Saturday, April 30, 2011

"Brilliant vintage-inspired propaganda posters for modern workplace issues". I especially liked this one:



(Via @Earl3d.)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Legal tidbit: If you are a member of the clergy, you can opt out of Social Security.

Could this spawn a growth industry in new churches for Generation Y?
Battlefield smart phones.
Parkour school.
Clever zombie-proof house.



(Via Michael Williams.)
Artificial synapse.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"If Star Wars Had Been Written by Jean-Paul Sartre":

He'll be baaaaack....: "Arnold Schwarzenegger is signed on to star in a fifth Terminator movie".
"Podcast on the Politics of Star Trek"
Rand Simberg: "The Russians are asking exorbitant fees to transport our astronauts to the space station while preventing American private companies from doing the job.

Here's his related Washington Examiner piece, "NASA over a Russian barrel". And don't forget to check out his blog, Transterrestrial Musings.
Although I'm not a Roger Ebert fan, I did like his winning caption for the New Yorker cartoon contest (as well as some of the other entries he has submitted.)

Of course, some of these "Literal New Yorker captions" are pretty good, too...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A couple of recent related articles on mobile phones and privacy from The Atlantic:

"What Does Your Phone Know About You? More Than You Think" (4/25/2011)

"Atoms vs. Bits: Your Phone in the Eyes of the Law" (4/26/2011)
"Fire ants assemble as a 'super-organism'". Includes video. (Via Instapundit.)
"Last Typewriter Factory in the World Shuts Its Doors".

Update: Not quite dead yet!
"Spider robot is both cool and creepy"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The current state of high-temperature superconductor research.
Language geeks will enjoy playing with the Google n-gram database.
"The Economics Of The Jetsons". (Via Tyler Cowen.)
When book-pricing algorithms go bad.

Monday, April 25, 2011

James Gleick: "What defines a meme?" (Via ALDaily.)
Another legal peril of using a non-secured wireless router: The police charge you with being a pedophile, when someone else used your connection to download porn.
Video of the day: "Symmetry"



(Via GMSV.)
How much truth is there to the stereotypes about Mac vs. PC users?
Why dual screens are better than one.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Off topic: Yesterday's PajamasMedia just published my latest health care OpEd, "We Call It 'Rationing,' Obama Calls It 'Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board'".

Friday, April 22, 2011

"The Botnets That Won't Die"
Self-healing polymers:

First Earth-space duet featuring Astronaut Cady Coleman and Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson:



(Via @TomRStone, @SusanWake.)
Why it's easiest to work in a noisy distracting coffeeshop. (Via Ben B.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"How something can be 'east of the South Pole'?" (Via BBspot.)
"Got an iPhone or 3G iPad? Apple is recording your moves". More details here.

At the moment, there's no indication that the data is leaving the owner's custody. But as one person noted on Twitter, "I wonder how many lawyers with active divorce cases just filed for discovery of iPhone backup files from the computers."

Plus some police in Michigan already attempt to download your phone data during routine traffic stops.
"High stakes in online poker fight".
Breathtaking offices. More here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"How big an explosion could you realistically survive?"
The next step in touch screens?
"Can martial arts "pressure points" really knock people unconscious? If so, how do they work?"
Photo tour of Facebook's new datacenter. Click through to see lots of pictures.

Interesting tidbit:
The execs who showed me around today said they chose the [Prineville, OR] site based on an exhaustive search for the perfect combination of low-seismic risks, cooler and mostly dry weather, access to power and Internet trunk lines (Prineville is an old railroad community, and fiber lines run under the railroads here) and a variety of other factors including low tax rates and friendly climate to business, etc.
(Via Evan Brown.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bad excerpts from bad romance novels. (Via GMSV.)
Illustrated chart of superpowers. (Via BBspot.)
"Berkeley Bionics Human Exoskeleton":

"Scientists teleport Schrodinger's Cat"

Related story, "Quantum Teleportation Is a Reality".

