Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Apple device Field Guide.
Create your own custom multi-tool.
Video of the day: "This is How Airspace Reboots", after being shut down due to Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano:

(Via Gizmodo.)
The end of an era: "Sony has announced it will stop manufacturing floppy disks in March 2011."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Does 2X the sunscreen = 2X the SPF?"
Build your own cellular network.
Drezner on foreign policy and aliens: "How do you say 'realpolitik' in Klingon?" (Via Rand Simberg.)
The backstory behind the new element ununseptium (element 117.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How accurate are lie-detector tests?
"The first image ever taken of Earth from the surface of a planet beyond the Moon." Photographed by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit. (Via @bbspot.)
Improved traffic light with progress bar. (Via @shlevy.)
"Is It a Crime to Receive an Item That You Know Belongs to a Third Party?"

Monday, April 26, 2010

"Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have given an object the slightest nudge ever recorded." (Via GMSV.)
"Origin of Life Chicken-and-Egg Problem Solved":
Scientists have wondered how the first simple, self-replicating chemicals could have formed complex, information-rich genetic structures, when replication was originally such an error-prone process. Every advance would soon be lost to copying errors.

According to a new study, the answer may lie in the fundamental nature of those chemicals. The errors may have triggered an automatic shutdown of replication. Such stalling would allow only error-free sequences to be completed, giving them a chance at evolving.
(Via BBspot.)
"Apple iPad gets First Virus"
"Louisiana Bill Would Outlaw Insulting an Under-17-Year-Old By E-Mail"
Off topic: The April 25, 2010 edition of PajamasMedia has published my latest OpEd, "ObamaCare: Insurers Need Permission to Survive; Citizens, to Live".

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The "CSI Effect" is changing both criminals and courtrooms:
Criminals watch television too, and there is evidence they are also changing their behaviour. Most of the techniques used in crime shows are, after all, at least grounded in truth. Bleach, which destroys DNA, is now more likely to be used by murderers to cover their tracks. The wearing of gloves is more common, as is the taping shut -- rather than the DNA-laden licking -- of envelopes. Investigators comb crime scenes ever more finely for new kinds of evidence, which is creating problems with the tracking and storage of evidence, so that even as the criminals leave fewer traces of themselves behind, a backlog of cold-case evidence is building up.

The CSI effect can also be positive, however. In one case in Virginia jurors asked the judge if a cigarette butt had been tested for possible DNA matches to the defendant in a murder trial. It had, but the defence lawyers had failed to introduce the DNA test results as evidence. When they did, those results exonerated the defendant, who was acquitted.
Invention of the day: Lipstick stun gun.
Is it legal to stamp 'TAX CHEAT!' over Tim Geithner's signature on $1 bills?" (Via Instapundit.)
"Testing the iPad's Trip-Worthiness".

(This article basically reinforces my decision not to buy an iPad, at least for now. For my purposes, I'm still best off with my current combination of netbook-plus-Kindle. I still do a lot of typing while on the road, and need a good keyboard along with office suite software. But I don't want to read eBooks from the netbook, hence the Kindle. Fortunately, both are sufficiently light that I can easily fit them in my backpack. But perhaps a future incarnation of the iPad with better office suite software, full multitasking, and external keyboard might be able to replace that combination.)
Dilbert on wireless technology:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Admin note: Because Blogger has announced that it will discontinue FTP publishing support as of May 1, 2010, my wife Diana has been hard at work migrating all of our blogs to new domains.

Henceforth, GeekPress will be found at Any links to the old should automatically redirect. This also explains slight differences in the appearance of the template.

Similarly, the RSS feed is now at Feedburner (and old subscriptions should redirect automatically.)

Diana deserves all the credit for working on the migration!

Friday, April 23, 2010

"New speed cameras trap motorists from space". (Via WolfFiles.)
Why Boulder, CO Is America's Best Town for Startups. (Via @zooko.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Booby-trapped PDF files. (Via Bruce Schneier.)
Make your own iPad.
New record for paper airplane flight. (Via RB.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Massive multi-touch displays.
"Quantum Mechanics Explains How Muscle Produces Force"
Volcano joke of the day:
Iceland goes bankrupt, then it manages to set itself on fire. This has insurance scam written all over it.
"Antimatter Triggers Largest Explosion Ever Recorded in Universe". (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Worst detention slip ever. (Via @JonHenke.)

This one is pretty good as well.
"Wonder Watch For Snipers"
Flowchart for picking the right typeface. (Via GMSV.)
Maybe you don't want to become an embittered professor.

Of course, some of the economic factors aren't quite as relevant for academicians in law, medicine, or engineering. (Via Michael Williams.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

QM-based random number generator.
Online customers unwittingly sell their immortal souls to game company as part of April 1 joke.
"Hitler Is Very Upset That Constantin Film Is Taking Down Hitler Parodies"
"How to pronounce 'Eyjafjallajokull'".

