Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bank robber foiled because teller and other customers wouldn't let him cut in line.

No, really. (Via Neatorama.)
"Complete History Of The Soviet Union, Arranged To The Melody Of Tetris":



(Via GMSV.)
"The ants whose multi-coloured abdomens show exactly what they've been eating". (Via @TreyPeden.)


Pocket chain saw.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Admin note: My hip injury.
"How IBM's Cognitive Computer Works":
Here's the basics of how the chip works. What they've been able to achieve right now is a chip with 256 processors (which the team has dubbed "neurons") laid out in an array of rows and columns. The neurons process in parallel, rather than relying on linear structures, and are connected to 1024 axons on the chips by synapses -- which is where the memory is stored. The axons act to either excite or hinder the power going through the synapses to the processors. Depending on the power and information its getting from the axons and synapses, the neuron determines whether its reached its predetermined "threshold potential" -- basically, whether its found a solution to the problem or part of the problem put to it. If it has, it will "spike" -- sending a signal back through the synapse -- and reset itself.

The synapse then has the solution sent from the neuron, while the neuron goes into a state where it's awaiting further information. Now picture all 256 neurons acting at the same time, with their signals modulated by the actions of the synapses and axons, and you can see the potential. All 256 neurons are working in parallel to each other, rather than simply acting on a set of linear instructions...
As author Alex Knapp notes, such an architecture also "fundamentally changes what it means to program. Instead of drafting a set of instructions, the hardware would instead, ideally, be taught what it needs to do."
Sending a free "virtual rose" can increase your chance of getting an online date.
"How to do direct-to-Kindle publishing". (Via Marginal Revolution.)
What your pronoun use reveals about you.

Monday, August 29, 2011

"Tampa Bay Bucs Buy Players iPads":
Coach Raheem Morris came up with the iPad idea, after using an iPad to watch a video of one of the draft prospects. The players will not only be able to access playbooks on the tablets, they can also watch videos of games, practice, and other teams.
Another potential benefit:
The new iPad initiative will also be good for team security. "We give these playbooks out, and by the end of training camp, we collect them so nobody sells them on the Internet," Morris told the Times. Plus, if someone loses a "playbook," or iPad, it's actually better than leaving behind a physical playbook -- "You've got a way to wipe (everything) off with the push of a button," Morris said.
"Can you stop a hurricane with a supercomputer and a few tons of soot? Maybe, but you'll get sued." (Via @gcaw.)
"Social Media and Biometric Software Could Make Future Undercover Policing Impossible". (Via Instapundit.)
Airport security line strategy FAIL. (Via Kelly V.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

"IBM builds 120 petabyte cluster out of 200,000 hard drives". (Via Howard Roerig.)
20 years ago today.

I'm sure this proposed new OS will never amount to anything!... (Via @shlevy.)
"The Inside Scoop on the Fake Barf Industry". (Via VAViper.)
"When universes collide, how will we know when it happens?"
"New Star Trek TV Series Being Planned, Takes Place After Voyager"
Star Trek cat tree:



Thursday, August 25, 2011

American Thinker has just published my short post, "Thank You, Steve Jobs".
Steve Jobs' best quotes.
New additions to the Oxford English Dictionary include "woot", "retweet", "noob", and "mankini".
"As physical limits bite, electronic engineers must build ever cleverer transistors"
"Energy-Harvesting Displays: Adding solar cells to screens could prolong the battery life of many electronic gadgets."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Best. Engagement photos. Ever.
"The Search For What Clicks In The New Digital Singles Scene".

Ideas being tried include matching up potential couples based on facial bone structure similarities, Twitter histories, and proximity in "degrees of separation" on Facebook. The last two sound potentially interesting. But will the first lead to being matched up with a hitherto unknown cousin?
Flowchart of the day: Which NFL football team should I root for?

(Click on image to see full size. Via @TreyPeden.)


"Why Are There So Few Earthquakes On The East Coast?"

Semi-related: "Top politically themed earthquake tweets". (Some of these are pretty clever!)

