Thursday, January 31, 2013

[Off topic] PJM Interview With Ryan Moore on Self-Defense and Gun Rights

Off topic: PJM has published my interview: "'Carrying a Gun Saved My Life': Meet Ryan Moore".

Ryan talks about the time he needed to use his firearm in self-defense, what he learned from the experience, and why he opposes proposed restrictions on gun magazines and so-called "assault weapons".

Visualizing Twitter

"What Twitter Really Looks Like". (Via Doug Mataconis.)

Chinese Takeout Boxes

"So Apparently, We've Been Using Chinese Takeout Boxes All Wrong".

Includes a video demonstration:



(Via Ryan Sager and Marginal Revolution.)

Russian Family Isolated for 40 Years

"For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II". (Via Aeon S.)

Blinking Modem Lights

"Why Does My Modem Blink Even When I'm Not Using The Internet?"

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Asteroid Mining Update

Rand Simberg: "Another Private Company Announces Plans to Mine Asteroids"

Bionic Eye

"First Bionic Eye For US Market Awaits Approval From FDA"

Siri Rising?

"The Inside Story Of Siri's Origins -- And Why She Could Overshadow The iPhone"

Casinos Vs. Cheaters

The technological cat-and-mouse game of casinos vs. cheaters. (Via Kottke.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Death Star Costs

Rand Simberg: "How much would a Death Star really cost?"

BTW, I'm a regular reader of his blog Transterrestrial Musings.

Chainsaw Robot

"Chainsaw robot programmed to carve two stools from a single log".

Of course there's a video:

Carbon Paper

Who still uses carbon paper? Answer: "Cops, convicts, and craftsmen".

How Google Handles Government Requests For User Email

Mashable: "What Google Does When the Government Wants Your Emails"

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Online Education Gamechanger?

WSJ: "University of Wisconsin to Offer a Bachelor's to Students Who Take Online Competency Tests About What They Know"

From the article:
Officials encourage students to complete their education independently through online courses, which have grown in popularity through efforts by companies such as Coursera, edX and Udacity.   No classroom time is required under the Wisconsin program except for clinical or practicum work for certain degrees...

Officials plan to launch the full program this fall, with bachelor's degrees in subjects including information technology and diagnostic imaging, plus master's and bachelor's degrees for registered nurses. Faculty are working on writing those tests now.

The charges for the tests and related online courses haven't been set. But university officials said the Flexible Option should be "significantly less expensive" than full-time resident tuition, which averages about $6,900 a year at Wisconsin's four-year campuses.
This could be a real game-changer in higher education, by de-linking the credentialling aspect of the university from teaching function.  Univ. Wisconsin is ahead of the curve, but I anticipate more universities will soon follow.

Friday, January 25, 2013

FDA Approves Medical Robots

Fast Company: "The FDA approved the country's first human-interacting autonomous robot for hospitals". (Via Ryan Sager.)

Wearable Computing Update

Update on wearable computing.

Obscurity vs. Privacy

"Obscurity: A Better Way to Think About Your Data Than 'Privacy'"

Related: "Funny, Embarrassing, and Disturbing Ways People Can Use Facebook's New Search Tool"

Which means that one should not count on obscurity as a form of privacy for much longer.  If you don't want people to know something about you, don't publicly post that information.

Injectable Foam Stops Internal Bleeding

"Injectable Foam Expands in the Belly, Stops the Bleeding". (Via Instapundit.)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

What Hyperspace Would Really Look Like

"Warp Speed: What Hyperspace Would Really Look Like".

(Via Instapundit, who notes "Not sure we’re on the same page with the description of “hyperspace,” though. They seem to be talking about superluminal flight in normal space.")

Scrabble Heresy

The latest proposed heresy: Changing the values of Scrabble tiles.

Which projects get funded by Kickstarter?

Economist: "Winning over the crowd". Which projects get funded by Kickstarter.

Nanoscale Coating Repels Almost Any Liquid

"'Superomniphobic nanoscale coating repels almost any liquid". (Via William Green.)

Friday, January 18, 2013

NFL Bad Lip Reading

NFL: Bad Lip Reading

Who Are The Real Pilots?

Growing UAV use in military sparks debate over "Who are the real pilots"?

Economics of Rogue Online Pharmacies

NPR's PlanetMoney posted a fascinating podcast on, "Black Market Pharmacies And The Spam Empire Behind Them".

Google Glass Spotted In The Wild in NYC

"Four Cool Things We Learned About Google Glass After It Was Spotted In The Wild In New York".

Related: Ars Technica, "How Google will let you control your Google Glass".

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

World Etiquette Guide

"The Ultimate Guide to Worldwide Etiquette". (Via Trey G.)

Kilograms With Weight Problems

"Kilograms With Weight Problems May Get High-Tech Cleanings"

Nanotech Fibers

"New nanotech fiber: Robust handling, shocking performance". (Via Howard R.)

