Friday, December 29, 2006

Is Karma Catching Up With Microsoft?

John C. Dvorak questions if Microsoft will bleed dry from lawsuits...
Years before any of these lawsuits developed and during the OS/2 wars, when Microsoft was playing as nasty as it could, a scion of industry and friend of mine was laughing about how amateurish Microsoft was acting. He predicted back in 1992 that the company would regret its actions. "You cannot be a big corporation and act like a small feisty company doing whatever you want to get ahead," He told me. Microsoft was already too big in 1992 to be acting like a struggling little firm stretching the rules at every turn.

Though this activity did result in the creation of the world's richest man, it has created a situation that makes Microsoft a huge target because of its past bad behavior. Of course, some of the bad behavior still exists in lesser forms, and it's perceived as a continuation of a pattern.

I don't see how the company is going to get out from under these suits. First, the suits will come from state after state. Then certain cities will find a way to soak the company. Microsoft will fight the first few, but then a cookie-cutter template and precedents will emerge, making each case easier than the next. Then Microsoft will get out the checkbook, and it will become a money-grab.

Click for details.

Art as Science as Art

In the spring of 2006 we again asked the Princeton University community to submit images—and, for the first time, videos and sounds—produced in the course of research or incorporating tools and concepts from science. Out of nearly 150 entries from 16 departments, we selected 56 works to appear in the 2006 Art of Science exhibition.


Super Flying Saucer Gun

Imagine a gun with no recoil, no sound, no heat, no gunpowder, no visible firing signature (muzzle flash), and no stoppages or jams of any kind. Now imagine that this gun could fire .308 caliber and .50 caliber metal projectiles accurately at up to 8,000 fps (feet-per-second), featured an infinitely variable/programmable cyclic rate-of-fire (as high as 120,000 rounds-per-minute), and were capable of laying down a 360-degree field of fire. What if you could mount this weapon on any military Humvee (HMMWV), any helicopter/gunship, any armored personnel carrier (APC), and any other vehicle for which the technology were applicable?

According to its inventor, not only is it possible, it's already happened. An updated version of the weapon will be available soon. It will arrive in the form of a tactically-configured pre-production anti-personnel weapon firing .308 caliber projectiles (accurately) at 2,500-3000 fps, at a variable/programmable cyclic rate of 5,000-120,000 rpm (rounds-per-minute). The weapon's designer/inventor has informed DefRev that future versions of the weapon will be capable of achieving projectile velocities in the 5,000-8,000 fps range with no difficulty. The technology already exists.


Sexy & Nerdy

Click here for more video game bikinis.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

100 Things We Didn't Know Last Year

  1. Pele has always hated his nickname, which he says sounds like "baby-talk in Portuguese".
  2. There are 200 million blogs which are no longer being updated, say technology analysts.
  3. Urban birds have developed a short, fast "rap style" of singing, different from their rural counterparts.
  4. Bristol is the least anti-social place in England, says the National Audit Office.
  5. Standard-sized condoms are too big for most Indian men.
  6. The lion costume in the film Wizard of Oz was made from real lions.
  7. Fathers tend to determine the height of their child, mothers their weight.
  8. Panspermia is the idea that life on Earth originated on another planet.
  9. The Pope's been known to wear red Prada shoes.
  10. Online shoppers will only wait an average of four seconds for an internet page to load before giving up.
  11. Donald Rumsfeld was both the youngest and the oldest defence secretary in US history.
  12. Coco Chanel started the trend for sun tans in 1923 when she got accidentally burnt on a cruise.
  13. Up to 25% of hospital keyboards carry the MRSA infection.
  14. Sex workers in Roman times charged the equivalent price of eight glasses of red wine.
  15. More than one in eight people in the United States show signs of addiction to the internet, says a study.
  16. Just one cow gives off enough harmful methane gas in a single day to fill around 400 litre bottles.
  17. More than 90% of plane crashes have survivors.
  18. The brain is soft and gelatinous - its consistency is something between jelly and cooked pasta.


iTunes Store Crashes From Too Much Sales

Swarms of online shoppers armed with new iPods and iTunes gift cards apparently overwhelmed Apple's iTunes music store over the holiday, prompting error messages and slowdowns of 20 minutes or more for downloads of a single song.

Frazzled users began posting urgent help messages Monday and Tuesday on Apple's technical forum for iTunes, complaining they were either not allowed into the store or were told the system couldn't process their request to download songs and videos.

It was not immediately clear how many people were affected by the slowdowns, and Apple Computer Inc. would not immediately comment Wednesday on what caused the slowdown and whether it had been fixed.

Analysts said the problems likely were the result of too many people with holiday iPods and iTunes gift cards trying to access the site at once.


Best Buy Arrests Customer For Using Legal $2 Bills

On the morning of Feb. 20, he buys a new radio-CD player for his 17-year-old son Christopher's car. He pays the $114 installation charge with 57 crisp new $2 bills, which, when last observed, were still considered legitimate currency in the United States proper. The $2 bills are Bolesta's idea of payment, and his little comic protest, too.

For this, Mike, Baltimore County resident, innocent citizen, owner of Capital City Student Tours, finds himself under arrest.

Finds himself, in front of a store full of customers at the Best Buy on York Road in Lutherville, locked into handcuffs and leg irons.

