Thursday, May 31, 2007

Microsoft Surface. Will this implementation of multi-touch technology catch on? Includes video.
Cognitive biases: "26 Reasons What You Think is Right is Wrong". (Via BBspot.)
Video of the day: "The first recorded IT professional seen at work".
"Garage chemistry used to be a rite of passage for geeky kids. But in their search for terrorist cells and meth labs, authorities are making a federal case out of DIY science." (Via Lin Zinser.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

LEGO rubberband chain gun. With video. (Via Cynical-C.)
Certain genes may make it easier for some people to learn Chinese.
Bizarre reality TV show of the day: "A Dutch TV station says it will go ahead with a programme in which a terminally ill woman selects one of three patients to receive her kidneys."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

10 Lies Big Companies Tell Their Employees:
We're Working On It
It's Only Temporary
I Don't Know
It's Company Policy
More Money Won't Make You Happy
We Want You to Have a Life Outside Work
The Customer is Always Right
We Reward Excellence
Our Salaries are Competitive in the Market
Hope You Enjoy Your Vacation
(Via GenXFinance.)
The neurological basis of synaesthesia: "Why certain people see words in colour".
"Putting a computer hard drive in the freezer will help recover lost data."
Fashion trash bags?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Travel news of the day: Viagra may be good for jet lag, at least for those flying eastbound.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Stupid criminal of the day: Christopher Emmorey tried to rob a bank by "demanding that the teller give him $5,000 and telling her he had a gun in his pocket."
The fiscally responsible teller told Emmorey she could only give him $200, and told Emmorey there would be a $5 transaction fee because Emmorey was not a client at the bank.

...Emmorey waited patiently as the teller filled out the appropriate paper work before running out of the bank with $195.

By that time, other bank tellers were alerted to the ongoing robbery.

Emmorey wasn't wearing a disguise and his videotaped image was recognized by police officers who responded to the call.
(Via Fark.)

Friday, May 25, 2007

"Confessions of a Car Salesman: What really goes on in the back rooms of car dealerships across America?" (Via Michael Williams.)
Video of the day: Dropped water balloon not exploding in super slow motion. (Via Clicked.)
Precision pointing on touchscreens with fat fingers.
Now this is a thin laptop.
"Basic Cell Phone Acronyms You Need to Know"

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Should I Invest in "Forever" Stamps?

The answer:
Absolutely not. Since 1971, postal rates have increased more slowly than the actual inflation rate, as measured by the U.S. Consumer Price Index. So, despite the numerous rate hikes over the last 36 years, stamps have actually been getting cheaper. The 20-cent stamp from 1981, for instance, would be equivalent to 45 cents in today's dollars—which makes today's rate 10 percent cheaper than it was 26 years ago. Should this historical pattern hold, you'd be paying more for today's forever stamps than you would for any stamp in the future, no matter how high the rate goes.
(Via Cynical-C.)
Fungi that use radioactivity as an energy source. The key, apparently, is melanin. (Via Howard Roerig.)
Keep abreast with popular culture with Google Trends. According to this article:
The breakdown will consist of the fastest-rising search requests on any given day.

The list won't include all of the top queries because it will be edited to exclude pornography and other requests about the weather, popular Web sites like MySpace.com or prominent celebrities that consistently generate lots of searches.
Can one roommate consent for the police to search another roommate's password-protected computer? According to this article, the answer is "yes", although this may not be consistent with other precedents:
In United States v. Andrus (.pdf), agents suspected that the defendant was accessing websites containing child pornography, but after eight months of investigation still did not have sufficient probable cause to get a search warrant. Instead, they decided to drop by the defendant's house for an impromptu conversation.

The suspect was not at home. However, his 91-year-old father answered the door in his pajamas, invited the agents in, and eventually gave them permission to enter his son's bedroom and search the hard drive on his son's password-protected computer. The agents used EnCase to perform the search, a common forensic tool programmed to ignore Windows logon passwords. Agents found child pornography on the computer.

Without a judge's permission, the search depended on the father's authority to allow police access to his son's computer. On this point, the fact that the son locked his parents out of the computer with a password is critical.

