Saturday, December 31, 2011

Daily Links: December 31, 2011

8 Great Pep Talks for Generation Jobless

11 Biggest Science Stories of 2011

The 22 Best Infographics We Found In 2011 from Co.Design

The art/design blog Booooooom (with 7 O's) held a contest "to remake famous works of art using photography". No Photoshoppery allowed (but ironically, Photoshop was part of the Adobe-provided prize). A couple hundred entries were received and shown off on the blog (all on this big page, some NSFW), and the winner is this re-imagining of a Dali painting. (Larger image)

Boy Genius Report gets an extensive and informative tour of the Times Square New Year's Eve Ball and takes us along for a the highly-informative and photo-heavy ride. 

A couple of commentators present conflicting arguments about whether the golden age of tech blogging is over.

Empty London on Christmas morning (full set). A couple of years ago I had the idea that it might be fun to take photos of London without humans – yes, I was motivated by that scene in Westminster from 28 Days Later. Unfortunately, not being a film director I was not really in the position to have half of London sealed off for photos – but realised that on Xmas morning there could be an opportunity. Past photos from 2010 and from 2008.

A new calendar: Every third month would have 31 days, the rest 30. A 7-day leap week called XTR every "five or six years". Christmas and New Year's eternally on Sundays. And Greenwich Mean Time for all. This is the promise of the Hanke-Henry Permanent calendar, proposed by Steve Hanke and Richard Henry, researcher professors at Johns Hopkins University. The world-wide adoption process is optimistically scheduled for January 1, 2012, with universal use coming just 5 years later.

Video: Why Some People Think The End Of The World Will Come In 2012

C.G.P. Grey takes a look at why some people think the end of the world will come in 2012.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tech: Layer by Layer

Layer by Layer:
The parts in jet engines have to withstand staggering forces and temperatures, and they have to be as light as possible to save on fuel. That means it's complex and costly to make them: technicians at General Electric weld together as many as 20 separate pieces of metal to achieve a shape that efficiently mixes fuel and air in a fuel injector. But for a new engine coming out next year, GE thinks it has a better way to make fuel injectors: by printing them.

With 3-D printing, manufacturers can make existing products more efficiently—and create ones that weren’t possible before.
Source: Technology Review

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Infographic: Platform Adoption Ramps

Infographic: Top Apps of 2011

Here Are The Most Popular Mobile Apps Of 2011:
According to mobile app analytics company Distimo, these were the most popular apps from around the world on every platform.

Source: Business Insider

Monday, December 26, 2011

Tech: Polish protesters send up ‘Robokopter’

Polish protesters send up ‘Robokopter’ drone to spy on police:
The video below showing a civilian operated drone chopper filming riots in Warsaw, Poland last Friday is a great example of the democratization of what was until very recently, military-grade tech. This is a straight up ISR drone that's flying high above the streets of a major city taking camera footage that was once the exclusive domain of high-priced news choppers and government helos.

Source: Telepresence Options

Tech Links: December 26, 2011

3-D printing is coming along as a technology. General Electric is using the process to manufacture jet parts, items that require high tolerances

6 Google Projects Ripped from Sci-Fi

10 Facts about Portable Electronics and Airplanes

Five Best Android Tablets: Regardless of what you need a new Android tablet for, here are five of the best ones for the job, based on your nominations.

Lifehacker says Waze is the best turn by turn navigator for Android and iOS (and free)

Shop At Best Buy Using Siri via Wolfram Alpha

    dotEPUB is a Chrome extension that will convert any web page into an EPUB document, able to be viewed in most ereaders.  Other browsers can use it via bookmarklets, including mobile Safari.

    Stencyl is a free creation system for making Flash games.
    Researches at UC Santa Barbara, working with Intel, are working on a method to increase signal speed by 30%. To improve transmission speed over that through wires, researcheres looking into bouncing the signal off data centre walls.

Infographic: Polar Bears

Polar bears have ruled the Arctic for 100,000 years, but now they’re struggling to keep up as the region undergoes a dramatic transformation.

Video Distraction: Wolf Pup Howling

Watch as a wolf pup is first frightened by howling and then joins in.

Daily Links: December 26, 2011

5 Crazy Apple Products We're Glad Don't Exist

10 Fun Facts About Krampus, the Christmas Demon

Are your corporate overlords controlling you with light and sound?

Come the apocalypse, the only things that will survive are rats, cockroaches, seagulls, and fruitcake

Here is Dungeon Squad! A simple, free role-playing game intended for younger players (but enjoyable by older ones), with lots of dice rolling and action. Here's a couple of adventures for it, here's an expansion, and here's a more complex version. Here's the expansion Adventure Squad, in three PDFs: Core - Abilities - D&D 3E Classes. Here's yet another expansion.

Strange Santa Claus Sightings: Swimming With Sharks, Dressed Like A Zombie, At The Optometrist

The Truth about Christmas Carols -- Howard Goodall uncovers the surprising and often secret history of the Christmas carol in this hour-long BBC documentary.

What is being scanned around the world The Internet Archive updated in real time.