Finds himself transported to the Baltimore County lockup in Cockeysville, where he's handcuffed to a pole for three hours while the U.S. Secret Service is called into the case.

Have a nice day, Mike.

More details.

The Top Ten Astronomy Images of 2006

image of someone painting as if they are making the lunar eclipse
This past year has been — like most are — up and down for science in general and astronomy in particular. We’ve had stunning successes and heartbreaking setbacks, all of which seem huge when dealing with them at the time. But while the science of astronomy is many things, one of the more subtle yet deeply profound aspects of it is its ability to provide a sense of perspective.

With all this in mind, I decided to create my list of Best Astronomy Pictures of 2006. I went through hundreds of images (maybe thousands), checking NASA, APOD, the ESA, BAUT, and a few dozen amateur and professional sites featuring pictures as well. The criteria I kept in mind were beauty, of course, but also scientific value. But both of these could be trumped by the coolness factor. All three are subjective, but what the heck. It’s my blog. So here is what I came up with.

All the images below are hosted at Flickr, and they link to the original sites with higher resolution images (many of the pictures are suitable as wallpapers).

Males and Females Write Differently

Inspired by an article in The New York Times Magazine, the Gender Genie uses a simplified version of an algorithm developed by Moshe Koppel, Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and Shlomo Argamon, Illinois Institute of Technology, to predict the gender of an author. Read more at

Test it out here.

Math Jokes

Judging by the facebook group "I Wish I Were Your Derivative So I Could Lie Tangent To Your Curves!" with 42,000 members, everybody loves a math joke.
"A biologist, a physicist, and a mathematician were sitting in a street café watching the crowd. Across the street they saw a man and a woman entering a building. Ten minutes later they reappeared together with a third person. “They have multiplied,” said the biologist. “Oh no, an error in measurement,” the physicist sighed. “If exactly one person enters the building now, it will be empty again,” the mathematician concluded."


Grumbles From Ford's Grave

Bob Woodward apparently has been sitting on this for a while, as President Gerald Rudolph Ford had instructed (that's what an "embargoed" story means). The question I've heard asked is, did Ford place a bad precedent for by pardoning Nixon? Could future [current] presidents be thinking they can just walk away scott-free assuming they'd be pardoned from any alleged crimes so the "nation can be healed"?

Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. "I don't think I would have gone to war," he said a little more than a year after President Bush launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford's own administration.

In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief of staff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.

In a conversation that veered between the current realities of a war in the Middle East and the old complexities of the war in Vietnam whose bitter end he presided over as president, Ford took issue with the notion of the United States entering a conflict in service of the idea of spreading democracy.

"Well, I can understand the theory of wanting to free people," Ford said, referring to Bush's assertion that the United States has a "duty to free people." But the former president said he was skeptical "whether you can detach that from the obligation number one, of what's in our national interest." He added: "And I just don't think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security."

"He was an excellent chief of staff. First class," Ford said. "But I think Cheney has become much more pugnacious" as vice president. He said he agreed with former secretary of state Colin L. Powell's assertion that Cheney developed a "fever" about the threat of terrorism and Iraq. "I think that's probably true."


Move With Your Movie

Motion simulators uses a two or four point suspension system to lift and move your seating in perfect synchronization with the onscreen action and sound, creating a virtual-reality experience in your living room or home theater. You're literally drawn into the action as never before, experiencing the same motional forces as the actors and players you're watching.

  • Realistic motion that is perfectly synchronized with Onscreen Action and Sound
  • Provides dramatic motion at up to 2 Gs of acceleration Up to 100 movements/sec.
  • Weight capacity ranges from 1,600 to 2,400 pounds.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Power From Scum

Mounting concern about U.S. dependence on foreign oil and about global warming is causing a surge of interest and investment in biomass, hydrogen, solar power and other alternative energy sources.

But bubbling beneath the surface of this wave--in more ways than one--is a technology that, while lacking an existing market or powerful lobby to advance its profile, may soon emerge as the most promising source of portable liquid fuels and that can offer unique environmental benefits to the electrical generation industry.
Refiners are not committed to any feedstock source, and the market will determine what is successful, but 10 to 15 years from now it is hard to imagine that algae won't be a dominant source of oil for biodiesel.
--Bill Dommermuth, plant manager, Seattle Biodiesel

We are talking pond scum, or algae, a plant that for decades has been prized as a possible commodity crop based on its unparalleled ability to photosynthesize solar energy into plant biomass for food. Unlike most plants, algae shares characteristics of bacteria, and its photosynthetic machinery operates much faster in converting inorganic substances into organic matter. And while plants require a lot of fuel to sow and harvest and additional fertilizer and fresh water to nourish, algae can be continuously harvested from closed water-based bioreactors that require little additional replenishment other than inorganic fuel supplied in the form of waste gas.

New research suggests algae may prove even more important as a source of energy than as food. Indeed, to the growing industry of biodiesel and ethanol refiners accustomed to treating biomass and the lipids derived from it as faceless commodities, algae looks like green gold.

