Monday, May 31, 2010
Saturday, May 29, 2010
It will be interesting to see if these transistors actually do make there way into commercial applications within five years.
Tuscan Wedding Gift Ingredient Links
Links for sending the new Tuscan Wedding Gift Ingredients.
Friday, May 28, 2010
I've heard from a friend that this is a tasty restaurant and the reviews look good, too. Can't wait to try it out.
Unfortunately, the reality of space travel is very different than Star Trek and Star Wars would like to have us think. This article, http://www.cracked.com/article_18547_6-reasons-space-travel-will-always-suck...., gives a few reasons why.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
The next volley in the Flash war has been unleashed. Major media corporations, including NBC Universal and Time Warner, have told Apple that they will not reformat their media libraries, which are in Adobe Flash, to be compatible with the iPad.
Curious about how much radiation is coming from your iPhone? Sorry, there's no app for that. http://tinyurl.com/36z34mx
Reclaim Privacy provides a tool for scanning your privacy settings. From their home page, drag and drop the Scan for Privacy link to your bookmarks. Go to your Facebook Privacy Settings, then click the Scan for Privacy link in your bookmarks. This tool will provide a section by section assessment of your privacy settings.
Take this tool, like any other, with a grain of salt. It is designed to help you completely lock down your profile. However, this means that you won't appear in searches and it will be very difficult for people you know, like friends and relatives, to find and identify you so that they can friend you on Facebook. The best way to protect your privacy is to not post information that you don't others to know about you online, so that regardless of any security settings that may or may not be working at any particular time or vulnerable to a hack, only the information you want to share will be available. I don't publish anything online that I wouldn't be comfortable having my boss' boss or a government official read about me. Everyone has a different level of comfort with what they are willing to share. Decide what's right for you and only post that much.
BBC News reports that Dr. Mark Gasson of the University of Reading is the first human infected with a computer virus.
Arizona should take a page from United Kingdom's book, which is abolishing its National Identity Register, and be more accepting of people, rather than forcing them to carry identification papers. When I went to get my passport renewed at the City of Chandler's office for my trip next month there was a rush of people applying for passports since SB1070 was signed into law. It's sad when Americans should take lessons from the British on civil liberties.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
You may already be managing your browser cookies, but don't forget to also manage your Flash cookies. Adobe Flash Player has cookies that can be used to recreate browser cookies after you have deleted them, so look in both places for possible privacy issues. The Website Privacy Settings Panel of the Adobe Flash Player Settings Manager, http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_..., is the web page where you can tell Flash Player how to treat new cookies and delete existing cookies. There's nothing extra to download. The Settings Manager is on the web page. I keep my settings at Always Ask and delete any websites that I don't recognize or don't visit regularly.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Not how I plan to pay for the cave for my dragon, http://www.flickr.com/photos/janine-white/3500733479/, but very amusing.
Friday, May 21, 2010
I used to be a Mac evangelist and develop small applications and fonts for the Mac, but I don't any more. I convinced people to switch to Macs where both Windows and Mac OS could be run. However, Apple has become more and more proprietary. With the iPod, iPhone and the iPad applications have to be purchased through iTunes and Apple is not supporting a ubiquitous content delivery system, Flash. I'm much more happy to be using Android, which has thousands of applications available for free and they are growing exponentially in number, and waiting for a Windows tablet that can run my existing suite of applications, so I don't have to buy them all over again. Also, also although they are well designed, the quality of Apple products is not always equivalent to Windows products. I bought a Mac Mini last year and found that I couldn't use it where I wanted to because the wireless card wasn't strong enough to get my router's signal from the other side of the house, unlike my Windows laptops. If something's more expensive and doesn't work as well as the alternative, I'm not going to use it just because it's pretty and popular. I appreciate the business model that Apple has set up since the iPod, but I'm not buying into it any more.
The meds must be working. I'm 29% less anxious and 79% less negative than the average Tweeter in the TweetPsych database. To get your own analysis, go to http://tweetpsych.com, enter your Twitter ID, then click Analyze to find out how you compare.
The Ghost Army saved thousands of lives and helped win World War II by mastering illusion. http://blog.seattlepi.com/bookpatrol/archives/197656.asp
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Today, in Science, the first artificial cell was born.
