Friday, November 28, 2003

Spontaneous Human Invisibility
Incredible accounts of people who suddenly become completely invisible
Hunting Planets Along the Milky Way
Is Earth a lonely island where human beings cling tenaciously to life, or is the Universe teeming with planets where myriad forms of life have been nurtured?
Vegetal and mineral memory: The future of books
The city of Alexandria played host on 1 November to the renowned Italian novelist and scholar Umberto Eco, who gave a lecture in English, on varieties of literary and geographic memory, at the newly opened Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Al-Ahram Weekly publishes the complete text of the lecture
How British charity was silenced on Iraq
One of Britain's most high-profile charities was ordered to end criticism of military action in Iraq by its powerful US wing to avoid jeopardising financial support from Washington and corporate donors, a Guardian investigation has discovered.

Excellent Active Super Amusive Play!
Toys and products you never dreamed of...
Crazy? No, Just One Card Shy of a Full Deck
I had become what every New Yorker secretly longs to be, a harmless, amusing eccentric.
GCHQ officer: I leaked email to save lives
A British intelligence officer charged with leaking a top-secret memo to the press appeared in court today.
Katharine Gun, 29, is charged under Section 1 of the Official Secrets Act.
Borrowed Time: Interview with Michio Kaku
A theoretical physicist contemplates the plausibility of time travel
Orgasmatron inventor seeks female volunteers
Women who cannot have orgasms can now have a device implanted in their spines that will trigger the sensation for them. Clinical trials of the "orgasmatron" have begun in the US, with the approval of the Food and Drug Administration.
Twenty years discovery of the W and Z bosons
"Other expeditions saw the tracks, this one found the skeletons."
-Dr. George Brandenburg of Harvard University, on the CERN discovery of the W and Z bosons.
Upgrading Opera browser prevents two serious vulnerabilities
Users of the Opera browser should upgrade to avoid two serious security vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities allow remote attackers to view files or to place and execute files on a user's computer. Opera download
Colliding Galaxies
Colliding Galaxies is a program which deals with the calculations of interacting galaxies. In this case the visual representation of the galaxies is important. Therefore, the program has not only impressive color shadings but also scientific representations as the Doppler-effect.

In addition with the Shape Creator you receive a tool (ShapeCreator.exe) with which you can construct own galaxy shapes.
Courtalds Institute
The Courtald Institute of Art , via Art and Architecture, has made 40,00 images, and much else besides, available online. One more reason to love the web.
Digital rights management and the breakdown of social norms
by Christopher May
At the centre of the protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs) is a long history of political bargains struck between private rights to reward and the social benefit of information/knowledge diffusion. The historical dynamic of politics in this policy area has been to expand the rights of owners while circumscribing the public realm of information and knowledge. In recent decades the public domain has become merely a residual, all that is left when all other rights (as constructed by IPRs) have been exercised. The advent of digital rights management (DRM) technologies has disturbed a reasonably legitimate politico-legal settlement over "fair use," challenging the existing balance between the rights of "creators" and the interests of users. The breakdown of the norms underpinning IPRs has prompted renewed debate regarding their legitimacy. Although it is technological change that has enhanced not only the ability to copy but also the potential to control the distribution of content, this paper suggests that this argument will not be won or lost in the realm of technology. Rather, new technologies return the question of the control of knowledge and information (content) to the realm of politics.

[Listening to: Can't Stop - Red Hot Chili Peppers - By The Way (04:29)]
LEON, the world's first virtual male soul vocalist.
VOCALOID vocal-synthesizing software overcomes the limitations that technology and resources have always placed on composers' ability to freely create recordings incorporating singing. With the enormous popularity of sound samplers it's not surprising that many producers have tried creating music with vocals using samples of human voice snippets, but that method's range of lyrical and vocal expression is very limited and generally produces very poor results.

Yamaha's newly-developed vocal-synthesizing VOCALOID software, together with vocal libraries (or vocal 'fonts') by Zero-G and others, now changes all this.

