Sunday, January 31, 2010

CollegeHumor loves the iPad as a magical revolutionary new source of Apple parodies!
Canadian video clip from 1957 about popular new Italian dish called "pizza pie". (Via Orin Kerr.)
xkcd tribute to Mars Spirit rover.
Recent rise in ransomware.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Feature-by-feature comparison of the iPad vs. a rock. (Via @shlevy.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hitler responds to the iPad.
"Moon May Have Formed in Natural Nuclear Explosion"
"Portable Ubuntu Runs Ubuntu Inside Windows". (Via GusVanHorn.)
Kindle vs. iPad: Pros and Cons.
Benefits of barefoot running. (Via Instapundit.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lots of iPad commentary. Here's one typical review.

Farhad Manjoo says it's a perfect second computer. John Gruber likes the blazing-fast CPU.

I'm personally lukewarm, and I don't think it will replace my Kindle.

My favorite snarky blog comment was: "THE iPAD: 'Sounds like a feminine hygiene product.'"
Handheld X-Ray Vision
Frederik Pohl reminisces about one of my favorite SF authors, Isaac Asimov. (Via Rand Simberg.)
"117 Beautifully Blurry Photos"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Subway Map of the Milky Way Galaxy"
"I'm on a deserted island. How can I tell which plants are poisonous?"
"The Tale of Steve Jobs and the Five Dragons". (Via GMSV.)
How exactly should one hold a tablet?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Awesome "Keynes vs. Hayek" rap video!
Awesome graphic of browser usage over the last 7 years. (Via @briggsb.)
How to replace a lost cellphone charger for free.
Video of the day: "Back Hoe Unloads Itself from a Truck".

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Garry Kasparov: "The Chess Master and the Computer". One tidbit:
In 2005, the online chess-playing site hosted what it called a "freestyle" chess tournament in which anyone could compete in teams with other players or computers.

...Lured by the substantial prize money, several groups of strong grandmasters working with several computers at the same time entered the competition. At first, the results seemed predictable. The teams of human plus machine dominated even the strongest computers.

The chess machine Hydra, which is a chess-specific supercomputer like Deep Blue, was no match for a strong human player using a relatively weak laptop. Human strategic guidance combined with the tactical acuity of a computer was overwhelming.

The surprise came at the conclusion of the event. The winner was revealed to be not a grandmaster with a state-of-the-art PC but a pair of amateur American chess players using three computers at the same time. Their skill at manipulating and "coaching" their computers to look very deeply into positions effectively counteracted the superior chess understanding of their grandmaster opponents and the greater computational power of other participants.

Weak human + machine + better process was superior to a strong computer alone and, more remarkably, superior to a strong human + machine + inferior process.
(Via @bakadesuyo.)
"Astronauts finally get Internet access in space"
"Yesterday's Ads Predicted Today's Tech: How 1940s whiskey ads predicted the cell phone, the 3D movie, videoconferencing, and sports bars... and a bunch of stuff that hasn't happened yet."
"Director Of The Hitler Downfall Movie Likes The Hundreds Of Parody Clips"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Off topic: Yesterday's PajamasMedia published my latest OpEd on the MA special election, "Brown's Victory: The Declaration of Independents".
The actor who plays David Wallace, CFO on "The Office," has a day job at a major investment bank.
"Things You Didn't Know About Sports". (Via Ryan Sager.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Admin note: Light blogging for the rest of the week.
NYT article on bad passwords:
Back at the dawn of the Web, the most popular account password was "12345."

Today, it’s one digit longer but hardly safer: "123456."
Crayola's Law: The number of Crayola colors doubles every 28 years.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Video of the day: "Hitler Finds Out Scott Brown Won Massachusetts Senate Seat"
Punching holes in steel with EMPs (electromagnetic pulses).
Update on non-lethal weapons technology.
"Would You Have Spotted the Fraud?" (Via BBspot.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Back in fashion: "The return of the mainframe"
"Mathematicians apply a technique from vision research to find fake art".
How Google Ranks Tweets
Canada's ice hotel. (Via Howard R.)
Off topic: The January 18, 2010 edition of PajamasMedia has just published my latest health care OpEd, "America Doesn't Need a Health Insurance 'Czar'".