Scientists from the J Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Maryland and California announced today that they have developed the first synthetic living cell. Though theoretically this cell is the first step in the creation of artificial life, the inventors are focusing their efforts on creating new fuels, effective ways to cleanwater, and faster vaccine production....genesand chunks of DNA from one species to another before, but Dr. Craig Venter's team met a milestone a few years ago, transplanting an entire natural genome of one bacterium into another and watched the original goat germ turn into a cattle germ.
World's first synthetic cells: J Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) via BBC News
Later Venter's lab distinguished itself by building a small bacterium's genome with man-made DNA fragments, piece by piece - another milestone.
It was both milestone achievements that, combined, led the team to the 'synthetic cell' disclosed today. The researchers started out by combining two small species of Mycoplasma with a chemically synthesized goat germ genome, and finally transplanted that into a living cell from a different Mycoplasma species.
The team encountered an obstacle here and they eventually had to spell check (!) the DNA fragments of the synthetic genome to make sure there were no errors. The delay in the achievement of their goal was about three months, but finally, they learned the spell checker found a typo in the genetic code!
Once it was fixed, the synthetic DNA and its cytoplasm, having been tagged to distinguish it from the DNA of the natural Mycoplasma, started to produce its own proteins. Those proteins showed no relationship to their synthetic, genetic 'parent,' but instead looked and behaved exactly like the natural Mycoplasma.
Synthetic DNA may cause ethical concerns for some, but Synthia, as she (?) is fondly called by her creators, is getting plenty of praise from companies ready to join the new field of synthetic biology, a combination of chemistry, computer science, molecular biology, genetics and cell biology, to breed industrial life forms that can secrete fuels, vaccines or other saleable products." (WSJ)
Daisy, meet Synthia.
Children learn so quickly, it's amazing, especially between the ages of one and five. As they and we get older our brains become less malleable or, as neuroscientists might say, our brains have less plasticity. A new study led by researchers at the University of Florida (UF) discovered that newborns learn even while they sleep, a finding that may lead to an early identification method for detecting autism, dyslexia, and other developmental disorders.
Researchers studied 26 sleeping newborns that were one or two days old. Using a standard classical conditioning technique, researchers coupled an auditory tone with a gentle puff of air to the babies' eyelids. After 20 minutes, the researchers stopped the puff of air and just played the tone, but 24 of the 26 babies squeezed their eyelids in anticipation of the puff of air. In these 24 babies learning took place.
The 24 infants were compared with a control group using EEG and video recordings to measure the changes that took place in the infants' brains, and the researchers recorded a neural measurement as objective evidence of 'memory updating.'
Learned eyelid movements reflect normal functioning of the cerebellum, at the base of the brain. Children with autism and some other disabilities show atypical cerebellar structures, leading researchers to believe that their discovery of newborn learning behaviors during sleep might lead to early identification and, therefore, early intervention of developmentally disabled infants.
The Florida study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first study to test learning activity of newborns during sleep. They have a more 'active sleep,' shown by rapid changes in heart and breathing patterns. Older children and adults don't share these sleep behaviors.
"This methodology opens up research areas into potentially detecting high risk populations, those who show abnormalities in the neural systems underlying this form of learning," said Dana Byrd, a UF research affiliate in psychology. "These would include siblings of individuals with autism and siblings of those with dyslexia."
Honda is developing mobility assistance devices to help people walk and work upright in a real world environment.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Bob Basset, http://bobbasset.com, is the creator of these amazing shoes that came with matching gloves. Their more recent work includes Steam Punk masks and bracers.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
I love illusions, and I love astronomy. So what could be better than combining the two?
If you’ve ever seen the Moon rising over the horizon, looking so fat and looming that you felt like you could fall right into it, then you’ve been a victim of the famous Moon Illusion. And it is an illusion, a pervasive and persuasive one.
So, how does this thing work? Ah, step right up.
One of my favorite brain-benders is the Ponzo Illusion. You’ve seen it: the simplest case is with two short horizontal lines, one above the other, between two slanting but near-vertical lines. The upper line looks longer than the lower line, even though they’re the same length.
