Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Light Posting

Admin note: Again, posting will be lighter than usual the rest of this week due to the holiday. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

[Off Topic] Hsieh Forbes Column: The New Congress Should Propose Free-Market Health Care Reforms

[Off Topic]: My latest Forbes piece is now up: "The New Congress Should Propose Free-Market Health Care Reforms".

There's no shortage of good ideas for free-market health care reform. What we're lacking is leadership.

Mathematicians and Holes

"What We Talk About When We Talk about Holes"

Stealing Fingerprints

"Politician's fingerprint reproduced using photos of her hands"

Alarm Clock Philosophies

Heh: "Alarm Clock Philosophies".

Click on image to see full size. (Via Trey P.)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Coffee Copter

"'Coffee Copter' serves up a cup of joe -- by drone".  Click through to see video.

The Coffee Copter from screenturner on Vimeo.

Pancreas Hacking

"Diabetes Patients Are Hacking Their Way Toward a Bionic Pancreas".

I hope the FDA doesn't place too many barriers in their way.  (Via H.R.)

Best Media Corrections of 2014

"The year in media errors and corrections 2014".

Their winner was this from the New York Times:
An earlier version of this column was published in error. That version included what purported to be an interview that Kanye West gave to a Chicago radio station in which he compared his own derrière to that of his wife, Kim Kardashian. Mr. West’s quotes were taken, without attribution, from the satirical website The Daily Currant. There is no radio station WGYN in Chicago; the interview was fictitious, and should not have been included in the column.

Tolkien Documentary From 1968

"A lovely J.R.R. Tolkien documentary from 1968"

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sorting M&Ms With An iPhone

"Machine sorts M&Ms using iPhone 5s brain". (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Here the video:

Real Monitors Have Curves

"Samsung's super-wide curved monitor makes your PC extra trendy".

My proposed marketing slogan: "Real monitors have curves." You're welcome, Samsung.

Put Your Money Where Your Values Are

Google CEO Larry Page: "I'd Rather Leave My Billions to Elon Musk Than to Charity"

I'm glad to hear him say this. In death and in life, people should deploy their money according to their rationally-held values.

Walmart Gift Card Exchange

Walmart will exchange other stores gift cards for non-expiring Walmart card dollars (at a discount):
Shoppers won't get the full value of their gift cards to use at Walmart. For example, with, customers can redeem up to 95 percent, while for Staples that figure is up to 90 percent and for Gap, up to 85 percent. Some brands will be worth just 70 percent. Up to about $1 billion worth of gift cards will go unused this year, according to CEB TowerGroup. That's because recipients either lose them or can't figure out what to buy. 
(Via H.R.)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Light Posting

Because of the holiday, posting will be lighter than usual this week.

Happy Festivus and Merry Christmas, everyone!

Prime Spacing

"Mathematicians Make a Major Discovery About Prime Numbers". (Via H.R.)

Oatmeal On North Korea Vs. South Korea

Oatmeal: "The primary difference between North Korea and South Korea".

Livestreaming Funerals

"Death on the Internet: The Rise of Livestreaming Funerals". (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Too Many Hyphens

"Amazon removes book for containing too many hyphens". (Via C.M.)

Zero Knowledge Proofs

"Zero Knowledge Proofs: An illustrated primer"

19 Secrets of UPS Drivers

"19 Secrets of UPS Drivers"

App Turns Your iPad Into a Second Display for Your Mac

"An Ex-Apple Engineer's New App Turns Your iPad Into a Second Display for Your Mac"

Interview With Diana on "Radiology In Practice"

Announcement: On Thursday evening, philosopher Dr. Diana Hsieh will interview me about "Radiology in Practice" on her live internet radio show, Philosophy in Action. This episode of internet radio airs at 6 pm PT / 7 MT / 8 CT / 9 ET on Thursday, 18 December 2014, in the live studio.