And related T-shirt ($15):

Monday, April 18, 2011

"E-book sales top paperbacks for first time"
"How Civil War Photography Changed War"
"Can you name the movie if you watched them backwards?"
"University of Chicago mathematics professor Benson Farb explains why the design of the Pringles potato chip owes much to Einstein's theory of relativity."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Trailer for Cowboys & Aliens:

Friday, April 15, 2011

"Flash on Android: Look but don't touch"
"If Harry Potter Had An MBA". (Via GMSV.)
Can an Algorithm Spot the Next Google?"
"Filming Begins on The Hobbit":

"How astronaut training has changed". (Via BBspot.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Data-mining and predictive analysis techniques developed for junk mail now being applied for military use.
True color holograms.
Do our computers have multiple typefaces/fonts because of a single class Steve Jobs took as a college dropout?



Here is an excerpt from his 2005 Stanford commencement address:
Reed College at the time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class and learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, and about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great...

If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionately spaced ones. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them.
Of course, it's entirely possible that the new market for word processing and graphic design would have brought about this development independently. But I also keenly remember how totally cool it was to see all the various font choices in my first Mac SE, and how different it was from the the IBM PCs.
"How do I use public Wi-Fi safely?"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Geeky banana sculptures.



See more here. (Via BBspot.)
"Police increasingly peeping at e-mail, instant messages":
Law enforcement organizations are making tens of thousands of requests for private electronic information from companies such as Sprint, Facebook and AOL, but few detailed statistics are available, according to a privacy researcher.

Police and other agencies have "enthusiastically embraced" asking for e-mail, instant messages and mobile-phone location data, but there's no U.S. federal law that requires the reporting of requests for stored communications data, wrote Christopher Soghoian, a doctoral candidate at the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University, in a newly published paper...

That's in contrast to traditional wiretaps and "pen registers," which record non-content data around a particular communication, such as the number dialed or e-mail address that a communication was sent to. The U.S. Congress mandates that it should receive reports on these requests, which are compiled by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Soghoian wrote.
"Head Tracking Allows Glasses Free 3D on iPad":
We track the head of the user with the front facing camera in order to create a glasses-free monocular 3D display. Such spatially-aware mobile display enables to improve the possibilities of interaction. It does not use the accelerometers and relies only on the front camera.

"Best Rejection Letter Ever":
...it is with no inconsiderable degree of reluctance that I decline the offer of any Paper from you. I think, however, you will under reconsideration of the subject be of the opinion that I have no other alternative. The subjects you propose for a series of Mathematical and Metaphysical Essays are so very profound, that there is perhaps not a single subscriber to our Journal who could follow them.
Sir David Brewster editor of The Edinburgh Journal of Science to Charles Babbage on July 3, 1821.
"Sorting algorithms as dances". (Via Hanah V.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Off topic: The April 12, 2011 edition of PajamasMedia has published my latest OpEd, "The Homer Simpson Approach to Social Security".
Is the Fermi Paradox due to interstellar predation?
Ari Armstrong: "Publish your own book".

This is a very natural extension of the decentralizing of content creation we've already seen in blogging, YouTube, etc.
Legal tip of the day: Don't sell restricted US military equipment on eBay.

(Related story.)
"How (Not) to Teach Your Children About Sex and Internet Porn":



(Maybe mildly NSFW, depending on where you work. H/T: @shlevy.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chinese government clamping down on time-travel themed television and movies because they are disrespectful to history.



No, really. (Via Tyler Cowen.)
"As the law stands now, the authorities may obtain cloud e-mail without a warrant if it is older than 180 days, thanks to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act adopted in 1986."

More details:
At that time, e-mail left on a third-party server for six months was considered to be abandoned, and thus enjoyed less privacy protection. However, the law demands warrants for the authorities to seize e-mail from a person's hard drive.

A coalition of internet service providers and other groups, known as Digital Due Process, has lobbied for an update to the law to treat both cloud- and home-stored e-mail the same, and thus require a probable-cause warrant for access. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on that topic Tuesday.

The companies -- including Google, AOL and AT&T -- maintain that the law should be changed to reflect that consumers increasingly access their e-mail on servers, instead of downloading it to their hard drives, as a matter of course.