Michael Briggs, laboratory manager at the University of New Hampshire Physics Department, admits that for investors it is daunting to risk large amounts of capital on an emerging technology with no immediate market, noting that large bioreactors covering multiple acres of ponds closed to the open air are expensive to build. But he argues that the advantages of biodiesel as a portable fuel are so overwhelming compared with other new alternative energy technologies that algae will prevail as the chief source of feedstock. He also says that, unlike seed oils and corn, algae would never compete with food crops for agricultural land, as the best locations for algae farms would likely be in desert areas unsuitable for crops or grazing.


Fly to the Other Side of The Planet in Two Hours

Two hour flights to the other side of the world may seem like a scene from a science fiction movie; but the technology is in place, and a plane that can do just that is currently in development.

Traveling as fast as Mach 25 with at least 30 minutes of space shuttle-like views while in orbit is the highlight of this plane, and The Astrox Corporation, along with their partners, are claiming to have finally overcome their largest problem, mixing fuel.

By using an inward-turning scramjet engine, The Astrox Corporation, along with their partners, has successfully designed and tested a combustor for the Astrox space plane.

The scramjet engine uses no moving parts, and is shaped like a rectangular funnel. Air enters the engine at an astonishing 2,200 MPH, mixes with fuel, undergoes ignition, and is combusted within one millisecond!

The research team has currently tested the combustor at Mach 2 in a supersonic wind tunnel, and Kothari plans to test both his design and the combustor in a small, model space plane before marketing their vehicle design.


Sounds like fun... and you could probably fly to New Zealand and arrive the previous day! :-)

Fight Like a Rabbi

In this graphical adventure game [The Shivah], Russell Stone works as a Jewish Rabbi at a poor synagogue in New York City. He is a devout man with a problem. Membership is way down and he lacks the funds to keep his synagogue open. Things are looking very bleak, and he has grown progressively more cynical and bitter with the passage of time.

Just as he is on the verge of packing it all in, he receives some interesting news. A former member of his congregation has died and left the Rabbi a significant amount of money.

A blessing? Or the start of something far more sinister? Can Rabbi Stone just accept the money and move on? His conscience says no. Step into his shoes as he travels all over Manhattan in his attempt to uncover the truth.

Features rabbinical conversation methods, a unique method of fighting, an original score, and three different endings!

More. Free demo available, or buy for $5.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Cool High Tech Weapons

More from the Top 5 High-Tech Guns at The Tech Blog.

Azamat Bagatov

Just listened to an interview with Borat's Azamat Bagatov (Ken Davitian).

He said that in lieu of Kazakhstany, he spoke Armenian, while Sasha B. Cohen spoke a mixture of Hebrew, Yiddish and gibberish... pretty funny stuff.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Smart Backpacks

A backpack that reduces the forces on your body when carrying heavy loads could help prevent injury, allow soldiers to carry more equipment and even speed up the response time of emergency services, its designer claims.

When people walk, they tend to raise and lower their bodies by between 5 centimetres and 7 cm with each step. If they are carrying a backpack, the extra load must also be raised by the same amount and this puts extra strain on the body.

Now Larry Rome, a muscle physiologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, US, has worked out a way to reduce these forces by fundamentally changing the design of the backpack.


A backpack that generates electricity as its wearer strolls along has been developed by experts in human locomotion in the US.

By harnessing the loping up-and-down motion of our hips as we walk, the backpack’s freely-moving load bounces up and down, generating up to 7 watts. That is more than enough to power cellphones with power-draining functions like colour widescreens or Wi-Fi and GPS connections.

The developers hope their suspended-load backpack will be a particular boon for troops, field scientists, explorers and disaster relief workers in remote locations.

The generator has been developed by Larry Rome and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, US, with funding from the US Office of Naval Research. Their aim was to relieve soldiers already carrying 36-kilogram backpacks of the need to carry many spare batteries to power their GPS, communications and night-vision devices.

“The extra weight [of the batteries] compromises the amount of food, medicine and armament they can carry,” Rome explains.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Top 10 Rock Riffs

The 10 Greatest Rock Guitar Riffs Of All Time!

The riffs on this page are the tried and true "standards" for Rock guitar music. Walk into any music shop and you'll find a line of people trying out the guitars for sale and I'll bet they will be playing one of the top 10 riffs on this page.

Also, here's a list of the 100 greatest guitar solos, like:
  1. Comfortably Numb - David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)
  2. Stairway To Heaven - Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
  3. All Along The Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix
  4. Freebird - Allen Collins (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
  5. Maggot Brain - Edie Hazel (Funkadelic)
  6. Texas Flood - Stevie Ray Vaughan
  7. Eruption - Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen)
  8. Highway Star - Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple)
  9. Cause We've Ended As Lovers - Jeff Beck
  10. Hotel California - Don Felder/Joe Walsh (Eagles)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Nucking Futs - 2006 Review

Thanks to Jan G.

Report from Navy Veteran Imprisoned by the US

American guards arrived at the man’s cell periodically over the next several days, shackled his hands and feet, blindfolded him and took him to a padded room for interrogation, the detainee said. After an hour or two, he was returned to his cell, fatigued but unable to sleep.

The fluorescent lights in his cell were never turned off, he said. At most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor. He said he was rousted at random times without explanation and made to stand in his cell. Even lying down, he said, he was kept from covering his face to block out the light, noise and cold. And when he was released after 97 days he was exhausted, depressed and scared.

