Archive for the ‘Link farming’ Category

Oldest tab dump ever

October 18, 2010

This is what happens when firefox doesn’t crash often enough.

IEEE Spectrum: Robots With Knives: A Study of Soft-Tissue Injury in Robotics

The researchers acknowledge that there are huge reservations about equipping robots with sharp tools in human environments.

‘Underwater kite’ aims to turn energy tide –

The technology comprises of a turbine attached to a wing and rudder which is tethered to the ocean floor by 100 meters of cable.

Anchoring “Deep Green” and steering the tethered “kite” enables the turbine to capture energy from the tidal currents at ten times the speed of the actual stream velocity, say Minesto.

But now Gijs Kuenen at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and colleagues are developing a technique that cuts out the energy-consuming processes. The key is a recently discovered type of bacteria that can munch ammonia without oxygen. So-called anammox bacteria short-cut the nitrogen cycle by converting ammonium directly into nitrogen gas.

One by-product of this process is methane, which Kuenen proposes to harvest and use as fuel. The team calculates that, far from consuming energy, the process could generate 24 watt-hours per person per day. “This is about trying to make waste water treatment plants completely sustainable, in the sense that they could even produce energy, which is not the case in present treatment facilities,” says Kuenen.

Technology Review: Blogs: arXiv blog: Microbial Life Found in Hydrocarbon Lake

Pitch lake, they say, is teaming with microbial life. They say that, on average, each gram of goo in the lake contains some 10^7 living cells.

These bugs are unlike anything we normally see on Earth. Analysis of gene sequences from these creatures show that they are single celled organisms such as archea and bacteria. They thrive in an oxygen-free environment with very little water, eating hydrocarbons and respiring with metals.

This may be the first time life has cropped up in hydrocarbon lakes on Earth’s surface but these kinds of creepy crawlies have previously reared their heads in hydrocarbon samples from subsea oil wells. Which is another reason they are of interest. Just how microbial organisms can degrade and process of oil reservoirs is poorly understood. A better understanding could lead to a number of advances in techniques for things like microbial remediation.

But the most exciting implication of this discovery is for the possibility of life on Titan. There is a growing sense that Titan may have all the ingredients for life: thermodynamic disequilibrium, abundant carbon-containing molecules and a fluid environment.

Wi-Fi key-cracking kits sold in China mean free Internet

The main piece of the kits, an adapter with a six-inch antenna that plugs into a USB port, comes with a CD-ROM to install its driver and a separate live CD-ROM that boots up an operating system called BackTrack. In BackTrack, the user can run applications that try to obtain keys for two protocols used to secure Wi-Fi networks, WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) and WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access). After a successful attack by the applications, called Spoonwep and Spoonwpa, a user can restart Windows and use the revealed key to access its Wi-Fi network.


Freedom to read is so 20th century

January 30, 2010

Librarians for Fair Access resists exclusive content contracts Boing Boing

What changed? EBSCO responds, in Library Journal “In many cases, an exclusive relationship is the only way you can have the content in your databases.” They were the top bidder in an RFP but out by Major Magazines who felt that they were losing revenue because too many people read their magazines in the library for free.

Note, btw, that the “free” in the quote above means purely that the patrons didn’t pay on a per-view basis. They pay taxes and other fees to support their local libraries, the libraries pay the database companies, the database companies pay the magazines. But apparently not enough.

And the obvious way to increase payments is by having a monopoly. If you must have some particular set of magazines available for your patrons, then you have to pay what the database company tells you to pay. For that companies that have magazines on the most-wanted list, it’s a sweet deal. For everyone else, not so much, because the library budget for this kind of stuff isn’t exactly growing.

And ultimately that means the list of most-wanted magazines gets pared down; everybody loses. But the golden parachutes and the consulting fees will have been paid by then.

Geeks discussing the federal register

October 16, 2009


FedThread is a project of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University. It is one of several projects that harnesses the power of the web to increase government transparency.

Old biomed tab dump

September 4, 2009

Donor eggs (sort of) for mitochondrial defects BBC NEWS | Health

The genetic fault is contained in structures in the egg called the mitochondria, which are involved in maintaining the egg’s internal processes.