What is it like to have an understanding of very advanced mathematics? A naive Quora question gets a remarkably long, thorough answer from an anonymous respondent. The answer cites, among many other things, Tim Gowers's influential essay "The Two Cultures of Mathematics," about the tension between problem-solving and theory-building. Related: Terry Tao asks "Does one have to be a genius to do maths?" (Spoiler: he says no.)

Lesson: Why Atoms Are Empty

Brian Cox demonstrates why atoms are Empty

Brian Cox gives a science lesson to celebrities. The comedian Simon Pegg and physicist Jim Al-Khalili help him explain standing waves in a demonstration to show why atoms are so large and empty.

Medicine: Ultrasound Surgery

Imagine having a surgery with no knives involved. At TEDMED, Yoav Medan shares a technique that uses MRI to find trouble spots and focused ultrasound to treat such issues as brain lesions, uterine fibroids and several kinds of cancerous growths.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Lesson: What is a Neutrino

What is a Neutrino?

Part of the Minute Physics series

"Neutrinos are the vampires of physics."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Lesson: Spirals and Slug-cats

Just a little math for the holidays, with part two promised soon. ViHart schools us on the mysterious mathematical properties of nature.

Quick Pic: Tiger Cubs

A tiger mother lost her cubs from premature labour. Shortly after she became depressed and her health declined, and she was diagnosed with depression. So they wrapped up piglets in tiger cloth, and gave them to the tiger. The tiger now loves these pigs and treats them like her babies.

Photo: Chicago in Snow

Historic Water Tower Park, Chicago
Photographed by John O'Sullivan in 1989

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Daily Links: December 22, 2011

Source: i can read
One of my favorite Tumblrs ever.

A Travel Guide to a Delightful ‘Midnight in Paris’: Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, widely considered to be the director’s best film in many years. While the movie has an excellent cast of Hollywood and Gallic actors, the real star of Midnight in Paris is the City of Lights itself. Allen didn’t hide that fact, calling his film a love letter to Paris and portraying the city in a highly romanticized light that will appeal to anyone who has wanted to visit the French capital.

M.I.T. Expands Free Online Courses: the university will announce a new program on Monday allowing anyone anywhere to take M.I.T. courses online free of charge — and for the first time earn official certificates for demonstrating mastery of the subjects taught.

Shit Girls Say, a humorous twitter account created by Graydon Sheppard and his partner Kyle Humphrey, now has two videos based on the joke [1,2]. Some women say "um, no thanks."

Shortcuts to Common New Year's Resolutions

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tech: Five Technologies of the Future

"IBM today issued its sixth annual look at what Big Blue thinks will be the five biggest technologies for the next five years. In past prediction packages the company has had some success in predicting the future of telemedicine and nanotechnology. 

This year IBM thinks very soon people will never need passwords; mind reading will happen; the so-called digital divide will cease to exist and junk mail will become important."
Source: NetworkWorld

Gadgets: Conquest Vehicles

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Daily Links: December 20, 2011

The 12 All-Time Ugliest Christmas Sweaters

50 Clever Ikea Ideas for Your Dorm Room

55 Fiction is a form of microfiction with a few rules, including a limitation to 55 words. Started as contest in a local San Luis Obispo, California alt-weekly paper in 1987, the contest has since been replicated elsewhere, including two related books (Google books previews) and two unrelated websites. The latest contest is now done.

Rethinking the Idea of 'Christian Europe'. Kenan Malik's essay is awarded 3 Quarks Daily's Top Quark for politics & social science by judge Stephen M. Walt: "Soldiers in today’s culture wars believe 'European civilization' rests on a set of unchanging principles that are perennially under siege—from godless communism, secular humanism, and most recently, radical Islam. For many of these zealots, what makes the 'West' unique are its Judeo-Christian roots. In this calm and elegantly-written reflection on the past two millenia, Malik shows that Christianity is only one of the many sources of 'Western' culture, and that many of the ideas we now think of as 'bedrock' values were in fact borrowed from other cultures. This essay is a potent antidote to those who believe a 'clash of civilizations' is inevitable—if not already underway—and the moral in Malik’s account could not be clearer. Openness to outside influences has been the true source of European prominence; erecting ramparts against others will impoverish and endanger us all." 

What did the world search for this year? Find out with Google Zeitgeist

When you give out money based on politics, without any accounting, this is what you get: 13 Snow Cone Machines for Homeland Security.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tech Links: December 20, 2011

Infographic: Technology Police is a Chrome extension to send articles to your Kindle with one click.

Sockso is a free, open-source, personal music server for everyone! It’s designed to be as simple as possible so that anyone with a mouse and some mp3’s can get their friends listening to their music across the internet in seconds!

Timehop is a web service that sends a daily email of the user’s activity on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Instagram, from exactly one year ago.


Lecture: Beautiful Books and the future of Storytelling

The always-excellent Craig Mod of Flipboard on “beautiful books” and the future of storytelling in age of digital books – a must-watch for any storyteller, designer, and media observer.

Ads: Wikipedia

Santa Claus embraces technology in a new Apple ad, using Siri to help out on Christmas Eve.

Music: Sugar Plum Fairy

Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy played on a Glass Harp

The Glass Duo, Festiwalu Muzyki Kameralnej and Bazylice Santo Stefano, recorded this video at the Chamber Music Festival in Bologna, Italy in June 2010.

