Friday, August 31, 2012

In The Clouds

"51% Of People Think Stormy Weather Affects 'Cloud Computing'". (Via @dmataconis.)

Hurricane Reporter Fails

"The Ultimate Hurricane Reporter Fails Compilation"



(Via Cynical-C.)

Frequent Flier Space Miles

Alex Knapp: "Frequent fliers on Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin Australia have a new perk to save their miles for -- a trip into space."

Stretchable Electronics

Stretchable electronics

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Manifest Destiny of Artificial Intelligence

"The Manifest Destiny of Artificial Intelligence"

The Never-Ending Argument

"Star Trek v. Star Wars: A comparison in comics format"

What Happens to Stolen Bicycles?

"What Happens to Stolen Bicycles?"

Apple Genius Training

"How To Be a Genius: This Is Apple’s Secret Employee Training Manual".

I was fascinated by how much was shrewd (some might say manipulative) use of applied psychology as opposed to simply technical issues.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Debate over MRI Lie Detector in MD Murder Trial

"Debate on brain scans as lie detectors highlighted in Maryland murder trial".

The judge heard testimony about the technology, but ultimately decided not to allow it for the trial.

Smart Sutures That Detect Infections

"Smart Sutures That Detect Infections"

How Encyption Works Between Two Computers

Video: "How encyption works between two computers"


The Woman Who Needed to Be Upside-Down

If a giant man ever walks into the ER holding a tiny woman upside-down by her feet, you'll be damned glad you read this article. (Via Dr. David Solsberg.)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Why Sunsets Are Blue On Mars

Sarcastic Rover explains why sunsets are blue on Mars.

The 'Anternet'

"Stanford biologist and computer scientist discover the 'Anternet'". (Via Radley Balko.)

String Tangling

The physics of string tangling. (Via @debbywitt.)

The Origins of "D'oh!"

The Origins of "D'oh!"



Tidbit: In the actual scripts, it's always written as "annoyed grunt", rather than "D'oh".

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

[Off-Topic] Hsieh OpEd in Forbes on Human Progress and Wealth

[OFF TOPIC]  My latest OpEd was published in yesterday's Forbes, "If You Want Human Progress To Stop, Institute A Maximum Income".

Theme: Honestly-earned wealth should be defended on moral (as well as economic) grounds.

Wiki Weapon Project

"'Wiki Weapon Project' Aims To Create A Gun Anyone Can 3D-Print At Home".

It will be very interesting if this goes anywhere technically. And what sort of legal measures are proposed in response:

Your Piece Of The Berlin Wall Is Not Special

Your piece of the Berlin Wall is not special

Forgotten Tech

"Our favorite 'forgotten tech' -- from BeOS to Zip Drives"

What Makes Teflon Stick To The Pan

What makes Teflon stick to the pan.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Video of the day: "Hover 'Bike' Flies on Pilot's Intuition".



(Via @supatrey.)

Deep, Deep, Storage

"For one cent a month, Amazon Glacier stores your data for centuries".

However, retrieval can be slow and potentially costly.

Passive Surveillance With Subject's WiFi

Bruce Scheier notes: "A new technology uses the radiation given off by wi-fi devices to sense the positions of people through a one-foot-thick brick wall."

Restaurant Offers Discount for Surrendering Your Phone Before Meal

"Restaurant Offers Discount for Surrendering Your Phone Before Meal". (Via Mark Perry.)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Our Internal Microbiome

"Looking at human beings as ecosystems that contain many collaborating and competing species could change the practice of medicine"

Slow-Mo Rickman

"Alan Rickman is awesome even when he’s making tea in extreme slow-motion"

State Stereotypes Using Google Autocomplete

Clever map of US state stereotypes, using Google Autocomplete to fill in "Why is [state X] so..."

Government Experiments on Derailing Trains

Vintage footage from 1944 shows US government experiments on the best way to derail trains.

Includes various slow motion, reverse motion, and freeze frame analysis. (Via Howard R.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fake IDs More Realistic

Technology is making it much easier to create realistic fake IDs.

Note: Technology makes it easier to create fake IDs" does not imply "We need a national ID card".

Encrypted Warhead

"Encrypted Warhead": "Researchers have renewed their call for help in cracking an "encrypted warhead" they believe was unleashed by a powerful nation-state and may be poised to search and destroy a high-profile target."

(Via A.B., who summarizes: "Clever. Computer virus payload which will only decrypt on matching hash of traits on target system. I'm really curious what comes out of this.")

Best. Coffeeshop. Sign.

Best coffeeshop sign. See item #5. (Click on image to see full size).