If an egg with faulty mitochondria is fertilised the resulting child could have any of hundreds of different diseases including anaemia, dementia, hypertension and a range of neurological disorders.

Previous failures

US researchers have previously tried and failed to correct this defect by adding healthy donated mitochondria into the eggs of patients wishing to have children.

But these attempts resulted in birth defects – probably because mitochondria are so delicate that they are damaged when they are transplanted from one egg to another.

PLoS Biology: Reawakening Retrocyclins: Ancestral Human Defensins Active Against HIV-1

Our study reveals for the first time, to our knowledge, that human cells have the ability to make cyclic theta-defensins. Given this evidence that human cells could make theta-defensins, we attempted to restore endogenous expression of retrocyclin peptides. Since human theta-defensin genes are transcribed, we used aminoglycosides to read-through the premature termination codon found in the mRNA transcripts. This treatment induced the production of intact, bioactive retrocyclin-1 peptide by human epithelial cells and cervicovaginal tissues. The ability to reawaken retrocyclin genes from their 7 million years of slumber using aminoglycosides could provide a novel way to secure enhanced resistance to HIV-1 infection.

Brain radiotherapy affects mind [confirming something everyone who has known a bain-irradiated patient already knew]

It is known that radiation treatment in the brain causes some damage to normal tissue and the study’s researchers suspected it could lead to decline in mental function.

A previous study in the same patients done six years after treatment found no difference in aspects like memory, attention and the speed at which people could process information, in those who had received radiotherapy.

But the latest research, carried out more than a decade after original treatment, did find significant variation in the results of several mental tests between those who had had radiotherapy and those who had not.

In all, 53% of patients who had radiotherapy showed decline in brain function compared with 27% of patients who only had surgery.

The most profound differences were in tests to measure attention

This Blue Rat May Have the Secret to Avoid Spinal Cord Injuries – Blue dye – Gizmodo

That secret is Brilliant Blue G dye, a variant of Blue Number One, which is a common and harmless food coloring product. Scientists dropped weights on the rats’ backs to break their little spinal cords, injecting the Brilliant Blue G dye in their bodies. The dye turned their skins blue, but within weeks all motor functions returned to normal. The rat could walk, run, jump, have sex, and do whatever it wanted.

Old tech tab dump

September 4, 2009

Self-Balancing eniCycle is Like a Segway for the Circus – Enicycle – Gizmodo

The eniCycle’s electric-powered 1000 watt motor kicks into gear as you lean forward—similar to riding a Segway. The gyroscopes help you stay upright while measuring your vertical angle 100 times a second.

“Help” is the operative word there — there’s not much the thing can do it you lean too far or start to go over sideways. But still pretty damn cool.

Security Engineering – A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed Systems

My goal in making the first edition freely available five years after publication was twofold. First, I wanted to reach the widest possible audience, especially among poor students. Second, I am a pragmatic libertarian on free culture and free software issues; I think that many publishers (especially of music and software) are too defensive of copyright. (My colleague David MacKay found that putting his book on coding theory online actually helped its sales. Book publishers are getting the message faster than the music or software folks.) I expect to put the whole second edition online too in a few years.

Ross Anderson is a brilliant guy. Enough said.

The Invisible Flash That Takes Clear Pictures at Night – dark flash – Gizmodo

. First, they modified the flashbulb to emit light in a wider spectrum and filter out visible light. Then, they removed the UV and IR filters normally present in camera sensors. This apparently results in making everyone in photos look like a Yugoslavian mafia goon’s mug shot. Or maybe just a normal infrared image:

Then, an algorithm adds color: The two scientist make the camera take another photo immediately after the first one, this time without the dark flash. That photo results in the usual grainy picture, but the resulting color information gets combined with the first image to get the image you see at the beginning of the article.

Roadside Dope Tester Promises To Make You Even More Paranoid – Dope tester – Gizmodo

The cartridge has two components: a sample collector for gathering saliva and a measurement chamber containing magnetic nanoparticles. The particles are coated with ligands that bind to one of five different drug groups.

