Friday, December 31, 2004

A tsunami wave higher than any in recorded history threatens to ravage the US coastline in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption in the Canary Islands, UK and US scientists report. Locations on both African and European Atlantic coastlines - including Britain - are also thought to be at risk.

Mobile Robots

IT Conversations: Helen Greiner - Mobile robots are an emerging technology field, and iRobot Corporation of Burlington MA is leading the way. iRobot's products are not far-flung, far-off science fiction, but robots for the real world. They are practical, reliable, innovative products that effectively answer users needs with creative engineering and design.

Yahoo beta video serach

Color laser printers snitch on their owners with privacy-violating subliminal encoding of all printed documents

Next time you make a printout from your color laser printer, shine an LED flashlight beam on it and examine it closely with a magnifying glass.
According to experts, several printer companies quietly encode the serial number and the manufacturing code of their color laser printers and color copiers on every document those machines produce.

Nano Fabric May Make Computers Thinner

For tomorrow's computers, thin may be in, say researchers in Russia and England who claim they have discovered the world's first single-atom-thick fabric.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Earth's permafrost starts to squelch

In parts of Fairbanks, Alaska, houses and buildings lean at odd angles.

Some slump as if sliding downhill. Windows and doors inch closer and closer to the ground.

Before and after the quake

Tries and suffix trees

This lecture is about tries and suffix trees possible server side structures used by Google Suggest.

Google Suggest Dissected...

Chris Justus at Server Side Guy dissects Google Suggest

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Recent Exciting Advances in Robotics

Robotics news are dominated these days by the $100 Robosapien toy or by the latest version of Honda's ASIMO, that you will never been able to buy, even if you put a cool US$1 million on the table. But other recent news are worth mentioning.

Cassini's goodbye Huygens picture

Cassini has snapped an image of the Huygens probe it has just despatched to study Titan, Saturn's largest moon.

The image, taken some 12 hours after release, shows the 2.7m-wide robot lab moving away from its mothership.

The World Wide Panorama

A VR-Photography Event

The World Wide Panorama began in March, 2004, and has now become a quarterly series of events. Photographers all over the world are welcome to participate.

The rules are simple - photography must be done during a specified time, and the final panorama must be in QuickTime VR format (within specified limits on file size and dimensions). The events are scheduled on the solstices (longest and shortest days of the year) and equinoxes (day and night of equal length).

Lists for 2004

Among almost 500 lists examples include "The Year In Ideas" from New York Times Magazine, "Words of the Year" from Merriam, "The P.U.-litzer Prizes" from AlterNet, the oxymoronic "Five Best Reality TV Finales" from Entertainment Weekly, "Pictures of the Year" from National Geographic, and the "Funniest Commercials of the Year" from

BookCrossing - Home - FREE YOUR BOOKS!

n. the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.

(added to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary in August 2004)

Monday, December 27, 2004

Antimatter over Antarctica? :: Astrobiology Magazine :: Search for Life in the Universe

An international team of scientists has launched a high-altitude, balloon-borne instrument from Antarctica to search for antimatter, which is among the rarest and most elusive types of particles in the Universe.

The team seeks to understand the origin of cosmic antimatter and to find evidence for the existence of Hawking radiation from "evaporating" black holes, a theory proposed by Prof. Stephen Hawking of Cambridge University in England.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

One Day in Paradise

The Tropical Islands dome has a ground surface of 66,000 square meters. With a length of 360 meters, a width of 210 meters and a height of 107 meters, it is large enough to host 8 entire soccer fields.

Even the New York Statue of Liberty (93 meters) could stand upright in it, and the Paris Eiffel Tower (322 meters) could lie in it. The Dome offers enough space for the skyline of Berlin's Potsdamer Platz including the Sony Centre, the gatehouse and the Daimler Chrysler skyscraper.

The MPAA has no idea what’s about to hit them

Recently, several large Bittorrent tracker sites were shut down, citing concerns about problems with copyright holders.