And a great example of what I like about today's world. (xkcd reference.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Photographs of a dog's head out of window at various speeds. (Via @radleybalko.)
In honor of the 30th anniversary of the IBM PC, Benj Edwards attempted to do some modern work with the venerable IBM 5150.

He was able to do some basic word processing as well as send out a Tweet (!). But websurfing was tough. (Via @TheAlexKnapp.)
"Quantum entanglement could mean completely secure data transfer".

Until, of course, the next clever quantum-entanglement-cracking technology.
Luxury orbiting space hotels! (Via J.S.)
British schoolgirl fitted with bionic fingers.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Brent Spiner's Patrick Stewart impression is disturbingly realistic":

Time magazine: "A Drink or Two a Day May Lower the Risk of Alzheimer's". (Via @dmataconis.)
The science of smiles.
"Social Machines: Computers That Know If You're Naughty or Nice"

Friday, August 19, 2011

"Stealing ATM PIN Numbers Using a Thermal Camera":


Settling the "Gandalf vs. Dumbledore" debate. (Via @mirandabarzey.)
"Bridesmaid Appears at Wedding via iPad".

(More details at Colorado 7 News.)
Staple-less stapler.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cool stop-motion sculpture using 21 triangles:


MÖBIUS from ENESS on Vimeo.

(Via GMSV.)
"Acoustic Cloaking Device Lets Sound Travel Uninterrupted Around Objects"
Anti-endorsement contracts: "Teen apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co. is offering to pay Michael 'The Situation' Sorrentino not to wear its merchandise."

More details in this WSJ article. (Via Marginal Revolution.)
"Musicians Embrace the iPad, Leave Sheet Music at Home"

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"13 percent of cell phone owners have faked using their phone to avoid a social interaction within the last month".
Relative sizes of the Atlantic vs. Pacific Oceans. (Via Larry Sanger.)
"Using Diamonds and Microwaves to Improve Quantum Computing"
Brain boosting update.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"High-Frequency Trading Fears Do Not Compute"
"How The New York Times Paywall Is Working".

His argument: "Yes, the NYT paywall is porous -- but that’s a feature, not a bug."
Eugene Volokh on the term "backslash".
"New, Undeletable, Web Cookie"

Monday, August 15, 2011

Robogami: Robotic Paper, Electronic Origami. Includes cool videos.
"Why are restaurant websites so horrifically bad?"
"The Star Trek Book of Opposites".

That's the kind of children's book I wish had been around when I was growing up! (Via BBspot.)
"The African crested rat applies tree poison to its fur to make itself more deadly." (Via Bruce Schneier.)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Pacific island nation of Niue will be minting legal tender silver coins with the Queen of England on one side and Star Wars characters on the other side.

"Collectors items these will be!" (Via Neatorama.)

"London Is the Surveillance Society's Biggest Test Yet".

Personally, I predict Scenario 2, followed by calls for more government surveillance.
"New drug could cure nearly any viral infection"
"A guide to controlling privacy, info on Google+"

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How people in university science see each other (click on image to see full size):


(Via @bradleyvoytek)
Woman who won Texas lottery 4 times has a PhD in statistics from Stanford:
First, she won $5.4 million, then a decade later, she won $2 million, then two years later $3 million and in the summer of 2010, she hit a $10 million jackpot.

The odds of this has been calculated at one in eighteen septillion and luck like this could only come once every quadrillion years...
I'm sure the article author said, "Finally -- I get to use the word 'septillion' in a news story!"

(Via @bakadesuyo.)
Gmail now offers a preview pane. (Via BBspot.)
"Text Slang for Baby Boomers". (Via GMSV.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Off topic: Today's PajamasMedia has just published my latest OpEd, "Don't Shoot the Downgrade Messenger".
"Tiny, self-assembling robots can swim and clamp onto particles and then release them when subjected to the right magnetic fields."

Link includes short video.
Should "therapy dogs" be allowed in the courtroom to help child witnesses give difficult testimony?
"God's Blog." (Via Volokh Conspiracy.)
"Texas Once Linked to Antarctica, Researchers Say". (Via Hanah V.)