After 90 seconds, the device delivers its verdict on a color-coded readout.

But officer, I was sucking on a $20 bill and it was contaminated with cocaine…

FAQ – TinEye

TinEye is a reverse image search engine. You can submit an image to TinEye to find out where it came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or to find higher resolution versions. TinEye is the first image search engine on the web to use image identification technology rather than keywords, metadata or watermarks.

Draganfly X4 UAV: Tiny, Camera-Packing, UFO-Looking ‘Copter Is Cheaper Than Ever – Draganfly x4 – Gizmodo

Like the X6—featured in Giz Gallery 2008—the X4 is a carbon fiber-bodied UAV with four carbon fiber rotating blades. The 680-gram (with battery) copter is capable of using a still/video camera (in this case, a Panasonic Lumix point-and-shoot), an infrared camera and a low-light camera, all of which can be controlled from the ground. The X4 also features three accelerometers, three gyroscopes, three magnetometers and a barometric pressure sensor, and the controller is based on an OLED touchscreen. The X4 only has four motors to the X6’s six, but that comes at a big boon to the pricey ‘copter: The X6 checked in at about $15,000, and the X4 should be more like $10,000.

Genome Sequencing Gets 99.9833% Price Cut – Human genome – Gizmodo

it chops the fundamental units of DNA, the bases, into short strands, slaps them onto a specially treated glass plate, and proceeds to read the sequences.

After these steps are completed, a series of computers will assemble all the DNA strands into a genome while comparing it to previously compiled genomes. According to an algorithm used by the team, this sequencing process results in genomes which are about 95% complete. (This is on par with previous sequencing technology.)

Biohacking, nine years later

August 4, 2009

Darning Genes: Biology for the Homebody | h+ Magazine

Primarily interested in the currently fashionable trend of synthetic biology — the creation of novel organisms using genetics and other techniques — they meet in groups, in cities, and unite online. One popular such location is, created by Mackenzie Cowell and Jason Bobe. Meredith Patterson, the doyenne d’DIYbio, recently caught AP’s eye with her pet project — a strain of the bacteria responsible for yogurt that secretes miraculin as a sweetener. While group discourse focuses on genetics and synthetic biology, there are other hot topics, like creating lab equipment using common household items or building a thermocycler for $25


DIYbio is an organization that aims to help make biology a worthwhile pursuit for citizen scientists, amateur biologists, and DIY biological engineers who value openness and safety. This will require mechanisms for amateurs to increase their knowledge and skills, access to a community of experts, the development of a code of ethics, responsible oversight, and leadership on issues that are unique to doing biology outside of traditional professional settings.

Back before that whole nasty terrorism thing, do-it-yourself biology just seemed to be taking off. Now it might be back. Yay!

The lunar reconnaissance orbiter is so cool

July 18, 2009

NASA – LRO Sees Apollo Landing Sites

The satellite reached lunar orbit June 23 and captured the Apollo sites between July 11 and 15. Though it had been expected that LRO would be able to resolve the remnants of the Apollo mission, these first images came before the spacecraft reached its final mapping orbit. Future LROC images from these sites will have two to three times greater resolution.

So that means 1-2 foot resolution over much of the surface of the moon. Wow.

Tab Dump from Hell

July 16, 2009

World’s Largest CNC Machine Fabricates Large-Scale Building Prototypes – 3D printing – Gizmodo

D-Shape’s 3-D stereolithic printer creates models entirely out of artificial sandstone using CAD-CAE modeling technologies and CAD-CAM software to control the plotter. The printing proceeds in 5-10mm layer segments and, in the end, produces a structure that has strength characteristics reminiscent of standard Portland Cement—without the need for internal reinforcement. This gives designers greater flexibility with structural shapes.

35,000-year-old Flute Is First Instrument Ever – flute – Gizmodo

Found in Ach Valley, in the south of Germany, the 8.7-inch long, one-inch diameter instrument has five holes, with two V-shaped notches carved on one side of it. This was the part in which the musician put the lips to blow, according to University of Tubingen’s professor Nicholas Conard, the lead author of the discovery. The other end is broken just on the fifth hole.