Detainee 200343 was among thousands of people who have been held and released by the American military in Iraq, and his account of his ordeal has provided one of the few detailed views of the Pentagon’s detention operations since the abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib. Yet in many respects his case is unusual.

The detainee was Donald Vance, a 29-year-old Navy veteran from Chicago who went to Iraq as a security contractor. He wound up as a whistle-blower, passing information to the F.B.I. about suspicious activities at the Iraqi security firm where he worked, including what he said was possible illegal weapons trading.

But when American soldiers raided the company at his urging, Mr. Vance and another American who worked there were detained as suspects by the military, which was unaware that Mr. Vance was an informer, according to officials and military documents.

At Camp Cropper, he took notes on his imprisonment and smuggled them out in a Bible.

“Sick, very. Vomited,” he wrote July 3. The next day: “Told no more phone calls til leave.”


I don't quite get how he was unable to cover his face from the lights but write in a bible... but who knows...

Saturday, December 16, 2006


From the cool list of paradoxes on wikipedia:
  • Raven paradox (or Hempel's Ravens): Observing a red apple increases the likelihood of all ravens being black.
  • Unexpected hanging paradox: The day of the hanging will be a surprise, so it cannot happen at all, so it will be a surprise. The Bottle Imp paradox uses similar logic.
  • Drinker paradox: In any non-empty pub, there is a customer such that, if he or she drinks, everybody in the pub drinks.
  • Curry's paradox: "If this sentence is true, the world will end in a week."
  • Epimenides paradox: A Cretan says "All Cretans are liars".
  • Exception paradox: "If there is an exception to every rule, then every rule must have at least one exception, excepting this one" there an exception to the rule that states that there is an exception to every rule?
  • Fazzini paradox : I always lie.
  • Liar paradox: "This sentence is false." This is the canonical self-referential paradox.
  • Russell's paradox: Does the set of all those sets that do not contain themselves contain itself? Russell popularized it with the Barber paradox: The adult male barber who shaves all men who do not shave themselves, and no-one else.
  • Shaynes Paradox: The following sentence is true. The previous sentence is false.
  • Don't read this: There is no possible way to obey the statement because by the time the command is given to you it has already been contradicted.
  • Drasin's Paradox: "Everything is biased. If you disagree with me, it is due to a bias of your own self."
  • Ordering a servant not to serve you. By not serving you he disobeys the order, as he is obeying the order not to serve you.
  • Ship of Theseus (a.k.a. George Washington's or Grandfather's old axe): When every component of the ship has been replaced at least once, is it still the same ship?
  • Elevator paradox: Elevators can seem to be mostly going in one direction, as if they were being manufactured in the middle of the building and being disassembled on the roof and basement.
  • Boy or Girl: If in a two-child family, one child is a boy, what is the probability that the other child is a girl?
  • Sleeping Beauty problem: A probability problem that can be correctly answered as one half or one third depending on how the question is approached.
  • Two-envelope paradox: You are given two indistinguishable envelopes and you are told one contains twice as much money as the other. You may open one envelope, examine its contents, and then, without opening the other, choose which envelope to take.
Robert Boyle's self-flowing flask fills itself in this diagram, but perpetual motion machines do not exist.
Robert Boyle's self-flowing flask fills itself in this diagram, but perpetual motion machines do not exist.
More paradoxes.

10 Toys From Hell

Last month, Target recalled 10 of its Kool Toyz-brand play sets, citing hazards like "lead paint," "sharp points," and "puncture wound potential." The toys, which included plastic aircraft carriers, dinosaurs, and tanks, all appeared harmless enough. But according to the killjoys at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, children—at least those prone to eating plastic objects as big as their head—were at serious risk. A week later, Mattel recalled 4.4 million Polly Pocket dolls and accessories because kids were swallowing the toy's magnets. The Associated Press reported, "If more than one magnet is swallowed, they can attach to each other and cause intestinal perforation, infection or blockage." Three children required surgery.

In the last year alone, some eight million units of toys were recalled in the U.S., according to W.A.T.C.H., a toy-safety advocacy group. But Kool Toys and Polly Pockets are kids' stuff compared to the hazardous baubles of yesteryear. In the spirit of the holidays, Radar presents the 10 most dangerous toys of all time, those treasured playthings that drew blood, chewed digits, took out eyes, and, in one case, actually irradiated. To keep things interesting, we excluded BB guns, slingshots, throwing stars, and anything else actually intended to inflict harm. Below, our toy box from hell.
1. Lawn Darts
2. Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab
3. Mini-Hammocks from EZ Sales
4. Snacktime Cabbage Patch Dolls
5. Sky Dancers
6. Bat Masterson Derringer Belt Gun
7. Creepy Crawlers
8. Johnny Reb Cannon
9. Battlestar Galactica Missile Launcher
10. Fisher-Price Power Wheels Motorcycle

More iPhone News

The iPhone will likely ship in two capacities, other sources say, packing 4GB or 8GB of NAND flash in the most likely scenario, identical to Apple's mid-range and high-end iPod nano. Pricing for the iPhone will accordingly be higher than the similar iPod nano, although sources have not heard specific prices mentioned. Citing his own sources, Kevin Rose of recently said on an episode of the Diggnation podcast that the iPhone will ship in a 4GB version for $249 and an 8GB version for $449, representing a $50 and $200 premium, respectively, over the iPod nano.