Rates of Travel In the 1800s

"How fast could you travel across the U.S. in the 1800s?" (Via John D.)

As the article notes, here's a nice map of travel radii for 1800, using NYC as the starting point.  (Click on images to see full size).

...[I]n 1800, it took a whole day to barely get outside of the city; two weeks to reach Georgia or Ohio; and in five weeks, you could just about get to Illinois and Louisiana.
























...By 1857, which is still within one lifetime from someone born around 1800, travel by rail (the fastest way to get around at the time — remember that the Wright brothers were not even born yet and air travel was far off in the future) had gotten significantly faster. You could now do in a day or two what used to take a couple weeks. With a week's travel you could get to the eastern border of Texas, and in about four weeks you could get to California. Only the Northwest took longer than a month to reach from New York City.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Self-Stalking

"Woman arrested for stalking herself"

Precision Editing of DNA

"Precision editing of DNA":
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Rockefeller and Harvard universities have found a new method of editing DNA with great precision. This and another new technique mean that scientists can now go into a cell, find a particular sequence in the genome and change that sequence by a single letter.

Just to get your mind around this feat, imagine taking about 5,000 different novels and reprinting them in normal font size on 23 very long cotton ribbons. Since each word takes up about half an inch, the ribbons, placed end to end, would stretch for roughly three million miles-120 times around the world. But to be a bit more realistic, twist and tangle the ribbons so much that they only go around the planet once.

One of the books written on your ribbons is "A Tale of Two Cities," but you don't even know which ribbon it is on, let alone where on that ribbon. Your task is to find the clauses "It was the beast of times, it was the worst of times" and correct the misprint...

Crazy Color Combos

"Why certain color combinations drive your eyeballs crazy".

Clever Pictogram Movie Posters

"New Clever Pictogram Movie Posters by H-57"

Monday, January 14, 2013

Japanese Infidelity Phones

WSJ: "Japan's Philanderers Stay Faithful to Their 'Infidelity Phones'"
"Women may want to check my phone for strange emails or calls when I'm not around. With Fujitsu's 'privacy mode,' they can't see that information at all," [Japanese blogger Bakanabe] said in an email. "The key is to give off the impression that you're not locking your phone at all."

Fujitsu's "privacy mode" is a layer of nearly invisible security that hides missed calls, emails and text messages from contacts designated as private. If one of those acquaintances gets in touch, the only signal of that communication is a subtle change in the color or shape of how the battery sign or antenna bars are displayed. If ignored, the call doesn't appear in the phone log.

The changes are so subtle that it would be impossible to spot for an untrained eye. When the privacy mode is turned off through a secret combination of keys, the concealed calls and messages appear, and voice mail becomes accessible...
"If Tiger Woods had this Japanese feature in his phone, he wouldn't have gotten in trouble," said Mr. Natsuno, now a professor at Keio University's Graduate School of Media and Governance. 
Of course, once women see that a potential boyfriend uses this particular model of phone, they may get suspicious...

(Via Instapundit.)

The Science Of Placebos

Harvard researchers learn that the science of placebos is surprisingly complex.

The Dark Knight Trilogy in 3 Minutes

Video: "The Dark Knight Trilogy in 3 Minutes"



Why spend 6+ hours watching all three movies when you can get the Gotham City story arc in just 3 minutes?  (Note: Contains spoilers.)

An Ingenious Lego Machine For Sorting Legos

Video: "An Ingenious Lego Machine For Sorting Legos"



(Via @JenAtCreative.)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Trail of Cheetos

Convenience store robber caught due to the "trail of Cheetos" he left behind.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Watson Learns How To Swear

"IBM's Watson Memorized the Entire 'Urban Dictionary,' Then His Overlords Had to Delete It".

I, for one, welcome our computer hipster overlords.  (Via S.K.)

How Delays Propagate Across US Airports

"How Delays Propagate Across the US Airport Network".  One key observation:
[T]hree main mechanisms lie behind this spread.

The first is through each plane’s flight schedule from one destination to the next–a delay in one leg naturally propagates to the next.

The second comes from passenger and crew connections. Clearly, an aircraft cannot take off if the crew are delayed on another flight.

Finally, there is airport congestion. A given airport can handle only a certain rate of take offs and landings and becomes congested when numbers rise beyond these levels. 

However, Fleurquin and co conclude one of these factors is far more damaging than the others. “Our simulations evidence that passenger and crew connections is the most effective single mechanism to induce network congestion,” they say.
(Via Ryan Sager.)

Emotions for Which English Has No Words

"The Many Emotions for Which English Has No Words".  For instance:
Age-otori (Japanese): To look worse after a haircut
Backpfeifengesicht (German): A face badly in need of a fist

Futuristic Rifle

NBC News: "Futuristic rifle turns novice into sharpshooter". (Via JRW.)

The World's Most Colorful Factory

"Inside DayGlo: The World's Most Colorful Factory". (Via Howard R.)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Paper-Thin Flexible Tablet Computer

A paper-thin flexible tablet computer. (Via @AmeshAA.)

Related video:

2000 Year Old Roman Medicine

Doctor's bag from 2000 year old shipwreck sheds light on Roman medicines. (Via @SciencePunk.)

Experiencing New Tech After 25 Years in Jail

"What It's Like to Experience New Technology After 25 Years in Jail"

Monopoly Piece Downsizing

"Monopoly is sending a game piece to jail, permanently".

From the article:
The iconic board game is asking its Facebook fans to vote for their favorite game piece, including the car, thimble, boot, Scottie dog, battleship, hat, iron and wheelbarrow.

The one that receives the fewest votes will be voted off the board next month. 
On the plus side:
Monopoly will replace the shunned piece with a cat, diamond ring, guitar, helicopter or toy robot.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Holland vs. the Netherlands?

What's the difference between Holland and the Netherlands?

Flying a B-2 Stealth Bomber

Popular Mechanics: "We Fly a B-2 Stealth Bomber".

The article also notes that more people have traveled into space than have flown in a B-2 bomber. (Via Howard R.)

Update: Link was bad before -- now fixed!

The Curious Mathematics of Domino Chain Reactions

"The Curious Mathematics of Domino Chain Reactions".

Related video: "Domino Chain Reaction"



Machine Translation Update

"Conquering Babel: Simultaneous translation by computer is getting closer"

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Thieves Steal Apple Products Only from MS Office

Thieves break into Microsoft office in Silicon Valley, only steal Apple products. (Click on image to see it full sized.)

AOL On 3-D Printing

Video: "3D Printing Is the Wave Of the Future".

There is a bit too much of "breathless awe" hype, but this could be a big boon for human productivity and economic growth.

Hot Chocolate Tastes Much Better In an Orange Cup

"Hot Chocolate Tastes Much Better In an Orange Cup". (Via VAViper.)

When You Get Amnesia, How Much of Yourself Remains?

When you get amnesia, how much of yourself do you keep?  (Via GMSV.)

Monday, January 07, 2013

53 Bad Jokes

53 bad jokes in 4 minutes. Don't say you weren't warned.

Apple Corporate Taxes

According to the New York Times, Apple paid "1 out of every 40 dollars in corporate income taxes collected by the U.S. government".

Write Gambling Software, Go to Prison

"Write Gambling Software, Go to Prison". (Via D.F.)

Anesthesia and Consciousness

Anesthesia and consciousness.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Explaining Today to Someone From the 1950s

Explaining Today to Someone From the 1950s: Um, yes:

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Friday, January 04, 2013

The Evolution Of The Hand

"The evolution of the hand: Making a fist of it".

In other words, the hand/fist combination is the classic "dual use" instrument.

Instantaneous Quantum Eraser

"Quantum measurements on one island determine behavior on another: A quantum eraser works instantly over 144km"

Martian Brain Damage?

Alex Knapp: "Going To Mars Could Damage The Brains Of Astronauts"

Google Glass Update

What to expect next from the Google Glass project.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

2013 Trivia

Seen on FB: "2013 is the first year since 1987 to have 4 different numbers"

The Industrial Internet

The Industrial Internet: "A brave new world ahead for machine-to-machine communications". (Via Amesh A.)

Riding the Cotton Pony?

"Does a guy's mood synchronize with his girlfriend's menstrual cycle?"

Best Pickpocket In The World

The New Yorker: "A Pickpocket's Tale".

Here's the opening:
A few years ago, at a Las Vegas convention for magicians, Penn Jillette, of the act Penn and Teller, was introduced to a soft-spoken young man named Apollo Robbins, who has a reputation as a pickpocket of almost supernatural ability. Jillette, who ranks pickpockets, he says, “a few notches below hypnotists on the show-biz totem pole,” was holding court at a table of colleagues, and he asked Robbins for a demonstration, ready to be unimpressed.

Robbins demurred, claiming that he felt uncomfortable working in front of other magicians. He pointed out that, since Jillette was wearing only shorts and a sports shirt, he wouldn’t have much to work with.

“Come on,” Jillette said. “Steal something from me.”

Again, Robbins begged off, but he offered to do a trick instead. He instructed Jillette to place a ring that he was wearing on a piece of paper and trace its outline with a pen. By now, a small crowd had gathered. Jillette removed his ring, put it down on the paper, unclipped a pen from his shirt, and leaned forward, preparing to draw. After a moment, he froze and looked up. His face was pale.

“F-ck. You,” he said, and slumped into a chair.

Robbins held up a thin, cylindrical object: the cartridge from Jillette’s pen...
Here are some videos of Robbins in action.   (Via Neatorama.)

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! My resolution is to simply try to remember to write "2013" rather than "2012".