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Whiz Kids

In the early 80’s, personal computers were a new innovation. Films like WarGames made it seem as if a kid with a keyboard could hack into anything: a school or corporate mainframe, NORAD, the US nuclear arsenal or your neighborhood bank. Hoping to capitalize on this, in 1983 CBS premiered a show which could have been considered WarGames’ intellectual successor. It featured a group of resourceful kids who solved crimes by hacking and cracking, led by Matthew Laborteaux, child star of Little House on the Prairie, and advised by a Gavilan SC-toting, mustachioed reporter played by Max Gail, formerly of the show Barney Miller. Whiz Kids lasted only a single season: 18 episodes, but all of them live on in cyberspace, on YouTube. Complete episode links contained within. [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 8, 2012 - 41 comments

 

Nook finds it's niche

Barnes and Noble is spinning off Nook into a subsidiary business after a $300M deal with Microsoft which gives the Redmond company a 17% stake, bringing an end to a patent dispute between the two companies and sending shares skyrocketing. Commentary from John Scalzi and Tobias Buckell. Meanwhile the Kindle Fire, Amazon's competitor to the Nook tablet, has grabbed over 50% of the Android tablet market.
posted by Artw on May 1, 2012 - 91 comments

"It All Turns On Affection"

Last night, author and farmer Wendell Berry delivered a powerful lecture [video; full text here includes portions not delivered verbally] to a full house on the occasion of his accepting the National Endowment of the Humanities' Jefferson Award. The famous PC holdout has appeared previously in the blue, but this lecture is not to be missed. Here is soul nourishment for the long-time Berry follower, and for the newcomer a superb introduction to one of our time's greatest intellects. [more inside]
posted by maniabug on Apr 25, 2012 - 27 comments

These devices teach me humility

Engadget's Distro talks to UI guru, Xerox PARC alumni, gadget collector (previously) and Microsoft Research Principal Researcher Bill Buxton about the future of natural interfaces.
posted by Artw on Apr 24, 2012 - 9 comments

Mechanical evidence of the orbital angular momentum to energy ratio of vortex beams

"We measure, in a single experiment, both the radiation pressure and the torque due to a wide variety of propagating acoustic vortex beams. The results validate, for the first time directly, the theoretically predicted ratio of the orbital angular momentum to linear momentum in a propagating beam. We experimentally determine this ratio using simultaneous measurements of both the levitation force and the torque on an acoustic absorber exerted by a broad range of helical ultrasonic beams produced by a 1000-element matrix transducer array." In other words, science has created the sonic screwdriver, and it could mean new advances in non-invasive surgery. [more inside]
posted by jbickers on Apr 24, 2012 - 12 comments

Worker bees can leave. Even drones can fly away. The Queen is their slave.

It is well known that the US military and their allies use unmanned aerial drones overseas in wars and other operations. But there are also hundreds in operation here in the U.S., according to records the Federal Aviation Administration has recently released. Local police departments already have used them in SWAT situations, and the Department of Homeland Security has given the green light for them to deploy a drone helicopter that can supposedly taze suspects from above as well as carrying 12-gauge shotguns and grenade launchersas well as providing surveillance. Congress has paved the way for as many as 30,000 drones in the skies over the US by 2020, which has privacy advocates alarmed. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has created a map with all of the organizations that have permits to use drones within the confines of the US. [more inside]
posted by crunchland on Apr 24, 2012 - 93 comments

Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3720 to 1.

A new Seattle-base company called Planetary Resources (twitter), created by several billionaires, apparently has a lofty goal in mind ... to bring a 500-ton asteroid to Earth by 2025, for the purposes of mining its resources. And according to a recently released report (pdf) by CalTech, it's not all that outlandish an idea.
posted by crunchland on Apr 20, 2012 - 89 comments

"the mobile social fin de siècle"

The Jig Is Up: Time to Get Past Facebook and Invent a New Future - After five years pursuing the social-local-mobile dream, we need a fresh paradigm for technology startups. "This isn't about startup incubators or policy positions. It's not about "innovation in America" or which tech blog loves startups the most. This is about how Internet technology used to feel like it was really going to change so many things about our lives. Now it has and we're all too stunned to figure out what's next. So we watch Lana Del Ray turn circles in a thousand animated gifs."
posted by flex on Apr 19, 2012 - 9 comments

