Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Disney Logo

Doug Mataconis: "The new Disney logo is somewhat disturbing"

ATM Heist

"ATM heist clears $1 million exploiting Citigroup e-payment flaw".

Their method:
"In order to obtain the case, the conspirators exploited a loophole in Citi's account security protocols, which caused Citi's account reconciliation systems to treat identical, near-simultaneous withdrawals as duplicates of a single withdrawal from an individual Citi Checking account," prosecutors alleged in the indictment. "In exploiting this loophole, the conspirators withdrew identical sums of money in succession from a single Citi checking account all within a specific time window. This allowed the conspirators to fraudulently withdraw several times the amount of money deposited into each account."

From Dropout to Poker Star

"From dropout to poker star: Greg Merson is ready for WSOP championship". (Via Marginal Revolution.)

The States With The Riskiest Voting Technology

"The States with the Riskiest Voting Technology".

Oh goody, CO is on the short list.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Truth, Lies, and 'Doxxing'

"Truth, Lies, and 'Doxxing': The Real Moral of the Gawker/Reddit Story"

I don't fully agree with the author's conclusions, but she used excellent case examples to raise some important issues.

Inside Microsoft Surface

"Under the Surface: iFixit breaks down Microsoft's tablet"

AxeCop Animated Series

Upcoming AxeCop animated series! Here's their Halloween video clip:

BTW, AxeCop is a hilarious comic series with the stories created by 5-year old Malachai Nicolle, illustrated by his 29-year old comic artist brother Ethan Nicolle.

The Sex Lives of Conjoined Twins

"The Sex Lives of Conjoined Twins"

Climate Scientist Mann Faces Obstacles to Winning Libel Lawsuit

ScienceInsider reports: "Climate Scientist Mann Faces Obstacles to Winning Libel Lawsuit, Legal Experts Say".

For more on this, see my earlier post: "How To Support Simberg and CEI Against Michael Mann". I donated!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

CBS News Fails to Understand Twitter in 2007

"Watch as CBS News fails to understand Twitter in 2007":

Amazing how much difference 5 years makes.  MySpace was still a big deal back then.

Physicists Beat Roulette

Alex Knapp: "Scientists Beat The House At Roulette With Chaos Theory"

2 Mothers and 1 Father

"A technique intended to eliminate mitochondrial diseases would result in people with three genetic parents".

Mothers' Day cards would get a little bit more complicated!

MS Store Alternate Universe

Marco Arment visits the bizarre alternate universe known as the Microsoft Store.

I was intrigued at the MS Store method of attempting to sell the Surface vs. the Apple Store method of selling the iPad.  It may be right for some potential customers, but probably not for me.

How To Support Simberg and CEI Against Michael Mann

On July 13, 2012, Rand Simberg (an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute) wrote a blog post critical of Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann and his work on global warming: "The Other Scandal In Unhappy Valley".

Mann subsequently demanded that CEI retract the post and apologize for it.

CEI declined.  CEI general counsel Sam Kazman wrote:
Shortly after that post was published in mid-July, CEI removed two sentences that it regarded as inappropriate.  However, we view the post as a valid commentary on Michael Mann’s research...

And regardless of how one views Mann's work, his threatened lawsuit is directly contrary to First Amendment law regarding public debate over controversial issues.  Michael Mann may believe we face a global warming threat, but his actions represent an unfounded attempt to freeze discussion of his views.

In short, we’re not retracting the piece, and we’re not apologizing for it.
In response, Mann filed a lawsuit against CEI and Rand Simberg, as well as National Review and columnist Mark Steyn (who quoted portions of Simberg's piece).

CEI has stated they will defend their "First Amendment rights".  They've also posted their legal defense of Simberg's blog post.

CEI is accepting donations to help them on this issue and their other work.  I've gladly donated.

(BTW, their website notes, "CEI is a non-partisan, educational and research institute operating under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. CEI accepts no government grants or contracts, nor do we have an endowment. Contributions to our efforts are tax-deductible.")

If you want to support CEI, you can donate here.

I'll also be staying tuned for updates on Rand Simberg's blog, Transterrestrial Musings, and will pass them along as appropriate.

Update #1: Welcome, Instapundit readers!

Update #2:  ScienceInsider reports, "Climate Scientist Mann Faces Obstacles to Winning Libel Lawsuit, Legal Experts Say" (10/26/2012).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Twisted Light

"Chip Makes Twisted Light for Communications"

Google Grand Canyon

"Google street view expands into Grand Canyon trails"

I'd much rather trust the Google version than the Apple Maps version of the Grand Canyon trails!

Permanently Save and Store Your Kindle Books

"How to permanently save and store your Kindle books".