More info at ThinkSecret.

P.S. The image is of the Etymotics Ety 8 for the iPod ($300), some of the worst design I've ever seen, IMHO. Who would wear that?

Tallest Man Saves Dolphins

The long arms of the world's tallest man reached in and saved two dolphins by pulling out plastic from their stomachs, according to government media and an aquarium official Thursday.

The dolphins fell ill after nibbling on plastic from the edge of their pool at an aquarium in Liaoning province. Attempts to use surgical instruments to remove the plastic failed because the dolphins' stomachs contracted in response to the instruments, the China Daily newspaper said.

Veterinarians then decided to ask for help from Bao Xishun, a 7-foot-9 herdsman from Inner Mongolia with 41.7-inch arms, government media said.

"When we failed to get the objects out we sought the help of Bao Xishun from Inner Mongolia, and he did it successfully," Chen said. "The two dolphins are in very good condition now."


Friday, December 15, 2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Skype Unlimited Calls Deal

Skype is not going to have free calls to/from US/Canada anymore... but they're offering a package at 50% off for a year for unlimited calls -- $14.95. Good deal.

Click here.

Thanks to Jan G.

P.S. This actually cost me $16.89 after the currency exchange from the Euro.

Less Evil Real Video

The BBC makes available Real Video here.

Supposedly it has less add-on stuff, so it's a lighter/faster way to install Real Video on your computer.

Click to get it, enjoy.

Nip and ...uck

Circumcision appears to reduce a man's risk of contracting AIDS from heterosexual sex by half, according to U.S. government health officials.

Because circumcision was working so well that continuing clinical trials would be unethical, the officials said Wednesday that they had stopped two of the trials in Africa.

AIDS experts immediately hailed the finding, and the directors of the U.S. and international funds for fighting the disease said they would now consider paying for circumcisions.

Uncircumcised men are thought to be more susceptible because the underside of the foreskin is rich in Langerhans cells, sentinel cells of the immune system, which attach easily to the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS. The foreskin also often suffers small tears during intercourse.

But experts also cautioned that circumcision is no cure-all. It only lessens the chances that a man will catch the virus; it is expensive compared with condoms, abstinence or other methods, and the surgery has serious risks if performed by folk healers using dirty blades, as often happens in rural Africa.

Circumcision is "not a magic bullet, but a potentially important intervention," said Dr. Kevin De Cock, director of HIV/AIDS for the World Health Organization.

Sex education messages for young men need to make it clear that "this does not mean that you have an absolute protection," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, an AIDS researcher and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Circumcision should be used with other prevention methods, he said, and it does nothing to prevent spread by anal sex or drug injection, ways in which the virus commonly spreads in the United States, for example.

Twenty-two of the 1,393 circumcised men in the study caught the disease, compared with 47 of the 1,391 uncircumcised men. In Uganda, the reduction was 48 percent.

Those results echo the finding of a trial completed last year in Orange Farm, a township in South Africa, financed by the French government, which demonstrated a reduction of 60 percent among circumcised men.

So, the Jewish people had it right once again? Like the saying goes: "The Jews are the most optimistic people in the world... they cut off a piece even before knowing how big it's gonna be."[sorry about that]


No Furry Feet for Peter Jackson?

A summary from
'Lord of the Rings' director Peter Jackson was reportedly sacked as the director of the planned 'Hobbit,' movies after being piqued over his refusal to contribute a video salute to the studio for its 40th anniversary celebration next year.

Jackson had recently written an email to a fan website citing that movie bosses at 'New Line Cinema' would not sign him for directing the film, based on JRR Tolkien's classic book, or another 'The Lord Of The Rings' prequel.

His production company 'Wingnut Films' is currently embroiled in a legal battle with 'New Line Cinema' over royalties from 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy.

Jackson's camp now accuses the studio of dropping him from the prequels "in a fit of pique," reports the New York Times.

According to the twim guys, the Wignut vs New Line embroglio is to the tune of some $100 Million dollars. Also according to them -- and an interesting bit of information at that-- the movie theaters make money on popcorn, soda, etc. on the first 4 weeks or so. So if you want to boycott New Line if they don't go with Jackson, just wait 4 weeks before going to the movie.

More from 411 mania:
The saga surrounding Peter Jackson and The Hobbit continues. The latest news has Hobbit rights-holder Saul Zaentz telling the New York Times the following.

"We would like to see it done, of course with Peter Jackson. He's a good film director. He's the right guy. He knows it too. But it's a hard thing to do, when you feel you didn't get the money you were supposed to get."

Meanwhile, MGM released the following statement.

"We expect to partner with New Line in financing The Hobbit. We support Peter Jackson as a filmmaker, and believe that when the dust settles, he'll be making the movie. We can't imagine any other result."

I'm eager to see such a movie in any event, and hopefully it will be a more light-hearted, young-kid-friendly movie intro to Tolkien so I can take my kids.

Tim Johnson Ill

Senator Tim Johnson, a Democrat from South Dakota, was in intensive care today after undergoing surgery late Wednesday night for a brain hemorrhage, a development that highlighted the fragility of the Democrats’ new majority in the Senate.

