Friday, January 31, 2003
Disguised guns: This cell-phone gun looks like an ordinary cell phone but can fire four rounds of .22 LR when the user presses the keypad numerals "5" through "9". If that's too bulky, then there's always the Stinger pen gun which holds a single .22 round. (Via Linkfilter.)
Windows that double as a home entertainment center. As the article describes, "A low-voltage current runs through the window. When the current is on, the window is clear. Turn the current off and the glass goes opaque for use as a projection screen for television or DVDs. Flanking casement windows become the speakers... 'The transformation is pretty startling,' said Sandy Isenstadt, a professor of architecture at Yale University. 'One minute you're looking out your bay window at your neighbor's backyard, and the next you're watching Tom Cruise and Top Gun.'"
I confess that I sometimes play games on my PDA during boring meetings. However, a member of the Norwegian Parliament was caught on national television playing the war game Metalion on his PocketPC during a debate on the possibility of a real war in Iraq, much to his chagrin. Here's the news photo. At least he turned off the sound...
Thursday, January 30, 2003
Wednesday, January 29, 2003
Tuesday, January 28, 2003
Notorious hacker Kevin Mitnick had never actually surfed the internet because he was arrested in 1995, and banned by the federal government from using computers until 2003. Now that the ban has expired, he was introduced to websurfing by Steve Wozniak (formerly of Apple) and Emmanuel Goldstein, publisher of 2600. According to the article, "'Don't be freaked out by advertising,'' Goldstein told Mitnick. 'It's everywhere. So is pornography.' Mitnick looked dazed by the concept of a pop-up ad." (Via Obscure Store.)
Monday, January 27, 2003
"Digital Dilemmas": The Economist has an excellent set of articles predicting continued major changes in society as internet use becomes more widespread. I especially liked the articles on privacy, copyrights, and the effects on political systems (both democracies as well as repressive regimes).
Twelve University of Maryland students have reportedly been caught using their cell phones to cheat on exams. From the article, "In some cases, professors had posted answer keys on their Web sites, and officials believe that students may have used cell phones equipped with Web browsers to look up the answers themselves, while still in the exam room." Although the students were clearly acting unethically, the professors' lax security didn't help any. (Via Fark.)
Sunday, January 26, 2003
The full uncut version of the notorious Miller Lite "Catfight" commercial: Who wouldn't want to watch this uncensored extended version? As one reviewer noted, "The sexiest catfight since Catwoman vs. Batgirl. This 'extended cut' leaves almost nothing to the imagination. Is that legal??? If so, I'm quite proud to be an American". (Oops, Diana is glaring at me now...)
Saturday, January 25, 2003
Friday, January 24, 2003
Master Key Copying Revealed: Matt Blaze, a computer security expert at AT&T, has applied the principles of computer cryptanalysis to physical lock and key systems and devised an algorithm that allows a cracker to generate a master key for a building if all he or she has access to a working key for a single lock, a file, and a few blank keys. According to the article, this technique only takes a few minutes and it "leaves no evidence of tampering. It can be used without resorting to removing the lock and taking it apart or other suspicious behavior that can give away ordinary lock pickers". Blaze's research has been submitted for publication in a computer security journal, and AT&T has already posted an alert to law enforcement agencies to warn them that some may try to use this information for criminal purposes. Although I understand the ethical quandry associated with the dissemination of this sort of information, I firmly believe that in the end it's best for these things to be publicized. Bad guys are going to learn about these techniques sooner or later, and it's best if the good guys also know about it as well so they can take appropriate countermeasures. Here's a related article. Interested readers can also download a preprint of his paper in .pdf format. (Via Techdirt.)
Thursday, January 23, 2003
"New Economy Wistfully Recalled As Tiny Dot-Com Promotional Object Found In Drawer". (Satire)
My favorite quote from this Onion story:
My favorite quote from this Onion story:
As part of their compensation packages, Noyce and his fellow dot-com employees were often issued stock options, which have come to be known in the financial world as "pretend Internet money." This pretend money, now estimated to be of slightly less value than the multi-colored paper bills used in Monopoly, was considered extremely valuable at the time. A great deal of this imaginary wealth was actually used to purchase Time Warner, one of the largest media conglomerates in the world.
More on HPM bombs: Noah Shachtman wrote in to say that they might not be all that they're hyped up to be. On his DefenseTech.org website, one of his reader notes, "while an e-bomb might have some use in knocking out Iraqi communications, it probably wouldn't do much good against Saddam's air defenses. Why? The gear is old, old Soviet stuff, without integrated circuits, most likely -- and therefore, immune to electromagnetic pulses". Plus another reader notes that they are probably not as powerful as claimed in the Time article. (See his 1/19/03 links.)