The movie studios think this is a good thing. They’re wrong. P2P is the Content Industry’s worst nightmare…. to date. But it just keeps getting worse from there.

NASA - Cassini Mission Status Report

The European Space Agency's Huygens probe successfully detached from NASA's Cassini orbiter today to begin a three-week journey to Saturn's moon Titan.

Google Press Center: Zeitgeist

2004 Year-End Google Zeitgeist
Search patterns, trends, and surprises

Robot Exclusion Protocol (

I took off my clothes and stepped into the shower to find another one sitting near the drain. It was about 2 feet tall and made of metal, with bright camera-lens eyes and a few dozen gripping arms. Worse than the Jehovah's Witnesses.

“Hi! I'm from Google. I'm a Googlebot! I will not kill you.”

“I know what you are.”

“I'm indexing your apartment.”

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Suggested Google Alphabet

Each time you load this page, it checks the most popular keyword for each letter of the alphabet given by Google Suggest, and displays them there for your viewing pleasure.

The GOLEM Project

Automatic Design and Manufacture of Robotic Lifeforms
In the Golem project (Genetically Organized Lifelike Electro Mechanics) we conducted a set of experiments in which simple electro-mechanical systems evolved from scratch to yield physical locomoting machines. Like biological lifeforms whose structure and function exploit the behaviors afforded by their own chemical and mechanical medium, our evolved creatures take advantage of the nature of their own medium - thermoplastic, motors, and artificial neurons. We thus achieve autonomy of design and construction using evolution in a limited universe physical simulation, coupled to off-the-shelf rapid manufacturing technology. This is the first time robots have been robotically designed and robotically fabricated.

Sept. 11 Conspiracy Theorist Offers $100,000 Prize

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jimmy Walter has spent more than $3 million promoting a conspiracy theory the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States were "an inside job" and he is offering more cash to anyone who proves him wrong.

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Holidays (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer)

Rudolph came to life in 1939 when the Chicago-based Montgomery Ward company (operators of a chain of department stores) asked one of their copywriters, 34-year-old Robert L. May, to come up with a Christmas story they could give away to shoppers as a promotional gimmick.

May, drawing in part on the tale of The Ugly Duckling and his own background (he was a often taunted as a child for being shy, small, and slight), settled on the idea of an underdog ostracized by the reindeer community because of his physical abnormality: a glowing red nose. Looking for an alliterative name, May considered and rejected Rollo (too cheerful and carefree a name for the story of a misfit) and Reginald (too British) before deciding on Rudolph. He then proceeded to write Rudolph's story in verse, as a series of rhyming couplets, testing it out on his 4-year-old daughter Barbara as he went along. Although Barbara was thrilled with Rudolph's story, May's boss was worried that a story featuring a red nose — an image associated with drinking and drunkards — was unsuitable for a Christmas tale.

On, Off, or Asleep (pdf)

User Perceptions of Power Controls on Common Office Equipment

Monday, December 20, 2004

Boing Boing: Robot-ized amplifier and speakers

'Artificial life' comes step closer

Researchers at Rockefeller University in the US have made the first tentative steps towards creating a form of artificial life.
Their creations, small synthetic vesicles that can process (express) genes, resemble a crude kind of biological cell.

'Brainwave' cap controls computer

A team of US researchers has shown that controlling devices with the brain is a step closer.
Four people, two of them partly paralysed wheelchair users, successfully moved a computer cursor while wearing a cap with 64 electrodes.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Onion Networks: Swarming Technology

Now on its third generation of the swarming technology, Onion Networks has introduced Swarmstreaming™. This new technology greatly enhances swarming by allowing streaming or progressive playback of media files. This means that users can watch videos while they are still being downloaded.

Monday, December 13, 2004

MySQL Full-Text Search Rocks My World (Jeremy Zawodny's blog)

...After a bit of thinking, I realized that MySQL's fulltext indexing could probably do the job a lot faster than I could. So I constructed a simple table that can hold these mysterious strings and values...

