Archive for April, 2009

Machinery scam redux

April 27, 2009

Last time it was a bobcat excavator, this time it’s a tractor:


Hello . For whom is interested I am selling my 1998 Ford New Holland Tractor price US $4,200.00. I need the money fast so I try to sell the tractor using this online marketing company.
If you are not interested in my ad please excuse my email and please delete it. For buyers interested in this great machinery I hosted some photos on : . Please contact me at my email address : and I can answer any questions you may have
and we can talk all the details for a deal. Again if my email reached you and you are not interested in buying a tractor I want to apologize.
Here are some details about my product:
1998 Ford New Holland 1920 4×4 Diesel Tractor only 575 hours .

Model 1920 with Loader.
Make: Ford NH .
Fuel: Diesel .
Model: 1920 .
Engine Cylinders: 4 .
Model Year: 1998 .
Engine HP: 32 .
Hours: 575 .
Transmission: Synchro Shift .
Drive: 4WD .
Condition: Used .
Serial Number: UP3945 .

This is a great tractor! 1998 Ford/New Holland, 4×4, power steering, shuttle shift, diesel tractor with 4 cyl. engine. This tractor only has 575 hours so it’s got tons of life left in it. It has oversize turf tires for traction and also comes with a set of Ag tires and rims. 2 sets of tires! This tractor also has a rear remote so you can have rear hydraulics for a top-link or whatever. It has “shuttle shift” which has more power then a hydrostatic transmission.

This tractor has low hours and is in good condition for it’s age but it is not new and has been used with some minor bumps and scrapes. The hood is a little faded on top with some small dents but nothing major. This tractor has been well cared for and service regularly at the local New Holland dealer. No known problems. I’ve owned this tractor for over 5 years now and never have any problems with it.

This truely is a great running well built tractor and they really don’t make em like these anymore.
This tractor may still be used on occasion so hours may differ slightly.

This time it’s ostensibly done through a bulk-mailing company, although the headers suggest the return address is forged (and the Do Not Reply banner at the top suggests that mail to the company itself would quickly disabuse potential marks of their hopes). Also easier, I guess, to prescreen the marks if you don’t name a price or a location (once again, this kind of thing isn’t going to be sold long distance).

I have a sad feeling that osmewhere out there is a poor sap who has never heard of rural editions of craigslist and actually thinks this might be a good idea…

More things that should have happened 10 years ago

April 27, 2009

Revolutionary Espresso Book Machine launches in London | Books |

the Espresso offers access to almost half a million books, from a facsimile of Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript for Alice in Wonderland to Mrs Beeton’s Book of Needlework. Blackwell hopes to increase this to over a million titles by the end of the summer – the equivalent of 23.6 miles of shelf space, or over 50 bookshops rolled into one. The majority of these books are currently out-of-copyright works, but Blackwell is working with publishers throughout the UK to increase access to in-copyright writings,

OK, a nicely glued binding and decent format are good, but seriously, this shows just how slowly real innovation moves. This is essentially mid-90s technology that suffered from a lot of detours (like Amazon).

When will tivo have this?

April 27, 2009

Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition

Here we illustrate the face mining concept for the TV series Star Trek. Specifically, we applied our state-of-the art algorithms in face detection, face tracking and face recognition to 67 Star Trek episodes over three seasons. This process automatically extracts all visible face tracks, and clusters these into a small number of same-person groupings. Currently, we recognize frontal or near-frontal tracks. In the near future, we will extend our results to non-frontal tracks as well.

Given our face mining output, it took a person less than five minutes to assign names to all the main characters (Kirk, Spock, Mccoy, Uhura, Scotty, Sulu and Chekov)

Pretty much since the damn thing came out I’ve been lusting for something that would let me freeze a frame, point to an actor, and get a link to imdb: who is that, what else were they in, why are they familiar? And of course then the links back to tivo for upcoming appearances, netflix to put them on my queue (or delete them), amazon to order the dvd’s. Maybe another 10 years and it will actually happen.

Dead-tree links I need

April 23, 2009

PaperBack Swap: Trade Books for Free, Online Book Club, Exchange Books

Mail a book. Get a book. Any book you request is yours to keep, share or trade. No late fees. No processing charges. No hidden charges. Every time you mail a book to another member, you can request one for yourself

SwapTree – Trade Books, Book Swap, Trade Video Games, CD Exchange, DVD Swap

Unlike, users don’t have to pay for the actual book, just shipping. Unlike with a library book, there’s no due date (or late fee)…”

Powell’s Books – Search Results

The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Shouldn’t–And Put Ourselves in Greater Danger
Dan Gardner / Dutton Books
New Hardcover / Economics – General
The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain
Daniel Gardner / Plume Books
New Trade Paper / Psychology – Mood Disorders and Depression

hmmm, but I still want it.