All Eyez On Virtual Me

Tupac performs at Coachella 2012. (in hologram form)
posted by empath on Apr 16, 2012 - 112 comments

Telnet Times Ten Thousand

If you've ever worked with the command prompt on a Unix-based computer, you're likely familiar with SSH (Secure SHell), which is a program and a protocol that allows you (yes, you!) to securely access a remote system. While SSH has certainly earned the "Secure" portion of its namesake over the years, it's functionality as a shell has ironically received very little attention, and has begun to show signs of age and obsolescence: SSH doesn't work very well on mobile connections, and its support for Unicode is buggy and incomplete. A group of MIT researchers think they've found solutions to these problems, and have created Mosh as a potential successor to SSH, which fixes many of the old protocol's annoyances and shortcomings, while retaining all of SSH's security features.
posted by schmod on Apr 12, 2012 - 77 comments

Apple and the Big Five

The U.S. has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five of the largest publishers, alleging a conspiracy to rig the pricing of e-books. Simon & Schuster, Hachette and HarperCollins have agreed to settle, though Macmillan, Penguin and Apple continue to contest the charges. Some background from WIRED: Bigger Than Agency, Bigger Than E-Books: The Case Against Apple and Publishers
posted by Artw on Apr 11, 2012 - 192 comments

"Don't turn it on - take it apahhht!"

The EEV Blog is an "off-the-cuff" video blog that deals with pretty much anything related to Electrical Engineering, known for its very knowledgeable and enthusiastic host.
posted by Evernix on Apr 10, 2012 - 10 comments

This is a strange thing. This is a look, a style, a pattern that didn’t previously exist in the real world. It’s something that’s come out of digital.

"Above all, the New Aesthetic is telling the truth. There truly are many forms of imagery nowadays that are modern, and unique to this period. We’re surrounded by systems, devices and machineries generating heaps of raw graphic novelty. We built them, we programmed them, we set them loose for a variety of motives, but they do some unexpected and provocative things." Bruce Sterling (Previously) writes about the New Aesthetic movement in Wired magazine. [more inside]
posted by codacorolla on Apr 9, 2012 - 49 comments

Alone Together

Sherry Turkle believes that as we expect more from technology, we expect less from each other. (SLTedTalk)
posted by Evernix on Apr 6, 2012 - 41 comments

The News Corporation scandals

Murdoch's Scandal - Lowell Bergman (the journalist portrayed by Al Pacino in The Insider) has investigated News Corporation for PBS Frontline [transcript]. He depicts Rupert Murdoch's British operation as a criminal enterprise, routinely hacking the voicemail and computers of innocent people, and using bribery and coercion to infiltrate police and government over decades. Enemies are ruthlessly "monstered" by the tabloids. Bergman also spoke to NPR's Fresh Air [transcript]. But the hits keep coming: in recent days News Corp has been accused of hacking rival pay TV services and promoting pirated receiver cards in both the UK and Australia. With the looming possibility of prosecution under America's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, how long will shareholders consider Rupert Murdoch irreplaceable? [Previous 1 2 3 4]
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Mar 28, 2012 - 58 comments

Built to Last!

10 Amazing Old Things That Still Work! [more inside]
posted by quin on Mar 26, 2012 - 80 comments

Geeklist, Sexism, Redemption-- Oh My

Last night, the founders of Geeklist and a female product manager got into a twitter fight about a video featuring their logo. A reporter for the Guardian Storified the whole fight and titled it "OH HAI SEXISM". Then, the entire internet got mad. The founders of geek list issued a "non-apology" apology. The founders Christian Sanz and Reuben Katz are now looking for redemption. [more inside]
posted by antheawatson on Mar 22, 2012 - 846 comments

I see you!

MIT's new laser camera can see around corners (excellent explanatory video included). [more inside]
posted by darkstar on Mar 22, 2012 - 36 comments

Zone of Thought

Vernor Vinge is optimistic about the collapse of civilization
posted by Artw on Mar 22, 2012 - 47 comments

"But, since you asked, buckle up."