If Mr. Johnson’s health problems were to prevent him from serving, his replacement would be named by Gov. Michael Rounds of South Dakota, a Republican. If Mr. Rounds named a Republican, the 51-49 Democratic majority in the new Senate would become a 50-50 split. Vice President Dick Cheney would break tie votes, effectively giving Republicans control of the chamber.


So the senate (slight) majority is quite flimsy, huh? So if anything odd happens to any democratic party senator, will people suspect someone on the right?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Seinfeld Horror Movie Trailer

Liquid Threat Goes Down the Drain

A Pakistani judge has ruled there is not enough evidence to try a key suspect in an alleged airline bomb plot on terrorism charges.

He has moved the case of Rashid Rauf, a Briton, from an anti-terrorism court to a regular court, where he faces lesser charges such as forgery.

Pakistan has presented Mr Rauf as one of the ringleaders behind the alleged plan to blow up flights out of London.

The arrest of Rashid Rauf in Pakistan triggered arrests in the United Kingdom of a number of suspects allegedly plotting to blow up transatlantic flights.

The Pakistani authorities described him as a key figure.

But an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi found no evidence that he had been involved in terrorist activities or that he belonged to a terrorist organization.

But his lawyer says police evidence amounts only to bottles of hydrogen peroxide found in his possession.

Several commentators said the threat was deliberately exaggerated to bolster the anti-terror credentials of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and that it helped to demonise British Muslims of Pakistani origin.


iTunes Power Tips I'd like to highlight some of the lesser-known but super-useful iTunes features available in the latest version.


Perhaps one of the most useful iTunes features for pruning down your music collection that has all these duplicates from swapping external hard drives full of MP3's with friends merging libraries with similar songs, the duplicate song view helps you quickly delete double tracks. From the View menu, choose "Show Duplicates."

Now, Show Duplicates points out matches between songs with the same artist and title, not song length. So if you've got a live version of a track and the recorded version, Show Duplicates may report those as doubles, so be sure to check the song's length to make sure the tracks are indeed doubles before you delete.

Click for more tips.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Copyright vs Free Speech

Just heard from Steve Gibson on Security Now ep. 69:

Steve: Well, for example, it’s certainly arguable that you cannot have free speech without anonymity. Because people will simply be...

Leo: Intimidated.

Steve: They will be less – yes, intimated, exactly, and less willing to speak freely if they know that there are consequences to what they could say. I have to say, Leo, I have been self-conscious sending some political email, like post 9/11, knowing that the United States government has become much more aggressive about scanning email. When I use hot terms and keywords and things, I find myself thinking, literally, my behavior is modified because I don’t want a false-positive. I’m no terrorist. I’m a patriot and all that. But still it’s just like you just get a little twitchy when you think that what you’re saying could be triggering some automated system somewhere.
Steve: And the other issue is one of copyright. And it’s interesting how copyright comes into this because the enforcement of copyright, that is, the actual enforcement of it, requires monitoring communications. That’s how copyright is enforced is you’re monitoring communication. But free speech, as we have said, cannot be guaranteed in an environment where there is monitored communications. So just logically that demonstrates that you cannot simultaneously have both freedom of speech and the enforcement of copyright.

Very interesting point: you cannot have both freedom of speech and copyright. Comments would be very welcome on this issue.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Fish 'n Flush

Fish 'n Flush is a patented, two-piece aquarium toilet tank, designed by AquaOne Technologies, Inc., an innovator of water-management systems.

Fish 'n Flush fits most two-piece toilets and turns the bathroom into the center of attention with its unique design of an aquarium that wraps itself around a clear inner tank.

The product developed in-house by AquaOne designers, was a hit at the recent Kitchen and Bath Show, open to people in the plumbing and home improvement trade, and appeared on CBS' The Early Show, which featured new products "For Kitchens and Bathrooms of Tomorrow."

More. You just can't make up some stuff... and their website making bubbly noises all the time is, of course, precious.

Winslets Against Anorexics

Kate Winslet, who has long spoken out about society's obsession with appearance, has slammed the increase in "size zero" models and stars.

Winslet, a mother of two, said she found the tendency "unbelievably disturbing".

"It's so disturbing because young girls are impressionable from 11 up to 19 or 20 even. Women are very impressionable at those ages,".

"They're trying to figure out who they are and they want to be loved, and what I resent is that there is an image of perfection that is getting thinner and thinner and it's truly upsetting to me."

Winslet, who has previously criticised the airbrushing of magazine images to make celebrities seem thinner, added she admired Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson because "their faces move".

The actress recently also revealed that she didn’t work out, hire a personal trainer or consult a nutritionist before filming the nude scenes in her upcoming film 'Little Children'.

"I don't have a six pack, I'm not free of stretchmarks, I don't have perfectly pert breasts — and neither does my character Sarah."

Amen. I still have not seen "Titanic", though.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

MetaSurfing Logo

I want to add a logo to this blog... thinking of this one, or something similar.

What do you think?

Father-Son Triathlon

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Creative Viral Video Fish Slap

Excellent! Is this the future of advertising?

Holy Gadgets, Batman!