[Listening to: Nanook Rubs It - Yellow Snow - Frank Zappa - Apostrophe'-Overnite Sensation (02:07)]
Celestia is a free real-time space simulation that lets you experience our universe in three dimensions. Unlike most planetarium software, Celestia doesn't confine you to the surface of the Earth. You can travel throughout the solar system, to any of over 100,000 stars, or even beyond the galaxy.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Werner Karl Heisenberg 1901 - 1976
The Building of the Bomb 2 March 1965 BBC
Werner Heisenberg and Baron von Weissåcker talk about the issues Germany faced on whether to make an atomic bomb and seeking Bohr's advice 2 min 10
On This Day 1975: TV presenter Ross McWhirter shot dead
Guinness Book of Records co-founder and editor Ross McWhirter has been shot dead outside his Middlesex home.
Dr Who - Scream of the Shalka
I think I must be the only actor who’s never seen Doctor Who, or read it. I’m completely a virgin to it so I don’t know whether that’s a disadvantage or an advantage - that will be for other people to decide. It’s struck me that it’s Sherlock Holmes in outer space. That’s what it seems to be like. I don’t know whether that’s accurate or inaccurate, but you just follow the script.
Hilltop: A Search Engine based on Expert Documents
In response to a query a search engine returns a ranked list of documents. If the query is broad (i.e., it matches many documents) then the returned list is usually too long to view fully. Studies show that users usually look at only the top 10 to 20 results. In this paper, we propose a novel ranking scheme for broad queries that places the most authoritative pages on the query topic at the top of the ranking. Our algorithm operates on a special index of "expert documents." These are a subset of the pages on the WWW identified as directories of links to non-affiliated sources on specific topics. Results are ranked based on the match between the query and relevant descriptive text for hyperlinks on expert pages pointing to a given result page. We present a prototype search engine that implements our ranking scheme and discuss its performance. With a relatively small (2.5 million page) expert index, our algorithm was able to perform comparably on broad queries with the best of the mainstream search engines.
When Cash Is Only Skin Deep
A Florida company has announced plans to develop a service that would allow consumers to pay for merchandise using microchips implanted under their skin.

File-sharing Goes Social
The RIAA has taken us on a tour of networking strategies in the last
few years, by constantly changing the environment file-sharing systems
operate in. In hostile environments, organisms often adapt to become
less energetic but harder to kill, and so it is now. With the RIAA's
waves of legal attacks driving experimentation with decentralized
file-sharing tools, file-sharing networks have progressively traded
efficiency for resistance to legal attack.

The RIAA has slowly altered the environment so that relatively
efficient systems like Napster were killed, opening up a niche for
more decentralized systems like Gnutella and Kazaa. With their current
campaign against Kazaa in full swing, we are about to see another
shift in network design, one that will have file sharers adopting
tools originally designed for secure collaboration in a corporate
Radio tags spark privacy worries
The use of radio tags on consumer products should be put on hold, say privacy campaigners.
Hologram pioneer remembered
Tributes are paid to the inventor of credit card holograms, Stephen Benton, who died recently.
Blackmailers target e-commerce
Companies trading online are under attack from gangs who blackmail with denial-of-service attacks.
FeedDemon Public Beta

A Pre-release FeedDemon Beta is now available to anyone interested in beta testing this exceptional RSS reader and organizer. Brought to us by Nick Bradbury the person who gave us HomeSite and my favourite CSS and XHTML Editor, TopStyle Pro. For those of you who have not heard the rumblings about FeedDemon, it enables you to quickly explore the world of RSS from your desktop without having to visit hundreds of sites. Claiming to make RSS "as easy to access as your email"
It does have a few words of warning for people that are unfamiliar with Beta software but it shouldn't be too much of a problem. For a more indepth round up of what all the fuss is about see Shirley Kaiser's blog entry.

Update 2007: Version 2.1 now available
Bad Santa shocks Disney bosses
Disney studio bosses are reportedly concerned about a new movie which shows Father Christmas drinking, stealing and chasing girls.
3DNA 3D desktop
3DNA is a 3D desktop enhancer that improves the way you work with Windows and the Web. You can choose from different 3D Add-On Worlds to explore and customize for an immersive and entertaining desktop. 3DNA works by overlaying the wallpaper area and easily lets you toggle between your 3D and 2D desktop with the click of your mouse. The 3D Worlds also have toys to play with and integrated 3D games. You can move around easily, or simply teleport to different areas when you want to launch applications, open folders, speed-surf dozens of Web sites, or play music. Personalize each 3D World by hanging your digital photos on the walls by simply dragging them onto the picture frames.Within each World you have various areas to create links to your folders, files, and programs. 3DNA will even scan your system to create a custom set of links to get you started. Once you have selected the World you like, you can download additional user-created themes and skies or create your own to share. The interface is intuitive, and there's an optional Tutorial World that walks you through the product.
Requires: Intel or AMD 1GHz, 384+MB Ram, 32+MB 3D Graphics Card