Note: Should only be used for personal use of content you legitimately own, not for promoting piracy of copyrighted material.

What Quantum Computing Is and Is Not

"What Quantum Computing Is -- and What It's Not"

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

10x WiFi Speed Improvement With Math

Math: "Increasing wireless network speed by 1000%, by replacing packets with algebra".

More details at the MIT Technology Review website, "A Bandwidth Breakthrough".

I, for one, welcome the ability to download cat videos and Facebook memes at 10x speed. Just think of the enormous productivity gains America will enjoy as a result! (Via David Jilk.)

Tiny Tractor Beam

"Physicists Invent (Tiny) Working Tractor Beam, World Becomes Instantly More Awesome". (Via VAViper.)

Elevator Floor Video Prank

This is the best use of video monitors to simulate an elevator floor that I've ever seen. (Via Howard Roerig.)

Germs In Space

"Germs in space: Keeping astronauts healthy".

For instance:
[W]ithout gravity, germs launched by coughs and sneezes no longer fall to the ground within an earthly three to six feet, but continue to float around, increasing the distance and time for astronauts to inhale them or for them to settle on a wider variety of surfaces. 
(Via @Medgadget.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Italian Earthquake Convictions

Glenn Reynolds (aka Instapundit): "We Can't Predict Earthquakes And We Shouldn't Scapegoat Scientists".

One excerpt:
If I were an Italian earthquake researcher, I’d be giving serious contemplation to the prospect of relocating. (Four top disaster experts in Italy already have quit their posts in protest.) And if I were a researcher in some neighboring country, I might be reluctant to offer an opinion, lest some overreaching Italian prosecutor call Interpol for my arrest.

That’s too bad for Italy, which is one of the world’s major earthquake hotspots. Italian disaster officials, building-code writers, and insurance companies need the best earthquake advice they can get. But they won’t be getting it now. Instead, they’ll face a run of "bad luck."

Who Neanderthal Man Looked Like

As Debby Witt noted: "UK scientists recreated Neanderthal man, who looks just like Chuck Norris".

Perhaps we need a new page of "Neanderthal facts" along the line of "Chuck Norris facts", such as: 
Neanderthal Man doesn't has a grizzly bear carpet in his cave. The bear isn't dead it is just afraid to move. 

There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of animals Neanderthal Man allows to live. 

When Neanderthal Man does a pushup, he isn't lifting himself up, he's pushing the Earth down.

Guide to Italian Hand Gestures

Guide to Italian Hand Gestures. (Via GMSV.)

Related guide, with video. The guide notes, "Remember: With great hand gestures comes great responsibility. Use your new found communication skills wisely."

How to Weaponize Office Supplies

BusinessWeek: "How to Weaponize Office Supplies".

Just remember, if office supplies are outlawed...  (Via Matthew Bowdish.)

Smartphone Muggings

Beware of the rise in smartphone muggings:
The Associated Press reports that smartphone robberies now account for nearly half of all robberies in San Francisco, as well as an impressive 40 percent here in New York City. And the numbers aren't just high, they're getting higher fast. In Los Angeles, smartphone robberies are up 27 percent from last year, with no signs of slowing down.

The thefts come in all varieties as well. Victims have reported having their phones—iPhones in particular (surprise!)—yanked out of their hands while talking, snatched just as public transit reaches a stop, or even taken at gunpoint. Gunpoint.
...[T]he best defense is to just be smart. Don't flash that thing around when you can avoid it and hold on tight. And it won't keep it from getting stolen, but back that sucker up just in case; it'll soften the blow. Whatever you do, be careful. That's a lot of money in your pocket.
(Via Slashdot and Instapundit.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

More on First Sale Doctrine

"Can Copyrighted Works Purchased Abroad Be Resold In the United States?"

Eight Ways Goofing Off Can Make You More Productive

"Eight Ways Goofing Off Can Make You More Productive".

I'm an especially big fan of methods #2 and #6!

Jean-Paul Sartre's Blog

Hah!: "Le Blog de Jean-Paul Sartre". (Via Susan Dawn Wake.)

Facebook History

From the 2004 Harvard Crimson: "Hundreds Register for New Facebook Website".

I doubt this idea will ever catch on. There's no way enrollees would voluntarily share that kind of personal information on a computer network.  (Via Sam K.)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Life and Molecules

"In origin-of-life experiment, cooperative molecules win out". (Via John S.)

Scientists Read Dreams

"Brain scans during sleep were successfully used to decode some of the visual content of subjects' dreams"

People Can Handle The Genetic Truth

Ordinary people are able to handle the truth about their genome. (Via Kelly V.)