African Pirate Form Letters

When African pirates hijack a ship, here's the form letter they send out.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

X-Ray Photography

"Incredible X-Ray Photography by Nick Veasey". (Via VAViper.)

Wireless Charging Update

"Wireless Charging Technology to Hit Mainstream in Late 2013". (Via Jon H.)

Legality of Fan Fiction?

"Are fan fiction and fan art legal?"

Recipe for Ice Cubes

Recipe for ice cubes.

The comments are especially good. (Via Diana and Susan W.)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cool Video of Earth From ISS

Awesome video of Earth as viewed from the ISS. (Via Howard Roerig.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

p-adic Numbers

The physics may be dubious, but the math is interesting! (Via Francisco G.)

MIcrosoft's Lost Decade?

The August 2012 Vanity Fair has a lengthy piece entitled, "Microsoft's Lost Decade".

The article includes information supposedly drawn from MS staff about the toxic corporate culture and poor management that caused them to lose their innovative edge, while competitors like Apple, Amazon, and Google made incredible gains.

I don't have any first-hand knowledge of some of these claims.  So it's possible that the stories are completely accurate.  Or they may be coming from folks with axes to grind.  But if the overall theme of the article is correct, it does explain a lot of what we've seen (or not seen) coming from Microsoft these past 10 years.

Lawyers In Space!

Doug Mataconis: "Lawyers In Space!"

The Science of Gaydar

The science (or lack thereof) of "gaydar".

Your Cat's Double Life

"Lightweight Kitty Cams reveal the secret life of house cats"

Thursday, August 09, 2012

[OFF TOPIC] Hsieh OpEd in Forbes on Medical Innovation

[Off Topic]: The 8/8/2012 Forbes has published my latest OpEd, "The Federal Government's War On Medical Innovation".

I discuss how the government is hampering the development of life-saving medical technology through two methods: new taxes and FDA regulation.

Chinese Prison Body Doubles

"In China, the rich and powerful can hire body doubles to do their prison time for them"

(I'll let somebody else make the obligatory, "They all look alike" joke!)

"Smart Pill" Knows When It's Been Ingested

"FDA clears first 'smart pill' that senses when it's been taken, sends data to wearable patch"

How Alan Turing Outsmarted Britain's Home Guard

"How Alan Turing Outsmarted Britain's Home Guard -- and For Their Own Good"

Freakonomics-themed TV Cop Show

The Freakonomics blog announced, "Weird But True: Freakonomics-Flavored Cop Show Bought by NBC".

They explain, "The gist: a big-city police force, in crisis, hires a rogue academic (sound familiar?) to help get crime under control." It could be interesting!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Ultimate People Walking Into Stuff Compilation

The title pretty much says it all: "The Ultimate People Walking Into Stuff Compilation"


(Via Cynical-C.)

Bug Gun With Salt As Ammo

Dispense with pesky insects with the Bug-A-Salt salt gun.

Uses a pinch of common table salt. Non-toxic, no flammable chemicals. More information here. (Via Howard R. and Kelly V.)

The Abbreviation 'OMG" Is Almost 100 Years Old

"The abbreviation 'OMG' is almost 100 years old":
Perhaps the first usage of "OMG" appeared in a 1917 correspondence from British Admiral John Arbuthnot Fisher to Winston Churchill, wherein Fisher excitedly relayed the phrase to his former Royal Navy colleague -- "I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis — O.M.G. (Oh! My God!) -- Shower it on the Admiralty!!"

Witchcraft Flowchart

Flowchart of the day: "So, You've Been Accused of Witchcraft..."

(Click on image to see full-size)


Netflix For Ties

Clever business idea: Tie Society.  Basically, it's "Netflix for ties". 

Fortunately, I don't wear ties regularly.  But if I did, I'd consider using this service.  (Via J.M.)

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Sprinter Speeds Over Time

This well-done interactive graphic shows how amazingly fast Usain Bolt is.

And how sprinters have progressed over the decades.

MIT Hippy Geek Saved Apollo 13 Astronauts?

"NASA Had No Idea How To Save Apollo 13, But An MIT Student Reportedly Did"

Update: Others dispute this claim.

Post-Coital Smartphone

1 in 5 people reach for their smartphone after sex (item #3)

Unsafe Safes

"Unsafe Gun Safes Can Be Opened By A Three-Year Old".

From the article:
[E]lectrons do not open doors; mechanical components do. If you can compromise the mechanisms then all the credentials, encryption, fingerprint readers, and other gizmos and gimmicks mean nothing.
Or as Bruce Schneier notes: "In other words, security is only as strong as the weakest link."

Monday, August 06, 2012

Powerful Magnets Spare Baby From Major Surgery

CNN reports "Magnet experiment saves baby big surgery".

