Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Researchers at a California National Lab will soon attempt to start self-sustaining fusion reactions using the world's largest lasers"
Wikipedia vs. NY Times controversy regarding suppressing information on escaped reporter.

I'm fine with keeping a temporary lid on newsworthy-but-sensitive information like this in order to protect human life. But I hope that if the New York Times wants other news sources to suppress a story in order to protect one of their reporters, then they'd be equally eager to suppress a newsworthy story in order to save the life of a non-NYT hostage in similar circumstances.

If not, then perhaps reporters should think twice before working for them...
Extreme life.

Monday, June 29, 2009

"How Star Wars, Star Trek, The Matrix, and Harry Potter are Actually the Same Movie":
Once upon a time, [Luke | Kirk | Neo | Harry] was living a miserable life.

Feeling disconnected from his friends and family, he dreams about how his life could be different.

One day, he is greeted by [Obi Wan | Captain Pike | Trinity | Hagrid] and told that his life is not what it seems, and that due to some circumstances surrounding his [birth | birth | birth | infancy] he was meant for something greater.

Deciding to leave with [him | him | her | him], [Luke | Kirk | Neo | Harry] is taken to [Mos Eisley | Starfleet Academy | the real world | Hogwarts] where he meets lots of new, fascinating people.

For the first time in a very long time, life is exciting, and [Luke | Kirk | Neo | Harry] explores the new life that has opened up for him. With his new friends, he starts to work hard to become the sort of man that [Obi Wan | Captain Pike | Trinity | Hagrid] said he could be.

Although [Han | Spock | the Oracle | Draco] challenges his abilities, things go relatively well until suddenly, [Alderaan is destroyed | Vulcan is attacked | Morpheus is captured | Voldemort returns]...
(Via Kottke.)
Admin note: Posting will be irregular and/or light for the next two weeks due to external obligations.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

iPhone app to manage your multiple girlfriends:
Benefits that this application can bring to you:

- Don't make mistakes. Check the measurements of the girl before you buy a new pair of shoes or clothing
- Be creative. Do not repeat gifts
- Be more creative. Avoid always going to the same places with the same girl
- Be attentive. Do not forget your special dates
- Be healthy. Do not mix information from two girls
- Be the master. Show to your friends your long list of girls
- Be selective. Through the analysis of ratings and cost of dates and gifts, you can keep only the girls with the best cost-benefit

WARNING: For your own safety, under any circumstances, do not let your girlfriend access this application...
(Via MR.)
Top 10 Prison Breaks.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Could Maxwell's Demon Exist in Nanoscale Systems?"
Astounding optical illusion: These blue and green spirals are exactly the same color. (Via GMSV.)
Lenovo moves the "Delete" key.
Online journalism: then and now. (Via BBspot.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Panasonic Toughbook laptop really is tough:
...We found, however, that Panasonic's Toughbook performed as promised. Fair enough. So we came up with some tests that were decidedly unfair.

We used the Panasonic Toughbook to serve Doritos. Then we crushed the chips to dust between the keyboard and the screen, the same screen we used as a dartboard. The darts poked holes in the screen's protective coating, but the display underneath remained undamaged. Not a single dead pixel.
It also survived being mauled by "Nalin, a white tiger who lives at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, CA" and "Liz, a 10,000-pound Asian elephant":
[Liz] stood on it, dropped it onto a concrete slab, stood on it again--balanced on three legs--and then tossed it around some more. Liz put two small cracks in the laptop's magnesium alloy lid and popped the hard drive out.

The drive slid right back in to the Toughbook's chassis, which rebooted without a glitch. The screen was undamaged, although it was hard to see through the tiger hair and congealed drool.
And finally:
We took the laptop to the Jackson Arms firing range in South San Francisco to shoot it with a Ruger Mark III .22 pistol from 15 yards.

...We put a bullet through the laptop. Then we booted it up. We were able to log in. Our test file was still there. The screen had a hole in it, but was still usable.
Here's the "tiger vs. laptop" video (contains ads.)
How many apps are on your iPhone?