Tech: Drone-Ethics Briefing

Drone-Ethics Briefing: What a Leading Robot Expert Told the CIA:
"The US intelligence community, to be sure, is very much interested in robot ethics. At the least, they don't want to be ambushed by public criticism or worse, since that could derail programs, waste resources, and erode international support. Many in government and policy also have a genuine concern about "doing the right thing" and the impact of war technologies on society. To those ends, In-Q-Tel--the CIA's technology venture-capital arm (the "Q" is a nod to the technology-gadget genius in the James Bond spy movies)--had invited me to give a briefing to the intelligence community on ethical surprises in their line of work, beyond familiar concerns over possible privacy violations and illegal assassinations. This article is based on that briefing, and while I refer mainly to the US intelligence community, this discussion could apply just as well to intelligence programs abroad.  ...

Some critics have worried that UAV operators--controlling drones from half a world away--could become detached and less caring about killing, given the distance, and this may lead to more unjustified strikes and collateral damage. But other reports seem to indicate an opposite effect: These controllers have an intimate view of their targets by video streaming, following them for hours and days, and they can also see the aftermath of a strike, which may include strewn body parts of nearby children. So there's a real risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with these operators.
Another source of liability is how we frame our use of robots to the public and international communities. In a recent broadcast interview, one US military officer was responding to a concern that drones are making war easier to wage, given that we can safely strike from longer distances with these drones. He compared our use of drones with the biblical David's use of a sling against Goliath: both are about using missile or long-range weapons and presumably have righteousness on their side. Now, whether or not you're Christian, it's clear that our adversaries might not be. So rhetoric like this might inflame or exacerbate tensions, and this reflects badly on our use of technology."

Source: The Atlantic

Overheard: Asimov's Poetry

Tell me why the stars do shine,
Tell me why the ivy twines,
Tell me what makes skies so blue,
And I’ll tell you why I love you.
Nuclear fusion makes stars to shine,
Tropisms make the ivy twine,
Raleigh scattering make skies so blue,
Testicular hormones are why I love you.

- Isaac Asimov

Infographic: College Student TV Habits

"These high percentages indicate not that millennials are cutting the cable cord en masse, but that they “are leading the media users and adopters who are spearheading the movement to cutting the cord,” said Christian Borges, vice president of marketing at Mr Youth.

One reason for viewing via multiple screens is that many college students don’t have money in their budgets to pay cable bills. Another reason is they are comfortable consuming content without going through customary channels."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Daily Links: December 15, 2011

Did the disappearance of the elephant caused the rise of modern man? Humans are not good at extracting energy from plants or converting protein to energy. Without fire to allow for better conversion, fat was a vital part of early man's diet. Elephants being slower and larger than many other prey was a prime hunting target. When the number of elephants declined, man had to find other sources. Hunting smaller, faster prey resulted in a change in human evolution. Man became lighter and their brain size increased to handle the requirements for hunting enough animals to provide the necessary fat.

A great infographic on what makes people leave a website. A lot of this is common sense, but there's good advice on how to fix it, and illustrations that bring the point home. 

Infographic: The Truth About Facebook & Grades

The Labyrinth of Genre A browseable and searchable map of music genres, with short samples. 

Nerd Wallet is a credit card comparison site that helps you filter cards based on select criteria. You can also limit your search to credit cards from credit unions. See also: the Nerd Wallet blog, with credit card industry and rewards news, and an interview with Tim Chen, founder of Nerd Wallet.

Say Hello to My Little Friend. Mary Roach examines the history of head shrinking among Amazon tribes and Americans' fascination with the little things. She also includes a handy DIY guide

The Star Wars Holiday special, in its entirety, complete with original commercials. You are welcome.

Take a Panoramic Virtual Tour of Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Available as a full-screen virtual tour starting entry rotunda and navigating from there, or jump to individual rooms.

The TV show Bones is loosely based on the life of forensic anthropologist and author Kathy Reichs. But how much science does the show get right? Can you really use the mandibular angle to figure out the sex of the victim? What about diagnosing Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva from a tiny bone fragment? Biological anthropologist Kristina Killgrove dissects the science of each episode on her blog, Powered by Osteons.

Vi Hart's Möbius Music Box, featuring a theme from the Harry Potter Septet.

Architecture: Origami Apartment

In 2005, third-grade-teacher Eric Schneider bought as big as an apartment as he could afford in Manhattan. He paid $235,000 for a 450-square-foot studio with a tiny kitchen.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Video Distraction: Baby Octopus

Baby Octopus crawling around out of water.

Daily Links: December 14, 2011

Bfxr is a web app for creating sound effects for your game or own amusement.

Nerd Wallet is a credit card comparison site that helps you filter cards based on select criteria. You can also limit your search to credit cards from credit unions. See also: the Nerd Wallet blog, with credit card industry and rewards news, and an interview with Tim Chen, founder of Nerd Wallet. 

Slate's Negotiation Academy: a series of podcasts that teach you how to haggle with (among others) jerks & liars, the opposite sex, real estate agents and kids.

Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Time

Tech: Exoskeletons Will Be the Eyeglasses of the 21st Century

Exoskeletons Will Be the Eyeglasses of the 21st Century:
Eyeglasses and contact lenses are one of the most prolific forms of medical augmentation on the planet. In many industrialized modern cultures, eyeglasses and contacts are also a major element of fashion. Thin, small glasses are out of fashion; big, chunky frames with large lenses are in. Tomorrow it might be different. But in every case, you have glasses because you have a medical problem that needs fixing.

But what about other medical devices? Canes and even artificial legs are occasionally not merely built to work but are designed and crafted to be fashionable. Could exoskeletons, robotic limbs, and cybernetic augmentations reach a point where they are beautiful? Furthermore, could they ever become so prolific as to be fashionable? More and more, the answer looks to be yes.
Source: Discovery Magazine

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tech Links: December 13, 2011

MorpHex is a hexapod robot that can transform into a sphere shape and back, created by Norwegian engineer Kåre Halvorsen. Still under construction… Featuring 25 servos.

Tech pundits and consultants agree; Amazon's Kindle Fire is a huge disaster (New York Times), good for almost nothing (Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper) and a disappointingly poor user experience (Dr. Jakob Nielsen, usability expert). It's the Apple Newton, the Edsel, New Coke and McDonald’s Arch Deluxe in tablet form. By all accounts it should be doomed. So why is it selling so well? And why are user reviews so high?

This month, Python won "Best Programming Language" in the Linux Journal's Reader's Choice Awards 2011. If you're not convinced, Python Facts explains little simple things that make Python great. Python is relatively easy to learn although if you wish you can learn it the hard way (videos). If you already have experience in programming, basically all you need to know is that Python is essentially pseudocode as a programming language. Of course, Python is way more than that. You can dive right into the documentation and browse through the thousands of packages written in Python.

Games were the largest share of Android's first 10 billion downloads. Yes, this is from the department of 'duh', but it's a reminder of the power and size of that market share.

Microsoft can change/remove apps on Windows 8, at least that's the current plan. That should go over well (anyone remember the infamous Kindle glitch?)

Washington, DC, is funding a 100-gigabit network to be made available to universities, businesses, and anyone willing to resell the service

Daily Links: December 13, 2011
The house has twelve of these fold-out computer stations, six in each of two rooms (ideal for team vs. team games). The actual computers are not next to the monitors, but are all in a rack in a back room. The stations were built by a cabinet maker based on specs I created.

The 12 All-Time Ugliest Christmas Sweaters. And some are still available to buy!

Google Shoot View: Street View as a first-person shooter

Math artist Vi Hart has a triangle party. It sounds way more fun than geometry class.

The Right (and Wrong) Way to Die When You Fall Into Lava: Everyone is wrong about how people die when they fall into lava.

Try one of over 600 courses available through the Open University's Learning Space. Get to know the meaning behind the making of kente cloth of Ghana or learn the mathematical modelling involved in analysing skid marks. Lose yourself in art and design or simply learn a new old language. All you need is a device with a browser and internet access. Bonus: OU on the BBC's Frozen Planet series 

Overheard: Everyone Speaks Text Message

Everyone Speaks Text Message:

Harrison, an associate professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College, is a choice made by 6-year-olds. And what makes a 6-year-old want to learn a language is being able to use it in everyday life. “Language is driven from the ground up,” says Don Thornton, a software developer in Las Vegas who specializes in making video games and mobile apps in Native American languages. “It doesn’t matter if you have a million speakers — if your kids aren’t learning, you’re in big trouble.” Of 6,909 catalogued languages, hundreds are unlikely to be passed on to the next generation.

Source: NYTimes

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tech: Robotic Cook

Owners of household robots may soon be able to issue orders such as "make me a sandwich" or "pop me some popcorn" and a robot will do the rest, as demonstrated by Technical University of Munich's robots James and Rosie in this video above.

"Giving robots the ability to take a complex task and autonomously infer all the intermediate tasks that it can then execute one at a time means that you'll be able to say, 'Make me a sandwich' … and the robot will just go and do it, no questions asked," notes IEEE's Automation blog.

Overheard: Gold Standard

Since 1972 when Nixon went off the gold standard, the world reserve currency has been the US dollar, but what ultimately backs the US dollar? People say nothing, it’s ‘fiat money’ but I don’t think this is true. It’s a credit system based on the circulation of debt. Of course the US has the enormous advantage of being able to write checks that are never actually cashed: US treasury bonds have become the basic reserve currency for the central banks and as Michael Hudson originally pointed out, most of these American treasury bonds are never really cashed in. They’re rolled over year after year to buy new ones, and these holders are taking a loss on them as they pay interest lower than inflation. So why are they doing that? Well, if you look at the size of US deficit it corresponds almost exactly to the real saw military budget. If you look at graphs showing the growth of the US deficit, and the percentage of it held overseas, and the US military spending—basically, you see almost exactly the same curve. So basically, foreign governments and institutional lenders are buying US treasury bonds and paying for this enormous military spending. So, who are the guys doing it? Well during the cold war it was especially West Germany, now, apart from China, the most important are places like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Gulf states. What do these states have in common? They’re all covered in US military bases, or under US military protection. The US is borrowing the money to create these military bases from the very countries that the US military is sitting on top of. In the past, such arrangements were called ‘empires’ and the money sent over was referred to as ‘tribute.’ Now apparently your not allowed to use that language, so it’s called a ‘loan.’ Nonetheless, that link between the military and the core of the financial system remains, it’s the thing we’re not supposed to think about.