Ginnagu-Gap tab dump

April 23, 2009

Because I’m moving to a machine with a different CPU, and I’m really not counting on being able to restore a zillion-tab browser session seamlessly. (Oh, and by the way, finding the proper spelling for that almost required more google fu than I have.)

Steaming hot tea linked to cancer

Compared with drinking warm or lukewarm tea (65C or less), drinking hot tea (65-69C) was associated with twice the risk of oesophageal cancer, and drinking very hot tea (70C or more) was associated with an eight-fold increased risk.

The speed with which people drank their tea was also important.

Drinking a cup of tea in under two minutes straight after it was poured was associated with a five-fold higher risk of cancer compared with drinking tea four or more minutes after being poured.

This makes me feel good, because it means that my grandmother who parsimoniously drank only piping hot water with a side of lemon was wrong.

Roboat – Autonomous Sailboat: Home

The Roboat is an autonomous robotic sailboat, which is able to autonomously navigate towards any given target without human control or intervention. The optimal route is calculated by weighting drift coordinates against weather parameters. The rudder and sails as well as the tacks and jibes are autonomously controlled by incoming data from sensors (GPS, compass, anemometer, etc.), which are analysed using artificial intelligence. The Roboat team won the first international Microtransat event in Toulouse, France in June 2006.

In Homeowners’ Latest Woe, Banks Are Skipping Foreclosures –

Banks are quietly declining to take possession of properties at the end of the foreclosure process, most often because the cost of the ordeal — from legal fees to maintenance — exceeds the diminishing value of the real estate.

Discovery of cat-sized dino suggests mini dinosaurs prowled North America

Washington, March 17 : New analysis of the fossil of a dinosaur that was found in 1982 in Canada has suggested that it was smaller than a modern day housecat, which indicates that there might have been many ‘mini dinosaurs’ prowling the continent of North America.

The analysis was done by Nick Longrich, a paleontology research associate in the University of Calgary’s Department of Biological Sciences and University of Alberta paleontologist Philip Currie.

They describe a new genus of carnivorous dinosaur that was smaller than a modern housecat and likely hunted insects, small mammals and other prey through the swamps and forests of the late Cretaceous period in southeastern Alberta, Canada.

Weighing approximately two kilograms and standing about 50 centimetres tall, Hesperonychus elizabethae resembled a miniature version of the famous bipedal predator Velociraptor, to which it was closely related.

Fun with YouTube’s Audio Content ID System

I uploaded the files with out-of-phase audio, the tests consistently passed. When the first out-of-phase test is played back in mono, the resulting audio sounds exactly like the Vocal Remove test (which also passed). When the mono-converted/out-of-phase test is played back in mono, both the channels cancel each other out and the result is (theoretically) silence. This is what the fingerprinter hears, and what it bases its conclusions on.

Unmanned Military Helicopter – Vigilante 502 Unmanned Helicopter Specs – Popular Mechanics

The Army’s solution is the Autonomous Rotorcraft Sniper System (ARSS), a small, unmanned helicopter equipped with a powerful .338-caliber rifle. An autopilot system handles the tricky business of flying while the operator lines up the kill shot on a remote monitor.

The Army ground-tested the rifle’s turret on a Vigilante unmanned helicopter to evaluate its accuracy. The turret-control hardware and flight-control algorithms will be refined to make shots more accurate before airborne testing begins in July. The program’s heads say the airborne robo-sniper idea was put forward five years ago, but only became practical when Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory designed a lightweight, stabilized turret. Users control it with an adapted Xbox 360 controller. The same turret could be used on unmanned fixed-wing aircraft such as the Predator or Reaper and could also allow ground robots to fire on the move.

Gizmodo – Surprise! If Your Amazon Account Dies, It Takes Your Kindle With It – kindle 2

Then, he discovered he couldn’t even buy new books—half of the reason the Kindle is a superior ebook reader is the fact you can download any book, anytime, anywhere—leaving him with a semi-bricked device.

Ian did manage to successfully appeal to the benevolent gods of Amazon, explaining it was only defective merchandise he sent back, and got his account reinstated. With the warning that they could kick him out again at any time if his return rate goes back up.

Well, duh, as the kindlepid episode shows, the point of the kindle is to sell DRM’d content, and in particular to position Amazon for an imagined future when way more stuff, even ephemeral content like news, is most readily available with DRM…

Gizmodo – How It Feels To Walk With Honda’s Cyborg Legs – Bodyweight Support Assist

The system operates using just two tread sensors in the soles of the sweet built-in Velcro sneakers and two lift sensors in the legs which register the upward motion of your stride, as well as the orientation. There is zero delay, and you never feel like the device is controlling your movement. It reacted instantly to my motions and enhanced everything I did, like an exoskeleton.