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Despite carrying 90 percent of the planet's trade, nobody has mapped the network of links between the world's ports. Until now."
...[T]he maritime network shows some surprising differences from the network that flight paths make between airports. For example, on average, it takes just 2.5 jumps to move from one port to another on the maritime network compared to an average of 4.4 to move between one airport and another. The maximum shortest path between ports is 8 jumps while between airports it is 15 jumps. It looks to be decidedly easier to travel the world by ship than by plane, at least in some respects.

One oddity, however, is that the maritime network is decidedly asymmetric: more than half of all ports are linked in only one direction, meaning that cargo ships do not routinely make round trip journeys between ports.
"How the battle between Apple and Google will shape the future of mobile computing"
"11 Most Painfully Obvious Newspaper Articles Ever". (Via Neatorama.)
Awesome stop-motion animated video: "Deadline".

Best use of Post-It notes for an art project that I have ever seen. (Via Diana.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Video of the day: "Internet Bridge Troll".

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Classic 1964 MIT video on computer timesharing.
"Everything you need to know about Apple's new gesturing systems"
"Google China cyberattack part of vast espionage campaign..."
"How Google collects data about you and the Internet".

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Advanced Imaging Reveals a Computer 1,500 Years Ahead of Its Time". (Via David Jilk.)
Why expensive running shoes may be worse than useless.

(Related articles from Wired, "To Run Better, Ditch Your Nikes", and from Tim Ferriss, "Vibram Five Finger Shoes: The Barefoot Alternative".)
Classic optical illusion used to promote the Wonderbra.
Personhood for dolphins?
Fun interview with UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh.

Plus I'm glad to know that he likes Glocks!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Men vs. women: Compare the difference in the two Google auto-completions for the parallel questions, "How can I get my boyfriend/girlfriend to..."

E.D. Kain notes some subtle differences when the questions are changed to "How can I get my husband/wife to..."
"Office 2010: The Movie"
This awesome commercial re-imagines MS Office as an action/thriller film. In this two-minute trailer, the partner of the slain agent Clippy swears to bring his killer to justice. It was directed by Dennis Liu working under Traffik Advertising.
(Via Neatorama.)
Washable keyboard.
"A newly trained hypnotist accidentally put himself into a trance for five hours after practising in front of a mirror."

No, really. (Via @susanwake.)
"Do fire departments actually rescue cats from trees?"

The short answer is, "Yes, but they're not real excited about doing so". Plus:
...[I]t would be unwise to assume that the fire department is going to use advanced cat-rescue techniques.

Firefighters in Okinawa, Japan, earlier this year decided the best way to deal with a feline up a 60-foot tree was to grab a chain saw and lop off the section the cat was clinging to.

When a Tennessee woman's cat was stuck in a pine tree, firefighters gave her two options: they could blast it out with a hose or shake the tree until the cat fell out. When asked how option B was any different from the cat's just falling out on its own, one firefighter answered, "Neither is real different, ma'am. Just quicker."

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Up Close and Personal With the Pixel Qi Display":
Conventional LCD screens offer bright, glossy images but consume too much power. The images they display are also not visible in sunlight. It's one of the reasons electronic paper, a low-power black-and-white display that can be seen clearly outdoors during the day, has become a rage among e-book readers. Pixel Qi promises to bridge both worlds.

Pixel Qi's 3Qi display operates in three modes: a full-color LCD transmissive mode; a low-power, sunlight-readable, reflective e-paper mode; and a transflective mode, which makes the LCD display visible in sunlight.
The story includes detailed description and images of each mode. One important caveat:
But unlike an E Ink display, even in the reflective mode, Pixel Qi's display burns power. E Ink displays don't consume power while you are reading the text on the screen. It just draws power when you turn the page.

Pixel Qi's display keeps refreshing at 60 Hz per second so it can't offer the week-long battery life that an E Ink-based reader does...
"The Third & The Seventh: Unbelievable CG Video". (Via HotAir.)
The dubious science behind the "wind chill".
Life on Mars update.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The real Apple tablet.
Law professor Orin Kerr on "Computer Searches, Encryption, and Plain View".
Cool ice sculptures! (Via Howard R.)
The ethics of hotel minibar arbitrage. (Via @TylerCowen.)
"They Don't Make Local News Intros Like They Used To".

Awesomely cheesy 1982 video clip from Milwaukee's WITI TV-6.
"100 Things We Didn't Know Last Year". (Via Kottke.)