- David Graeber in "Interview with David Graeber"

News: Brain drain reverses course, flows away from America

The U.S. has traditionally skimmed the best minds from around the world in pursuit of the American Dream. Indeed, according to polling firm Gallup, which surveyed people in 135 nations around the world, the U.S. was the top desired destination of those who wanted to relocate permanently to another country.

But with unemployment hovering around 9 percent, the use of food stamps at record highs and the Great Recession continuing to punish the budgets of so many families, the American economy is much less of a magnet. To some young entrepreneurs, economic possibilities seem brighter in places like Brazil, Russia, China or Latin America. Indeed, the State Department now estimates that 6.3 million Americans are studying or working abroad, the highest number on record.

In fact, according to a survey by marketing consultants America Wave, the percentage of Americans aged 25 to 34 actively planning to relocate outside the U.S. has quintupled in just two years, from less than 1 percent to 5.1 percent. “Those numbers have shot through the ceiling,” says America Wave founder Bob Adams, who has run nine such surveys over the years. “They’re very surprising, and not something I anticipated. They’re looking for work because of the sluggish economy, and they’ve lost confidence that the U.S. is going anywhere.”

News: 8 Out of 10 Software Apps Fail Security Test

Desktop and web applications remain a wasteland of bugs and holes that only a hacker could love, according to a report released Wednesday by a company that conducts independent security audits of code.

In fact, eight out of 10 software applications fail to meet a security assessment, according to a State of Software Security report by Veracode. That’s based on an automated analysis of 9,910 applications submitted to Veracode’s online security testing platform in the last 18 months. The applications are submitted by both developers — in the government and commercial sectors — as well as companies and government agencies wanting an assessment of software they plan to purchase.
Via Wired

Tech Links: December 12, 2011

An Oregon judge has ruled that a Montana blogger is not eligible for the legal protections afforded to journalists, letting stand a $2.5 million defamation verdict. At the end of the Ars Technica article there's a link to a Forbes article that contains some more details and the text of an email that didn't help the blogger's case.

Google will now graph! Google Post description. Now... examples! sin(x), exp(x), x^2+2x+1. We're not nearly done...

Infographic: The Anatomy Of A Perfect Website

Mint is a Debian-based Linux distro that is now the fourth most popular Operating System after Windows, Mac and Ubuntu, focusing on usability for those without previous GNU/Linux experience. With Ubuntu declining in popularity since the introduction of the tablet-oriented Unity desktop interface, Mint may be taking its old place. 

MegaUpload is currently being portrayed by the MPAA and RIAA as one of the world’s leading rogue sites. But top music stars including P Diddy,, Alicia Keys, Snoop Dogg and Kanye West disagree and are giving the site their full support in a brand new song. TorrentFreak caught up with the elusive founder of MegaUpload, Kim Dotcom, who shrugged off “this rogue nonsense” and told us he wants content owners to get paid. “It works like an ad blocker but instead of blocking ads we show ads coming from Megaclick, our ad network,” says Kim. “This way we will generate enough ad revenue to provide free premium services and licensed content so that our users can have it for free.” 

The Personal Computer Is Dead Power is fast shifting from end users and software developers to operating system vendors.

MPAA chairman Chris Dodd compared Google to the getaway driver at a robbery — not stealing, but helping theft happen.

Why Google Is The Most Important Learning Tool Ever Invented

Why Spotify can never be profitable: The secret demands of record labels

News: U.S. Universities Feast on Federal Aid

The public is in a foul mood over increasing college costs and student debt burdens. Talk of a “higher education bubble” is common on the contrarian right, while the Occupy Wall Street crowd is calling for a strike in which in which ex-students refuse to pay off their loans.

This week, President Barack Obama held a summit with a dozen higher-education leaders “to discuss rising college costs and strategies to reduce these costs while improving quality.” The administration plans to introduce some policy proposals in the run-up to the presidential campaign.

Any serious policy reform has to start by considering a heretical idea: Federal subsidies intended to make college more affordable may have encouraged rapidly rising tuitions.

It’s not as crazy as it might sound.
Via Bloomberg

Daily Links: December 12, 2011

World renowned Filipino product designer Kenneth Cobonpue has created the world’s first and only biodegrable car made out of bamboo and rattan called the Phoenix.

The 25 Funniest Autocorrects of 'Damn You Autocorrect!' to celebrate the site's First Year anniversary.

The 99% Declaration. Anyone who says the protesting portion of the U.S. has no specific goals should read carefully. Everyone should.

Check out MedlinePlus' advice on preparing for winter weather emergencies

Construction of Language and Identity in LOLspeak“: An actual presentation from an actual academic conference.

Energetic consequences of thermal and nonthermal food processing. Or, as discussed by Discover Magazine, Why Calorie Counts Are Wrong: Cooked Food Provides a Lot More Energy.

The History and Future of Computing an interactive timeline from the New York Times which crowdsources predictions.

Infographic: Earth is Now Home to 7 Billion People

The Light Bulb Conspiracy is a documentary about disposable printers, light bulbs and everything else, investigating the implications of the business model and industrial design philosophy of Planned Obsolescence that drives and shapes our economy.  