Basically, Dr. Eric Scaife (assisted by a radiologist) used a pair of powerful magnets to safely create an artificial perforation in some abnormal tissue blocking a baby's rectum (a condition known as rectal atresia). By doing so, he was able to spare the baby some potentially dangerous major surgery.

The article doesn't describe which brand of magnet Dr. Scaife used, only that they were "industrial-strength magnets from an online company". But they sure sound similar to these Buckyball magnets that the government is trying to ban from consumers.

In effect, Dr. Scaife used his magnets to create (under carefully controlled circumstances) the same kind of bowel perforation that is one of the risks of unintended ingestion of Buckyball magnets.

(FWIW, I don't think the government should ban the sale of Buckyball magnets to adults.  But that's a topic for another time.  CNN link via R.W.)

Can You Get A Patent On Being A Patent Troll?

"Can You Get A Patent On Being A Patent Troll?"

Don't Surf Porn From Your Work Computer...

...Especially not if you're part of the US military missile defense staff

Bank Allows Man to Deposit Junk Mail Check

"Patrick Combs deposits a junk-mail cheque for $95,000 – for a joke. The bank cashes it".

Things get especially interesting after the bank tells him the money is legally his.

Prescient Text Message

College student's final text just before a near-fatal car accident: "I need to quit texting, because I could die in a car accident".

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Competitors-Per-Olympic-Medal Ratio

Different countries' Olympic success rates ranked by competitors-per-Olympic-Medal ratio.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

NASA and Commercial Space

Rand Simberg discusses NASA's decision to award more than $1 billion to private spaceflight companies SpaceX, Boeing, and Sierra Nevada. And what it means for the future of the ISS and U.S. spaceflight. (Via Instapundit.)

Friday, August 03, 2012

[Off topic] Hsieh Lecture on Medical Licensing Laws

Off-topic: My 20-minute lecture on "Milton Friedman and Medical Licensure" has now been posted:



I covered three main subjects:
* Milton Friedman's views of medical licensure
* Licensure and competence
* Licensing laws and ObamaCare
Towards the end, I cite Dr. Milton Wolf as one of the people promoting some good free-market reforms to move us in the right direction.

Thanks to Amanda Teresi-Muell for organizing this special Liberty On the Rocks event, as part of a commemoration of Milton Friedman's 100th birthday!

And thanks to Ari Armstrong for recording the video and for doing the video editing to intersperse the images of my slides within the footage!

(Note: I don't agree with Friedman on several issues. Friedman was not a fully-consistent advocate of free-market economics.  But on the topic of medical and occupational licensure, he was very good, and I wanted to highlight his excellent thinking on this particular topic.)

Self-Assembling Nanoparticles

"Self-Assembling Nanoparticles May Provide Key to New Materials"

Don't Tell An Italian Man He Has No Balls

"In Italy, telling a man he has 'no balls' is now a crime". (Via Trey P.)

Animal ‘Compass Cells’ Isolated?

"Animal 'Compass Cells' Isolated (Probably)"

Speed of Sound Is Too Slow for Olympic Athletes

"The Speed of Sound Is Too Slow for Olympic Athletes"

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Five Guys, Same Photo, 30 Years

"Five guys take same photo for 30 years".

Here's what they looked like in 1982. Click through to see the subsequent photos (taken at 5 year intervals), until 2012:

War on BuckyBalls

The government vs. Buckyballs.

I side with the latter.

Internet Tax Fail

Internet taxes don't work.

More information: "Myth Vs. Fact -- Internet Taxes"

Medical Advances: HIV, Malaria

ABC News: "Two More Patients HIV-Free After Bone Marrow Transplants"  

AAP: "Malaria vaccine research breakthrough"

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Why Is The Letter "Z" Associated With Sleep?

"Why is the letter Z associated with sleep?"

Interesting tidbit:
That raised the question of how snoring is represented in other cultures. Una discovered the following:
Germans use "chrrr," which considering the typical German pronunciations of ch and r -- i.e., you sound like you're getting ready to use the spittoon -- is a lot closer to snoring than "zzz."
The French, who also favor a sonically rich r, use "rrroooo," "rrr," "roon," "ron," and so on. The Spanish likewise use "rooooon."
The Japanese use characters that transliterate as "guu guu," while speakers of Mandarin Chinese use characters sounding like "hu lu."
Finns use "kroohpyyh," which I'm guessing gives a hint of what I sound like.

Your Stem Cells Can Be Regulated As Drugs

The FDA can regulate your own stem cells as drugs.

Fake Diplomas

It's surprisingly easy to get a fake diploma.

Three Million People Still Use AOL Dial-Up

"Three Million People Still Use AOL Dial-Up"