 2003

The British Computer Society is warning movie fans not to emulate the real-life hack that Trinity used to disable the power plant in The Matrix: Reloaded because it might land one in jail. And if you see an Agent, you should do what we do -- run. (Via Techdirt.)
Gravity-defying water illusion. (Via BBspot.)

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Suppose you wanted to broadcast an open message to aliens without giving away your location. Our current SETI transmission system wouldn't work since our beamed radio messages would allow another alien species to quickly pinpoint our home world. But one could accomplish this with quantum communications.
Cool new keyboardless typing device. (Via Boing Boing.)
Magnetic nanodots can enhance superconductivity in certain materials.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

The mathematics of rope splicing.
NASA has ordered a prototype Martian aircraft. (Via Madville.)
Weapons innovations: A wireless taser gun. Or for those who prefer defense, the shocking jacket, aka the "No-Contact Jacket".
Stanford researchers are working on robots with a movement system based on cockroaches. The cockroach system was chosen because of a combination of speed, agility, and robustness on rough terrain. Plus the robot cockroaches can survive a nuclear EMP blast that would destroy all other robot life. (Via Techdirt.)
The recent story about Google and whether its search results being distorted by weblogs may have been based on flawed reporting. Here's a dissenting analysis. (Via Politech.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

War Crime Alert: US Army PsyOps (Psychological Operations) forces interrogating recalcitrant Iraqi prisoners are using offensive Western music to break down their resistance, including songs fom Barney the Purple Dinosaur. This method is apparently extremely effective. As one US operative said, "In training, they forced me to listen to the Barney 'I Love You' song for 45 minutes. I never want to go through that again..." According to the article, "Amnesty International, said such tactics may constitute torture - and coalition forces could be in breach of the Geneva Convention." (Thanks to Charlie Nichols for the link.)
"Is Math a Young Man's Game? No. Not every mathematician is washed up at 30."
Some school teachers are now using software to help them grade their students' essays. According to the company website, their Intellimetric software can assess a student's "depth of understanding" and "breadth of knowledge" on the paper topic with an "accuracy greater than or equal to that of 2 expert human scorers."
"Man receives kidney via Internet donor" (Via Techdirt.)
Neptune may have seasons.
More quantum computing with Josephson junctions.

Monday, May 19, 2003

The latest update on speech recognition technology from MIT Technology Review.
Sun's Ace project will enable point-and-click programming.
Spam economics: Why is there so much spam? According to this article, it's because spam is still a money maker for the spammers, despite a measly 0.00036 percent conversion rate, which the author calls the "Barnum rate" (after PT Barnum's famous saying that "there's a sucker born every minute"). He calculates that despite this low click-through rate an aggressive spammer could make close to $100,000 per year. (Via Techdirt.)
Glenn Reynolds makes the case that because of the information economy, paradoxically enough the future may be in hands-on careers.
What did we learn from the recent anti-terrorism drills in Seattle and Chicago? (Via DefenseTech.)
Bill Whittle has written a terrific essay on magical thinking, logical fallacies, and Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine.
The philosophy and theology behind the cryptic plot elements of The Matrix: Reloaded. Warning: spoilers galore. (Via Fark.)

Sunday, May 18, 2003

"Matrix Sequel Has Hacker Cred": The scene in Matrix: Reloaded in which Trinity cracks into the power plant computer system is meeting with approval from hackers because of the realistic use of the Nmap and sshnuke tools. (Via Techdirt.)
White collar slacker: How to use technology to fake a hard day at the office.
The next automobile-to-driver interface: The talking windshield.
Scientists in South Africa will try to clone the coelacanth.
How to perform an autopsy. (Via Boing Boing.)

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Polar bear attacks US submarine. (Via BBspot.)
High-tech capital San Francisco will be renting a herd of low-tech goats from private company Goats-R-Us in order to clear the grass on land around SF International Airport.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Are blogs distorting search engine results? This is part of the reason that Google will be creating a new search tool for weblogs, separating them from the main search results.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

A study of chain letters from the pre-email era showed that they followed evolutionary principles, including natural selection and mutation.
Geek flamebait of the day: "What I Hate About Your Programming Language"
"A super-powered neutrino generator could in theory be used to instantly destroy nuclear weapons anywhere on the planet"
The SARS epidemic is causing a huge rise in online shopping, banking, etc., by Hong Kong residents.
Pictures from the recent meteorite strike in Chicago. More images (including the meteorite itself) here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Caltech scientist David Stevenson is proposing an unmanned journey to the center of the Earth. His proposal would start by creating a crack in the Earth's surface with a powerful explosion, then sending a special probe surrounded by molten iron to burrow its way into the Earth's core, taking about a week of travel time.
Explore chaos with this cool Java applet on period doubling.
One step closer to a holodeck: The University of Pennsylvania LiveActor system allows users to participate in a 3-D full body virtual reality system without the bulky goggles.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Geneticists plan to breed sheep that grow wool that won't shrink when it gets wet.
A San Francisco lawyer has filed a lawsuit asking to make it illegal to sell Oreo cookies to children because they contain too much of the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, aka "trans fat". (Via Boing Boing.)
"It's arson, bomb and booby trap week at one of the nation's toughest forensics schools"
Security tip of the day: Don't keep your ATM password with your ATM card. Otherwise, you might be very sad if you lose your wallet, as happened recently to Alvaro Uribe, the President of Colombia. (Via Fark.)
Thailand's Minister of Finance Suchart Jaovisidha was trapped inside his BMW after the car's computer system crashed, locking all the doors and windows as well as shutting off the air conditioning system. After rescuers smashed the windows and freed him and his driver, the Minister told reporters, "'We could hardly breathe for over 10 minutes... It was a harrowing experience." Update: Bryce Wilcox wonders if this Microsoft Windows CE-based system was the one that crashed. (The original article doesn't say one way or another.)
Smash your name into a comet. And it's free. (Via Bottomquark.)
"Scientists have extracted electrical power from a grape." The underlying chemical mechanism is apparently quite different from the so-called potato battery, and is instead based on metabolizing the glucose within the grape.
Fans of The Matrix are finding all sorts of religious meanings in the movie.