Also according to the study, it was capable of producing a note range similar to those of modern flutes.

What Is This? – SBX – Gizmodo

the Sea-Based X-Band Radar, which is part of the U.S. Defense Department Ballistic Missile Defense System. It’s a weird view, because usually—as you can see in the second image—it propels itself.

The platform—built by the Russians using a Norwegian twin-hulled oil platform design—is 380 feet long and 280 feet tall to the top of the main radar dome. Designed to work under any kind of weather, the 50,000-ton behemoth only moves a maximum of 10 degrees of its horizontal base using passive stabilization.

According to Wikipedia, the SBX “has been moved to offshore Hawaii from its Aleutian Islands base in Alaska as of June 23, 2009. The reason: A potential North Korean missile launc

BBC NEWS | Health | New cancer drug ‘shows promise’

Olaparib was given to 19 patients with inherited forms of advanced breast, ovarian and prostate cancers caused by mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

In 12 of the patients – none of whom had responded to other therapies – tumours shrank or stabilised.

Shaky home movies get a big budget feel – tech – 13 July 2009 – New Scientist

The process starts using off-the-shelf software called Voodoo Camera Tracker that can reconstruct a camera’s path through 3D space from a video sequence.

Using that as a reference, the software then tries to distort each frame to create the way things would have looked were the camera to have been on that perfect, smooth path. Rather like a fun house mirror, different regions of each frame are warped by different amounts.

That distortion can be apparent when frames are examined individually, but when run in sequence, the brain thinks it is seeing footage taken from a camera moving on a steady path through space.

Hoarding – Why and What People Hoard.

* MISCONCEPTION: The moment you throw something away, you let go of that specific part of your life, however insignificant it may be.

16-264: Computer Vision with Optical Mouse Chips

For robot guidance, having as many sources of feedback for finding and confirming position is imperative. One such strategy is using optical flow, which uses vision algorithms to pick key points in a video stream and track their motion. Unfortunately to do a good job of this, it takes good cameras and significant processing power.

The Optical Mouse:
One often overlooked application of optical flow is the optical mouse. An optical mouse actually contains a low resolution black and white camera which takes ‘photos’ of the mousing surface at 6000Hz and runs a point finding algorithm and compares these points. So rather than using an expensive high resolution camera and a fast computer, the mouse chip operates on a low resolution image and still returns good results when used as a mouse.

MAYA Design: The Wrong Cloud?

In our opinion cloud computing, as currently described, is not that far off from the sort of thinking that drove the economic downturn. In effect both situations sound the same… we allowed radical experiments to be performed by gigantic, non-redundant entities. There is a place in the world for behemoths, but that is not where the most radical experimentation should be taking place.

Until we understand a domain of endeavor very, very well, we should insist on decentralized, massively-parallel venues for dubious experiments. In the information economy, it means net equality, information liquidity and radically distributed services (and that’s pretty much the opposite of “cloud computing” as described today).

Laser Doubles Efficiency of Traditional Lightbulbs : University of Rochester News

The process could make a light as bright as a 100-watt bulb consume less electricity than a 60-watt bulb while remaining far cheaper and radiating a more pleasant light than a fluorescent bulb can.

The laser process creates a unique array of nano- and micro-scale structures on the surface of a regular tungsten filament—the tiny wire inside a light bulb—and theses structures make the tungsten become far more effective at radiating light.

Towering Edge Waves Pop Into View (Saturn Images from NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft)

Colossal vertical structures in Saturn’s rings are brought into stark relief for the first time in images made possible by Saturn’s approach to its August equinox.

In an analysis published online today in the Astronomical Journal, imaging scientists use the long shadows cast by newly revealed 3-dimensional waves on the edges of the Keeler gap in Saturn’s outer A ring to illustrate how the small moon Daphnis, embedded in the gap, can create such soaring vertical structures.