Glass Slipper Science

"What Qualities Would The Glass In Cinderella's Slippers Need To Have In Order For Her To Walk And Dance Safely?" (Via Alex Knapp.)

Will the Millennial Generation kill the NFL?

Will the Millennial Generation kill the NFL?

George Will makes a similar argument: "[I]n this age of bubble-wrapped children, when parents put helmets on wee tricycle riders, many children are going to be steered away from youth football, diverting the flow of talent to the benefit of other sports."

Personally, I believe adults should have the right to participate in sports like football if they choose provided they are properly informed of the risks/benefits/etc.

It may be that the culture eventually shifts to the point that football is considered an overly barbaric sport (like the way that boxing has lost popularity from the 1950s to today). Or it may be that a combination of technology and rule changes allows football to improve player safety while still preserving the currently-appealing aspects of the game.

Hence, I hope the government stays out of this issue and lets the marketplace sort this issue out.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sounds of Cylons

Video of the day: "Sounds of Cylons", as sung by Simon & Garfunkel.

(Via VAViper.)

Beer Keyboard

Beer Keyboard:

Scientists Discover a New Type of Cosmic Ray

"Scientists Discover a New Type of Cosmic Ray"

Bottles, Bubbles And Breakages

"A firm slap of the hand will break a glass bottle filled with water. A new fluid dynamics video shows exactly why". (Via Reid A.)

The Greatest Fake-Art Scam in History?

"The Greatest Fake-Art Scam in History?"

Also, why stealing multi-million (genuine) artwork is a bad business plan.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What a Live Botnet Looks Like

"What a Live Botnet Looks Like"

Space Jump Tech

Alex Knapp: "The Technology Behind Red Bull's Space Jump"

Related: David Cardinal, "The tech behind Felix Baumgartner’s stratospheric skydive"

BlackBerries Now Officially Uncool

NYT: "Quick, Hide the BlackBerry, It's Too Uncool"

I also remember when Palm used to be the hip, trendy PDA.  Then they failed to keep up and they went the way of the dinosaur.

It's Gotta Be The Shoes

"You Can Judge 90 Percent of a Stranger's Personal Characteristics Just by Looking at Their Shoes"

Monday, October 15, 2012

Google's Answer to Siri

"Google's Answer to Siri Thinks Ahead"

Tolkien Tourism Boom in NZ

"Hobbit tourism scatters more of Tolkien's magic across New Zealand"

Another wave of "Tolkien Tourism" hits New Zealand for The Hobbit, just as it did a decade ago for The Lord of The Rings.

Subjectivity in DNA Matching

"DNA analysis: Far from an open-and-shut case"

Does DNA analysis have more observer subjectivity than previously thought?  The authors compare this technology with recently-recognized error sources in conventional fingerprint matching.  (Via Alex Knapp.)

Browse like Bond

"Browse like Bond: How to surf the Web like a spy"

Increasingly advanced technique for web browsing without leaving a trace. I hadn't heard of the TAILS (The Amnesiac Incognito Live System) system before.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dude, Where's My Xenon?

"The Mysterious Case of the Missing Noble Gas"

Amazon Confirms It Makes No Profit On Kindles

"Amazon Confirms It Makes No Profit On Kindles"

The Measurement That Would Reveal The Universe As A Computer Simulation

"If the cosmos is a numerical simulation, there ought to be clues in the spectrum of high energy cosmic rays, say theorists"

Cobra Effect

Excellent Freaknomics podcast/blog post on the "Cobra Effect", where enacting a well-intentioned incentives can result in the opposite of the desired results.

Of course, many government programs fall prey to this kind of "unintended consequences".

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Largest Meteorite Auction Ever

"The Largest Meteorite Auction Ever".

Items include, "a four-pound piece of the moon (estimated cost: $340,000), the largest piece of the moon ever auctioned".

Update: Link was broken, now fixed.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

UAV Tresspassing?

"If I Fly a UAV Over My Neighbor's House, Is It Trespassing?"

Is the Government Afraid of This Phone App?

"Two Navy SEALs are bringing world-class encryption to the iPhone, for everything from state secrets to celebrity selfies. But that means it can be used by criminals as well."

Related story from Business Insider.

Things Getting Better

Interesting moving graph of income and life expectancy since 1800.

I'd much rather be living now than then! (Via Robert G.)

Facebook vs. Sex

"Between Facebook and Sex, Facebook Wins"

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Smart Bra

"When Lingerie and Medical Devices Collide, You Get the 'Smart Bra'"

Accidental Inventions

"The 15 most fascinating accidental inventions"

E-mail Takeover

"How can you stop e-mail from taking over your life?"

The CIA Burglar Who Went Rogue

CIA burglar who first worked for the CIA, then tried to work against them. (Via Bruce Schneier.)

