Recent Entries in Sci-Tech

  Dirty keyboards

I've often thought about the kind of crap that's on my keyboard. But what can I, as just one person, do about this horrible problem?

BBC NEWS | UK | Keyboards 'dirtier than a toilet'

Consumer group Which? said tests at its London offices found equipment carrying bugs that could cause food poisoning.

Out of 33 keyboards swabbed, four were regarded as a potential health hazard and one harboured five times more germs than one of the office's toilet seats.

Microbiologist Dr Peter Wilson said a keyboard was often "a reflection of what is in your nose and in your gut".

The only bad part about this is you can't buy it in Canada. It fits 20 cases of beer, dammit!

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ZENN Motor Company

Here's a pretty awesome electric motorcycle that uses advanced gyros for steering and speed control. I think I want one.

uno_bike.jpg

mental_floss Blog - The Uno

Very cool. Now we won't be disturbed by those loud-mouthed jerks at Starbucks who talk on their phone all day. Heh. I'm one of them.

Nerve-tapping neckband used in 'telepathic' chat - tech - 12 March 2008 - New Scientist Tech

A neckband that translates thought into speech by picking up nerve signals has been used to demonstrate a "voiceless" phone call for the first time.

With careful training a person can send nerve signals to their vocal cords without making a sound. These signals are picked up by the neckband and relayed wirelessly to a computer that converts them into words spoken by a computerised voice.

Users needn't worry about that the system voicing their inner thoughts though. Callahan says producing signals for the Audeo to decipher requires "a level above thinking". Users must think specifically about voicing words for them to be picked up by the equipment.

It gets a little heady, but this Wired article does have a good analysis of weapons used in monster movies, and how they might actually be used in a real-life monster situation.

How To: Stop a 500-Foot Monster (Think Missiles, Not Bombs) | Danger Room from Wired.com

Back in the old days, things were fairly simple. When King Kong climbed the Empire State Building, he could be taken out by a squadron of Curtiss SB2C Helldivers . But since then there has been some inflation and apes 20 â.. 45 meters tall (Wikipedia's estimate) are small stuff.

The giant ants in Them! still weren't that gigantic, and the army could deal with them using poison gas and flamethrowers. But by 1955, when a mutated Tarantula the size of a skyscraper turned up, the only solution was to call the Air Force. Bombing with high explosive had no effect â.. presumably the creature's exoskeleton was too tough. In the end napalm did the trick, setting the creature ablaze (is chitin really flammable?). It may have helped that the pilot carrying out the strike was one Clint Eastwood, then an unknown bit-part player.

Oh good. Maybe we can pick away at the smoldering debris and learn how U.S. spy satellites are made. Oh, and get cancer. We can also get cancer.

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Satellite Shoot-Down Set: Intercept Near Hawaii; Debris Cloud Over Canada (Updated) | Danger Room from Wired.com

As you probably know by now, the U.S. military is going to try to shoot down a dying satellite on Thursday, around 10:30 pm eastern time, before it plummets into the atmosphere. Satellite-watchers have figured out where the Navy cruiser will take its shot -- and where the debris cloud is likely to go afterwards.

Aww damn. I just bought an old SX-70. Now what am I going to do with it?

Polaroid Brings Down The Shutters On Iconic Film (from Sunday Herald)

THE DIGITAL age has claimed another victim. First it was the VHS recorder, then the humble transistor radio. Now it's the turn of the Polaroid camera.

Yesterday, the company behind the iconic instant camera announced it was to stop making the film used by Polaroid enthusiasts, because there is no longer a market for it.

Three factories will close in Massachusetts, Mexico and the Netherlands, resulting in 450 job losses. The company stopped making the cameras for commercial use in 2006 and halted production of the consumer models last year.

"We're trying to re-invent Polaroid so it lives on for the next 30 to 40 years," said Tom Beaudoin, the firm's president.

  Puppy vs Robot

Awww. Cute. And the puppy's kind of cute too.

YouTube - Puppy Vs. Robot! Epic Battle For Territorial Domination!

