Wednesday, December 31, 2003

If you run a prison ward holding death row inmates, make sure you lock the doors.
Some geeky observations about The Return of the King.
Michael Crichton has some interesting remarks on environmentalism as the new 21st century religion. (Via Plastic.)
Dave Barry's review of 2003.
"50 Reasons Why Lord of the Rings Sucks". (Via IMAO.) Or for Wachowski brother fans, here's Dr. Oxford's critique of The Matrix trilogy.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

One place I never plan on using my laptop: While mounted to my steering wheel. (Via Metafilter.)
An experimental psychologist looks at luck.
Interesting form of cyber blackmail.

Monday, December 29, 2003

The deleted scenes from Return of the King: If this list of deleted scenes (which are supposed to be in the extended edition DVD) is accurate, then the DVD should be awesome.
If you like to carry an almanac with you, don't be surprised if you attract the attention of the FBI. (Via IPList.)

For more dubious homeland security precautions, here's a TSA fish story. (Via Fark.)
"The Eight Biggest Tech Flops Ever"
Top 10 astronomy images of 2003.
Internet domain names are once again being sold (and bought) for ridiculous prices.
"How to have a national ID card that doesn't threaten civil liberties"
Latest Tolkien rumor: According to Peter Jackson, when the Return of the King extended edition DVD is finally released, it will be over 4 hours and 50 minutes long(!)
"Why Machines Should Fear": Cognitive scientist Donald A. Norman argues that future machines will need emotions to be truly dependable.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

So you've got a new MP3 player for Christmas. You should read this informative review of online digital music sellers.
Wayne Joseph spent the first 50 years of his life believing he was black. Then he took a DNA test and was shocked to find that he was "57 percent Indo-European, 39 percent Native American, 4 percent East Asian and 0 percent African".
Zip code localizer: Just type in one digit at a time and this slick applet will display the progressively narrower slices of the USA. (Via Metafilter.)

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Admin note: GeekPress will be taking a brief hiatus for the rest of the week. We'll be back Monday December 29, 2003. Merry Christmas!
For your holiday entertainment: "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" geek style. Then there's "How the Schmirk Stole Nanotech" by J. Storrs Hall, via Howard Lovy .
Diana has found this hilarious comparison of German vs. American toilet technology.
Philadelphia police car computers are now receiving spam. (Via Techdirt.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Why retro games are back in vogue. (Via The Weigh In.)
Dilbert's random mission statement generator. (Via Linkfilter.)

Monday, December 22, 2003

Computerized text analysis may help settle classic controversies over literary authorship, including whether some of Shakespeare's plays were actually written by Christopher Marlowe.
Scientists have figured out how to make anti-bubbles in beer. What is an anti-bubble? According to the article, "bubbles are thin films of liquid enclosing pockets of air, but antibubbles are a thin film of air which encloses pockets of liquid".
Gaming on the grid.
Artists' tours of Middle Earth. (Via Linkfilter.)

Sunday, December 21, 2003

"What a Crappy Present!": Why you shouldn't give kids a CD for Christmas.
Centibots are a rudimentary form of swarm intelligence.
The Economist has an interesting cultural analysis of hair.
A more serious literary analysis of sex and libido in Tolkien's fiction. (Via Linkfilter.) Eric Raymond has some interesting commentary as well.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

"The particles of Star Trek" (Via Metafilter.)
Instant stem cells: just add water.
Another person who could benefit from a Queer Eye makeover. (Via MeFi.)

Friday, December 19, 2003

A new pill could protect soldiers' hearing from loud noises on the battlefield. There are, of course, many civilian applications as well.
Why is the musical score of the Lord of the Rings so powerful? Because of Howard Shore's use of "harmonic dread". (Via ALD.)
JavaScrypt: Browser-Based Cryptography Tools. (Via Linkfilter.)

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Google book searches are coming soon.
Sony's humanoid robot learns how to jog.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

"Top 11 Ways Peter Jackson could ruin the Return of the King"
Movie trailer for Spiderman 2. Love the Doctor Octopus effects!
Google is everywhere.
Invention of the day: The GasBGon flatulence filter. Put it in your chair seat, then when you fart it absorbs the odor and sound of your gaseous emanation. If only there was something like that for our dogs... (Via Boing Boing.)
"What Tolkien Officially Said About Elf Sex" (Via Metafilter.)
Map of Middle Earth: Year 1999, Fourth Age. Welcome to the HASRS (Hobbit's Autonomous Socialist Republic of the Shire)...

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Dave Barry on computer security. (Via Gravity Lens.)
"Qveere Eye for thye Medieval Man" (Via Linkfilter.)
If you can't wait until tomorrow, here are 11 clips from Return of the King, totalling over 10 minutes of footage. These clips do contain minor spoilers. (Via Linkfilter.)
The huge Pelennor Fields battle scene in Return of the King was made possible only by sophisticated computer generated warriors, which are programmed with a certain degree of autonomy to make their movements more realistic. But one big problem with the code for the first iteration of the 200,000+ warriors "agents" was that they kept wanting to run away from the battle. (Via Boing Boing.)