Wednesday, January 22, 2003
This is the funniest thing I've read in a long time: "U.S.-Led Iraq War Slated For Super Bowl Halftime Show" (Via BBspot.)
San Diego, Calif. -- Hoping for a simultaneous marketing and military coup, the Bush administration today officially set a war date, announcing that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq will be part of the Super Bowl XXXVII halftime show.
Pentagon and ABC Sports officials said the halftime festivities, slated for the intermission of the Jan. 26 game between the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will be a boon for all involved, with the possible exception of Iraq.
"If you look at the facts, the Super Bowl is immensely popular, but the proposed war with Iraq is not," said show co-producer Carl Rockne. "At the same time, televised bombing is immensely popular, but halftime shows are not. Put them together, and you've got serious potential."
"Viewers might walk out on Shania Twain singing, but I can't imagine anyone getting up to go to the bathroom while F-16s are firing sidewinder missiles," added ABC Sports Vice President Mickey Holmes. "If we have some real pounding going on in the first half, and we segue right into our military pounding the enemy during halftime, I think people are going to hang out and hold it in."
Particularly important, said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, were demographic statistics showing that the event's television audience, expected to be 800 million worldwide, is also an ideal combat audience.
"When you're watching an NFL game and there's about to be a big hit, you don't have time to think, 'Is this right or wrong?' You just want to see the hit," said Rumsfeld. "These are the people we want watching our war."
Rumsfeld added that the "U.S.-Led Invasion of Iraq Super Bowl XXXVII Halftime Show" also satisfies two consistent Bush administration goals: appealing to American populism while simultaneously infuriating the international community.
To that end, nations across the Middle East immediately denounced the plan, demanding that America wait until U.N. weapons inspections were completed before taking action. In Iraq, Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan called the proposed show "typical United States arrogance," adding, "This halftime lasts only, what, 30 minutes? The Americans cannot possibly believe they will defeat the entire invincible army of Iraq in 30 minutes."
Rumsfeld acknowledged time could be an issue, but said the U.S. was willing to stretch the invasion out to last the entire half hour.
In Europe, meanwhile, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder warned that America's "misguided strategy" only "reinforces the international stereotype of the beer-swilling, football-loving, war mongering American."
Mindful of that reaction, Miller Brewing Co. has already filmed a new version of its controversial Miller Lite "catfight" commercial. In the new 30-second spot, instead of a pair of beer-drinking men dreaming of scantily clad women fighting it out, American service personnel are seen chanting "Tastes great!" while Iraqi officers shout "Less filling!" Eventually, U.S. warplanes and armored vehicles are shown bombing and shelling Iraq. The camera then cuts to a bar where George W. Bush says to Rumsfeld, "Man, who wouldn't want to watch that?" The two then toast with bottles of Miller Lite as, nearby, their disgusted wives roll their eyes.
In a racier version of the commercial that will only run on cable, Joyce Rumsfeld turns to First Lady Laura Bush and says, "Let's make out."
Tuesday, January 21, 2003
Front line combat troops are disproportionately white, not black. From the article:
The American troops likeliest to fight and die in a war against Iraq are disproportionately white, not black, military statistics show — contradicting a belief widely held since the early days of the Vietnam War.(Via Linkfilter.)
In a little-publicized trend, black recruits have gravitated toward non-combat jobs that provide marketable skills for post-military careers, while white soldiers are over-represented in front-line combat forces...
"If anybody should be complaining about battlefield deaths, it is poor, rural whites," says Charles Moskos, a military sociologist at Northwestern University in Illinois.
"It's Eagles v. Titans as NFL Reverses Playoff Results" (Satire)
(2003-01-20) -- The National Football League has reversed the results of yesterday's conference playoffs, clearing the way for a Super Bowl between the Tennessee Titans and the Philadelphia Eagles.
NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the game scores were reversed based on the same principal that the University of Michigan uses in admissions, granting extra "points" for black applicants.
Although the Oakland Raiders trounced the Titans 41-24 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Eagles 27-10, the quarterbacks of both conference-winning teams are white, and the QBs of both losing teams are black. Therefore, each team led by a black quarterback was granted 20 additional points, retroactively reversing the outcomes of both games.
Philadelphia won the NFC title 30-27 over Tampa Bay and the Titans upset the favored Oakland team 44-41.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell will perform the coin toss at the Super Bowl.
Would you take a pill to enhance your memory or intelligence? Excellent article on the ethics of artificial brain enhancements. It's amazing how some of the arguments against this technology sound similar to the arguments raised against powered flight, anesthesia, and recombinant DNA technology -- all of which are now staples of modern life.