(I'm apparently at the lower end of the curve, with only 25.)
Warp Drive worries:
"Star Trek" makes faster-than-light travel look easy, but according to new calculations by Italian physicists, a warp drive could easily create a black hole that would incinerate any passengers on a space craft and then suck Earth into a black hole...
(Via Rand Simberg.)
Scientists have created (?discovered) Ice XV.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Forbes report on artificial intelligence. (Via Instapundit.)
Cleaning your teeth with a plasma torch.
"Couple says 'I Do' in zero gravity"
Dream job: "NASA pillownaut".

Monday, June 22, 2009

"Don't Sink My Battleship: 5 Ways to Defend a Supercarrier". (Via DefenseTech.)
"Nerdy Chicago Weather Joke". (Via Marginal Revolution.)
The science behind phantom traffic jams:
Phantom jams are born of a lot of cars using the road. No surprise there. But when traffic gets too heavy, it takes the smallest disturbance in the flow - a driver laying on the brakes, someone tailgating too closely or some moron picking pickles off his burger - to ripple through traffic and create a self-sustaining traffic jam.

...The mathematics of such traffic jams are strikingly similar to the equations that describe detonation waves produced by explosions, said Aslan Kasimov, a lecturer in MIT’s Department of Mathematics. Realizing this allowed the reseachers to solve traffic jam equations that were first theorized in the 1950s. The MIT researchers even came up with a name for this kind of gridlock - "jamiton."
The etiquette of using your smartphone during a business meeting.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fun with high voltages.
Why the WSJ article on Steve Jobs' health is probably reliable.
Desktop black holes.
"Has martial arts training ever helped anybody defeat a mugger?"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nice overview of iPhone 3.0 software upgrade.
The Netflix Prize competition is in the home stretch.
Fingerprints reduce (not increase) friction. (Via SciTechDaily.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Netbooks begin mutating.
"Printing" human organs. (Via Michael Williams.)
Autistics solve problems up to 40% faster. (Via MR.)
New iPhone 3.0 software now available, including cut-and-paste.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Creepy sushi robot.
"Why Twitter Doesn't Mean the End of Iranian Censorship"
Twitter on a Commodore 64. (Via BBspot.)
1994 Tom Brokaw NBC story on that newfangled "internet".

Monday, June 15, 2009

15 Time Travel Destinations.

(Via The Speculist, who has his own suggestions.)
"Spiderman Your Way Down During Hospital Fires"
High speed videos of bullets on impact. (Via Radley Balko.)
"You Can't Stop The Signal: Bowing to growing pressure from the troops, the U.S. Army has unblocked access to Facebook, Flickr, Delicious, Vimeo and Twitter at 81 bases in the United States."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"The long debate over adding ununbium to the periodic table of elements":
The periodic table added its 112th official element Wednesday, when scientists in Darmstadt, Germany, announced they had received official approval for ununbium from an international body of chemists. But the discovery of the new element wasn't news to anyone -- it was first announced back in 1996, when the Darmstadt scientists claimed to have created two atoms of the stuff in a 400-foot particle accelerator. It's just taken 13 years of formal reviews and appeals for their colleagues around the world to believe them...
Five discoveries made while dreaming. (Via Kottke.)
The Economist on the disruptive effect of netbooks on the computer industry.
"Boy Survives 30,000 mph Meteorite Impact"

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The web back in 1996-1997.

As they note, back in 1996:
* Google.com didn't exist yet.
* In January 1996 there were only 100,000 websites, compared to more than 160 million in 2008.
* The web browser of choice was Netscape Navigator, followed by Microsoft Internet Explorer as a distant second (Microsoft launched IE 3 in 1996).
* Most people used dial-up Internet connections with mighty speeds ranging from 28.8Kbps to 33.6Kbps. Highly modern 56Kbps modems would arrive in 1997.
* People had only recently started to switch from 640×480 to 800×600 screen resolutions.
More posts on the history of the internet.
The irony of Apple's iPhone App Store success:
...Over the last year, though, the iPhone has attracted something that none of its rivals can match: a devoted following of developers who are building amazing programs for the device. There are now more than 50,000 applications available in the iPhone's built-in App Store, and Apple says that the pace at which developers are adding programs is accelerating. None of Apple's competitors comes close to these numbers. Android is in second place with 5,000 apps, and the Nokia and BlackBerry stores have just over 1,000 apps each. If you buy a Pre, brace yourself for a comically small number of add-ons—today you'll find just 18 apps in Palm's online store.

