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Current Topic: Miscellaneous

Evil begets stupidity
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:32 pm EST, Dec  1, 2009

evil begets stupidity. An organization that wins by exercising power starts to lose the ability to win by doing better work

two things struck me -- well more but I just wanted to say ...
I WANT a hand held dev machine

from the Hustler

Fast Eddie: How should I play that one, Bert? Play it safe? That's the way you always told me to play it: safe... play the percentage. Well, here we go: fast and loose. One ball, corner pocket. Yeah, percentage players die broke, too, don't they, Bert?
[he makes the shot and the spectators applaud]
Fast Eddie: How can I lose?

fast and loose "launch-fast-and-iterate" yeah baby

Evil begets stupidity

Fox News (Chicago) Makes the Best. Pie Chart. Ever. | The Big Picture
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:17 pm EST, Nov 28, 2009

I just know some arrogant asshole looked at the bar graph and said, “pie charts look better on TV.” Reply, “Good idea boss.”


Fox News (Chicago) Makes the Best. Pie Chart. Ever. | The Big Picture

BBC NEWS | Magazine | Unlocking the mysteries of speech
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:40 pm EST, Nov 10, 2009

Animals may use sounds to communicate but talking is uniquely human. Yet despite decades of research scientists still haven't unlocked the secrets of speech. So why do we talk?
"In the beginning the alien words are completely random, with no common factors between them," says Prof Kirby.

"We start the experiment with this garbage language. In fact calling it a language is in some sense misleading, it's not even a language."

Early participants do very badly in the test because the language is completely random and unstructured. But there is a twist.

When they are tested, the experiment introduces some brand new fruits, so volunteers cannot possibly recall their names. Most people do not notice and invent words for the unfamiliar fruits.

Then for the next phase in the experiment, all the words produced by the first candidate are used to create the language for the next person.

"Each of these learners thinks they're giving us back the same thing that we trained them on as best they can, but in fact each of them unconsciously is changing that language, changing it piece by piece over time," says Prof Kirby.

As the alien language is passed through generations of users, it slowly turns from a random, chaotic one, to one of structure with combinations that can be easily remembered.

BBC NEWS | Magazine | Unlocking the mysteries of speech

BBC NEWS | World | 'Twin Towers' warship to enter NY
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:28 am EST, Nov  2, 2009

A warship built with steel salvaged from the World Trade Center is set to arrive in New York.

someone was having a truly inspired day when they came up with that

BBC NEWS | World | 'Twin Towers' warship to enter NY

The post TI censored has been reposted.
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:01 am EDT, Oct 27, 2009

As many of you know, about two months ago TI sent me an email referencing the DMCA and demanding that I take down one of my blog posts. I complied at the time, but I also sent TI a response, requesting that they reconsider their position. They did not respond.

Two weeks ago Jennifer Granick at the Electronic Frontier Foundation sent TI an email on behalf of myself, and several other bloggers who received similar notices from TI. In that email Jennifer told TI that we would repost our censored blog posts today if TI did not respond and clarify their position. TI has not responded.

Therefore, the original blog post has been restored, and if you didn't read it before, you can read it now. Its hardly the best post I've ever written. It was jotted down at 9:30 in the morning while I was getting ready for work. I tend to shoot first on this blog and ask questions later, and that certainly leads to posts which are poorly articulated and easily misinterpreted. In a later post I did a much better job explaining the technical concept which drew my interest to this calculator key cracking effort in the first place.

I'd like to thank the EFF and particularly Jennifer Granick for working with me as well as the other bloggers in this case. My blog post is not important, but it is important that people have a right to blog without worrying about receiving legal threats when they haven't done anything wrong. Its important that people stand up for that right, and we're fortunate that there are people out there who are willing to do it. Thank you EFF.

The post TI censored has been reposted.

Why hack a calculator? Why climb Mount Everest? | Deep Tech - CNET News
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:33 am EDT, Oct 20, 2009

Among their achievements: adding new features, creating new operating systems, connecting the calculator to keyboards and other hardware, playing a video excerpt from "The Matrix," and even running Nintendo Game Boy video games. Not bad for calculators such as the $100 TI-83 Plus, introduced in 1999 with a Z80 processor running at 6MHz, 24KB of memory, 160KB of flash memory, and a 96x64 pixel display.

Why all this work for projects that realistically are not going to reshape the future of computing? Much of the motivation parallels mountaineer George Mallory's rationale for climbing Mount Everest: "Because it's there."

Why hack a calculator? Why climb Mount Everest? | Deep Tech - CNET News

Science Room
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:16 am EDT, Oct 20, 2009

I *heart* the new makezine science room!

Science Room

BBC NEWS | Technology | Berners-Lee 'sorry' for slashes
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:23 am EDT, Oct 14, 2009

The forward slashes at the beginning of internet addresses have long annoyed net users and now the man behind them has apologised for using them.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Berners-Lee 'sorry' for slashes

HiRISE | The Earth and Moon as Seen from Mars (PSP_005558_9040)
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:58 pm EDT, Oct 13, 2009

The HiRISE instrument would make a great backyard telescope for viewing Mars, and we can also use it at Mars to view other planets, such as Jupiter.

This is an image of Earth and the Moon, acquired at 5:20 a.m. MST on 3 October 2007, at a range of 142 million kilometers, which gives the HiRISE image a scale of 142 km/pixel and an Earth diameter of about 90 pixels and a Moon diameter of 24 pixels. The phase angle is 98 degrees, which means that less than half of the disks of the Earth and Moon have direct illumination. We could image Earth/Moon at full disk illumination only when they are on the opposite side of the sun from Mars, but then the range would be much greater and the image would show less detail.

HiRISE | The Earth and Moon as Seen from Mars (PSP_005558_9040)

The Halliburton/KBR employment contract rape clause.
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:08 am EDT, Oct  8, 2009

This is absolutely mind boggling.

In 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones was gang-raped by her co-workers while she was working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad... Jones was prevented from bringing charges in court against KBR because her employment contract stipulated that sexual assault allegations would only be heard in private arbitration.

Seriously!? In my time I've seen many examples of lawyers abusing the imbalanced negotiating position present in employment contacts but this takes the cake. An agreement not to press charges for rape? Are you fucking kidding me?!

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) proposed an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR “if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.”

On the Senate floor, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) spoke against the amendment, calling it “a political attack directed at Halliburton.” In the end, Franken won the debate. His amendment passed by a 68-30 vote, earning the support of 10 Republican senators including that of newly-minted Florida Sen. George LeMieux.

30 United States Senators voted against this? What could the basis of their opposition possibly be? Al Franken is not above political grandstanding at all, but when push comes to shove, why would you oppose this? I've searched on Google for an alternative perspective to no avail. Does anyone know a source where these people have articulated their position? As LeMieux put it:

"I can't see in any circumstance that a woman who was a victim of sexual assault shouldn't have her right to go to court."

If anything Franken's amendment does not go far enough. This is prima facie evidence that there is a serious structural problem with employment contracts. No contract clause of this sort ought to be respected in any context relevant to US law and major reform of rules surrounding US employment contracts is needed.

People who voted against this amendment include:
Alexander (R-TN)
Bond (R-MO)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Corker (R-TN)
Isakson (R-GA)

The Halliburton/KBR employment contract rape clause.

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