John Cleese

The Ministry of Silly Names hereby knights you: Field Marshal Montmorency Backhaus

Sunday, December 12, 2004


Credit: NASA/JPL

IBM's World Community Grid: A New SETI@home Inspired Venture

The original idea was brilliant in its simplicity: why not harness the unused capacity of personal computers for some productive purpose? In a time when scientists often struggled - and were sometimes unable - to find sufficient computer time for their computationally intensive research, it seemed like a logical idea. Untold amounts of computing power lay dormant in millions of homes and offices around the world, ready to be used, if only one knew how to reach them… But until five years ago, no one did.
The Planetary Society: SETI@home Update, 11/24/04

Robotic pods take on car design

A new breed of wearable robotic vehicles that envelop drivers are being developed by Japanese car giant Toyota.

Europe presses ahead on sat-nav

Saturday, December 04, 2004

An Interesting Day: President Bush's Movements and Actions on 9/11

"It was an interesting day." - President Bush, recalling 9/11

Make Your Own Cluster Balloon

There's nothing as serene and beautiful as floating a mile or two above the earth with a huge, colorful balloon bouquet.
Mirror 1
Mirror 2

Kilroy-Silk attacked with slurry

"As I started to turn round a guy tipped a bucket of farmyard muck over me and then threw the rest of it over me and the car," Mr Kilroy-Silk said.

Mr Kilroy-Silk had already been taken off air by BBC bosses for the comments, in which he also described Arabs as "limb-amputators, women repressors".

EPassports Could Have Blocking Mechanism

Late last week, the ACLU accused the U.S. government of rushing the rollout of insecure, RFID-enabled passports in hopes of creating a de facto global identification standard that could be used for surveillance.

Johnnie Moore's Weblog: Brand experts, your spaceship is now boarding...

Douglas Adams wrote a marvellous scene in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy in which our heroes stumble on a spacecraft manned by what seems a rather incompetent crew. It transpires that a planet has rounded up a collection of its least productive and useful citizens and tricked them into leaving on a spaceship to escape the pretended imminent destruction of the home planet. The rest of us will follow behind, the travellers are assured. Of course, the rest of them have no such plan. Adams populated this craft with (as I recall) the likes of telephone sanitisers and PR execs. I'm sure if he were writing today, he'd find a few spare seats for Brand Consultants.
Johnnie Moore's Weblog: Brand experts, your spaceship is now boarding...

More images from The Race of Champions

Race of Champions 2004

The Race of Champions pitches the best circuit racers against the best off road drivers in the world to determine who is the fastest.

A pink cadillac, driven by Jesus, flies into side of music store

A bumper sticker on the car reads "Something Wonderful is About To Happen" but for the family who is left picking up the pieces, the morning has been anything but wonderful.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Sand Life - DIY Ergo Keyboard


Smart Mobs: Liquid Lenses For Camera Phones

Liquid lenses could replace glass or plastic ones because of several advantages: no moving parts, leading to better reliability; a very small power consumption; very small dimensions (diameter: 8mm; thickness: 2mm); and a very fast response time of 2/100th of a second. You can expect the first camera phones using these liquid lenses as early as Christmas 2005.
More Info

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Moon dance on Saturn's canvas

The Cassini space probe has captured an incredible image of Saturn's tiny moon Mimas, suspended against the colourful backdrop of the ringed planet.

Mimas has been dubbed the "Death Star" because it resembles the moon-sized space station in the Star Wars films.

The Atlas Experiment

Device to probe limits of physics

UK physicists have completed the first crucial element of an experimental device designed to probe the forces that shape our Universe.

The Atlas experiment will explore the fundamental properties of matter and look for "new physics" beyond the limits of our current understanding.

It will be housed at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator, due to begin operating in 2007.

The LHC could create mini-black holes as particles collide at high energies.

Nasa World Wind

Similar to Keyhole though Nasa have some excellent overlays which makes this worth having
(this is the second reason)

Views of the Planet

I have three copies of Blue Marble on my hard disk now. This is one of the reasons why.