...There is, of course, an irony in Apple's success. For years, Apple fans claimed that the company made the best PCs in the world, hands down. Nevertheless, it was hard to argue with the fact that Windows PCs simply ran more programs. Now Apple is in the position once occupied by Microsoft. Over the next few years, Palm, Research in Motion, Nokia, Sony, and others are sure to create some transcendent mobile devices. But the hardware hardly matters anymore. How is anyone going to compete with all these amazing apps?
Hospital food from 11 different countries. (Via BBspot.)
Top Gun for robots.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Why ants survive in a microwave oven. (Via BBspot.)
The Seven Types of Bookstore Customers. (Via Marginal Revolution.)
My netbook plug: I've now been using my Asus Eee PC 1000 netbook for couple of weeks now, and I'm extremely pleased with it as a travel machine. It's perfect for mobile blogging (as I'm doing right now from a local coffee shop) -- because it's far more manageable for this purpose than my MacBook Pro with the 15" screen.

I have it currently running Eeebuntu 3.0 Standard (a Linux distro optimized for netbooks), which takes care of most of my internet-type applications (e-mail, websurfing, etc.) And for recreation, I have a few Windows and Mac games running off of Wine and Basilisk II, respectively.

It's definitely not suitable as a primary computer, at least not for me. But as a travel machine that I can just slip into my backpack, it's perfect.

I'd especially like to thank Gus Van Horn for planting the idea in my head.
The Learjet repo man. (Via Howard Roerig.)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Australian Navy submarine cooks may make more money ($160k) than some admirals.

It's all about retaining trained sailors. If good food helps, then the brass apparently believes it's worth the money.
New Math.
"Prisoners Run Gangs, Plan Escapes and Even Order Hits With Smuggled Cellphones"

Monday, June 08, 2009

"Universal 'Rubik’s Cube' Could Become Pentagon Shapeshifter"
iPhone 3G S update. And their new MacBook offerings.
Rapid Repair disassembles the Palm Pre.
Volkswagen's high-tech "transparent factory". (Via Howard Roerig.)
Moblin is making some waves as the hot new netbook Linux distro.

Others are talking about Android on netbooks.

I'm currently running the just-released Eeebuntu 3.0 (Standard) Linux distro on my Asus 1000 Eee PC 1000 (upgraded with a Runcore 64GB SSD), and it works like a dream.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

DNA origami.
"Corrupted files" paper cheating scam.
Paul Haney, the voice of "Mission Control", has passed away at age 80.
"Kaguya's jaw-dropping Moon video". (Via Vik Rubenfeld.)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

"17 Great Historical Moments Ruined by Modern Technology". (Via Transterrestrial Musings.)
Ultimate lock picker.
School lunches from around the world. (Via BBspot.)
Student attendance tracking with iPhones:
...[A]t Aoyama Gakuin University, in Tokyo,...students will be required to enter their ID number into an iPhone application at the beginning of class. The phone will pinpoint the students' location when they do, to ensure they are actually on campus.
(Via Instapundit.)
"Drowning Man Saved by Vacuum Cleaner Hose"

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Cloaking made simpler.
"10 interesting open source software forks and why they happened"
Superconducting chips?
"Homeland Security's Medical Tricorder for Triage, Not Diagnosis"

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Cool billboard. (Via Radley Balko.)
Faking amnesia may permanently distort your real memory. (Via Neuroworld.)
Cute little warbots. (Via Cosmic Log.)
"Software installation in Linux is difficult". Heh. (Via BBspot.)

Monday, June 01, 2009

"How to Use Pulsars for Interstellar Navigation"
"Simulating deja vu in the lab". (Via Marginal Revolution.)
"How Close Is A Terminator-Like World?" (Via SciTechDaily.)
"Could we move Mars or Venus into Earth's orbit and live there?"