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Video of the day: Laundry-folding robot.
Cool magnetic sculptures. (Via BBspot.)
"Mankind's ability to look for planets like Earth just got five times better".
Incredibly bad iPad/iPhone visual pun. (Via @shlevy.)
The mathematics that keeps ropes from unwinding.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"You're more likely to die from a heart attack when having sex while having an affair, than during sex with your regular partner".

This apparently applies to primarily to men, rather than women. (Via @bakadesuyo.)
"Painting What Can't Be Seen: Science and art combine."
Funny Mexican tombstones. (Some may be photoshopped.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Homer Simpson quote of the day: "Would you look at those idiots? I paid my taxes over a year ago!"
"The National Security Agency has developed a software tool that detects thumb drives or other flash media connected to a network." (Via an anonymous reader.)
"Does Attaching a Thumb Drive to a Shared Computer Waive Fourth Amendment Rights in its Contents?"

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Kitty meets iPad. (Via @BoraZ.)
Twitter's new business model.
"Apple patents 'Smart Covers' for devices"
Frequent password changes are useless.

Here's the related Boston Globe article, "Please do not change your password".

Monday, April 12, 2010

How much slower is the average dude compared to an NFL prospect?

The difference is astounding. (Via @bbspot.)
How far does diplomatic immunity go?
Great April 1 math lecture.

(Here's his Halloween 2009 lecture.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What to do if you happen to make first contact with an alien species. (Via BBspot.)
"How the iPad works".

And more on the forthcoming "limited multitasking" capability of OS 4.0.
Does "random matrix theory" explain our universe? (Via @JonHenke.)
I love great table magic. The finale is especially impressive!

Although the performance is in Chinese, you don't need to know the language to follow the action. (Via @DrEades.)
Off topic: As Tax Day approaches, PajamasMedia has just published my latest OpEd on health care, death, and taxes: "The Deadly Tax on Medical Innovation".

I make an analogy between Moore's Law and the current pace of medical progress, then discuss why ObamaCare will unnecessarily jeopardize millions of lives because of the many future innovations that won't be developed.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Daring Fireball's extremely informative iPad review. (Via Marginal Revolution.)
"What My 2.5 Year-Old's First Encounter With An iPad Can Teach the Tech Industry". (Via @ariarmstrong.)
Star Wars Google ad. (Via Instapundit.)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

"Pi = pie". (Via BBspot.)
The zero-G dog. (Via Cosmic Log.)
Where Is the Best Clock in the Universe?
"Can we make a conscious machine?" (Note: The article doesn't answer that question.)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Star Wars comedy series?
Medical tip of the day: Don't perform a C-section on a woman who's not pregnant. (Via @ariarmstrong.)

Monday, April 05, 2010

This is not a spiral. (Via Maximizing Progress.)
I'm holding off on getting an iPad for pretty much the same reasons outlined in this article. (Via BBspot.)
British MI-5 intelligence service seeking hackers:
For over a year now, MI5 (Britain's domestic intelligence agency) has been trying to improve the technical skills of its staff, especially when it comes to computer hardware and software. The agency is also in the process of expanding from 3,500 to 4,100 personnel. Noting that all the new hires were required to have good computer skills, MI5 decided to get rid of (by firing or retiring) the bottom few percent of personnel with the worst computer skills. The lack of such skills among these operatives has become more glaring of late. Some of the older lads, who didn't get into PCs and software much at all, are generally glad to go.

Last year, MI5 even took a chance and decided to recruit from the hacker community. They duly found about fifty suitable candidates. The new employees had to pass the screening process (background investigation and lengthy interviews), and sign the documents obliging them to comply with the Official Secrets Act (under pain of severe penalties). The latter item means they cannot discuss their new job with anyone outside of MI5 (and many inside MI5 who do not have a "need to know.")

MI5, like many corporations and intel agencies, have found that the largely self-taught recreational (and occasionally criminal) hackers have lots of useful skills that cannot be found in university trained software engineers. The MI5 hackers have quickly proved their worth, playing key roles in several counter-terrorism cases. One interesting aspect of all this is that most of the fifty new hires (or their families) were from Asia (mainly India, Pakistan and China)...

Sunday, April 04, 2010

"Mobile Data Surpasses Voice Traffic For First Time". (Via Instapundit.)
"E-publish or perish"
I'm hungry!
"Million-dollar math prize awarded, but not necessarily accepted"

Friday, April 02, 2010

Admin note: Light posting for the next few days.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

10 Geeky Business Cards
"Everything you ever wanted to know about GPS"
Shea Levy on Searle's Chinese Room thought experiment.