The Fourth Amendment generally prohibits warrantless searches of an individual's home or possessions. There is an exception to the warrant requirement when someone consents to the search. Consent can be given by the person under investigation, or by a third party with control over or mutual access to the property being searched. Because the Fourth Amendment only prohibits "unreasonable searches and seizures," permission given by a third party who lacks the authority to consent will nevertheless legitimize a warrantless search if the consenter has "apparent authority," meaning that the police reasonably believed that the person had actual authority to control or use the property.

Under existing case law, only people with a key to a locked closet have apparent authority to consent to a search of that closet. Similarly, only people with the password to a locked computer have apparent authority to consent to a search of that device. In Andrus, the father did not have the password (or know how to use the computer) but the police say they did not have any reason to suspect this because they did not ask and did not turn the computer on. Then, they used forensic software that automatically bypassed any installed password.

The majority held that the police officers not only weren't obliged to ask whether the father used the computer, they had no obligation to check for a password before performing their forensic search. In dissent, Judge Monroe G. McKay criticized the agents' intentional blindness to the existence of password protection, when physical or digital locks are such a fundamental part of ascertaining whether a consenting person has actual or apparent authority to permit a police search. "(T)he unconstrained ability of law enforcement to use forensic software such at the EnCase program to bypass password protection without first determining whether such passwords have been enabled ... dangerously sidestep(s) the Fourth Amendment."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

"Royale With Cheese?": Some McDonald's options in other countries. (Via GMSV.)
Yesterday May 22 is apparently the least common birthdate. The most common birthdate is October 5, which is approximately 9 months after New Year's Eve. (Via Mental Floss.)
Good article on image spam, with illustrative examples. (Via Bruce Schneier.)
Sick spacecraft can harbor all sorts of unwanted life forms.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Make your own parody motivational poster. The possibilities are endless... (Via Found On The Web.)
Today's truth-is-stranger-than fiction story: DNA testing doesn't help, if the dispute is about which identical twin brother is the baby's real father.
Twin brothers Raymon and Richard Miller are the father and uncle to a 3-year-old little girl. The problem is, they don't know which is which. Or who is who.

The identical Missouri twins say they were unknowingly having sex with the same woman. And according to the woman's testimony, she had sex with each man on the same day. Within hours of each other.

When the woman in question, Holly Marie Adams, got pregnant, she named Raymon the father, but he contested and demanded a paternity test, bringing his own brother Richard to court.

But a paternity test in this case could not help. The test showed that both brothers have over a 99.9 percent probability of being the daddy and neither one wants to pay the child support. The result of the test has not only brought to light the limits of DNA evidence, it has also led to a three-year legal battle, a Miller family feud and a little girl who may never know who her real father is.
In other words, each brother claims that the other brother is the real father (and hence owes child support), where he's just an uncle. (Via Volokh.)
"Refusing to Fold, Online Poker Players Bet on Prohibition Repeal"
How addicted to coffee are you? I scored "52% addicted to coffee". (Via BBspot.)

Monday, May 21, 2007

How to survive in a black hole.
The psychology of banner ads:
Research suggests that banner ads are effective not because of click-throughs, but because they foster a familiarity with a product that promotes positive feelings.
Are bubbles good for the economy?
Don't play this computer joke on an airplane. You'll probably get arrested.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Admin note: GeekPress will take a week-long hiatus. We'll be back on May 21, 2007!
How The Lord of the Rings should have ended. (Via Dave Hill.)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Three more Terminator movies are planned:
The Halcyon Company has announced plans to revive the cyborg-battling movie series with at least three more films, after the production company purchased all rights to the dormant franchise for an undisclosed, though likely eight-figure, sum.

But while Halcyon founders Victor Kubicek and Derek Anderson are looking to begin preproduction on Terminator 4 as soon as possible, they will do so without a leading man. Or man-machine.

Plot details for the fourth film have been kept under tight wraps, though are said to pick up with John Connor, heir to the rebellion, in his thirties, leading the remainder of the human race in its ever-worsening battle against the machines. As the film will mark the beginning of a new trilogy, rather than a continuation of the previous three installments, its unlikely that the Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, will even take part in the film reinvention, other than perhaps a cameo.
"How to Tie the 10 Most Useful Knots"

Friday, May 11, 2007

Funny geek t-shirts.
Bizarre new robbery technique:
South African robbers have shunned traditional gaffer tape and deployed a new weapon to subdue their victims: superglue.