WonderHowTo is a great site devoted to do-it-yourself instructional videos. Check out how to build your own electromagnetic railgun weapon, electric shock taser, stun darts for a blowgun, and more.

Overheard: Patents

Patents like this are a logical consequence of the extension of patentable matter to software and business methods but extending patents to software and business methods has created huge legal costs without any increase in innovation.

Most importantly, patents can reduce innovation and are especially likely to do so in fields where innovations build on innovations. In fields of cumulative innovation, previous patents owners become veto players who can threaten to holdup the new innovation unless they are granted a share of the proceeds. In theory, bargaining can result in an efficient outcome. In practice, it means lawsuits, delay, waste and reduced innovation.

-  Tyler Cowen on why "Medical patents must die"

Tech: Twine

Twine, “the simplest possible way to get the objects in your life texting, tweeting or emailing.” This 2.5” square, created by a duo of MIT Media Lab graduates, offers wifi connectivity, internal and external sensors, and two AAA batteries that keep it running for two months. John Pavlus has more.

Tech: Flying Robotic Builders

They’re for “building things.”  Certainly not for hunting down the last few rogue survivors of a post-apocalyptic wasteland.  Of course, I’d still be a bit nervous to enter a structure built by these things.  I mean, I realize that a lot of the stuff we use is made by robots anyway, but…I don’t know.  It just weirds me out a little.
Dec. 2 - A team of scientists has demonstrated that a coordinated group of pre-programmed, autonomous robots can do the job of building workers, constructing a six meter high tower without any human intervention. Architects say this new technology paves the way for new methods of engineering buildings of the future. Georgina Cooper reports.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Infographic: Portable Game Revenue

“The days of paying $25, or more, for a cartridge at a retail store may soon end,” says Flurry. Bad news for Nintendo & Sony, but great news for hot mobile games companies like the one I work for, Backflip Studios. Backflip is a small, 30-person, highly profitable company with over 150 million downloads, about 30 million active players per month, and we’re growing like crazy thanks to distribution through Apple and Android devices.

Tech: 10 000-Year Clock

The year is 12011. Two hikers cut through a stretch of cactus-filled desert outside what was once the small town of Van Horn, near the Mexican border, in West Texas. After walking for the better part of a day under a relentless sun, they struggle up a craggy limestone ridge. Finally they come to an opening in the rock, the mouth of what appears to be a long, deep tunnel.

Infographic: Facebook IPO

Who would win big if Facebook goes public? The company is notoriously tight-lipped about who owns what, but here is our educated guess compiled from various news reports and David Kirkpatrick’s book “The Facebook Effect.”

Science: New Laser will tear the fabric of Space

New laser will tear the fabric of space:

Plans are underway in Europe to build a new laser which would be the most powerful in the world. The laser will be 200 times more powerful than the current top lasers, and would be equivalent to the power received by the Earth from the sun focused onto a speck smaller than a tip of a pin.

Contrary to popular belief, a vacuum is not devoid of material but in fact fizzles with tiny mysterious particles that pop in and out of existence, but at speeds so fast that no one has been able to prove they exist.
The Extreme Light Infrastructure Ultra-High Field Facility would produce a laser so intense that scientists say it would allow them to reveal these particles for the first time by pulling this vacuum “fabric” apart.
They also believe it could even allow them to prove whether extra-dimensions exist.

The £1 billion project is due to be completed by the end of this decade.

Tech: My Hangouts

My Hangouts for Google+ is a Chrome extension that sits in your browser’s toolbar and alerts you of all live public and limited Google+ Hangouts from your stream. It’s super useful, and quite well done.

Via: Google Hangout Extension for Chrome

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tech: Autodesk bringing 3D Modeling to the Masses

Autodesk bringing 3D modeling to the masses:
You may not know CAD, but if you’ve got a computer, you can now start creating 3D models.

That’s the idea behind 123D Catch and 123D Make, two new free software applications that Autodesk is planning on releasing on Monday. The two programs join the company’s existing iPad app, 123D Sculpt, as part of a family of tools that are intended to give just about anyone the ability not just to make their own 3D designs, but also to get them produced as real, physical models.

Autodesk unveiled the two new applications at a press event at its innovation center here today, making the argument that just about anyone can now play the role of 3D modeler that has traditionally belonged to CAD experts and other professional designers.

With 123D Catch, a user can take any digital camera and use it to photograph a real-world object. By snapping a few dozen pictures from angles all around the object and then uploading them to Autodesk’s cloud-based system via the software, the user can within minutes get back a 3D model of the object. Autodesk will process the model at no charge.
Via: CNet

News: Kids have Adult Tech Skills

Kids have 'adult' tech skills; parents don't know it:
According to AVG, the average 11-year-old child has “adult skills when it comes to technology.” In other words, they can perform any task that an adult can when it comes to surfing the Web, getting a gadget to work, or solving complex computer issues.
“Technologically speaking, today’s kids can walk the walk,” AVG Chief Executive J.R. Smith said in a statement.