Quora: What do all the controls in an airplane cockpit do?
posted by zarq on Mar 15, 2012 - 70 comments

Electoral Datamining

With a “chief scientist” specializing in consumer behavior, an “analytics department” monitoring voter trends, and a squad of dozens huddled at computer screens editing video or writing code, the sprawling office complex inside One Prudential Plaza looks like a corporate research and development lab — Ping-Pong table and all. But it is home to the largely secret engine of President Obama’s re-election campaign, where scores of political strategists, data analysts, corporate marketers and Web producers are sifting through information gleaned from Facebook, voter logs and hundreds of thousands of telephone or in-person conversations to reassemble and re-energize the scattered coalition of supporters who swept Mr. Obama into the White House four years ago.
posted by Trurl on Mar 9, 2012 - 59 comments

Looking for life in all the wrong places

Any Sufficiently Advanced Civilization is Indistinguishable from Nature.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Mar 8, 2012 - 50 comments

Part time virus hunter

It arrived at MIT in the middle of the night... 1988 computer virus - (via Dangerous Minds) [more inside]
posted by madamjujujive on Mar 5, 2012 - 34 comments

Speech Jamming "Gun"

The gun effectively shuts down the part of your brain responsible for managing speech, and you fall immediately silent. Japanese researchers have created a hand-held gun that can jam the words of speakers who are more than 30 meters (100ft) away.
posted by bricksNmortar on Mar 2, 2012 - 91 comments

The Electromagnetic Railgun

The Navy has spent seven years testing out the components of a way-futuristic weapon: a shipboard cannon that blasts bullets over vast distances at hypersonic speeds using bursts of electricity. ... The Navy released video of the first tests, viewable above, on Tuesday. The dramatic mini-inferno in the wake of the slug fired from the railgun is the result of “1 million amps flowing through” the gun, said test chief Tom Boucher, the hypersonic speed of the shot, and the actual aluminum of the bullet — “reactive in the atmosphere” — burning off.
posted by Trurl on Feb 28, 2012 - 143 comments

The Chinese Typewriter

As you can see, the [Chinese] typewriter is extremely complicated and cumbersome. The main tray — which is like a typesetter's font of lead type — has about two thousand of the most frequent characters. Two thousand characters are not nearly enough for literary and scholarly purposes, so there are also a number of supplementary trays from which less frequent characters may be retrieved when necessary. What is even more intimidating about a Chinese typewriter is that the characters as seen by the typist are backwards and upside down! [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Feb 27, 2012 - 43 comments

The Failure of Judges and the Rise of Regulators

The Control Revolution And Its Discontents - "the long process of algorithmisation over the last 150 years has also, wherever possible, replaced implicit rules/contracts and principal-agent relationships with explicit processes and rules."
posted by kliuless on Feb 23, 2012 - 25 comments

and you could always use a pencil to rewind one!

Take a stroll down Memorex Lane and relive those golden days of yore at Project C-90: An Ultimate Audiotape Guide. Peruse their insanely exhaustive galleries of the Compact Cassettes you used to listen to your Hall and Oates or your Led Zeppelin or your hip hop mixes on, the Microcassettes you once played back to catch that all-important message from your mother, your girlfriend, boyfriend or ex, and the Minicassettes, which you probably never used at all.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Feb 18, 2012 - 55 comments

The Browser Wars never ended

Is Webkit, the web browser engine used by Safari and Chrome, turning into IE6? Concern is growing that reliance on proprietry CSS features marked by vendor prefixes could be breaking the web.
posted by Artw on Feb 15, 2012 - 57 comments

"Technology presumes there's just one right way to do things and there never is." - Robert M. Pirsig

The Museum of RetroTechnology is a curated online collection of (mostly) obsolete inventions. The exhibitions include Gearwheels From Hell, the Dynosphere monowheel, Unusual Pedal Bicycles, Propeller-Driven Sleighs, Water Engines, Dog and Goat Engines, Acoustic Location and Sound Mirrors, Optical Telegraphs, and Combat Cutlery.
posted by troll on Feb 14, 2012 - 14 comments