An unnamed man was grabbed in the street and driven to his home, where a gang stripped him and superglued him to the seat of an exercise bike. They also glued his feet to the pedals and hands to the handlebars. Finally, his lips were sealed with the adhesive.
"If T. rex fell, how did it get up, given its tiny arms and low center of gravity?"
T. rex related to chicken:
Tiny bits of protein extracted from a 68-million-year-old dinosaur bone have given scientists the first genetic proof that the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex is a distant cousin to the modern chicken.

"It's the first molecular evidence of this link between birds and dinosaurs," said John Asara, a Harvard Medical School researcher, whose results were published in last week's edition of the journal Science.
(Via inkycircus.)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Messages you don't want to see on your bank's ATM. (Via BBspot.)

Update: This could also be a phishing scam. (Via Eric Costlow.)
Scientists one more step closer to realising invisible technology:
Until now, scientists could only make objects appear invisible from far away. Liverpool mathematician Dr Sebastien Guenneau, together with Dr Frederic Zolla and Professor Andre Nicolet from the University of Marseille, have proven -- using a specially designed computer model called GETDP -- that objects can also be made to appear invisible from close range when light travels in waves rather than beams.

Scientists predict that metamaterials could be of use in military technology, such as in the construction of fighter jets and submarines, but it will be some years before invisibility cloaks can be developed for human beings.
Video of the day: "James Randi exposes Uri Geller and Peter Popoff". The famed magician shows how Uri Geller performed his spoon-bending trick. This may not stay online much longer if Uri Geller is successful in getting YouTube to pull the video, so watch it while you can. (Via GMSV.)
Invention of the day: "Power napping pod for the office". (Via Gravity Lens.)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Gift idea of the day: The Pessimist's Mug. (Via BBspot.)
"Everyone listens to Walter Mossberg". Interesting profile of the noted Wall Street Journal technology writer.
"Occasionally the ice cubes in my freezer's ice trays will develop a stalagmitelike shape without any obvious, unusual interference. Can you please explain what causes this?"
"Inside (sort of) Apple's industrial-design machine."

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

"Mathematicians Design Invisible Tunnel: Electromagnetic 'wormhole' results from turning invisible sphere inside out"
"Computer chips designed to mimic how the human brain works..."
"University of California's Tips for What to Do When There's a Shooter on Campus". Looks like good information. (Via Bruce Schneier.)
11 Great Color Legends. (Via GMSV.)
The First Defibrillator? This was an interesting episode in medical history:
In 1788 Charles Kite, a member of the Royal Humane Society of London (an organization devoted to salvaging persons seemingly dead) described the use of electricity to revive a three-year-old child who was taken for dead after falling out of a window.

An "apothecary" was sent for, who could do nothing; then electrical resuscitation was attempted by a Mr. Squires, who
...with the consent of the parents, very humanely tried the effects of electricity. Twenty minutes had at least elapsed before he could apply the shock, which he gave to various parts of the body without any apparent success; but at length, on transmitting a few shocks through the thorax, he perceived a small pulsation; soon after the child began to breathe, though with great difficulty. In about ten minutes she vomited. A kind of stupor remained for some days; but the child was restored to perfect health and spirits in about a week.
Plus you can't beat the title -- "An Essay on the Recovery of the Apparently Dead". (Via Neatorama.)

Monday, May 07, 2007

"Condemned to Google Hell". (Via Linkfilter.)
"6 Ways to Clean Up Space Trash". Some of the proposals include:
1. Aerogel
2. Lasers
3. Collector Barge
4. Nets
5. Foam
6. Tethers
The science of flotsam.
Futuristic-looking solar power station. Just don't get in the way of the beams!

