Monday, November 30, 2009

"The Psychology of Being Scammed". Bruce Schneier summarizes some of the standard techniques from a recent security paper, including:
The distraction principle. While you are distracted by what retains your interest, hustlers can do anything to you and you won't notice.

The social compliance principle. Society trains people not to question authority. Hustlers exploit this "suspension of suspiciousness" to make you do what they want.

The herd principle. Even suspicious marks will let their guard down when everyone next to them appears to share the same risks. Safety in numbers? Not if they're all conspiring against you.

The dishonesty principle. Anything illegal you do will be used against you by the fraudster, making it harder for you to seek help once you realize you've been had.

The deception principle. Thing and people are not what they seem. Hustlers know how to manipulate you to make you believe that they are.

The need and greed principle. Your needs and desires make you vulnerable. Once hustlers know what you really want, they can easily manipulate you.
The paper also discusses a dozen con scenarios, which are both informative (and entertaining).

The full paper can be found here (PDF format): "Understanding scam victims: Seven principles for systems security".
What exactly happens during an iPhone backup?
John Avalon: "The Cyber-Threat Grows".
Cartoon of the day: When computers go down... (Via BBspot.)
"Nasty iPhone Worm Hints at the Future"
"NASA scientists have produced the most compelling evidence yet that bacterial life exists on Mars." (Via @ariarmstrong)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Glenn Reynolds discusses some bad code used in the controversial climate change models.
LegoMatrix is a surprisingly accurate Lego recreation of one of the classic Matrix scenes.

Here's the side-by-side video comparison. And more on the LegoMatrix project. (Via Kottke.)
Unclear on the pie-chart concept. (Via @ryansager.)
Why is blackmail illegal?

The article uses the David Letterman case as the launching point. (Via @markwickens)
"Virtual Mafia in Online Worlds"
Video of the day: "One in a million" events.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Now that it's Black Friday, let the Christmas gift suggestions begin!

Today's is the "Behind every great man..." t-shirt.
Invention of the day: Bacon flavored envelopes. (Via @ariarmstrong.)
Time savers. (Via BBspot.)
Patient trapped in 23-year "coma" was conscious all along. (Via Rand Simberg.)

Update: Ryan Sager warns that some of the popular press reporting may be misleading. He also links to this analysis from physician-blogger "Orac".
Admin note: No posting today due to the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Courtroom First: Brain Scan Used in Murder Sentencing"
Bendable magnetic interface.
Vehicle telemetry.
The really traditional Socratic Method.
"Eight Deep-Fried Turkey Disaster Videos". (Via Instapundit.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ultimate relationship diagram. (Via @ryansager.)
Legal duty to Tweet?
50 Amazing Realistic CG Portraits
Visual illusion stumps adults but not kids.
ClimateGate links I've been reading:
"Global WarmingGate: When Scientists Become Politicians", Rand Simberg, PajamasMedia, 11/23/09

"Global WarmingGate: What Does It Mean?", Charlie Martin, PajamasMedia, 11/22/09

"ClimateGate: The Very Ugly Side of Climate Science", Steven Dubner, Freakonomics Blog (NYT), 11/23/09

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Visual Map of 30 Free Online Promotion Websites"
"Sex and pharmaceuticals": The search continues for a pill that will lift a woman's libido.
Feynman's father.
Man teaches son "worst swearword in the world". Hilarity ensues.
"Man taught his son Klingon before he taught him English". (Via @AriArmstrong.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Galileo's fingers, tooth are found. No, really.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quantum ghost imaging:
Ghost imaging is a technique that allows a high-resolution camera to produce an image of an object that the camera itself cannot see. It uses two sensors: one that looks at a light source and another that looks at the object. These sensors point in different directions. For example, the camera can face the sun and the light meter can face an object.
(Via Bruce Schneier.)
Redesigning NFL helmet graphics.
25 Passive Aggressive Office Kitchen Notes .
"How did the states establish long straight borders before GPS?"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How Secure Is Cloud Computing?
"The Singularity Is Coming -- Now What?"
The best part of the "Laptop Steering Wheel Desk" page are the funny reviews.
Onion story of the day: "Alternate-Universe Sci-Fi Channel Show Asks What Would Happen If Germany Lost War".

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The rhythms of Twitter activity.
Cartoon of the day: If malware detection had existed at the time of the original Trojan Horse.

(Via Bruce Schneier.)
Video of the day: "On the top of Burj Dubai's spire".

The Burj Dubai is the world's tallest building. The video was shot at 2684 feet -- i.e., at an elevation of over half a mile. Hence, don't watch it if you have a fear of heights.