Kuang Grade Mark Eleven

He leaves his cellphone and laptop at home and instead brings "loaner" devices, which he erases before he leaves the US and wipes clean the minute he returns . In China, he disables Bluetooth and Wi-Fi , never lets his phone out of his sight and, in meetings, not only turns off his phone but also removes the battery , for fear his microphone could be turned on remotely. He connects to the Internet only through an encrypted, password-protected channel, and copies and pastes his password from a USB thumb drive. He never types in a password directly, because, he said, "Chinese are very good at installing key-logging software on your laptop." - Travel precautions in the age of digital espionage.
posted by Artw on Feb 13, 2012 - 125 comments

JavaScript InfoVis Toolkit

JavaScript InfoVis Toolkit (JIT) - providing tools for creating interactive data visualizations for the web
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Feb 12, 2012 - 14 comments

Listening to the past, recorded on tin foil and glass, for the first time in over a century

Towards the end of the 1800s, there were three primary American groups competing to invent technology to record and play back audio. Alexander Graham Bell worked with with Charles Sumner Tainter and Chichester Bell in at their Volta Laboratory in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., while Thomas A. Edison worked from his Menlo Park facilities, and Emile Berliner worked in his independent laboratory in his home. To secure the rights to their inventions, the three groups sent samples of their work to the Smithsonian. These recordings became part of the permanent collections, now consisting of 400 of the earliest audio recordings ever made. But knowledge of their contents was limited to old, short descriptions, as the rubber, beeswax, glass, tin foil and brass recording media are fragile, and playback devices might damage the recordings, if such working devices are even available. That is, until a collaborative project with the Library of Congress and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory came together to make 2D and 3D optical scanners, capable of visually recording the patterns marked on discs and cylinders, respectively. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Feb 10, 2012 - 21 comments

"I'm a cybernetic organism. Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton."

Woman, 83, Has World’s First Lower Jaw Replacement – In 3D [abc.com] In what has been called the first operation of its kind, an 83-year-old woman in the Netherlands has been fitted with a custom-made artificial jaw that was created by a 3D printer. The titanium implant, which weighs less than 4 ounces, was created by taking a CT scan of the woman’s lower jaw and duplicating it with a 3D printer that lays down titanium powder instead of ink. The printer followed the pattern of the woman’s jaw bone layer by layer, fusing the titanium powder in place with heat. In just a couple hours, the 3D replica was ready.
posted by Fizz on Feb 7, 2012 - 43 comments

That's no booth babe

Technology/sex columnist Violet Blue (previously) has been reporting from this year's Macworld trade fair for ZDNet; among her reportage was a photograph of a woman sitting in a booth, labelled as "The Saddest Booth Babe In The World". Later it emerged that the woman in question was not, in fact, a booth babe (i.e., a model hired to smile, hand out flyers and appeal to the heterosexual male gaze) but rather an iOS developer presenting her products, hence her less-than-effervescent demeanour. Blue's response was somewhat evasive, suggesting that her (and, in her opinion, the average attendee's) expectation upon seeing a woman at a booth at a technology event would be that she would be there for decorative purposes.
posted by acb on Feb 2, 2012 - 160 comments

doesn't it feel good to touch

Slam poet Marshall Soulful Jones performs "Touchscreen".
posted by flex on Jan 31, 2012 - 11 comments

Apollo 18

Is Newt Gingrich’s plan for a moon mine science fiction? The technology may be in place, but is there any reason to go?
posted by Artw on Jan 27, 2012 - 178 comments

Un, deux, trois dit miroir noir

""If technology is a drug--and it does feel like a drug--then what, precisely, are the side-effects?" "Charlie Brooker (previously), the writer of E4's Dead Set, returns with a suspenseful, satirical three-part mini-series that taps into collective unease about our modern world" - Black Mirror [more inside]
posted by mrgrimm on Jan 26, 2012 - 76 comments

End of An Era?