If you miss that live broadcast, you can listen to the podcast later. Here's a bit more about the show:
Most people have seen cool medical imaging devices such as CT and MR scanners on TV shows. But what do those machines really do? Advanced medical imaging has revolutionized patient care in the past 25 years, allowing doctors to make diagnoses more accurately, quickly, and safely than ever before.
Radiologist Paul Hsieh will discuss the basics of modern radiology (x-rays, MRI, ultrasound, and nuclear medicine), how these different tests work, what they show about the human body, and how they help doctors take better care of patients.
To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action's Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask follow-up questions in the text chat. The podcast of this episode will be available shortly after the live broadcast here: Radio Archive: 18 December 2014.

For more about Philosophy in Action Radio, visit the Episodes on Tap and Podcast Archives.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

MOOCs Aren't Revolutionizing College, But They're Not a Failure

MIT Technology Review: "MOOCs Aren't Revolutionizing College, but They're Not a Failure"

The Drones Are Coming

Nice overview of some of the interesting new technical and legal challenges as drone use becomes more widespread in the civilian economy.

Princeton Scientists 3D Printing LEDs Into Contact Lenses

"Princeton Scientists 3D Printing LEDs Into Contact Lenses"

Robin Hanson On The Great Filter

TEDx talk from Robin Hanson: "The Great Filter". 

As he puts it, "Something out in the universe is killing everything, and we're likely next."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Crappy Magazines in Doctors' Waiting Rooms

Science Has Spoken! "Researchers Finally Figured out Why Doctors’ Waiting Rooms Have Such Crappy Magazines" (Slate, 12/13/2014).

From the Slate article:
Bruce Arroll, a doctor and professor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand (apparently this is a global problem) gathered up 87 new and old magazines (a number determined by "how many magazines the investigators could rustle up from family and friends") covering a variety of topics and placed them in the waiting room of his practice.
It turns out that if there are current magazines around, people steal them.
Here's the original British Medical Journal article: "An exploration of the basis for patient complaints about the oldness of magazines in practice waiting rooms: cohort study" (12/11/2014).

From the BMJ article:
"Figure 1. Survival probability for gossipy and non-gossipy magazines in waiting room"

Personal case example: When I went to take my father to a doctor's appointment in Los Angeles earlier this year, they had this 1987 (!) magazine in the waiting room.

I'm pretty sure this falls in the BMJ "non-gossipy" category.

How to Survive A Helicopter Crash

"How to Survive A Helicopter Crash". (Via H.R.)

Big Data In Museums

WSJ: "When the Art Is Watching You"

Iowa Digital Driver's License

"Iowa's smartphone driver's license is a big step toward all-digital wallets".

One possible concern: "Why The Iowa Digital Driver's License Seems So Cool—And Scary; If phones = wallets, should we hand them to cops?"

Uber For Experiments

Fascinating idea for matching startups with spare laboratory capacity.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Worst Parking Job In North America

"The worst parking job in North America caught by police, YouTube".  (Via B.T.)

Glasses For Color-Blind People

Special glasses for color-blind people, "effectively provide high color contrast, producing an image in which the primary colors of red, blue, and green 'pop' and are perceived correctly by the wearer." 

The company website explains how the technology works.

And some cool video of color-blind people trying them out for the first time:

When the Computer Mouse Was New

"When the Computer Mouse Was New"

Hot iPod Classic

The discontinued iPod Classic is a hot item on the secondary markets, often selling for 4x the original price.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

How the Perfect Car Door Sound Is Made

Lots of science behind making the perfect card door sound.

From the article:
Some of the most advanced uses of these techniques today are found in the high-end automotive industry, where engineers and designers now routinely lavish attention on every acoustic detail, from the sound of the engine to cabin noise to the squeak of the windshield wipers to the reassuring k-thunk of a car door closing — a subtle but remarkably influential sound when it comes to a potential customer’s decision to buy a new car, experts say.