Friday, May 04, 2007

"Map of Online Communities"
"Paralyzed Mice Walk Again"
"Extra-Slanty Italics Introduced For Extremely Important Words"
"New 'sleep machine' could signal the end of insomnia". (Via Richard Bramwell.)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

"12 Important U.S. Laws Every Blogger Needs to Know"
What exactly is martial law?
Do native Russian-speakers perceive the color blue differently? Here's a related article.
Toilet mod of the day: The Fish-n-Flush is both cool and disturbing at the same time. (Via Richard Bramwell.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Update on the poodle-sheep scam: According to Snopes.com, it's a hoax. (Via Alexander D. Mitchell IV.)
Interesting clues as to why Fibonacci numbers appear so frequently in natural phenomena.
Removing the appendix through the mouth.
"Pentagon to Merge Next-Gen Binoculars With Soldiers' Brains":
U.S. Special Forces may soon have a strange and powerful new weapon in their arsenal: a pair of high-tech binoculars 10 times more powerful than anything available today, augmented by an alerting system that literally taps the wearer's prefrontal cortex to warn of furtive threats detected by the soldier's subconscious.

...The most far-reaching component of the binocs has nothing to do with the optics: it's Darpa's aspirations to integrate EEG electrodes that monitor the wearer's neural signals, cueing soldiers to recognize targets faster than the unaided brain could on its own. The idea is that EEG can spot "neural signatures" for target detection before the conscious mind becomes aware of a potential threat or target.

...That prefrontal cortex, ...allows the brain to pick up patterns quickly, but it also exercises a powerful impulse control, inhibiting false alarms. EEG would essentially allow the binoculars to bypass this inhibitory reaction and signal the wearer to a potential threat. In other words, like Spiderman's "spider sense," a soldier could be alerted to danger that his or her brain had sensed, but not yet had time to process.
Words that are their own antonyms. Here's another list. (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Diana also pointed me towards this clever story, in which non-traditional opposites of normal words are used throughout, (e.g. "It had been a rough day, so when I walked into the party I was very chalant, despite my efforts to appear gruntled and consolate.")

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Interesting data on IQ vs. virginity for college students:
Depending on the specific age and gender, an adolescent with an IQ of 100 was 1.5 to 5 times more likely to have had intercourse than a teen with a score of 120 or 130. Each additional point of IQ increased the odds of virginity by 2.7% for males and 1.7% for females. But higher IQ had a similar relationship across the entire range of romantic/sexual interactions, decreasing the odds that teens had ever kissed or even held hands with a member of the opposite sex at each age.

...Looking within and between colleges, IQ appears to delay sexual activity on into young adulthood.

By the age of 19, 80% of US males and 75% of women have lost their virginity, and 87% of college students have had sex. But this number appears to be much lower at elite (i.e. more intelligent) colleges. According to the article, only 56% of Princeton undergraduates have had intercourse. At Harvard 59% of the undergraduates are non-virgins, and at MIT, only a slight majority, 51%, have had intercourse. Further, only 65% of MIT graduate students have had sex.

The student surveys at MIT and Wellesley also compared virginity by academic major. The chart for Wellesley displayed below shows that 0% of studio art majors were virgins, but 72% of biology majors were virgins, and 83% of biochem and math majors were virgins! Similarly, at MIT 20% of 'humanities' majors were virgins, but 73% of biology majors. (Apparently those most likely to read Darwin are also the least Darwinian!)
Given that I went to MIT and was a math major, that's two strikes against me - so I'm lucky that I got what I did! (At least I didn't have to wait until age 40.)
"US researchers have simulated half a virtual mouse brain on a supercomputer."
"Commercial Zero-Gravity Flights Begin in Las Vegas":
Zero-G's specially modified Boeing 727-200 aircraft -- G-Force One -- offers paying customers a largely empty fuselage that becomes a padded playground as the plane runs through its routine -- climbing and diving maneuvers that simulate the microgravity that astronauts experience. Flight operations are being conducted from Signature Air Terminal here at McCarran International Airport.
Only $3500 per seat! Here's the corporate website.
Behind the scenes at Google Earth:
Most people are surprised to learn that we have more than one source for our imagery. We collect it via airplane and satellite, but also just about any way you can imagine getting a camera above the Earth's surface: hot air balloons, model airplanes -- even kites.
(Via /.)