News: MPAA Costs Hollywood More Than US BitTorrent Piracy

MPAA Costs Hollywood More Than US BitTorrent Piracy:
During the last year Netflix managed to outgrow BitTorrent in terms of the amount of US Internet traffic it generates. A promising finding for Hollywood as it shows that there’s an overwhelming interest for the legal movie streaming service. At TorrentFreak we wondered what might happen if all US BitTorrent users made the switch to Netflix, and the results of this exploration are quite intriguing.
Via: TorrentFreak

Overheard: iPhones vs. the Police

But things are different nowadays. Smart phones have cameras, and almost everyone has a smart phone. A court is therefore less likely to be ignorant of what actually occurred between the policeman and me. The policeman and I may have videotaped it. Bystanders might have, too. I am reminded of the utopia dreamed of by the eighteenth-century anarchist William Godwin, who hoped that someday everyone in the world would become so sincere and so expressive that all sides of every story would be fully narrated, and there would no longer be any need to deceive. Everyone would be his own narrator, and in the world that this sincerity revealed, perfect knowledge would include perfect forgiveness.
- "iPhones vs. the Police" by Caleb Crain

Tech Links: December 8, 2011

Boris Phone Holder from Mocha

The App Wars are about to heat up. Microsoft is offering developers a larger piece of the pie in revenue for apps for smartphones and tablets. If a Windows app's revenue breaks $25 000, MS is offering 80% of the revenue, ahead of Apple's 70%.

Canada's privacy commissioner has said that consumers should always be able to opt out of tracking. There could be work in the future, either in writing a browser add-on that prevents data being tracked/forwarded or in showing the data being tracked. This may mean that companies like CarrierIQ will have to be careful of what data they track.

Make Magazine has released its Ultimate Kit Guide which rates 175 DIY kits. Kits like the: 6-in-1 Solar Robot Kit, the Infrared Jammer Kit, the KaraKuri Somersault Doll kit, the Loud Objects Noise Toy Kit. But best of all you will find the astounding MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer. "The Thing-O-Matic is a breakthrough in 3D printing technology. The Thing-O-Matic prints thing after thing, it's completely automated! You hit print and the machine does all the work. Want to print 100 butterflies? Easy. Want to print an entire chess set? No problem. Buy it, assemble it, and enjoy being the first on your block to live in the cutting-edge personal manufacturing future of tomorrow!"

The new .xxx domains are available. Filter writers now have a new spam detector, just like when .biz and .info came out.

Daily Links: December 8, 2011

The DC-3: The Best Paper Airplane in The World. "During the summer of 1950, on the outskirts of Harrisburg Pennsylvania U.S.A., my sister's boyfriend 'Skip' was sitting on the glider on the front porch of our house. He said to me - Hey Mike... bring me a sheet of paper.' I answered why? and he responded with his make believe impatience 'Just bring it!' I obeyed and he said that he was going to build the best paper airplane in the world. I was eight years old at the time and my meager knowledge of paper airplanes was the traditional flying wedge that spiraled into tight loops and fell head first to the ground."

The Hipster's Dictionary: A copasetic compendium of hep cat hype and swing-era slang.

Louis C.K.: The Next Steve Jobs Will Be A Chick: The comedian (and father of two daughters) salutes the feminine future.

The Straight Dope: Can cops really commandeer cars?
VASSAL is an open-source engine for playing board games online, by email, on forums or on a single machine. Which board games? These. (Requires Java.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Video: Traffic in Ho Chi Minh City

Everyone who has visited Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam knows part of the magic (love it or hate it) is in the traffic. Ever since I first set foot in HCMC I have been captivated by the cities energy. Saigon is a city on the move unlike anything I have experienced before which I wanted to capture and share.

Video: Quick History of Satellites

Have you ever wondered how many satellites have been launched in to space? Well, you do not have to scratch your hear any longer – here is the answer thanks to the people at Ne0nLe0n.  Every launch since they began up to 2010.

Tech Links: December 6, 2011

15 Futuristic Display Technologies That Will Change The Way You See The World
Wasn’t the future of television watching supposed to be way cooler than this by now? Yeah, it was, but don’t worry; those spiffy high-tech displays have only been delayed, not scrapped entirely.

DARPA's Shredder Challenge solved two days early

Infogrphic: Tips & Tricks for Students Conducting Research
In a recent stud on student research skills, 3 out of 4 students couldn't perform a 'well-executed search' on Google.

The Latest in the Widening Carrier IQ Phone Spying Scandal
It only took a scolding letter from a Senator, a class action lawsuit and a few thousand news stories, but smartphone software makers Carrier IQ finally responded to allegations of logging keystrokes and spying on users on Thursday night. The company’s denying the most serious user-tracking allegations, a number of questions about exactly what the software does and how users can turn if off remain. Among them, how long has this been going on and what the heck was Carrier IQ (and its clients) thinking in the first place?

Swiss government keeps downloading legal after piracy study
One in three people in Switzerland download unauthorized music, movies and games from the Internet and since last year the government has been wondering what to do about it. This week their response was published and it was crystal clear. Not only will downloading for personal use stay completely legal, but the copyright holders won’t suffer because of it, since people eventually spend the money saved on entertainment products.

Ten years of Windows XP: how longevity became a curse
Windows XP's retail release was October 25, 2001, ten years ago today. Though no longer readily available to buy, it continues to cast a long shadow over the PC industry: even now, a slim majority of desktop users are still using the operating system.