This is an attempt to catalog everything Batman has ever pulled from his suit or belt. His utility belt is a wide, goldish yellow belt with a dozen pockets separated by hollow cylindrical studs, which also contain equipment. Most of his equipment is hidden here. His codpiece contains equipment, as well as his boots, cape, cowl, and gauntlets. It is held firmly that only the dark blue on his costume contains things, never the gray. Sources are Games (Role-Playing and Computer), Movies, Books, Websites (Official only), Television (the 60's series and modern cartoons), Comics, Scripts, and Newspapers. I only follow the Bruce Wayne Batman, or those that sat in for him. Near the end are gadgets that should have been Batman's, and last a comprehensive description of his ensemble, what it does, and where he keeps it.

Read on.

Dividing by Zero or Brain at Zero?

1200-year-old problem 'easy'
Schoolchildren from Caversham have become the first to learn a brand new theory that dividing by zero is possible using a new number - 'nullity'. But the suggestion has left many mathematicians cold.

Computers simply cannot divide by zero. Try it on your calculator and you'll get an error message.

But Dr Anderson has come up with a theory that proposes a new number - 'nullity' - which sits outside the conventional number line (stretching from negative infinity, through zero, to positive infinity).
'Quite cool'

The theory of nullity is set to make all kinds of sums possible that, previously, scientists and computers couldn't work around.

"We've just solved a problem that hasn't been solved for twelve hundred years - and it's that easy," proclaims Dr Anderson having demonstrated his solution on a whiteboard at Highdown School, in Emmer Green.


Friday, December 08, 2006

The Anti-Drug Drug

Ibogaine occurs naturally in a number of dogbane plants, among them above all in Tabernanthe iboga. It seems to, at least in some cases, eliminate opiate (heroin, etc) addictive cravings. I wonder why this is not more widely known...
Proponents of ibogaine treatment for drug addiction have established formal and informal clinics or self-help groups in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, France, Slovenia, the Netherlands, Brazil, South Africa, the United Kingdom and New Zealand where ibogaine is administered as an experimental drug. Although the full nature of Ibogaine is still emerging, it appears that the most effective treatment paradigm involves visionary doses of ibogaine of 10 to 20 mg/kg, producing an interruption of opiate withdrawal and craving. Many users of ibogaine report experiencing visual phenomena during a waking dream state, such as instructive replays of life events that led to their addiction, while others report therapeutic shamanic visions that help them conquer the fears and negative emotions that might drive their addiction. It is proposed that intensive counseling and therapy during the interruption period following treatment is of significant value. Some patients require a second or third treatment session with ibogaine over the course of the next 12 to 18 months as it will provide a greater efficacy in extinguishing the opiate addiction or other drug dependence syndrome. A minority of patients relapse completely into opiate addiction within days or weeks. A comprehensive article (Lotsof 1995) on the subject of ibogaine therapy, detailing the procedure, effects and aftereffects is found in, "Ibogaine in the Treatment of Chemical Dependence Disorders: Clinical Perspectives".


Flipping Out!

This has to be one of the coolest things I've seen in a while. Prices start at $6!

FlipClips are individually crafted flipbooks, created using your own digital video. FlipClips are available in three styles, and are made using only the best materials around.

Click here.

iPod May Have Triplets

As it stands, Apple Computer hopes to introduce three new iPod models during the 2007 calendar year, AppleInsider has learned.

First and foremost is said to be a video-centric model that will either replace or supplement the aging fifth-generation iPod, though details of the two other models are unclear at this point.

Still, it could be some time before this much rumored "true video iPod" makes its debut, if at all.

People familiar with the matter tell AppleInsider that Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has so far been unwilling to commit the marketing and other resources necessary to bring the device to market.


New Apple Tablet Soon?

Apple researchers have built a full working prototype of a Mac tablet PC and three Companies in Taiwan are now costing a product for a potential launch in mid 2007.

Sources in Taiwan have said that the focus has been more on the home and the education environment than the enterprise marketplace. Several months ago I was told that Apple was exploring a neat new device that is basically a touch screen that links to various source devices including a brand new media centre that Apple is planning to launch next year.

The Mac tablet has been designed to handle third party applications such as home automation software that will allow users to control lighting, audio, entertainment devices and security feeds. It also acts as a full blown PC has wireless linking for a new generation of Wireless Hi Fi speakers that are currently being tested by Apple.

On November 16, the US Patent & Trademark Office published Apple's patent application titled ‘mechanical overlay' which was originally filed in May 2005. Apple's patent relates generally to overlays for touch sensing devices. More particularly, the present invention relates to mechanical overlays that include one or more mechanical actuators that provide touch inputs to the touch sensing devices. This powerful patent provides several great examples of mechanical touch screen overlays which could be used with a future iPod, cell phone, PDA, remote control or gaming device. Furthermore, the patent provides us with a unique glimpse into how touch screens will eventually replace traditional MacBook keyboards in addition to providing users with the ability to transform the new keyboard-GUI into being a piano keyboard amongst other applications.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

iPhone Already Needs a New Name...

... or a good payoff.
The problem can be summed up by saying there is a company in Canada called Comwave. It has been using the name iPhone in the US and Canada for a while now, about two years.

Now, if you go to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (kind of like military intelligence but more evil) and so a search under Trade-Marks for iPhone, you will see three documents, an opposition, a search and an abandonment by Cisco.