But the Obama administration testified that imposing constitutional safeguards on e-mail stored in the cloud would be an unnecessary burden on the government. Probable-cause warrants would only get in the government's way.
The song remains the same, regardless of which political party is in charge... (Via R.W.)

Update: Declan McCullagh points out that in 2008, candidate Obama took the opposite position as now-President Obama. (Via Doug Mataconis.)
"New Gravity Map Reveals Lumpy Earth"



(Via @TreyPeden.)
Jobs I wouldn't want include cleaning the cobra pit.




(Via @JonHenke.)

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Video of the day: "Navy Laser Sets Ship on Fire"

Friday, April 08, 2011

iPad + April 1 = hilarious practical joke during live newscast

Optical stun ray.
Wil Wheaton describes his humiliating experience with the TSA.
"How to Prolong Lithium-based Batteries". One item caught my eye:
Similar to a mechanical device that wears out faster with heavy use, so also does the depth of discharge (DoD) determine the cycle count. The smaller the depth of discharge, the longer the battery will last.

If at all possible, avoid frequent full discharges and charge more often between uses. If full discharges cannot be avoided, try utilizing a larger battery. Partial discharge on Li-ion is fine; there is no memory and the battery does not need periodic full discharge cycles other than to calibrate the fuel gauge on a smart battery.
Interestingly, this goes against Apple's recommendation that iPad owners perform a full charge-and-discharge cycle on their batteries once a month.

(Via Lifehacker.)
xkcd: "Significant"

Thursday, April 07, 2011

How far should neuroscience inform the law?

(IMHO, not as much as the article author would like, especially to the extent he wishes to overturn current concepts of volition and responsibility.)
"Why Wearing a Baseball Cap Backwards is Dumb". (Via Instapundit.)
Building a Lego ship in a bottle.
e-Reader culture clash at book clubs.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Black Hats and Honey Pots.
"Robot folds, throws paper plane"



"Dr. James Porter, medical director of robotic surgery at Swedish [Hospital of Seattle] folds a small paper airplane with the da Vinci surgical robot to demonstrate how this device gives surgeons greater surgical precision and dexterity over existing approaches."
"The Sleepless Elite: Why Some People Can Run on Little Sleep and Get So Much Done"
"30 years of mobile computing: Osborne 1 vs. iPad 2"

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Awkward headline of the day (click on image to see full size):



(Via Radley Balko.)
The Economist on anonymous online commenting: "Trolling For Your Soul". (Via Donald H.)
"How blind people see the Internet"
Military apps for the iPod Touch.

"Need an airstrike -- we've got an app for that!"
Classic Craigslist vasectomy story.

I don't necessarily agree with the moral, but it's an entertaining read. (May be mildly NSFW due to mild profanity.)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Ryan Sager on what makes people tip more and what doesn't. (Via BBspot.)
Cool "Tree of Life" graphic.

Via R.B., who notes, "If you enlarge the image, the fuzz around the ball is actually the species names of 3,000 evolutionarily related species as identified by their rRNA. Of course that is less than 1% of all known species."
US Air Force aircraft identification chart (click on image to see full size):



(Via J.B.)
Escalators apparently bring out the best in people.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

If you're afraid of heights, then don't watch this video of a repair worker climbing to the top of a 1700-foot high communications tower:



(Via R.B.)

Friday, April 01, 2011

Russian scientist will attempt to breed his 5-eared cat with a 4-eared cat to create more multi-eared cats.
Scientific breakdown of a Bloody Mary.
Fighting fire with an electric-field generating "magic wand":
Researchers say they've found a new way to snuff out flames using an electric field-generating wand -- and the seemingly magical technique just might be put to use in future fire rescues...

The technology sounds a bit like the fictional flame-freezing charm or the Aguamenti spell mentioned in J.K. Rowling's series of Harry Potter books, and the fact that it's done with a wand-like electrode makes the story even better. "The best geometry of the electrode is in the form of a thin wire, which journalists creatively labeled a wand," [Harvard researcher] Cademartiri said.
"Real Life Eye Of Sauron Watches Over A Cubicle"