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Science

Submission + - The Mnemonic Secrets of Mind-Gaming

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "We've all heard of people who have "photographic memories" but the NY Times magazine has an interesting story about Joshua Foer who trained his brain to became a world-class memory athlete winning the competition last year in speed cards at the USA Memory Championship by memorizing a deck of cards in one minute forty seconds. According to Foer, memory training is a lost art that dates from antiquity. "Today we have books, photographs, computers and an entire superstructure of external devices to help us store our memories outside our brains, but it wasn’t so long ago that culture depended on individual memories," writes Foer. "It was considered a form of character-building, a way of developing the cardinal virtue of prudence and, by extension, ethics." Foer says that the secret to supermemory is a system of training and discipline that uses a set of mnemonic techniques discovered by the poet Simonides of Ceos in the fifth century BC that works by creating "memory palaces" filled with lavish images on the fly, painting in the mind a scene so unlike any other it cannot be forgotten. Many competitive mnemonists argue that their skills are less a feat of memory than of creativity. “Photographic memory is a detestable myth. Doesn’t exist. In fact, my memory is quite average," concludes Ed Cooke who recently invented a code that allows him to convert every number from 0 to 999,999,999 into a unique image that he can then deposit in a memory palace. "What you have to understand is that even average memories are remarkably powerful if used properly.""

Comment Re:Yet another Apple "standard" (Score 2) 311

Hey, I enjoy a good Apple troll now and then, but Light Peak (not Light Speed, Light Peak) appears to be the future and the successor to USB. USB 3 isn't exactly taking off, with even Intel eschewing it in its chipsets. Light Peak is billed as a replacement for many connection standards such as "SCSI, SATA, USB, FireWire, PCI Express and HDMI" Light Peak is Intel's new baby, and as with many computing technology advancements Apple likes to be ahead of the pack (especially when it comes to bus connections). will be backward compatible (even appearing to use the same physical connector as USB) and adaptable in a way that will allow it to replace a number of different connection types. It will be adopted by the other motherboard producers because, well, it seems like there's no competition against it as the future bus technology. Now were you trolling just to troll, or are you really so ignorant about the emerging technology that you'd post a comment like that in seriousness? If your comment wasn't meant in jest, why not get yourself some free education on the subject.
Apple

Submission + - Motorola Xoom Won't Have Flash at Launch (thinq.co.uk)

Stoobalou writes: Since the launch of the iPad, Apple fans have had to put up with the favourite refrain of the anti-Apple lobby.
Detractors of the Cupertino company's triumvirate of expensive toys, the iPhone the iPad and the iPod Touch, have constantly crowed about the lack of Flash capability therein, something which Steve Jobs personally hobbled in a very public fit of pique at Adobe's buggy, bloated, anachronistic video and animation standard.
Every other wannabe tablet maker looking to jump on the iPad bandwagon has put Flash compatibility at the very top of the tick-list when it came to designing their latest iPad killer, and Motorola's Xoom was no exception.

Space

Submission + - Milky Way Stuffed with 50 Billion Alien Worlds (discovery.com)

astroengine writes: "Using data extrapolated from the early Kepler observations of 1,235 candidate exoplanets, mission scientists have placed an estimate on the number of alien worlds there are in our galaxy. There are thought to be 50 billion exoplanets, 500 million of which are probably orbiting within their stars' habitable zones."

Comment Re:Sure It's Doable, Just Shift Subsidies (Score 1) 603

So right on, cayenne8! I've been screaming about this runaway growth in government spending for years now. Some have clearly gotten the message, but President Obama certainly has not. He just advocated a cut of $400 billion over 10 years. I think he's hoping people will hear $400 billion in cuts and assume he's talking about per year amounts. $400 billion over a decade in government cuts translates to (I know the math is challenging here) $40 billion per year, when we're running $1.5 TRILLION deficits per year. He also called for a freeze at the current post so-called "Stimulus" hyper-inflated government spending levels. And he thinks that's going to cut with people concerned about deficits and debt? He must think that portion of the American public is dominated by ignoramuses.

Federal spending needs to not be frozen or cut with a scalpel (like Obama advocated during the election), it needs to be slashed with a machete. Will that government workers in our bloated federal bureaucracies out of jobs? Certainly it will - it has to. The American people can't afford to pay for the scale of unnecessary, unconstitutional government. All sectors of government spending need to be slashed - Discretionary, Non-Discretionary (Entitlements) and Defense. It's important to point out for those on the Left who blame the wars for the deficits that less than two years of spending on Entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) equal ten years of spending on the War on Terrorism - and that figure is based on numbers from a year ago. The Baby Boomers are going to cause the Ponzi Retirement Schemes to collapse as they begin retiring en masse this year. Social Security is already now running an annual deficit, which wasn't predicted to happen for a number of years. Anyone who doesn't demand huge reform wants those schemes to go bankrupt. I'm calling you out, Left-wingers who say no changes are necessary.

The only thing that President Obama said on the debt problem that was at all worth saying was that Discretionary spending only accounts for a small fraction of total spending - about 9 to 12%. The rest of the pie needs to be massively reduced. Will it cause higher unemployment and lower GDP in the short term? Certainly. But that employment and GDP is based on a phony economic model anyway - one that says that we can endlessly spend and not care about our deficits and debt, not worry that Debt Service (interest on the national debt) will in a short number of years be more expensive than our current Defense spending levels. That's unsustainable. Anyone on the Left who says we can't cut or we can't make changes to the Ponzi Retirement Schemes because it will hurt old people is advocating the destruction of the country. It's really just that simple.

