Thursday, July 31, 2003

Pac Bell strikes back against the RIAA "with a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the industry's effort to track down online music swappers".
Objectivist editorial cartoonists Cox and Forkum are the latest edition to our blogroll. To learn more about them, take a look at this recent entertaining (and informative) interview with them. (Via Rand Simberg.)
Chemists have used "directed evolution" to modify a bacterial enzyme and turn it into a more effective neutralizer of nerve gas.
"Moblogs" may bring us one step closer to David Brin's transparent society.
"Learn to use Japanese toilets" (Via GMSV.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

"Copying is theft" and other legal myths in the peer-to-peer wars. (Via BBspot.)
Howard Lovy has written a nice response to the anti-nanotech report by Greenpeace. More information here.
For some geeks, a week without e-mail access is more psychologically traumatic than getting a divorce.
The BBC guide to misleading statistics. (Via Fark.)
Combinatorial auctions could make online auctions more efficient as well as more fair to buyers and sellers.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The Pentagon had proposed a terror futures market in which traders could place money on where they believe the next terrorist attack will take place. I like this idea, given what we know about markets' abilities to synthesize obscure information efficiently. Unfortunately, this idea was nixed after political opposition.
Physicists used to argue about what would happen if a submarine travelled close to the speed of light. Would the relativistic effects make it float or sink? They now know the answer.
Virtual Bubble Wrap: Almost as much fun as the real thing. (Via Metafilter.)
Chinese scientists have reported that they can create diamonds from carbon dioxide gas.

Monday, July 28, 2003

"Mac killed my inner child": The funniest Macintosh "Switch" parody I've ever seen. Do not watch if you're a diehard Macintosh fan and easily offended. (Via Linkfilter.)
A BBC survey team using high-tech sonar and satellite imaging has concluded that there is no Loch Ness Monster.
Beware these high tech ATM fraud techniques.
Cool optical illusion: The wheels in your peripheral vision look like they're moving, but the apparent motion stops once you look at one directly. The illusion seems to be triggered by saccadic eye motions. (Via BBspot.)

Sunday, July 27, 2003

"80s Ending": A hilarious parody of the endings for every cheesy 80's teen movie you ever saw. (Via Linkfilter.)

Saturday, July 26, 2003

"Elephant Man" mystery solved? DNA testing on Joseph Merrick's remains suggest that he may have suffered from a combination of Proteus syndrome and Neurofibromatosis Type 1. (Via bottomquark.)

Friday, July 25, 2003

Field Guide to spam. It's actually quite informative. (Via GMSV.)
Spam filter report: Following the examples of Hanah Metchis and Diana, I've been trying out the free open source Bayesian spam filter POPFile. Because it's a Bayesian filter it needs to be trained, so for the past month I've had POPFile sort all of my incoming mail into one of three groups or "buckets" -- "personal" (for genuine personal e-mail), "lists" (for bulk e-mail that I have voluntarily signed up for, such as mailing lists or announcements from certain vendors), and "spam" (all the unsolicited junk). After the training period, I then reset the counter statistics and let POPFile sort the next 1000 consecutive e-mails. To my dismay, my incoming mail consisted of 69% spam, 23% list mail, and only 8% "real" e-mail. Overall, POPFile did pretty well -- it classified over 96% of my mail correctly. Now I don't mind an occasional spam being misclassified as "personal", but it's more of a problem when the filter misclassifies a real e-mail as "spam", which still happens about once every 2-3 days. Since I don't want to take the chance of missing something important, I still take a look at my "spam" bucket once a day and quickly skim the subject lines before I delete the contents. But overall, I'm pretty pleased -- it's easy to set up, it does a surprisingly good job, and it has saved me a fair amount of daily aggravation. Plus you can't beat the price!
How do celebrities, CEO's and other high profile people deal with all their e-mail? (Via BBspot.)
"Inside the Bat Cave": Dave Fraser's wired house.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Purple polar bear.
"Fourteen Rules Kids Won't Learn in School" (Via Tom McMahon.)
The science behind the Shaolin monks. (Via BBspot.)
Nanotechnology researchers have created the world's smallest electrical rotor.
Darwinian poetry: What happens when you apply genetic algorithms to poetry? The results are aesthetically mixed at best.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

"Cracking Windows passwords in 5 seconds". Here's the full paper in .pdf format.
Morgui the "emotional" robot has been ruled too scary for children under 18 to see without an adult present. (Via Boing Boing.)
The Australian star survey is now up to 70 sextillion (7 x 10^22) stars. (Via Joost Bonsen.)
The US government wants to start production of biometric passports on October 26, 2004. As the article drily notes, "how effective biometric passports will be in frustrating terrorist activity is a completely different matter... "
The Moon as the ultimate retirement colony.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Cybersex is a surprisingly effective gateway to real-life infidelity.
Do we live in a holographic universe?
"Business lessons from the donut and coffee guy"
Amish technology update. (Via Fark.)
GPS locator tags for everything -- such as lost car keys, lost dog, or lost child.

Monday, July 21, 2003

"The Grand List of Overused Science Fiction Clich├ęs" (Via Tom McMahon.)
Single guys rejoice: Both masturbating and eating pizza on a regular basis may help prevent cancer. (Via Linkfilter.)
Beware the public computers: For the past two years, a NYC cracker has been stealing banking passwords from keystroke sniffers he planted at 13 Kinko's stores in Manhattan. He was finally caught when "he had the bad luck to use a stolen GoToMyPC account to remotely control a victim's home computer while the victim was sitting in front of it. The victim, unnamed in court filings, watched as the PC's cursor began moving of its own accord, riffling through files, opening a browser window, and then establishing an account with online money transfer site Neteller.com under the victim's name. The victim had logged into the machine through GoToMyPC from a Kinko's on Seventh Avenue a few days earlier." Even more amazingly, after the cracker was charged and released on bail, he "got caught planting another keyboard sniffer at a Kinko's on West 40th Street in New York." (Via Ars Technica.)
"Woman dumps man for his online alter ego"
Japanese scientists are one step closer to cloning the wooly mammoth.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

More on the new Sony Clie.
High tech eyewear. (Via Ken Ogle.)

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Creation Science Fair. I think this is just a parody, but I'm not entirely sure... (Via Lou Franco.)

Friday, July 18, 2003

"At least one airline plans to install video cameras throughout its planes to record passengers and their activities at all times. What's more, they may keep the video for up to 10 years. Privacy advocates are not pleased."
"Batcanes" for the blind. (Via Fark.)
GameSpot reviews the ultimate massively multiplayer role-playing game -- Real Life. (Via BBspot.)
The Meowlingual will translate your cat's meow into English.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Ken Silber explains why we're not living in a computer simulation.
More people are becoming interested in anonymous file sharing.
"When Rebooting is Not an Option"
Bionic eyes.
A noted child psychologist is bucking the politically correct conventional wisdom, and arguing that "playing with guns is good for boys"

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

"French government bans email". Government ministries and websites must now use the French term "courriel" -- a shortened form of "courrier electronique" (literally translated: "electronic mail") -- rather than the foreign term "email". (Via IP List.)
If this is the new Sony Clie handheld, then it is very sleek indeed. (Via Boing Boing.)
The scientific explanation behind the legendary Greek Oracle of Delphi.
"Mice with a remarkable ability to heal wounds have been genetically engineered by scientists."
Matrix: Reloaded -- the blooper list. (Via BBspot.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

I want a Pirate Keyboard! (Via Boing Boing.)
Wired picks the best tech gadgets of the year. (Via Tom McMahon.)
What's your optimum strategy if you suspect you're living in a computer simulated virtual reality (like The Matrix), and you want to maximize your longevity? Robin Hanson's paper, "How to Live in a Simulation" tells you. The short answer -- "If you might be living in a simulation then all else equal you should care less about others, live more for today, make your world look more likely to become rich, expect to and try more to participate in pivotal events, be more entertaining and praiseworthy, and keep the famous people around you happier and more interested in you." For a more in-depth analysis, read the full paper.
My last word on the mosquito story: Stephen Wood was kind enough to point me to the following article from the "Straight Dope", basically saying that ultrasonic bug repellers don't work. If Uncle Cecil says it, it's gotta be true!...

Monday, July 14, 2003

A one hour "power nap" can be as good as a full night's sleep.
What do you get when you cross ping pong with The Matrix? Why this, of course. (Also viewable here.)
Mathematical analysis for optimizing your play in the boardgame Risk. The full paper (.pdf format) is available here.
Guns in space!

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Yet another mosquito update: Jason Salvatori wrote in to say, "I'm not sure about the power problem from a cell phone, but I do know that a radio station up here (Toronto, Canada) used to play the same ultrasonic frequency with its music in the summer, and it did seem to work! I haven't listned to that station in a couple of years, so I don't know if they still do it. (99.9 FM - "Mix 99.9")."
Creepy image of the day: Tossing your own heart around. (Via Ken Ogle.)
I hope the "bacteria rights" lobby doesn't find out about the scientists who have taken severed bacterial limbs and used them to perform forced nanolabor.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Update on the mosquito repellant story: Brett Bellmore points out that it would be extremely unlikely that an ultrasonic noise would actually effect the mosquitoes in the desired way; at least not at the power levels of a cell phone tone.
MAME Jump!: For fans of 80's video games and music. Very well done animation. (Via Joe Borrello.)

Friday, July 11, 2003

A Korean telecom company is selling a downloadable sound file for cellphones that acts as an ultrasonic mosquito repellant. (Via Boing Boing.)
"The Neurochemistry of Psychedelic Experiences": One interesting tidbit from the article -- humans are "the only species that will voluntarily take a psychedelic drug again after having experienced the effects. Although laboratory animals such as rats or monkeys will readily self-admininister most other drugs abused by humans, including cocaine, heroin, amphetamine, nicotine and alcohol, they find psychedelic drugs highly aversive." (Via SciTech Daily.)
Humor site of the day: "Things my girlfriend and I have argued about". The funniest thing I've read in a long time. (Via GMSV.)
Your brain is hardwired to underestimate how strong you are.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

"New software allows you to log on by laughing "
"Could the Eagles have flown Frodo into Mordor?" (Via BBspot.)
Cool artwork of the day: "Maze Within a Maze". (Via Tom McMahon.)
What do you get when you combine internet dating with free airline flights? (Via Techdirt.)
Is anti-gravity research for real?

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Real-life invisibility technology (aka "optical camouflage"): Where do we currently stand?
Nanotubules can help create the blood supply for artificial organs.
"The Vagina Monoliths": Was Stonehenge an ancient female sexual symbol?
Gamers are actually social multi-taskers.
"Lightning strikes woman's tongue stud." (Via Ken Ogle.)

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

"What kind of e-mail does a major spammer receive over the course of a day?" Find out. (Via Politech.)
A mathematical analysis of Supreme Court decisions shows that the current set of justices are more independent and less driven by political ideology than commonly believed.
Printer ink is seven times more expensive than Dom Perignon.
Krispy Kreme doughnuts: Behind the scenes. (Via ALDaily.)
Astronomy Picture of the Day: The Hand of God. (Via BBspot.)

Monday, July 07, 2003

Computers can be surprisingly accurate in determining whether an anonymous piece of text was written by a man or a woman.
Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, talks about open source and the SCO lawsuit.
E-mail "flash mobs" have now spread beyond NYC.
"Lightning strikes preacher who asked for a sign". (Via Ken Ogle.)
The Braille edition of Harry Potter #5 consists of 13 volumes of paper, forming a stack more than a foot high.
Fake alcohol (i.e., a placebo) can still get you drunk. (Via Bottomquark.)