  Paramount to drop HD DVD

Frankly, I'm a little surprised, given Sony's track record on competing technologies.

Paramount poised to drop HD DVD format support -FT | Industries | Consumer Goods & Retail | Reuters

Paramount studios is poised to drop its support of the high-definition DVD (HD DVD) format after Warner Bros studio said it would back the competing Blu-ray format, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

The loss of support from Paramount, which is owned by Viacom Inc (VIAb.N: Quote, Profile, Research), would likely deal the final blow to the HD DVD format backed by Toshiba Corp (6502.T: Quote, Profile, Research) and put an end to the format war, the newspaper said on its Web site.

Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros studio on Friday said it would exclusively release high-definition DVDs in Sony Corp's Blu-ray format, marking a major setback to the HD DVD camp.

This would explain all my superfluous, vestigial nipples.

Human Evolution Speeding Up, Study Says

Explosive population growth is driving human evolution to speed up around the world, according to a new study.

The pace of change accelerated about 40,000 years ago and then picked up even more with the advent of agriculture about 10,000 years ago, the study says.

And while humans are evolving quickly around the world, local cultural and environmental factors are shaping evolution differently on different continents.

Interesting point. Once could buy three of the inexpensive cameras for the sales tax on the more expensive one.

A $150 versus a $5,000 Camera

Yes, if you are a geek with a microscope there are differences, but that's for geeks who look for these details as a hobby unto itself. For normal people who actually enjoy photos there isn't any difference for 80% of what you might want to shoot. Many people who read my site buy and own too many cameras. They enjoy dissecting photos for engineering details (as I often do on this site) more than they enjoy making photos. They're often the same guys who buy too many other toys. Those are the people who keep insisting you buy a more expensive camera, since it justifies their perverted hobby. It doesn't make any better photos.

(And Why They'll Never Happen)

CRACKED.com - The 8 Most Common Sci-Fi Visions of the Future (And Why They'll Never Happen)

#3. A Full-Scale Robotic Uprising

Defining Features:
Robots who have gained consciousness and are therefore instantly intent on killing all humans; some uncertainty as to who is a robot and who is a human; casual death threats made in calm, emotionless robo-inflection; claims that humanity is either â..imperfectâ. or â..a scourge that must be cleansed;â. those wicked glowing laser eyes; hands that are also guns; hacking into mainframes; the powering down of a core, destruction of a power cell or other euphemism for the removal of batteries.

Why it Will Never Happen:
There's almost a kind of hopeless optimism hidden here. Besides the whole uprising thing, it still implies that mankind was able to, with hardware and software, create a race of beings that are actually way better than humanity. Think about that the next time Windows Vista stops and asks you if it has permission to run a program you just freaking told it to run 4 seconds ago.

TG Daily - Microsoft quietly unveils Vista-to-XP downgrade

Microsoft has reportedly begun offering a downgrade option to PC makers who want to allow their customers to have the option of using XP over the pre-installed Vista software.

Computer manufacturers including Fujitsu, Lenovo, and HP now mainly offer PCs exclusively with Vista pre-installed. Customers who would prefer to have XP can request a downgrade disc for computers that come with Vista Business and Vista Ultimate. These two versions allow downgrading as part of the software licensing, but the process is difficult without a specifically coded disc.

Point taken (my bold).

Radio Telescope And Its Budget Hang in the Balance - washingtonpost.com

But among astronomers, Arecibo is an icon of hard science. Its instruments have netted a decades-long string of discoveries about the structure and evolution of the universe. Its high-powered radar has mapped in exquisite detail the surfaces and interiors of neighboring planets.

And it is the only facility on the planet able to track asteroids with enough precision to tell which ones might plow into Earth -- a disaster that could cause as many as a billion deaths and that experts say is preventable with enough warning.

You wouldn't have thought this would be a widespread problem. Conspiracy theorists: we'd like to apologize to you all.

Senate blocks mandatory ID implants in employees - Los Angeles Times

Tackling a dilemma right out of a science fiction novel, the state Senate passed legislation Thursday that would bar employers from requiring workers to have identification devices implanted under their skin.

State Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) proposed the measure after at least one company began marketing radio frequency identification devices for use in humans.

The devices, as small as a grain of rice, can be used by employers to identify workers. A scanner passing over a body part implanted with one can instantly identify the person.

Cool pictures. They're replacing the Hubble with a newer telescope. I wonder how it will do compared to this...

Photo in the News: Sharpest Ever Space Pictures Taken

sharp_space_pics.jpg

Astronomers have put a high-tech spin on an old technique known as "lucky imaging" to capture some of the sharpest ever shots of galaxies, stars, and nebulas.

The new pictures were taken using a ground-based camera at Palomar Observatory in Californiaâ..at a cost of just 50 thousandth that of images from the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope, say researchers from the University of Cambridge in England and the California Institute of Technology.

Previous Palomar snapshots of the Cat's Eye Nebula, the planetary nebula seen above, were about ten times less detailed than Hubble's pictures (left). But after using the lucky imaging process, that resolution increased twentyfold, allowing the experts to pick out details separated by distances of only a few light-hours.

  Define the Universe

And give three examples. Seriously, this is pretty neat. Soon we'll have Google Universe.

the_universe.jpg

The Universe within 14 billion Light Years - The Visible Universe

And here I didn't think to get it anything...

Machinist: Tech Blog, Tech News, Technology Articles - Salon

The computer virus conception story begins in 1981, when a tech-savvy 9th grader named Richard Skrenta got an Apple II for Christmas. Over the following few months he began cooking up ways to trick his friends using the machine. "I had been playing jokes on schoolmates by altering copies of pirated games to self-destruct after a number of plays," Skrenta once told the tech news site Security Focus. "I'd give out a new game, they'd get hooked, but then the game would stop working with a snickering comment from me on the screen."

  Probs with iPhone

What, already??

HowardForums: Your Mobile Phone Community & Resource - First impressions? Disappointing...

  1. Bluetooth is ONLY good for connecting a headset. That's it.
  2. There is no file browser on the device at all. Data must be organized (if at all) in the appropriate application.
  3. The camera is a simple application that has ONE button: the shutter. Pictures come out okay on the device, but nothing too fancy on a monitor, especially if it was an attempt at a macro shot.
  4. SIM card is damn near impossible to open, if at all. I didn't look into it extensively.
  5. Web browser is slow, even over WLAN. Even the simple OneList web app that was created takes around 20 seconds to load over WLAN. You can not highlight, cut, copy, or paste and text from a website, and you can not save any images you find from a website either. The only nice thing about it is the tabbed browsing, which crashed on me when I went to Engadget and YouTube on two tabs. This is the only application that allows you to use the keyboard in landscape mode.
  6. The keyboard sucks. It gets slightly better after the iPhone "learns" you, as the employees said, but even then, it's not a device you can use with one hand comfortably, much less without looking.
  7. You can only send one picture at a time in an email.
  8. No custom ringtones (yet, as we were being told) and the alert tones can not be changed whatsoever.
  9. The default ringtones are incredibly lame.
  10. The only form of customization outside of a lame default ringtone is the wallpaper, which you'll only see when you need to unlock the device or when you get a phone call.
  11. "Picture pinching" or using two fingers to zoom on any content is certainly fun to play with, but not practical whatsoever. This operation depends solely on using the device with two hands.
  12. No document editor or native viewer. You can not store documents on the device to be viewed, they can only be viewed as attachments when they're sent to your in an email.
  13. Visual voicemail is laggy and reacts about the same way as pushing the fast forward and rewind buttons on traditional voicemail systems. The only advantage is for those that get that many voicemail messages a day that they need to sort them according to priority.
  14. NO games. None.
  15. No voice dialing.
  16. No speed dialing (which can be made up by the "quick list", but getting to that quick list isn't as fast as holding a single key on a real keypad).
  17. No video.
  18. No MMS.
  19. It's still <4GB for $500 and <8GB for $600
  20. It only takes around 2 hours to explore every menu without any options for expandability except to scrounge around for new web apps that will load slowly and nowhere near as smoothly as the native apps.

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