(Via BBspot and Geekologie.)
3-D Mandelbrot set.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Video of the day: "World's luckiest train track inspector". (Via Howard Roerig.)
Shopping tips: "10 Fascinating Facts about Black Friday"
Internet troll taxonomy.
"First universal programmable quantum computer unveiled". (Via David Jilk.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Off topic: My latest health care OpEd, "Mafia-style health insurance: An offer you can't refuse" was just published in the November 16, 2009 Washington Examiner.
"The History of the Internet in a Nutshell"
Top 5 Social Engineering Exploit Techniques.
Calculator hackers.
What the "Bliss" hill (Microsoft XP default desktop image) looks like today.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"20 Geek Inspired Engagement Rings". (Via Danny.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Space rock buzzes past Earth". (Via Rand Simberg.)
Onion video of the day: "Google Opt Out Feature Allows Users To Protect Privacy By Moving To Remote Village".
It takes surprisingly few pixels to create an intelligible moving scene.
Funny warning labels.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Comprehensive strategy guide to the all-you-can-eat buffet. (Via GMSV.)
"10 Geeky Laws That Should Exist, But Don't"
Fusion breakthrough?
"The DNA of the domesticated horse shows evolution at work".

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Video of the day: "I Never Thought Water Drops Looked Like This"
Framed for child porn -- by a PC virus.
Mouse button overkill.
Soviet and post-Soviet mathematics. (Via Tyler Cowen.)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Roombas do Pac-Man right.
Virtual cow butt.
"Newborn Babies Cry With Mother's Accent"
"Lost Persian Army Discovered Almost 2,500 Years Later". (Via Neatorama.)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Another freak accident shuts down the Large Hadron Collider:
The Large Hadron Collider, the world's most powerful particle accelerator, just cannot catch a break. First, a coolant leak destroyed some of the magnets that guide the energy beam. Then LHC officials postponed the restart of the machine to add additional safety features. Now, a bird dropping a piece of bread on a section of the accelerator has, according to the Register, shut down the whole operation.

The bird dropped some bread on a section of outdoor machinery, eventually leading to significant over heating in parts of the accelerator. The LHC was not operational at the time of the incident, but the spike produced so much heat that had the beam been on, automatic failsafes would have shut down the machine.

This incident won't delay the reactivation of the facility later this month, but exposes yet another vulnerability of the what might be the most complex machine ever built. With freak accident after freak accident piling up over at CERN, the idea of time traveling particles returning from the future to prevent their own discovery is beginning to seem less and less far fetched.
My favorite comment was the following:
The bird's briefing:

The approach will not be easy. You are required to maneuver straight down this trench and skim the surface to this point. The target area is only two meters wide. It's a small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port. The shaft leads directly to the reactor system. A precise hit will start a chain reaction which should destroy the station.
"Signature of antimatter detected in lightning"
"20 great warning signs"
Where is your favorite technology on the hype cycle? (Via Maximizing Progress.)
Video of the day: Cheesy Chinese inflatable bra commercial. (Borderline NSFW due to bra-wearing model.)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Dodge Viper logo is an upside-down Daffy Duck. (Via BBspot.)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Has Blackberry lost its edge?
Money mules.
"Debate rages over radioactive space monkeys". (Via Rand Simberg.)
"How to Really Browse Without Leaving a Trace"

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Africa is really big. But it will also be the site of a new ocean.

(Via BBspot.)
Safety tip: If you sneak on board a jet fighter plane for a joyride, don't also pull the eject lever in mid-air. (Via DefenseTech.)
Mind-reading computers?
My kind of Christmas lights! (Via Found On The Web.)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

"15 Awesome Ultramodern Fireplaces". (Via Danny.)
Rand Simberg on the Ares I-X rocket launch problems.

(BTW, if you're interested in space policy, you should be reading his blog Transterrestrial Musings.)
"Chickens immunised by GM peas".
'Roid Rage.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Movie narrative charts from xkcd, for LOTR, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, 12 Angry Men, and Primer.
"Four essential tips for extending the battery life of your computer, cell phone, and every other gadget."
Flowchart for "Hey Jude". (Via BBspot.)
A 3-night stay at the Galactic space hotel will cost you $4.4 million.
Off topic: PajamasMedia.com has just published my latest health care OpEd, "ObamaCare: A National Version of RomneyCare".

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Video of the day: SawStop demonstration.

This slick safety device allows a power saw to cut wood, but not human flesh.

The technology is impressive, but the most jaw-dropping section is the super slow-motion demonstration where the inventor places his own finger into the path of the saw to show how well it works. More info at the SawStop website.

(Via Maximizing Progress.)
"Free Yourselves! Turn Off Your Laptops! With all our technology, we've lost touch with what is truly important: killing and eating things"
Secure computers aren't so secure:
...The time it takes to store data in memory, fluctuations in power consumption, even the sounds your computer makes can betray its secrets.
Interesting profile of E-Ink, the company that creates the electronic ink displays for ebook readers like the Kindle.