Why Instagram Is So Popular: It could also be the world of photography is changing so fast that lots of us nerds are talking about how a tool like Instagram can pass 10 million users in 355 days. The interface implications are fascinating, the company and technology dynamics of serving content to 10 million users with less than ten employees are fascinating, the artistic content is fascinating, and the reasons why people like me are so addicted to the damn thing are fascinating.

  • Facebook Targets Huge IPO: Facebook Inc. is inching closer to an initial public offering that it hopes will value the company at more than $100 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

Photo: London at Night


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Science: Hot Cores in Dark Clouds

Above: A false-color, infrared image of a dark cloud as seen against the bright background of Milky Way emission. Within the snake-like cloud structure seen here, dust and gas are congealing into new stars that are detected as embedded, hot cores.

The earliest stages in the life of a star are among the most mysterious. This is primarily because stars form inside dark clouds of material that block optical light, and because they form relatively quickly, in only hundred of thousands of years, whereas once a star starts burning its hydrogen fuel it can last for billions of years.

Science: The Cosmic Web

Galactic surveys have revealed that the universe has a “bubbly texture.” Almost all galaxies are found within giant arcs surrounding enormous voids, some more than 300 million light years across, containing little other than empty space. Though it can’t be seen, dark matter dominates most of the structure.

As seen in the simulation above, the universe is arranged into great collections of knots, sheets, and filaments. These formations got their start from the tiny fluctuations in the cosmic background radiation, which represent areas of slightly more or less density. As the universe evolved, these small inhomogeneities attracted matter to them, which snowballed over billions of years into the enormous collections we now see.

Source: Wired

Photo: Buonanotte, Italia

Buonanotte, Italia

Lit up at night in this picture taken on June 15, 2011, the boot of Italy outline is drawn in by the cities of Bari, Brindisi, and Naples. Sicily is lit up as well. The ISS was almost a thousands kilometers east of Italy when it took this shot looking west, which is why it looks a bit squashed, foreshortened by the curve of the Earth.

Source: Discover Magazine

Issue: Why Pennies Are Economically Inefficient

C.G.P. Grey makes the case for “why Pennies are economically inefficient and should be abolished”.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Daily Links: December 5, 2011

Europe According to USA
London-based designer Yanko Tsvetkov‘s Mapping Stereotypes project

13 Misconceptions About Today from Future History Classes

As the Occupy protests spread, the latest phenomenon to emerge is the Stealthy Wealthy. Sensitive to negative perceptions of extreme wealth inequality in hard times, and concerned about the possibility of history repeating itself, the super-rich have been swapping their limousines for nondescript-looking yet luxuriously outfitted cargo vans.

BoingBoing Gift Guide 2011: The ultimate source for ideas for your favorite proud, self-described geeks.

Christmas Decorating and Craft Ideas: Lots of gift and decorating ideas you can make yourself, as well as ideas for Christmas light displays.

Five Mysteries Uncovered By Google Earth

Infographic: College Tuition on the Rise

What It Looks Like Inside

Astronomy: Is Mars Really Red?

Mars is often known as the 'Red Planet,' but is it really red? This 60-second video answers one of the most frequently asked questions about our planetary neighbor.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Factoid: Ruins of Gedi

The ruins of Gede are the remains of a mysterious lost city on the Swahili Coast of Kenya, located deep within the Arabuko Sokoke forest. The mystery of Gede (Gedi) is that it does not appear in any Swahili, Portuguese, or Arab written records and present day research has not yet been able to fully account for what actually happened to the city. The inhabitants were of the Swahili, an ancient trading civilization that emerged along the eastern coasts of Africa ranging from Somalia to Mozambique. Archaeological excavations carried out between 1948 and 1958 have uncovered porcelain from China, an Indian lamp, Venetian beads, Spanish scissors, and other artefacts from all over the world, demonstrating the occupants were engaged in extensive and sophisticated international trade. Questions still remain as to what caused the downfall of Gede, but by the 17th century, the city was completely abandoned to the forest and forgotten until the 1920s. Today, a National Museum, Gede's sister cities from the period are part of the ethnography based archeological work of Dr Chapurukha M. Kusimba of Chicago's Field Museum, whose lifework has thrown light on the precolonial heritage of the Swahili peoples.

Tech Links: December 1, 2011

Are We Building a Fatter, Slower Web?: The average page download size has jumped 25%  since this time last year — 626 kB per page to 784 kB. The main culprit: JavaScript. 

Berg London's Little Printer is a small, net-connected printer for your home that will print you a small, daily newspaper with content you add or subscribe to via a phone app. 

CarrierIQ, a data-logging software present on most new Android, Blackberry and Nokia phones, secretly records keystrokes, dialed numbers and text messages. It also can't be turned off. Trevor Eckhart, the Android user who discovered and recorded it, labelled CarrierIQ a rootkit (you can read Eckhart's further analysis here). CarrierIQ sent Eckhart a cease-and-desist letter (PDF here), but has since backed off. Eckhart's findings confirm earlier rumors.

The Day the Music Died: Why Labels Are Abandoning Streaming Music Services
"In many ways, this situation feels like filesharing’s threat realized in full, with music sales falling because the Internet has changed the way people think about obtaining and listening to music."