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

SpaceX Engine Failure - Silver Lining?

Rand Simberg: "Why the Engine Failure Could be Good News for SpaceX"

Toroidal Vortices

"Extraordinary and beautiful examples of toroidal vortices produced by dolphins, beluga whales, humpback whales..." And man. (Via Francisco G.)

DNA Testing for Hotel Cheat

Hotel guest skips out on bill, caught by DNA left behind on his toothbrush.

Welcome to the 21st century.

13 Brilliant Science Museum Billboards

"13 Brilliant Science Museum Billboards"

Sunday, October 07, 2012

There's Gold In Them Thar Bacteria

"Researchers Discover Bacteria That Produces Pure Gold"

How To Steal The Space Shuttle

"How To Steal The Space Shuttle: A Step-By-Step Guide"

For those with criminal tendencies and Bond-villain-like grandiosity.

Phone Valet Market

Some NYC high school students pay private 'valets' a dollar a day to hold their cellphones while they're in class.

NYT Frets Over 3-D Printing of Guns

NYT: "Disruptions: With a 3-D Printer, Building a Gun With the Push of a Button"

The genie will soon be out of the bottle.

BTW, I'm ok with it, even if the NYT apparently isn't.  Given that it's already (generally) legal for a non-felon to create his own firearm for personal use with machine tools, this technology will merely make something already legal easier.

Of course, if a felon is prohibited from owning a gun, it should be illegal for him to make one with a 3-D printer, just as it is already illegal for him to buy one from his cousin. But we shouldn't limit the rights of the innocent people in the process of enforcing any legitimate laws.

Here is the current law:
Q: Does the GCA prohibit anyone from making a handgun, shotgun or rifle?

A: With certain exceptions a firearm may be made by a non-licensee provided it is not for sale and the maker is not prohibited from possessing firearms. However, a person is prohibited from assembling a non-sporting semi-automatic rifle or non-sporting shotgun from imported parts. In addition, the making of an NFA firearm requires a tax payment and approval by ATF. An application to make a machine gun will not be approved unless documentation is submitted showing that the firearm is being made for a Federal or State agency.

Steve Jobs on Changing The World

I hadn't seen Steve Jobs quote before:

When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and you're life is just to live your life inside the world.  Try not to bash into the walls too much.  Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.

That's a very limited life.  Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact:  Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.  And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Fruit and Veggie MRI

"What do fruits and vegetables look like inside an MRI?" (Via Debby Witt.)

And a handy apple flowchart!

Presentation Lessons

"11 Presentation Lessons You Can Still Learn From Steve Jobs"

Pronouncing Scotch Names

I don't know how to pronounce some of the crazier Scotch brands, such as Bruichladdich, Laphroaig, An Cnoc, Auchentoshan, and Lagavulin. Fortunately, actor and Scotsman demonstrates how. (Via Kottke.)

Neurochemistry and Storytelling

"The Neurochemistry of Empathy, Storytelling, and the Dramatic Arc, Animated":

[Off Topic] Forbes OpEd: Get Ready For Medical Rationing

[Off topic]: Forbes has published my latest health care OpEd, "Get Ready For Obamacare's Medical Rationing".

I discuss the latest PR campaign in the New York Times to "sell" overt medical rationing to the general public. If the ObamaCare advocates are confident enough to use the "R-word" now, they're almost certainly going to implement these ideas in a 2nd Obama term.

BTW, I am now a regular monthly columnist for Forbes, with my own dedicated page -- woo hoo! 

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Crowdsourcing Travel Plan Searches

"Brilliant: People making money by finding cheap fares for other people's complex flight itineraries." (Via Stellar.)

Malware Innovations

Antivirus software writers are having a hard time keeping up with the new malware innovations.

Personal DNA Testing

NPR raises concerns about inexpensive personal DNA testing: "Will Low-Cost Genome Sequencing Open 'Pandora's Box'?"

For the record I fully support this concept, as I discussed in 2010: "Should You Be Allowed to Know What’s in Your DNA?"

Strategic Napping

I would love a job that allowed "strategic napping".

Monday, October 01, 2012

Military Smartphone Malware

"The US Naval Surface Warfare Center has created an Android app that secretly records your environment and reconstructs it as a 3D virtual model for a malicious user to browse"

Thermos-Sized Telescope

Thermos-sized telescope

Are You A Phone Upside-Downer?

Are You A Phone Upside-Downer?

Marching Geese

Marching geese:

[Off topic] Hsieh PJM OpEd on the Harms of Medical Licensing

[Off topic]: Today's PJ Media has published my latest health care OpEd, "How Medical Licensing Laws Harm Patients and Trap Doctors".