Mundane activities like walking up the stairs and crouching down suddenly became fun and much easier—the saddle provides anywhere from 6.5 to 18 pounds of support when you lean back in it, which isn’t enough to sit down on, obviously, but it’s certainly noticeable and makes crouching easier.


Wonder if open sourcing a company worked…

April 23, 2009

Being the Change » Blog Archive » The Open Company – Running your business as if it were an Open Source Project.

The real question is how to make the users real participants in the company. There is a lot more to be done than just coding. Everything from support to design and marketing could in principle be opened up to free participation. Obviously there are some things where mistakes could have seriously adverse effects on the company, but this is where it would be appropriate with levels of certification (maybe shown kind of like stackoverflow’s badges).

Imagine you had a company like this. Totally open. No concept of bosses or employees. Anyone could join in at any time, doing whatever task they found interesting, for whatever time they found appropriate. How could you possibly find a way to compensate them fairly?

The key is in a technology called Trust Metrics. In essence this is a technique for rating each other, but with the key distinction that the way ratings are calculated makes cheating ineffective. This is a new technology, which has not been applied for this purpose before, but it has already proven itself as the underlying principle behind such well known technologies as Googles pagerank and the certifications on Advogato.

Some of the trust in algorithms is sweetly quaint, but for something like this where there isn’t a big exogenous pile of money it might work anyway. I almost wish I had a miachine that could run their stuff…

I want this for my desk

April 18, 2009

Epson gets into interactive coffee tables • Register Hardware

X-Desk lets users interact with digital content through a flat 1024 x 768, 52in multi-touch screen that can also communicate with other gadgets, including mobile phones and cameras, placed onto its surface.

X-Desk will recognise up to 16,000 objects using “Smart Tags” and gesture recognition allows multiple users to, say, draw out objects on its surface.

There are the obvious things, like virtual docks for downloading pictures or synching phones and other gizmos. But what I really want it for is my piles of paper. I want smart tags for every magazine or book or printout or bill (with the camera doing basic OCR on titles and letterheads). Then, when I say “where’s that chapter I printed out” or where was that greeting card from my old college buddy, pop! up comes a little trail of blinking arrows leading me to the spot where I put it.

After that, I want a laser-projector version for my bookcases — the camera reads the spines, and not only finds books when I ask for them but points to the book I should read when I can’t get enough information from a web search.

Pointy-headed stupid war criminals

April 17, 2009

Newly Released Memo Inadvertently Reveals CIA Held (and Abused) Missing Prisoner – ProPublica

Three years after his capture, human rights groups were surprised when Ghul was not included among 14 high-value detainees who were transferred out of the CIA’s black sites program and sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2007.

Since then, he has been considered a missing, or ghost detainee. But in the heavily redacted OLC memo dated May 30, 2005, government censors appeared to have missed a single reference to his name and confinement during a lengthy description of the interrogation techniques used against him. The reference can be found at the bottom of Page 7 in the memo, where Ghul’s surname is spelled “Gul.”

The money quote: “The interrogation team ‘carefully analyzed Gul’s responsiveness to different areas of inquiry’ during this time and noted that his resistance increase as questioning moved to his ‘knowledge of operational terrorist activities.'”

Careful analysis to figure out that he’s telling you bits of stuff you don’t need and working hard to withhold the stuff you do? This is like 24 populated entirely by the staff of Dilbert.

Even worse is the guy who ended his instructions on how to torture people with “Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.” He’s now a federal appeals judge.

You don’t say

April 16, 2009

Inbreeding Was Major Cause Of Fall Of Spanish Habsburg Dynasty

Gonzalo Alvarez and colleagues at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain have provided genetic evidence to support the historical evidence that the high frequency of inbreeding (mating between closely related individuals) within the dynasty was a major cause for the extinction of its male line.

The work is actually pretty neat in showing the just how serious the inbreeding was — Charles apparently had as many homozygous genes as if he had been born to a brother/sister couple.

But the Hapsburg dynasty in its attenuated form survives, showing how wealth and power can triumph over genetics…

Exoskeletons, cheap

April 11, 2009

Gizmodo – Mass Production Planned For HAL Exoskeleton; Your Personal Iron Man Conversion To Cost $4,200 – Hal exoskeleton

It’s also great news for extreme hobbyists, certain factory workers and the children of the rich, who can enjoy near-full robotization for about $4200 when these things start rolling off the line. The first run, to be sold in Japan, is planned at 400 units

If they can sell segways for this kind of money, exoskeletons should be the next big thing.

$4200 to mostly not need a wheelchair or a scooter (and to get some movement in the bargain) would be a great deal for a lot of people. I wonder what the actual cost is.