Saturday, January 09, 2010

"10 Most Awesome Floors Ever Created". (Via Danny.)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

"Ray Kurzweil: The h+ Interview". I don't necessarily agree with everything he says, but he's thought-provoking as usual. Some of the topics he covers include:
Consciousness, Quantum Computing & Complexity
Artificial Intelligence & Reverse Engineering the Brain
Global Warming & GNR Technologies
The Singularity, Utopia & Happiness
Movies & Science Fiction
(Via Medgadget.)
"If a Siamese Twin Commits Murder, Does His Brother Get Punished, Too?" (Via Volokh Conspiracy.)
How to diagnose and treat a fractured penis.

Note: Contains medical illustrations and MRI images, but no photographs. Hence probably safe for work. (Via @KevinMD.)
How can the law deal with issues like the LHC, black holes, and the potential end-of-the-world?

Here's the legal paper (PDF) by Eric Johnson.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

"Trading Shares in Milliseconds":
Today's stock market has become a world of automated transactions executed at lightning speed. This high-frequency trading could make the financial system more efficient, but it could also turn small mistakes into catastrophes.
"The Nexus One Gets A Priceless Ad On Google's Homepage"
"Cell phone radiation may fight Alzheimer's... in mice"
"How the Brain Encodes Memories at a Cellular Level". (Via BBspot.)
Video of the day: Parallel lines optical illusion. (Via Neatorama.)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The hottest new technology of 1983.

Love those "home robots"!
"100 Quotes Every Geek Should Know"
Best janitor art ever. (Via BBspot.)
"How It Should Have Ended": Lord of the Rings and Terminator. And more.
Science writer Gary Taubes on Richard Feynman and good science:
...In a commencement address that Richard Feynman gave at Caltech in the 1960s, he said that "the first principle [of science] is that you must not fool yourself -- and you are the easiest person to fool."

So the simplest way to think about it is that good scientists are the ones who are most aware of this fact: how easy it is to be fooled by their data and to fool themselves. They're the ones who are most skeptical about their own work, not just the work of others. They're also aware that the only way not to be fooled is to work relentlessly to try to disprove your own pet theories, not try to confirm them.

Bad scientists do one experiment, get some interesting result, decide they've discovered something new, and then spend the rest of their lives trying to somehow prove that they did. Again, science doesn't work that way.

You have to put more faith in negative evidence than in positive; you have to put more effort into trying to refute your own beliefs and hypotheses, rather than trying to prove them. If you fail to refute them, then you can begin to take them seriously. And, yes, the inventors of cold fusion were bad scientists.
The rest of the interview has some interesting discussion of food and nutrition as well.

Monday, January 04, 2010

"10 Sci-Fi Weapons That Actually Exist"
"Underground Services Let Virus Writers Check Their Work". (Via MR.)
"The 5 Phases of Caffeine Intake"
Should we be building thorium-based nuclear reactors? (Via Howard R.)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

"10 Things Movie Theaters Won't Tell You"
"The future of brain-controlled devices". (Via @ryansager.)
"Quantum Cryptography Cracked". Here's the abstract.
Taser's technology is creating the Proto-RoboCop:
...Police have so often been accused of using Tasers gratuitously that the firm started fitting them with digital cameras that recorded every firing. This "Taser-cam" got the firm's boffins thinking: why not equip police with cameras that can record entire incidents (not just the brief moment when a Taser is used) and even beam the recordings instantly back to the higher-ups at headquarters?

The result is a "tactical on-officer network computer" called AXON, which is being tested by several police forces in America. Recordings are uploaded to a restricted website,, to be viewed by approved personnel. Mr Smith says that the creation of a sort of "secure YouTube of global law enforcement" could be beneficial both for the public, who would get more accountable police, and for officers on the beat, who could be vindicated more quickly if falsely accused of brutality.
Video mashups of Star Wars + A-Team and Star Wars + Dallas. (Via Cynical-C.)

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Gizmodo has compiled "The Exhaustive Guide to Apple Tablet Rumors".

Of course, we've been through a similar round of hype and speculation back in 2007 prior to Apple's official announcement of the iPhone.

Here are two reviews of the wrong guesses made about the iPhone prior to its release:
"The Speculative Prehistory of the iPhone"
"Four iPhone Mockups That Completely Missed the Mark"

Friday, January 01, 2010

Video of the day: Drew Brees is more accurate than an Olympic archer. (Via Hot Air.)