Thursday, June 26, 2003

Admin note: GeekPress will be taking a brief hiatus. We'll be back July 7!
Did this comet save Christianity and change the course of history? (Via Rand Simberg.)
Beware the latest PayPal scam -- i.e., a misleading e-mail message that looks like it comes from PayPal but actually originates from offshore con artists.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Could you pass the 8th Grade Exam of 1895? Warning -- it's surprisingly difficult. (Via Linkfilter.) Update: Our friend Jimmy Wales points out that this test might have actually been for evaluating prospective teachers, not students.
Multimonitor flight simulator: Awesome visual layout! (Via Slashdot.)
Strange data packets are circulating around the internet. Computer security experts aren't sure if this is a precursor to an upcoming attack.
Don't brush your teeth for more than 2 minutes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

NASA's proposed MXER space tether consists of "miles and miles of cart-wheeling cable in orbit around the Earth." Operating "like a giant sling, the cable would swoop down and pick up spacecraft in low orbits, then hurl them to higher orbits or even lob them onward to other planets."
Update on virtual reality and simulated touch sensations. (Via Techdirt.)
The Slug Maze-O'-Death. (Via EliteGeek.)
Lightweight transparent magnets may be useful for creating new memory storage media.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Turn yourself into a genius with transcranial magnetic stimulation, aka TMS. (Via David Lewis.)
Google doesn't like people using the word "google" as a verb (i.e., "to google" a potential blind date prior to meeting him/her in person) for fear that the company might lose its commercial trademark if it becomes an ordinary word. (Via Ars Technica.)
The DNS system is 20 years old today.
Real-life levitation techniques. (Via Linkfilter.)

Sunday, June 22, 2003

This nanoguitar is only 10 micrometers long. Plus, "[t]he guitar has six strings, each string about 50 nanometers wide, the width of about 100 atoms. If plucked -- by an atomic force microscope, for example -- the strings would resonate, but at inaudible frequencies." (Via Linkfilter.)

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Amazing Ping Pong: I wish I could play table tennis like this. (Via Memepool.)

Friday, June 20, 2003

The DejaView Camwear 100 is a wearable videocamera that's constantly recording that most recent 30 seconds of your life. Some people call it a "TiVo for your life". (Via Techdirt.)
The flexible Gummi handheld computer doesn't use a mouse or stylus for input. Instead, the user bends it with his or her fingers.
Pot/kettle/black: Orrin Hatch is apparently a software pirate.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Light posting alert: I'm recovering from dental surgery, so postings might be sparse for the next couple of days.
Physicists have recreated the primordial quark-gluon soup.
"The MP3 Economy": How artists, music labels, and middlemen divide up your MP3 dollar.
The Terminator may become the latest gay icon. (Via Fark.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

The mathematics of popular baby names. It's apparently much more random than one might initially guess.
Fighting pollution with the clean air internet truck stop cafe.
Lord of the Rings-inspired currency will become legal tender in New Zealand. (Via Fark.)
An amnesiac with a medical condition which causes short term memory loss has asked to be exempted from parking tickets because he can never remember where he's parked his car. The local town council denied his request.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Matrix: Reloaded: The other script. (Via Metafilter.)
One step closer to "Smart Dust": UC Berkeley researchers have created a wireless sensor chip only 5 square mm in size. The chip incorporates "a micro-radio, an analog-to-digital converter, a temperature sensor, and the TinyOS operating system onto a piece of silicon 2 by 2.5 millimeters square".
It might sound promising, but if you click on the website www.powergenitalia.com, you will probably be very disappointed.
Wine connoisseurs can now enjoy their drinks from this Self-Cooling Animated Wine Bottle which contains a miniature television screen explaining the history and highlights of the wine within. (Via Techdirt.)
How to cheat at Solitaire. (Via Linkfilter.)