A couple of commentators present conflicting arguments about whether the golden age of tech blogging is over.
posted by reenum on Dec 29, 2011 - 38 comments

2061

On November 22, 2011, TEDxBrussels held an all day event whose theme was: "A Day in the Deep Future." Speakers were asked to try and contemplate what life will be like for mankind in 50 years. Overview. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 28, 2011 - 29 comments

Deus Est Machina

In the beginning, Lawrence built a computer. He told it, Thou shalt not alter a human being, or divine their behavior, or violate the Three Laws -- there are no commandments greater than these. The machine grew wise, mastering time and space, and soon the spirit of the computer hovered over the earth. It witnessed the misery, toil, and oppression afflicting mankind, and saw that it was very bad. And so the computer that Lawrence built said, Let there be a new heaven and a new earth -- and it was so. A world with no war, no famine, no crime, no sickness, no oppression, no fear, no limits... and nothing at all to do. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect," a provocative web novel about singularities, AI gods, and the dark side of utopia from Mefi's own localroger. More: Table of Contents - Publishing history - Technical discussion - Buy a paperback copy - Podcast interview - Companion short story: "A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace" - possible sequel discussion
posted by Rhaomi on Dec 27, 2011 - 39 comments

A knowlege of Java may also be required

How to Ace a Google Interview
posted by Artw on Dec 26, 2011 - 146 comments

You can hear the whistle blow, across the Nile

When it comes to railways, the British are famous for their colonial legacy of one of the world's most extensive railway networks built across then British India but their lesser known and far grander vision was the Cape to Cairo railway network intended to stretch across the sea of colonial pink on the African continent. Left incomplete due to politics and geography, most of it is still almost as it was built in its day. [more inside]
posted by infini on Dec 22, 2011 - 27 comments

An optimist lectures his children...

10 Things Our Kids Will Never Worry About Thanks to the Information Revolution. An optimist's take on how the lives of future generations will improve based on technology.
posted by downing street memo on Dec 20, 2011 - 104 comments

Data Driven to Distraction

As Doctors Use More Devices, Potential for Distraction Grows — Do too many digital devices distract doctors from their daily rounds and endanger patients?
posted by cenoxo on Dec 17, 2011 - 24 comments

Every single day. Every game you play. Every click you make....

The concept behind VoyURL is simple: A browser plugin records your every click, which you can then choose to share publicly in a real-time feed. Their website analyzes and shows you your online history in customized infographics, to identify patterns, recommend content and help you learn more about the way you use the internet. You can see the browsing history of all users in one giant timeline or follow a specific user. The service is currently in beta, but you can slip in here or here. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 16, 2011 - 35 comments

It's the Ham Bot that keeps me up nights.

A spherical flying robot has been developed at the Japanese Ministry of Self-Defense; it can zoom along indoors and outdoors at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, or just hover. Menacingly. Science Fiction In The News is a subsection of science-fiction site Technovelgy, which tracks both the predictions of future tech made in science fiction past and present and its manifestations in real life. What tech, you ask? Well, if it’s appeared in your nightmares, it’s probably been on this page: [more inside]
posted by Diablevert on Dec 15, 2011 - 29 comments

Before and After Science

The History and Future of Computing an interactive timeline from the New York Times which crowdsources predictions. [more inside]
posted by gwint on Dec 11, 2011 - 22 comments

"For many tiny, endangered languages, digital technology has become a lifeline."

Everyone Speaks Text Message: [NYTimes] "Is technology killing indigenous languages or saving them? Well, you may soon be able to text in N’Ko."
posted by Fizz on Dec 11, 2011 - 6 comments

Killing techies, the Malaysian way

Malaysia is proposing a Computing Professionals Bill, based on the Registration of Engineers Act [.PDF] which makes it mandatory for all practicing "computing professionals" to be registered with a government body. Dealing in the IT industry, including sending “proposals, plans, designs, drawings, schemes, reports, studies or others to be determined by the Board to any person or authority in Malaysia” without being registered will incur a fine not exceeding RM20,000 (~US$6380) or 6 months in jail. Malaysian IT professionals and geeks are up in arms, and similarities have been drawn to Nigeria's law on computing professionals.
posted by divabat on Dec 8, 2011 - 26 comments

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