The US PTO also lists two of note, one by Ocean Telecom Services and the other by Teledex LLC. It is pretty certain that the Ocean application is from Apple, but the Teledex one beat it by a year.

What it comes down to is Apple is jumping in to an obvious name with a good number of companies already using it. Some have trademarked it, others have tried to trademark it and failed, especially in Canada. Let's leave it at: there are many claims to the name, most predate Apple by a lot.

We sense a good blackmail opportunity a strong negotiating position for Comwave. Luckily Apple has deep pockets.


RFID personal firewall

If RFID-embedded documents will be the norm, something like this will probably be necessary. Will all of us have to be carrying a personal firewall in the future?

The RFID Guardian Project is a collaborative project focused upon providing security and privacy in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems. The goals of our project are to:

* Investigate the security and privacy threats faced by RFID systems
* Design and implement real solutions against these threats
* Investigate the associated technological and legal issues

The namesake of our project is the RFID Guardian: a mobile battery-powered device that offers personal RFID security and privacy management. One the focuses of our project is to build an RFID Guardian prototype.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

New Frontiers of Internet BS -- The Deep Web

The deep web (or invisible web or hidden web) is the name given to pages on the World Wide Web that are not part of the surface web that is indexed by common search engines. It consists of pages which are not linked to by other pages (e.g., dynamic pages which are returned in response to a submitted query). The deep web also includes sites that require registration or otherwise limit access to their pages (e.g., using the Robots Exclusion Standard), prohibiting search engines from browsing them and creating cached copies. Pages that are only accessible through links produced by JavaScript and Flash also often reside in the deep web since most search engines are unable to properly follow these links.

It is estimated that the deep web is several magnitudes larger than the surface web (Bergman, 2001).


I just heard someone saying the "deep web" is one of the future frontiers of web searching. I think this is B.S. The reason the Robots Exclusion Standard is in place is to prevent web crawlers from going where they are not supposed to go and messing up your (dynamic, database driven) site by bringing up non-static content.

The only point I can see is being able to search non-public (i.e. paid subscription required) content, but if one has to pay to access it what's the point...?

More BS here:

  • Public information on the deep Web is currently 400 to 550 times larger than the commonly defined World Wide Web.
  • The deep Web contains 7,500 terabytes of information compared to nineteen terabytes of information in the surface Web.
  • The deep Web contains nearly 550 billion individual documents compared to the one billion of the surface Web.
  • More than 200,000 deep Web sites presently exist.
  • Sixty of the largest deep-Web sites collectively contain about 750 terabytes of information -- sufficient by themselves to exceed the size of the surface Web forty times.
  • On average, deep Web sites receive fifty per cent greater monthly traffic than surface sites and are more highly linked to than surface sites; however, the typical (median) deep Web site is not well known to the Internet-searching public.
  • The deep Web is the largest growing category of new information on the Internet.
  • Deep Web sites tend to be narrower, with deeper content, than conventional surface sites.
  • Total quality content of the deep Web is 1,000 to 2,000 times greater than that of the surface Web.
  • Deep Web content is highly relevant to every information need, market, and domain.
  • More than half of the deep Web content resides in topic-specific databases.
  • A full ninety-five per cent of the deep Web is publicly accessible information -- not subject to fees or subscriptions.

Since they are missing the deep Web when they use such search engines, Internet searchers are therefore searching only 0.03% -- or one in 3,000 -- of the pages available to them today.

When... one... word... at... a... time... is... fast?!

For those who have squinted to read text on their cell phones, Stanford University researchers think they have hit upon a better way: Do it one word at a time.

The technique, known as Rapid Serial Visual Presentation, or RSVP, makes up for the tiny screens on mobile phones by presenting just one word at a time in the center of the screen for a fraction of a second before moving on to the next word. As a result, each word is far easier to read than is the case with standard presentations, in which a sentence or two of much smaller type scroll across the screen at a time.

In a demo version of the software, dubbed BuddyBuzz, the user gets to decide how fast the text scrolls. At its fastest, the words fly far faster than a reader can sound them out. But those who learn to read words without pronouncing them in their heads can actually read as many as 1,000 words a minute, making it potentially far faster than traditional methods of scrolling.


Try it.

Skip Talking at the Loo

This is a classic.

Woot Video, a pretty unique e-commerce site that sells one (of a) product per day with funny blog-like descriptions produced this video.

Monday, December 04, 2006

HD+P2P+YouTube = Zudeo ?

I think P2P is *the* killer app for large files. It makes no sense to have to do a roundtrip to a server if my next-door neighbor has the file already.

The file sharing company Azureus on Monday launched a new distribution platform for downloading high-quality video, which the company hopes will become the next YouTube -- but for high definition, DVD-quality video on the internet.

Available at Zudeo, users can upload, download and comment on videos in a manner similar to other video sharing sites like YouTube, Metacafe and Revver. But instead of the low-resolution video offered by competing services, the Azureus system promises internet video at better than DVD quality, thanks to BitTorrent's ability to distribute huge video files speedily.

Azureus is best known for its popular file-sharing client of the same name, which allows users to download big files from each other using the peer-to-peer BitTtorrent protocol.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Sports News: