Tuesday, May 31, 2005

"Recreating the Museum Tour": Visitors to the Museum of Modern Art in NYC no longer have to settle for the dry official audio guide. Various art aficionados have created downloadable alternate irreverent audio tours for anyone with an iPod. More info here. (Via Linkfilter.)
The Andromeda galaxy is 3 times bigger than we thought.
Sign of the times: "A cell-phone ring tone appeared set to top the British singles chart Sunday, outselling the new single by the band Coldplay by nearly four to one... 'Crazy Frog Axel F', a ring tone based on the sound of a revving Swedish mo-ped, is the first tune being used on mobile phones to cross into mainstream music charts... Coldplay had hoped to go straight to No. 1 on this Sunday's British singles chart with its new song, 'Speed of Sound'. But by Saturday, it appeared that the ring tone -- which is available for digital download and as a compact disc single -- would prevail..."
Crabs with shells that look like samurai faces. More information here. (Via Rand Simberg.)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The new Carnival of Tomorrow is now out. BTW, Happy Memorial Day! GeekPress will return 5/31/05.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Phallic Logo Awards: "The game designers across the nation are playing is; can they design a logo and get it approved without the client realising it's a big spurting penis?" (Via Linkfilter.)
Invention of the day: The In-Car Toilet.
How to fake a fingerprint. (ObDisclaimer: not to be used for illegal purposes...)
50 Fun Things To Do With Your iPod Besides Listen To Music With Those White Earbuds. (Via BBspot.)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Responding to cheesy interview questions: Orin Kerr asks,
A standard question lots of employers use in job interviews asks the candidate, "What is your greatest weakness?" Candidates often opt for the strength-as-weakness non-answer, such as "I'm a perfectionist" or relatedly, "I work too hard." Few if any answer honestly ("I'll cut corners if you let me", "I treat people beneath me like dirt", etc.) Those that do probably don't get the job.
Kerr then asks his readers for other suggestions.

The two best responses:
"Kryptonite"
"I lie in interviews."
(Via Marginal Revolution.)
Hacker tip of the day: If you break into your high school computer system and change your grade to straight A's, don't also give straight A's to all the other 18,696 students in the school district. (Via Techdirt.)
"Why do cartoon characters only have three fingers?"
The Gadgeteer has a nice detailed review of the new Palm LifeDrive PDA.
Solar soldiers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

"Embarrassing things that might happen to you while using a lightsaber."
The true story of the student who mistook two famous unsolved math problems as homework and solved them.
Invention of the day: A vaccine against nicotine.
"The first photon gun capable of firing single particles of light over optical fibres was unveiled..." This is a significant advance in developing commercially viable quantum cryptography.
So you want to learn chess tactics... (Via Volokh.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Geek status symbol of the day: Das Keyboard. Only Ubergeeks need even think about getting one...
What happens after you lose a reality TV show. It's not as bad as you think.
James Lileks on Star Trek. A must-read.
"Scientists say they have located the parts of the brain that comprehend sarcasm." Related article here. (Soon we'll discover the scientific basis of all the tools of the infamous Doug Pirahna, who as one of his victims notes, "He used... sarcasm. He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and... satire. He was vicious.")

Monday, May 23, 2005

Excellent debate on intellectual property: This month's issue of Technology Review has a good pair of point-counterpoint articles on the topic of "Who Owns Ideas?". Larry Lessig says it should be "The People Who Use Them", whereas Richard Epstein argues that it should be "The People Who Create Them". (FWIW, my own view is much closer to Epstein's.)
Archaeologist Dr. Vendyl Jones, the real-life inspiration for the fictional character of Indiana Jones, now has permission to uncover the Holy Ark of the Covenant. (Via Boing Boing.)
"Ten Things I Didn't Know About Google"
Great story on MIT culture, plus a little bit about the famous Mystery Hunt. (Via Cosmic Log.)
How to tell if a number is divisible by 7.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Admin note: Once again, GeekPress will be taking a one week break. We'll be back Monday, May 23.
Joke of the day:
The doctor said, "Joe, the good news is I can cure your headaches. The bad news is that it will require castration. You have a very rare condition, which causes your testicles to press on your spine, and this pressure creates one hell of a headache. The only way to relieve the pressure is to remove the testicles."

Joe was shocked and depressed. He wondered if he had anything to live for. He had no choice but to go under the knife.

When he left the hospital, he was without a headache for the first time in 20 years, but he felt like he was missing an important part of himself.

As he walked down the street, he realized that he felt like a different person. He could make a new beginning and live a new life.

He saw a men's clothing store and thought, "That's what I need -- a new suit!" He entered the shop and told the salesman, "I'd like a new suit."

The elderly tailor eyed him briefly and said, "Let's see... size 44 long." Joe laughed, "That's right, how did you know?" "Been in the business 60 years!" the tailor said. Joe tried on the suit. It fit perfectly.

As Joe admired himself in the mirror, the salesman asked, "How about a new shirt?" Joe thought for a moment and then said, "Sure." The salesman eyed Joe and said, "Let's see, 34 sleeve and 16-1/2 neck."

Joe was surprised, "That's right, how did you know?" "Been in the business 60 years!" Joe tried on the shirt, and it fit perfectly.

Joe walked comfortably around the shop and the salesman asked, "How about some new underwear?"

Joe thought for a second and said, "Sure."

The salesman stepped back, eyed Joe's waist and said, "Let's see...size 36."

Joe laughed "Ah ha! I got you! I've worn size 34 since I was 18 years old."

The salesman shook his head, "You can't wear a size 34. A 34 underwear would press your testicles up against the base of your spine and give you one hell of a headache."

New suit = $ 400

New shirt = $ 36

New underwear = $ 6

Second opinion PRICELESS.
(Via Michael Otte.)

Friday, May 13, 2005

Carnival of Tomorrow 2.0 is now up. Read it here.
Flying snakes: How they do it.
"A species of rodent, totally new to science, is discovered on sale as a snack in a southeast Asian food market"
"Grocery Store Wars". Heh heh heh...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Trailer for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
iPod silhouette parody appears in The Simpsons.
Pac Man turns 25. (Via /.)
Invention of the day: Self-reproducing robots.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Hot sauce of the day: "16 Million Reserve" is the hottest commercially available hot sauce. Asthmatics are warned that it could kill...
The sauce is 30 times hotter than the spiciest pepper and 8,000 times more fiery than Tabasco.

Diners must sign a disclaimer recommending "protective gloves and eye wear" -- but even sweating testers in safety gear were blinded by tears for 30 minutes.
Available here for only $195. (Via GMSV.)
Self-Referential Aptitude Test. (Via BBspot.)
A history of the GUI.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Bendable concrete.
Lock picking sports.
"Why Google Scares Bill Gates"
What it's like to wake up after 10 years in a coma.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Why coffee works. (Via Linkfilter.)
"Wikipedia is a real-life Hitchhiker's Guide: huge, nerdy, and imprecise." (Via Cosmic Log.)
Invention of the day: The vacuum elevator. It really sucks...
Mathematical puzzle of the day: "Coins In A Row"
Suppose you have 50 coins -- a mixture of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters -- arranged in a line on a tabletop. You choose a coin from one of the ends and put it in your pocket. Your opponent then chooses a coin from one of the ends of the line of remaining coins. You and your opponent take turns removing a coin in this manner until your opponent takes the last one. The player with the larger amount of money wins.

Peter Winkler of Dartmouth College describes it as "the simplest game in the world." There are just two players. There's no chance involved. There's no hidden information; everyone sees what's going on. There are at most two options per move.

In this coin game, it's possible to prove that, starting with an even number of coins of any denomination, the first player can always guarantee getting at least as much as the other player.
If you want to check your solution, click here.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Game theoretic analysis on how to avoid being tortured. Tyler Cowen asks:
Let us say that you have been captured and threatened with torture. You are, for whatever reason, entirely willing to betray the information you hold. Your primary goal is to avoid pain, and perhaps you positively want to squeal. How should you present what you know? I see a few options:

1. Break down immediately, beg for mercy, humiliate yourself, and spill the beans. (If you talk right away, will they torture you anyway? And since no further good information can be offered why should they stop?)

2. Go in acting tough, really tough. At the first sign of serious pain, start crying and switch to strategy #1.

3. Wait until they apply their "best shot" torture, and then talk. They will feel they have done their job and stop.

4. First offer (or make up) compromising information to show your disloyalty to the cause your torturers are fighting. Your confession will then be more credible.

5. Say you don't know anything, try to fight the torture, but break down when you can't stand it any more. You can't fool them, so the best you can do is to actually "go through the wringer." You are stuck in the pooling equilibrium, and trying to deviate only makes you worse off.
And here's one interrogator's response.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

"How lightsabers work"
Does acupuncture work?

Monday, May 02, 2005

Admin note: Posting will be light or non-existent for the rest of the week.