Dinosaur fossils are present in the Paleocene Ojo Alamo Sandstone and Animas Formation in the San Juan Basin, New Mexico, and Colorado. Evidence for the Paleocene age of the Ojo Alamo Sandstone includes palynologic and paleomagnetic data. Palynologic data indicate that the entire Ojo Alamo Sandstone, including the lower dinosaur-bearing part, is Paleocene in age. All of the palynomorph-productive rock samples collected from the Ojo Alamo Sandstone at multiple localities lacked Cretaceous index palynomorphs (except for rare, reworked specimens) and produced Paleocene index palynomorphs. Paleocene palynomorphs have been identified stratigraphically below dinosaur fossils at two separate localities in the Ojo Alamo Sandstone in the central and southern parts of the basin.

General Atomics unwraps new, Stealth(y) robot war-jet • The Register

Now comes the Avenger, upgraded to jet propulsion and offering some Stealth features. GA-ASI say that it is “more survivable in higher threat environments” and say that it “will have higher operational and transit speeds than current Predator-series aircraft, resulting in fast response and rapid repositioning”.

The firm promises 400-knot airspeeds and a 60,000-foot ceiling using the Pratt & Whitney PW545B turbofan (the same used in the Cessna Citation XLS biz jet). The Avenger can be flown using the same control stations as its predecessors, and “can carry the same mix of weapons as Predator B” – that is, laser-guided Hellfire missiles or Paveway/JDAM smartbombs. It will also be suitable for carrying any of the various advanced sensors – ground-sweeping radars, thermal imagers, multiplex Argus spyeyes, mobile-phone sniffers etc. – nowadays so popular for airborne surveillance. It’s a biggish brute, 41 feet long and with a 66-foot wingspan – comparable in size to an F-15 fighter plane, but wide rather than long

BBC NEWS | Business | Floating wind turbine launched

“Taking wind turbines to sea presents new opportunities,” said Ms Gjorv, of Statoil’s new energy division.

“The wind is stronger and more consistent [and] areas are large.”

Floating wind farms are set to be connected to mainland grids via cables across the seabed. The longer the cable, the more expensive it is, so the distance from land is not set to become unlimited, explained Ms Gjorv.

The Hywind, a 2.3 megawatt (MW) wind turbine built by Siemens, combines technologies from both the wind farming industry and the oil and gas sectors, and will be tested off the coast of Norway for two years.

Study: Climate change kills 300,000 a year – Climate Change-

LONDON – Climate-change disasters kill around 300,000 people a year and cause about $125 billion in economic losses, mainly from agriculture, a think-tank led by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan reported Friday.

The Global Humanitarian Forum also estimated that 325 million people are seriously affected by climate change — a number it says will double by 2030, as more people are hit by natural disasters or suffer environmental degradation caused by climate change.

Landmark study: DRM truly does make pirates out of us all – Ars Technica

Are rightsholders willing to “deal with users” who experience problems? Some are, but Akester found that many require a legislative prod before taking any action.

The study confirms what anyone who has ever wanted to rip a DVD to their computer or iPod could have told you: DRM, coupled with anticircumvention laws, makes pirates of us all.

Akester offers some possible solutions to the problem. They are worth reading, but they are also unlikely to be implemented for years. In the meantime, copyright exceptions for the blind, libraries, teachers, and for fair use will continue to be limited by a crafty mixture of code and law.

Of course, as Bright points out, the massive lobbying, legislative, legal, and technical effort that underlies all these DRM regimes does so little to stop piracy that we’d be tempted to laugh at the folly of it all if we weren’t already weeping.

US team create carbon nanotube ultra-memory • The Register

The nano-structure was created in a single step by pyrolysis of ferrocene in argon at 1,000 degreees C. The created nanotube elements are dispersed in isopropanol ultrasonically and deposited on a substrate with electrical contacts applied to the ends of the nanotube. The researchers say these steps are compatible with common semiconductor manufacturing techniques.

By applying an electric current, the iron particle shuttle could be made to move inside the nanotube either away from or towards the current source. When the current was turned off the particle was, as it were, frozen in position. By applying the current in a timed pulse the particle could be made to move a fixed 3nm distance in steps. The speed of movement could be altered by varying the applied bias voltage.