“The customer may not really know this is important for him, but this is something that really affects his decision to buy a car,” says Florian Frank, Specialist for Noise, Vibration and Harshness who works on acoustical design for BMW and is responsible for perfecting the sound profile of new car designs.

For example, the new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe is “a sporty car, so the door isn’t supposed to sound too heavy. It can’t sound too light, because a light door wouldn’t convey the right aspects of quality and safety. But it’s not supposed to sound too heavy, either. It should have a precise sound.”

By contrast, “the BMW 7 Series would be a bit softer maybe, a bit darker in the sound as it’s our flagship sedan.” 
(Via Marginal Revolution.)

Microsoft Vs. Feds on Data Privacy

"Microsoft tells US: The world's servers are not yours for the taking"

The Batmobile of Yachts

"The Batmobile of Yachts Is as Awesome as It Sounds"

Math Vs. Maths

"Why Do Brits Say Maths and Americans Say Math?"

Monday, December 08, 2014

Thursday, December 04, 2014

18th Century Law To Defeat Encrypted Smartphones?

Feds invoke 18th century law to attempt to defeat smartphone encryption.

From the article:
[T]he Department of Justice (DOJ) is pursuing an unusual legal strategy to compel cellphone makers to assist investigations.

In both cases, the seized phones—one of which is an iPhone 5S—are encrypted and cannot be cracked by federal authorities. Prosecutors have now invoked the All Writs Act, an 18th-century federal law that simply allows courts to issue a writ, or order, which compels a person or company to do something.

Some legal experts are concerned that these rarely made public examples of the lengths the government is willing to go in defeating encrypted phones raise new questions as to how far the government can compel a private company to aid a criminal investigation...

The two orders were both handed down on October 31, 2014, about six weeks after Apple announced that it would be expanding encryption under iOS 8, which aims to render such a data handover to law enforcement useless. Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that DOJ officials told Apple that it was "marketing to criminals" and that "a child will die" because of Apple’s security design choices...

But, if Apple really can’t decrypt the phone as it claims, the point is moot.

Terminator Genisys Trailer

The trailer for the new "Terminator Genisys Trailer" movie, actually looks pretty good. Plus there's a Scary Asian Liquid Metal Terminator!

How 'Gangnam Style' Broke YouTube

"How 'Gangnam Style' Broke YouTube".
"We never thought a video would be watched in numbers greater than a 32-bit integer," developers for the platform said. 

How Scotch Tape Was Invented

"How Scotch Tape Was Invented"

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Colbert Explains the New Lightsaber Design

Stephen Colbert explains the new lightsaber design:

Invisible ATM Skimmer

"New 'Wiretap' ATM Skimmers Are Invisible to Your Eye".

You can still protect yourself by covering the keypad with your other hand as you enter your PIN. (Via H.R.)

Virus Tracing

The Economist: "How to trace a cyber-weapon"

Six Famous Thought Experiments, Animated in 60 Seconds Each

"Six Famous Thought Experiments, Animated in 60 Seconds Each"

Monday, December 01, 2014

Amazon Robots

"Army of Amazon robots ready to help fulfill orders on Cyber Monday". (Via H.R.)

Rope-Free Elevators

"ThyssenKrupp develops the world's first rope-free elevator system"

Peer-Review Scam

Nature: "Publishing: The peer-review scam".

It's a lot easier to get published, when you are the "impartial" anonymous reviewer of your own paper!
In the past 2 years, journals have been forced to retract more than 110 papers in at least 6 instances of peer-review rigging. What all these cases had in common was that researchers exploited vulnerabilities in the publishers' computerized systems to dupe editors into accepting manuscripts, often by doing their own reviews. The cases involved publishing behemoths Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis, SAGE and Wiley, as well as Informa, and they exploited security flaws that — in at least one of the systems — could make researchers vulnerable to even more serious identity theft.

Girl Scout Cookie Sales Go Digital

Ars Technica: "Girl Scout cookie sales finally go digital". (Via Trey P.)