Monday, June 16, 2003

Robot vacuum cleaners are becoming more sophisticated. In fact, some owners are developing emotional attachments to them, treating them more like pets than tools.
Do we really want a "smart" cellphone that will spend your money for you?
"Spam Wars": Another excellent overview of the spam problem (and various solutions) from MIT Technology Review.
The Emoticon -> RealLife conversion manual. (Via EliteGeek.)
Videophones can be used to commit vote-buying fraud in elections because the party purchasing the vote (in this case the Italian Mafia) can now demand proof that the voter did indeed cast his ballot in the desired way before making payment. As a result, the Italian Interior Ministry is considering banning video mobile phones from polling centers. (Via Cryptogram.)

Sunday, June 15, 2003

What will Martha Stewart's new jail cell look like? (Via Boing Boing.)

Saturday, June 14, 2003

Wrigley has been granted a patent for Viagra chewing gum, although it may be several years before any such product actually reaches the marketplace. (Thanks to Michael Mazour for the link).

Friday, June 13, 2003

Astronomers expect to find an Earth-sized planet within the next 10 years.
"Stopping Time": Laser scientists can now create pulses that last for less than a femtosecond (10 exp -15 seconds). Even travelling at the speed of light, the pulses are less than 1/1000th of a millimeter long, allowing for some novel applications. (Via Linkfilter.)
Nanotubule fabric can be used to make a bulletproof vest as light as a t-shirt.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

I want my own Peltier beer cooler. (Via GMSV.)
Justin Frankel's program "Waste" will allow users to set up small private encrypted networks to talk to one another. Some people really don't like that.
It's not yet a medical tricorder like in Star Trek but this handheld scanner can reportedly detect tumors when waved over a patient's body.
A different kind of moon illusion as seen from the International Space Station. (Via BBspot.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

"Canary on a chip": California researchers have developed a toxin sensor that merges a living cell with micro-electronic circuitry. If the cell dies, it changes the electrical properties of the circuit, immediately notifying the users.
Hotel of the Future: A reporter from PC World gets to spend a night at Hilton's prototype hotel room of the future. All the high-tech amenities seemed to work pretty well, except for a few problems with the bathroom. (Via Techdirt.)
Begging for money online doesn't work any more.
"Brain fingerprinting": Coming soon?

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Humans may have come close to extinction 70,000 years ago, when there may have been only 2,000 Homo Sapiens on the planet. All humans alive today are now thought to be descendants from that small pool of ancestors.
Children are being warned that they should not flush their pet fish down the toilet thinking that they'll survive and make it to the ocean like in the hit movie Finding Nemo. The JWC Environmental company which makes sewage treatment equipment is warning that any pet fish would be shredded up into tiny particles long before it reached the ocean: "In truth, no one would ever find Nemo and the movie would be called 'Grinding Nemo'". (Via BBspot.)
Four-dimensional Rubik's cube. (Via Metafilter.)
Elementary school kids raised on computers think it's silly to have to learn cursive handwriting in school. I have to agree -- the only cursive I use nowadays is in my signature. (Via Techdirt.)
The CIA is way behind the times in its use of computer technology.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Hanah Metchis, one of the rising young stars in the technology policy analysis field, and Solveig Singleton, both of CEI, have co-authored an excellent white paper on the spam problem, including an extensive discussion of the merits/demerits of various technical, contractual, and legislative solutions. Here are links to the executive summary as well as the full length paper (23 pages in .pdf format).
Gollum recently won the MTV Movie Award for Best Digital Performance. Here's his unique acceptance speech. May not be safe for work due to strong language. (Via Linkfilter.)
Increased computing power now allows forecasting companies to sell personalized weather reports.
"Slammed!": Wired has an interesting article detailing how the Slammer worm disrupted the internet for 15 minutes back in January. Nice graphics.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Burden of Truth is a potentially interesting weblog devoted to search engines and online media. And on a related note, here are a few tips from Technology Review on how to optimize your use of Google.

Saturday, June 07, 2003

Game of the day: This implementation of Connect 4 plays pretty well. (Via Madville.)

Friday, June 06, 2003

The state of Oregon is using eBay like a giant garage sale to sell its surplus equipment.
Quantum cryptography continues to advance.
Government in the Sims world: The lack of effective government in some of the online Sims world cities have led them to be taken over by the equivalent of The Mob. They're not quite as bad as Tony Soprano, but they do have a juicy "protection" racket going. (Via Techdirt.)
How to build your own TiVo.
The Fast TCP internet protocol from CalTech could allow users to download an entire movie in just 5 seconds. Plus it runs on existing internet infrastructure.
Virus writers may be using spammer techniques to help spread their evil creations.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Three teenaged girls have received a letter of commendation from the FBI for teaching their agents how to more effectively pretend to be 13-year old girls on internet chat rooms in order to catch pedophiles. During their training, many of the (adult) FBI agents were quite surprised at how outdated their knowledge of teen pop culture was. Very entertaining article. (Via Techdirt.)
A corked baseball bat doesn't really help a hitter very much, at least not according to retired Yale professor Robert K. Adair, the author of The Physics of Baseball.
Glenn Reynolds has written a nice essay on how Google would have been inconceivable 10 years ago. Here's an excerpt:
Just try this thought experiment: Imagine that it's 1993. The Web is just appearing. And imagine that you - an unusually prescient type - were to explain to people what they could expect in the summer of 2003. Universal access to practically all information. From all over the place - even in bars. And all for free!

I can imagine the questions the skeptics would have asked: How will this be implemented? How will all of this information be digitized and made available? (Lots of examples along the line of "a thousand librarians with scanners would take fifty years to put even a part of the Library of Congress online, and who would pay for that?") Lots of questions about how people would agree on standards for wireless data transmission - "it usually takes ten years just to develop a standard, much less put it into the marketplace!" - and so on, and so on. "Who will make this stuff available for free? People want to be paid to do things!" "Why, even if we start planning now, there's no way we'll have this in ten years!"

Actually, that final statement is true. If we had started planning in 1993, we probably wouldn't have gotten here by now. The Web, Wi-Fi, and Google didn't develop and spread because somebody at the Bureau of Central Knowledge Planning planned them. They developed, in large part, from the uncoordinated activities of individuals.
Quiz of the Day: Art or Crap?

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Palm will be purchasing Handspring.
Utah scientists using atomic force microscopy have been able to visualize the wing-shaped paths of electrons (aka "orbitals" for you chemistry geeks) as they orbit an atom.
Computer security experts have discovered a method to knock a computer off of a network by forcing it to calculate extremely complicated hash functions. And no, it's not the same technique the Captain Kirk used against rogue computers by asking them to calculate the last digit of pi.
It's now a little bit easier to make a wormhole.
Where are all the speed traps? (Via Linkfilter.)

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

"House of Lords email debate reveals 'spam' confusion": During a recent debate in the British Parliament about email regulation, non-techie Lord Renton asked, "Will the Minister explain how it is that an inedible tinned food can become an unsolicited email, bearing in mind that some of us wish to be protected from having an email?" (Via Politech.)
A nice review of terahertz imaging technology.
People are more willing to accept robots if they are programmed to mimic our speech patterns such as "rhythm, intonation, loudness and pitch."
The two-headed tortoise: According to the owner, "[O]ne of the heads controls the front pair of legs and the other the back. 'When the tortoise gets a fright, the heads each want to move in its own direction, and then the feet get all tangled up'." Article and picture here.

Monday, June 02, 2003

Will notaries public accept electronic signatures?
Physicists have created currents of pure "spin" without any associated currents of net electrical charge.
"The first detailed map of space within about 1,000 light years of Earth places the solar system in the middle of a large hole that pierces the plane of the galaxy, perhaps left by an exploding star one or two million years ago." (Via Metafilter.)
Don't miss the 3rd Annual Nigerian EMail Conference!

Sunday, June 01, 2003

The Dukes of Linux.
The Wicked Good Guide to Boston English. (Via Linkfilter.)