Monday, January 20, 2003
Gun geeks are debating which weapons would work best against cave trolls and Uruk-hai orcs. There's a related thread on how best to arm yourself in Middle Earth if you could carry only one person's worth of modern weaponry. (As one of the participants said, "Do I have too much time on my hands or what?")
Sunday, January 19, 2003
Saturday, January 18, 2003
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a technique in which scientists can alter your brain's electrical activity by subjecting it to strong magnetic fields. According to the article, there are a lot of potentially interesting medical and military applications. Of course, scientists need to be careful with these machines given that they generate "up to a whopping 3,000 volts and produce peak currents of up to 8,000 amps - powers similar to those of a small nuclear reactor." (Via Boing Boing.)
Friday, January 17, 2003
Discarded hard drives that have supposedly been erased still have all sorts of juicy information on them. According to the article, "Simson Garfinkel and Abhi Shelat, graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, analysed 158 second hand hard drives bought over the internet between November 2000 and August 2002. They were able to recover over 6000 credit card numbers, as well as email messages and pornographic images."
Thursday, January 16, 2003
Spyware warning: If you use the new edition of TurboTax, you'll also install the C-Dilla spyware Trojan on your hard drive. More information is available here and here. Uninstalling the TurboTax program apparently does not remove C-Dilla. As a result, many loyal TurboTax fans are forgoing it this year.
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
Tuesday, January 14, 2003
Palm erases "Graffiti": Because of a lawsuit filed by Xerox against PalmSource (the software arm of Palm), the Palm company will no longer offer the Graffiti handwriting recognition software for its PDAs. Instead, they will offer a different handwriting recognition program known as Jot, which they claim is simpler and easier to learn.
Monday, January 13, 2003
The US government is spamming Iraq with thousands of e-mail messages as part of a psychological warfare campaign. I wonder how many of the Iraqi scientists and military will sign up for opportunities to enlarge their penis size, or help out struggling exiles from Nigeria?
Sunday, January 12, 2003
Saturday, January 11, 2003
Friday, January 10, 2003
Don't Leave Earth Without It: "In case of alien abduction these dog tags may save your life. The crucial data an alien will need to get you back to Earth is die stamped into these dog tags." In fact, the manufacturer guarantees that if you're ever abducted by aliens while wearing these tags and then not returned to Earth, you're eligible for your money back. All this for only $12.99! (Via Boing Boing.)
The RIAA owes me $20. If you purchased an audio CD between January 1 1995 and December 22, 2000 then you are also eligible for the money as part of an antitrust lawsuit settlement. To claim your money, fill out the form on this website (hit "Click Here to File a Claim"). At first, I was a bit leery about giving out personal information, but the folks at Boing Boing did a pretty good job of checking out the legitimacy of this information. Or you can call in the information via the toll-free number provided. (Via Ars Technica.)
Thursday, January 09, 2003
What if Lord of the Rings had been written by someone else? The Dr. Seuss version is especially good: "'Gandalf, Gandalf! Take the ring! I am too small to carry this thing!' 'I can not, will not hold the One. You have a slim chance, but I have none. I will not take it on a boat, I will not take it across a moat. I cannot take it under Moria, that's one thing I can't do for ya. I would not bring it into Mordor, I would not make it to the border.'" (Via /.)
Wednesday, January 08, 2003
Practical joke of the day: "Two Miami radio-show hosts known for playing outrageous pranks on the air got Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez on a private line this morning by pretending that Cuban leader Fidel Castro was calling him from Havana." (Via Obscure Store.)
Tuesday, January 07, 2003
Monday, January 06, 2003
Sunday, January 05, 2003
Saturday, January 04, 2003
Friday, January 03, 2003
Lord of the Rings parody movie clip: The MTV Movie Awards created this hilarious parody movie clip of the "Council of Elrond" scene from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring with the permission and cooperation of director Peter Jackson. If you don't have access to the DVD (which includes this clip as an Easter Egg) you can watch it here. (Via Linkfilter.)
Do teaching hospitals use dying and newly deceased patients as medical training dummies for young physicians to practice their invasive procedures? This article claims that this is fairly routine practice, and that this is done without obtaining consent from the patients' families. I personally never saw this when I was in medical school (University of Michigan) and residency (Washington University of St. Louis), but then my particular specialty doesn't involve doing a lot of the procedures listed, such as endotracheal intubation or placing catheters in deep central veins. (Via Plastic.)
Thursday, January 02, 2003
If you move at close to the speed of light, you can create quantum entanglement in particles with respect to properties that weren't previously entangled. This abstract has more information, noting that "spin and momentum entanglement separately are not Lorentz invariant, the joint entanglement of the wave function is".