Monday, May 12, 2003

More eBay scams. (Via Techdirt.)
Tivo-like digital recorders for your radio.
Mathematician Jeffrey Shallit has shown that in order for us to make change most efficiently, we need an 18-cent piece.
Humor piece of the day: "The History of the Internet" (Via GMSV.)
Computer memory chips based on carbon nanotubules, not silicon.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Is Apple's new music service the exit strategy for Steve Jobs and the Macintosh line? Although a lot of people have predicted the end-of-Apple, Steven Den Beste makes a strong argument.
Peanut butter is now an official reference food at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
"Saddam I Am" (Via BBspot.)
Deck of Weasels available here. (Via Rachel Lucas.)

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Adulthood begins at age 26, at least according to a recent survey. That's not too far off from the old joke, "To the Catholics, a fetus is a human being from the moment of conception. To the Jews, a fetus is still a fetus until it graduates from medical school." (Before anyone sends me an indignant e-mail, this joke was told to me by one of my Jewish physician colleagues.) Link via Weigh In.

Friday, May 09, 2003

The old adage states that if a million monkeys were given a million years, they'd eventually type some Shakespeare. Some researchers tried the experiment in real life, with 6 monkeys and 1 month. According to the researchers, "They pressed a lot of S's... Obviously, English isn't their first language.... Another thing they were interested in was in defecating and urinating all over the keyboard..." I guess John Grisham's job is still safe.
Math as an interstellar language
"Shatner vs. Shatner": Just another bitter legal dispute about Captain Kirk's horse semen. (Via Dave Barry.)
You know you're getting old when you need to refer to an online guide to understand teen lingo. (Via Linkfilter.)
More on the visual effects for the upcoming Matrix: Reloaded movie.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

High tech Mother's Day presents.
The Nouse: "Hands-free computing using your nose as a mouse". (Via Metafilter.)
The Onion has some good ideas on how to handle the spam epidemic.
The blog of Galactus. (Via Gravity Lens.)
Convergence is already happening for kids. (Via SciTech Daily.)

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

More work on simulated evolution shows that complex behaviours can evolve from a series of small mutations, each apparently unremarkable.
A genetically modified cold virus is proving extremely effective in destroying malignant brain tumors in mice. The virus is designed both to selectively seek out the tumor and multiply only within the malignant cells. Researchers hope to start human trials next year.
Spam fighter: Cloudmark's Spamnet software uses a Napster-like community peer-to-peer network to help weed out spam. Using a clever system of collaborative filtering and trust ratings, once someone else marks an item as spam, it's removed from the inboxes of all subscribers, while preserving the privacy of legitimate e-mail. This seems like a very promising idea -- utilizing the positive network effect of the internet to fight spam.
"Shoot to Not Kill": Non-lethal weapons technology. (Via DefenseTech.)
The Ultimate Secure Home: This Colorado house looks like a cross between a quaint little hobbit hole and a secret underground fortress of doom. Only $595,000! (Via Madville.)

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

What happens to family dynamics when the wife is the sole breadwinner.
Matrix Reloaded: Lots of spoilers. (Via BBspot.)
Evil spyware and what to do about it.
Gadget of the day: The Samsung wristphone.
Nanotechnology researchers can now manipulate single atoms by purely mechanical means, without using electrical current. This method could therefore theoretically work with nonconducting materials.

Monday, May 05, 2003

More on Google's effect on our culture.
Internet etiquette tip: If you're a well-connected white woman and part of the family of Thomas Jefferson descendants, don't join the Yahoo discussion group for descendants of Sally Hemings (reputed slave/mistress to Thomas Jefferson) by masquerading as an elderly black woman with emphysema in order to try to keep the Hemings descendants from attending the annual family reunion of Jefferson descendants.
Life inside the Google corporate headquarters, aka the Googleplex.
This solar-powered house rotates to track the sun. (Via I4U.)

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Asteroid #26858 has been renamed in honor of the late Mr. Rogers. Its new designation according to the International Astronomical Union is "Misterrogers".
The dying art of expert grocery bagging. (Via ALD.)

Saturday, May 03, 2003

Mouse Wax. Um, sure...

Friday, May 02, 2003

More nanotech: "IBM researchers have created the world's smallest solid-state flashlight -- a tube 50,000 times thinner than a human hair. It emits a glow that is invisible to our eyes, but ideal for devices that use light to send data in fiber-optic cables and the like."
12-year old genius Sho Yano will be starting medical school at the University of Chicago this June. Great story about an amazing kid. (Via Obscure Store.)
Homeland security with snake robots. (Via Mitch Berkson.)
Excellent artists' depictions of extrasolar planets.
"All your freedoms are belong to us!"

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Software that allows searching an audio file for a particular sound.
Postage to the International Space Station will be approximately $20,000 - $30,000. But you will be able to get a nifty postmark through the first official ISS post office. (Via Cosmic Log.)
The law of outer space. (Via Metafilter.)
The cancer-proof mouse.