The researchers say that placing the shuttle either side of the mid-point along the length of the nanotube can constitute a digital one or zero.

Philly’s fresh-food triumph: Nationally admired program opens supermarkets for underserved | Philadelphia Daily News | 06/18/2009

Any food retailer wanting to open or expand operations in an underserved, low- or moderate-income neighborhood could apply for help from the Fresh Food Financing Initiative.

The Reinvestment Fund evaluated proposals to ensure that retailers had a business plan and the management capacity to make a go of it with some start-up help.

Of more than 40 projects funded in Philadelphia, only two have failed so far.

Brian Lang, of the Food Trust, said that one important piece of the program has been an effort to improve the offerings at smaller stores in communities where a supermarket developer didn’t appear.

“Flexibility is important here,” Lang said. “Our goal is to get fresh foods into communities that don’t have them. We’ve heard from some corner-store operators that they want to offer their customers healthy stuff, not just chips and soda.”

About 30 neighborhood stores got funding for refrigeration units to sell fresh meats and produce.

Michael Geist – Harvard Study Finds Weaker Copyright Protection Has Benefited Society

Overall production figures for the creative industries appear to be consistent with this view that file sharing has not discouraged artists and publishers. While album sales have generally fallen since 2000, the number of albums being created has exploded. In 2000, 35,516 albums were released. Seven years later, 79,695 albums (including 25,159 digital albums) were published (Nielsen SoundScan, 2008). Even if file sharing were the reason that sales have fallen, the new technology does not appear to have exacted a toll on the quantity of music produced. Obviously, it would be nice to adjust output for differences in quality, but we are not aware of any research that has tackled this question.

Similar trends can be seen in other creative industries. For example, the worldwide number of feature films produced each year has increased from 3,807 in 2003 to 4,989 in 2007 (Screen Digest, 2004 and 2008). Countries where film piracy is rampant have typically increased production. This is true in South Korea (80 to 124), India (877 to 1164), and China (140 to 402). During this period, U.S. feature film production has increased from 459 feature films in 2003 to 590 in 2007 (MPAA, 2007).

BBC NEWS | Health | ‘Surprise’ prostate result probed

The trial was set up to see if MDX-010, a type of drug called a monoclonal antibody, would improve on hormone treatment.

The idea is that the drug will encourage a strong immune response to attack the cancer cells.

Half the men had normal therapy and half also received MDX-010.

In three cases, where the experimental drug was given, the tumours shrank dramatically, enabling surgeons to operate and remove the tumour.

ACQUINE: Aesthetic Quality Inference Engine – Instant Impersonal Assessment of Photos

Aesthetic Quality Inference Engine – Instant Impersonal Assessment of Photos

Like everyone else, I love this review. It exceeds its subject.

July 1, 2009

io9 – Michael Bay Finally Made An Art Movie – Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers: ROTF has mostly gotten pretty hideous reviews, but that’s because people don’t understand that this isn’t a movie, in the conventional sense. It’s an assault on the senses, a barrage of crazy imagery. Imagine that you went back in time to the late 1960s and found Terry Gilliam, fresh from doing his weird low-fi collage/animations for Monty Python. You proceeded to inject Gilliam with so many steroids his penis shrank to the size of a hair follicle, and you smushed a dozen tabs of LSD under his tongue. And then you gave him the GDP of a few sub-Saharan countries. Gilliam might have made a movie not unlike this one.

Inside a botnet

May 11, 2009

Schneier on Security

During that time, however, UCSB’s researchers were able to gather massive amounts of information on how the botnet functions as well as what kind of information it’s gathering. Almost 300,000 unique login credentials were gathered over the time the researchers controlled the botnet, including 56,000 passwords gathered in a single hour using “simple replacement rules” and a password cracker. They found that 28 percent of victims reused their credentials for accessing 368,501 websites, making it an easy task for scammers to gather further personal information. The researchers noted that they were able to read through hundreds of e-mail, forum, and chat messages gathered by Torpig that “often contain detailed (and private) descriptions of the lives of their authors.”