I just hope this doesn't stir up those crazy political extremists:

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Will e-readers save reading?
"The man who stole the Mona Lisa"
"Spaceflight Psychology and the New 'Right Stuff'"
Best Wi-Fi names. Some of my favorites include:
Police Surveillance Van 2
Use This One Mom
No Free Wi-Fi for You
BAD ERROR 313: disconnect
(Via BBspot.)

Monday, August 08, 2011

Notes from a ventriloquist convention:
At the convention, I encountered two types of dummies: the Freudian Ids, brightly colored, creaturely puppets who acted out the dormant longings of their masters, and the Superegos, usually wise-cracking boys like the famous Charlie McCarthy dummy, or squinting, censorious characters attired in three-piece suits. In all of these interactions I, at first, played it cool. I’d always address the vent, never the puppet. But it didn’t take long for me to begin talking directly to the dummy—to many dummies, in fact, and candidly and for long stretches—because, as odd as it was to talk to dolls, it felt less odd than ignoring them...
"TV appearance of Lincoln assassination witness". Wow.:
In 1956, 96-year-old Samuel Seymour appeared on a game show called I've Got A Secret... His secret was that he saw Lincoln's assassination when he was five years old.

"In what field are blind mathematicians most likely to work?"

Surprising answer: Geometry. (Via Tyler Cowen.)
"Are Humans Actually Getting Better at Chess?"
Which is the biggest danger to humanity: Intelligent robots or intelligent monkeys?

Friday, August 05, 2011

Wow. Baboons kidnap feral puppies, then raise them as pets/guard dogs:



(Via Michael Williams.)
Did Earth lose one of its two moons?
"You (YOU!) Can Take Stanford's 'Intro to AI' Course Next Quarter, For Free". (Via @TheAlexKnapp.)
Unusual hotels.

The underwater hotel in Fiji sounds especially cool!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Text editors explained with Lord of the Rings locations. (Via BBspot.)
"iPhone 4 and a sensor tattoo creates diabetic blood monitor"

"Which drugs produced which classic works of literature?"
"What's the chance you will have sex or have a relationship with someone from a speed-dating event?"

Short answer: 6% and 4%, respectively.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Wired: "How One Man Hacked His Way Into the Slot-Machine Industry". (Via VAViper.)
Gravestone laser technology. One example from the article:

"Complete Northern and Southern hemisphere night-sky panorama in one image." (Via Doug W.)
What happens when you take a bunch of 20-something college journalism students and have them put out a newspaper with pre-digital technology?

Excerpt:
Managing editor Mariam Aldhahi was stymied after typing her first line. "What do I do now?" she asked. "There's no RETURN key."

I pointed to the lever that would propel the carriage back to the left, while the gears inside would simultaneously ratchet the paper to the next line.

She tapped it lightly.

"No, this is a manual typewriter," I told her. "You actually have to expend some calories."

I slammed the lever to the right, and the carriage flew back to the left margin, stopping with a thud. A look of understanding, laced with horror, crossed her face.

"It's going to be like this the entire time, isn't it?"

"Not at all," I said. "It actually gets worse."

Worse was watching them edit their own stories...
(Via Howard Roerig.)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Dilbert on how to prepare for an economic collapse:


(Via Instapundit.)
"How to use dice to stop people from lying on surveys".
MIT students legally exploit an arbitrage opportunity to make money in a MA state lottery game. (Via Marginal Revolution.)
"How 50 Big Companies Got Their Names". (Via BBspot.)
A fork and spoon that fit in your wallet.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Incremental advances: "Invisibility Cloak Breakthrough Hides Objects From Human View".
How you're really supposed to play Monopoly -- and why almost nobody actually does. (Via Marginal Revolution.)
Is coffee good for you or bad for you? (Via @daniel_wahl.)
James Gleick: "How Google Dominates Us". A better title might have been, "How Google adds tremendous value to our lives".

One interesting tidbit:
"More than 96 percent of its $29 billion in revenue last year came directly from advertising... Google makes more from advertising than all the nation’s newspapers combined."
Business Week on the cyber arms race.