The illusion works because our brains are a bit wonky. The slanted lines make us think that anything near the top is farther away; the lines force our brain to think those lines are parallel but receding in the distance (like railroad tracks). The two horizontal lines are physically the same length, but our brain thinks the upper one is farther away. If it’s farther away, then duh, our brain says to itself, it must be bigger than the lower one. So we perceive it that way.
While procrastinating on reddit, (you do look at reddit, don’t you, especially the science section?) I found this beautiful example of Ponzo:
Heehee! You’d swear up and down* that the red vertical line on the right is much longer than the one on the left, wouldn’t you? It looks almost twice as long to me. It’s a very powerful perception.
But they’re not! I cut out the two red lines and put them side by side. They’re pretty much exactly the same length (well, they’re off by a bit due to resolution issues in the image, but not by nearly as much as your brain likes to think).
This example is a great one because it uses a real-life image. You can see the wall tiles getting smaller with distance, and the horizontal layout of them, complete with the lines between them, forces your brain to see the line on the right as farther away. Bang! Ponzo.
This illusion plays out all the time… including when the Moon is rising (you were wondering when I’d get back to that, weren’t you?). The Moon Illusion is in part due to this same effect, but weirdly, you also need to understand how we perceive the sky.
If I were to ask you what shape the sky is above your head, you’d probably answer "a hemisphere". But in fact, almost everyone perceives it as an inverted bowl, flattened at the top. Put it this way: if the sky were a hemisphere above you, you’d say the horizon was as far away as the zenith. But in fact most people perceive the horizon being farther away than the point straight over their heads; test after test has shown this. This isn’t too surprising; think of a cloudy day. The clouds over your head are maybe two or three kilometers above, but near the horizon they may be 100 kilometers away!
See where I’m going with this? When the Moon is on the horizon, your brain thinks it’s far away, much farther than when it’s overhead. So the Ponzo Illusion kicks in: your brain sees the Moon as being huge, and it looks like you could fall into it. The Illusion works for the Sun, too. In fact, years ago I saw Orion rising over a parking lot, and it looked like it was spread across half the sky. It’s an incredibly powerful illusion.
Oddly enough, when it’s on the horizon, the Moon actually is farther away than when it’s overhead. Not by much, really, just a few thousand kilometers (compared to the Moon’s overall distance of about 400,000 kilometers). Behold my Photoshop skillz:
The guy at the top of the Earth in the diagram sees the Moon on his horizon, and the guy on the side of the Earth sees it overhead. But you can tell the distances aren’t the same: the Moon is closer to the guy who sees it as overhead (by an amount roughly equal to the Earth’s radius). That’s no illusion! That’s science, baby.
So the Moon Illusion is just that. It’s not the air acting like a lens, or foreground objects making it look big by comparison. It’s just the way we see the shape of the sky together with the well-known Ponzo Illusion.
Hmmm, is there a metaphor I’m sniffing here? Science taking something we perceive as real, breaking it down, and showing it to be an interesting but decidedly unreal illusion? Well, that’s what science does! It helps us not only understand the world better, but it also makes the world cooler, too.
*Haha! "Up and down!" Haha! Man, I kill me.
Moonrise image from Jorge-11’s Flickr photostream.
This is a great explanation of the Ponzo illusion.
This one's my favorite because it has Nimoy AND Doctor Who.
I find the thought of working in a Clipper CS-1, http://www.jeffsokalski.com/clipper.html, intriguing compared to my grey cubicle, but I think it would tend to be claustrophobic after a while. I don't mind day-sleeping under the covers, but I don't want to spend all night encased, too.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
I don’t know if this is a Windows 7 hack or if this is available in other operating systems.
- Create a new folder on your desktop
- Name the new folder:
The new folder will change into this icon.
Clicking your shiny new icon will result in a new window that gives shortcut access to the myriad of configuration and administration utilities in Windows that I always seem to need to hunt down.
Opening one of these nodes will provide direct access to the associated utils.
Weird and beautiful, isn’t it?
It makes me wonder what other Easter eggs are in there.
I haven't tried this because I don't have Vista or Windows 7, yet, but it looks like a cool shortcut. Just be sure to have a system restore point available just before you try because some people are reporting that it doesn't work as described.