Monday, December 15, 2003

Invention of the day: The gun that shoots around corners. Some pictures are available on the company website.
Using game theory to craft more robust peace treaties. Here's the full paper (.pdf format).
Google will now track packages for you. (Via Boing Boing.)
Shadows are hard-wired into our brains.
Beware the e-mail "cluster bomb". Technical paper here.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Aircraft for other worlds.
The complete Seinfeld scripts. (Via Madville.)

Friday, December 12, 2003

"RFID Tag Technology Confirms One-Fruitcake Theory"
Hitachi and Tokai will offer methanol fuel cells for their PDAs in 2005.
Java emulations of classic arcade games. (Via Metafilter.)

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Leather jacket for geeks with an internal wiring conduit system to connect the 28 (!) pockets. The same company also makes a slick fleece jacket for geeks.
Obscure science fact of the day: Heavy water (D20) is mildly toxic. (I had always assumed that because D20 and H20 were chemically identical, there would be no biological differences between the two. Apparently, I was mistaken.)
Return of the King: Yet another highly positive review. (Mild spoilers.) This other reviewer thought that there were too many endings. (Mild spoilers.)
Some types of sand dunes can pass right through each other while maintaining their size and shape.
How Monty Python changed the world: "No matter where you look, even in some of the remotest parts of the planet, you can't avoid Monty Python."

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Trailer for the non-existent Peter Jackson film, The Hobbit. "Smaug awakens December 2006!" (Via NewsTrolls.)
Frozen light: "A pulse of light has been stopped in its tracks with all its photons intact..."
Spirograph: I used to love playing with this as a kid, and now there's a cool online Java applet.
Geek tatoos. No, really. (Via Linkfilter.)
"Astronomers have seen a trail of black holes scattered across space formed by a titanic collision between galaxies..."
Vaccination algorithm: What's the optimal method for allocating vaccinations if the supply is limited? One approach is the selectively target the "super-spreaders" who are the the nodes in a network that are most-connected to other nodes. This recently published algorithm looks like an effective method to find those super-spreader nodes, even if no one initially knows who they are. The algorithm can also be used to limit the spread of computer viruses as well as to disrupt terrorist networks.
The Onion has some useful suggestions for stopping spam.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Why was the sky was red in Edvard Munch's 'The Scream'? Because of the Krakatoa volcano.
Contraceptive technology continues to quietly advance.
New MS Word 2004 feature: AutoUnsummarize.
Beautiful women disrupt men's ability to think rationally.

Monday, December 08, 2003

It's surprisingly easy to implant false memories.
Highly positive review of the third Tolkien movie, Return of the King.
"Can Google Grow Up?"
Beware fake online escrow sites.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Create your own Jackson Pollock painting. (Via Madville.)
"Five Geek Social Fallacies" (Via Metafilter.)
Destroying cancers with antimatter.
"Smart assistants" for drivers facing cognitive overload in their high-tech automobiles.
Take a virtual trip to a black hole. (Via Fark.)

Thursday, December 04, 2003

"The Complete History of the Internet". The earlier entries are chock full of interesting tidbits; I found the later entries to be less interesting, being mostly devoted to various security problems. (Via Madville.)
"Humans struggle for supremacy in online robot wars"
Everything you wanted to know about fractals.
Eating hookworms may be good for you.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Gift idea of the day: The Amazing Catapult Watch. (Via Tom McMahon.)
Whatever happened to the inventors of the Hayes dial-up modem? One retired at age 36 with millions of dollars and plays with robots as a hobby; the other lost nearly all his money. More details here. (Via Madville.)
What Michael Jackson would have looked like at age 45 if he hadn't had all that bizarre plastic surgery. (Via Linkfilter.)
Jokes activate the same brain region as cocaine.
Some physicists think that exploding miniature black holes may be raining down through the Earth's atmosphere.
Boardgame of the day: Risk: The Lord of the Rings. "Sauron attacks Ithilien from Minas Morgul with 3 armies..."
The largest known prime number has been found using distributed computing. This new prime number has 6,320,430 digits.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Spam poetry.
Save precious letter-writing time with this handy "Dear Santa" Letter Generator. Only 22 more days! (Via Tom McMahon.) If you don't know what to ask for, Wired has compiled a list of 77 desirable geek gifts.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Animated engines: Well-done animated diagrams illustrating how engines work. Includes multiple examples of internal combustion, steam, and Stirling engines. (Via Linkfilter.)
Maps of the internet. And more information about how they were generated.
Invention of the day: Memory glasses to help the absent-minded. Here's a picture.
Data from shows interesting regional differences in online dating preferences around the U.S.
Raymond Allen Gray, Jr. of Springfield, IL, has legally changed his name to Bubba Bubba Bubba.
Why coastlines have a fractal contour.