A team of four young programmers is developing Diaspora, an encrypted, open source, distributed social network intended to cut out the middle man between an individual and their friends. They are funding this start up through small donations at Kickstarter, http://kck.st/9QC2zk. You can learn more about them at http://www.joindiaspora.com/ and follow their progress on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joindiaspora.>
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Spokeo is a search engine that aggregates publicly available information about individuals from a large number of web sites, including phone books, social networks, real estate listings, etc. Search yourself to ensure that the correct information is being aggregated to your name. When I checked my listing, I found that most of the information was not accurate, so I removed it using http://www.spokeo.com/privacy.
Posted by Janine White at 10:09 PM
Bloodhound SSC (Super Sonic Car) is an open source engineering and education project to build a car capable of reaching 1000 mph. The strong emphasis on the educational opportunities associated with the project provides projects and engineering information appropriate from elementary school through university. Becoming a sponsor of the project also gives you access to exclusive information and videos.
I use Google Docs at home, but it doesn't have enough of a presentation layer to replace Microsoft Office professionally. I also prefer Word for taking school notes because of the equation editor in Word. I hope that Google Docs keeps adding more features so that it can be a full replacement for Microsoft Office.
Sunday, May 09, 2010
A woman observing a trial was arrested and jailed for 48 hours because she wore a t-shirt with a political slogan.
Are you curious about the political slogan? Can this be legal? Would you agree that the specific slogan would be a crucial part of the news reporting this story? Now try this actual event, reported in the Chicago Tribune:
“Jennifer LaPenta, 20, was jailed this week by Lake County Associate Judge Helen Rozenberg who held her in contempt for wearing a T-shirt in her courtroom emblazoned with the words: “I have the (slang for female body part) so I make the rules.” LaPenta was sitting in the gallery waiting for a friend’s case when the judge called her forward.
This is a horrible incident—a judge jailing someone not even on trial because she didn’t like the woman’s T-shirt. But the Tribune is so busy protecting readers’ eyeballs from being burned by the “slang for female body part” that we don’t get to evaluate the judge’s actions for ourselves. We don’t get to be outraged that whatever-the-word-was landed someone in jail.
On the progressive side, the Huffington Post was no better—in fact, they were worse. Huffington ran the headline and lead, then simply directed readers to the Lake County News Sun, which of course couldn’t possibly mention the word that made the woman a criminal. Worse, Huffington ran a photo of the woman wearing her T-shirt—with the word blacked out.
In recent years adults have been insulted by media inventions like “the N word” and “the F bomb.” These are the same media that are willing to not show 4,000 American corpses being shipped back from Iraq. The media don’t trust us. They’re busy protecting us from the truth instead of reporting it.
The words on the T-shirt are a crucial detail. Without them, the LaPenta story is reduced to gossip, to a reality show. Instead of being angered, we chuckle.
So here’s what the T-shirt said across her chest:
“I have the pussy, so I make the rules.”
Not as much as a judge jailing her for it. And not as much as the national media refusing to let us know exactly what happened.
What's happened to free speech? Is this legal?
Saturday, May 08, 2010
SNOsoft Research Team's blog entry, Facebook from the hackers perspective, http://snosoft.blogspot.com/2009/02/facebook-from-hackers-perspective.html, is a detailed account of how they used a white hat social networking attack to compromise their client's network. The type of attack that they carried out on Facebook could be carried out using any social networking site, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc. In general, you need to be wary of who people claim to be and not just accept online "friends" at face value, just like you shouldn't follow every link nor open every attachment that you get in email.
Friday, May 07, 2010
Thursday, May 06, 2010
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Avoid "hypnotizing chickens" by not relying on PowerPoint to convey complex ideas.
Monday, May 03, 2010
Sunday, May 02, 2010
I used Birdzilla's Nifty-Fifty State Bird Guide, http://birdzilla.com/state-based-information/3307.html, for Arizona to identify this female Great-tailed Grackle that I photographed at Sunset Shores Park this afternoon. The 50 most commonly observed birds in a state are included in each guide, which includes images, description, range maps and songs for each bird.