Comment Re:Wow! Delusional much? (Score 1) 509

While a lot of your post is correct, you are mistaken about some of your claims. Inter vivo giving (gifts to family members during a giver's life) is limited to $13,000 a year tax free. And trusts do not in and of themselves shield against the death tax (a.k.a. the estate tax). Trusts are more efficient and protective than regular wills, but they don't bypass the death tax. I know because my beloved grandmother passed away in 2009, and we're still dealing with the complications of the death tax. I've had to become well acquainted with all of these issues because I've been acting as the family representative to my grandmother's financial professionals.

If you do the research you'll see for yourself that trusts don't shield you from the death tax. Instead, clients that may be hit by the death tax are usually sold insurance policies that are designed to pay in excess of the death tax liability. It's true that taxes on inheritance are nothing new in the US and that the Bush-era tax cuts made the death tax less oppressive, but it still does have impacts on American families that have accrued moderate assets. By the way, another thread discussed Warren Buffet. He has very dishonestly called for higher death taxes because he owns a corporation that sells death tax protection policies.

Death tax relief was extended through 2012 by the emergency tax compromise at the end of 2010.
See this recent informative article on the death tax for more information.

Comment Re:7 != 8 (Score 1) 101

iOS and Mac OS X are much more similar to each other than base Unix is to OS X. iOS is OS X in most all respects. iOS's hardware support and services are paired down to run on a very small number of static hardware devices (i.e. devices that don't have any hardware upgrade potential), and its user interface elements are quite different. It runs on the ARM processor family where Mac OS X doesn't (at least not publicly). It has some additional components and APIs for mobile uses that Macs don't need.

But aside from that, it is OS X. Its file system structure is nearly identical when you peer into it, which tells you a lot about how the OS architecture. iOS has many of the same system file components and runs many of the exact same services. Its programming environment (Xcode) and programming language (Objective C) are shared with Mac OS X. Apple pulled Mac OS X developers off to help speed the original version of the iOS to market, and we've also heard that improvements in OS X have gone into iOS. Should I go on?

Comment Re:Amusing Summary (Score 1) 101

Microsoft still holds the copyrights to its software and therefore the distribution rights, so no, Intel can't just buy it retail and sell it in a manner that Microsoft disapproves of. Besides, it would be financially unworkable for Intel to have to buy retail licenses to sell these hypothetical Windows 8 phones. If Microsoft isn't on board it can block Intel legally and very definitively on copyright grounds. Besides that, check out the ruling in Omega v. Costco. IANAL.

Comment Re:A Potential Design Disaster (Score 1) 329

I forgot to mention that I just started using my brother's Samsung Intercept, the first Android phone I've had any real user time on. And while I found the extra hardware capacitance and mechanical buttons useful, as a primarily iOS user (for my casual gadgets) I found the change in interface jarring. The large enter button in the middle of the layout had me trying to use it as a Home button just because of my muscle memory. The triangle back button isn't as elegant and harder to find. And I prefer my on-off button to be a small nub on the top of the device instead of on the face. I know that's largely because I've been such a heavy user of the iOS, but its interface works really well and I'm very accustomed to it. Changing it in such a fundamental way by removing the bottom Home button is idiotic.

For those who are curious, my impression of the Android platform so far is that it's generally less polished and less elegant than the iOS platform, but on the other hand Android is definitely more powerful and very satisfying to my geek side in the way that it exposes much more of the technical layer to the user. I also respect the platform's openness. I probably won't be switching to Android from iOS any time soon, unless, perhaps Apple borks the iOS interface by removing the Home button!

Comment A Potential Design Disaster (Score 1) 329

I have to hope beyond hope that this is just a really stupid rumor. Removing the iconic bottom home button from the iOS line would be very destructive, and replacing it with a complicated multitouch gesture would be adding insult to injury. If this feature is currently in a pre-release of the iOS, I seriously don't expect it to become an interface standard let alone the replacement for the Home button. However, I have a theory about this rumor and what may actually happen to the Home button (if anything) that I'll share at the end of this post.

The iOS's physical home button is a hallmark of the design and common to the whole iOS platform. (The feature-loss suffering new touch nano can be raised as an exception, but it's not technically an iOS device and I hope it's not indicative of a trend.) People know the home button well. They know that you can leave a foreground app with a simple tap of the home button. Yes, it's gained more functionality in certain areas and is therefore a little more complex now, but the button still works largely the same way. Depriving users of that nearly universally known interface convention would create major problems for users and engender a metric ton of bad will among the modern Apple user base that is increasingly being lured by very good alternatives on other platforms. And the notion of replacing the Home button with a complex multi-touch screen gesture that no current user will be familiar with means Apple would be destroying the well established muscle memory of its customers for an essential device function. It's utterly ludicrous!

The Home button also has important functionality that can't be ripped out and replaced with some lame software-only, complex multitouch gesture. Even if the multitouch gesture is easy to perform, using five fingers to do something by way of software is still always going to be more difficult than using a single finger on a physical interface. Moreover, it would be a mistake of extreme, proportions - an epic, epic fail - to make going "Home" something you have to do by pressing the screen in an unusual way. My mind can't even fully wrap around all the usability problems such a scheme would introduce. It would complicate the user interface considerably. The screen and multi-touch paradigm are already used for so many different things in software. Also, have you ever seen how users interact with multitouch in certain apps? There are visualizer apps that encourage the user to use multiple fingers. Sometimes users will just play around with the device by placing all five fingers on the screen in various ways. Does Apple really think it's a good idea to make that into a home screen gesture? If the company does, I say look out, and buy stock in competing device manufacturers.

Anyway, I'm tired of writing on this topic. Apple may be experimenting with this concept, but I seriously doubt it will replace the Home button. However, it is true that the Home button can be a source of mechanical breakdown. We also know that Apple likes to replace physical buttons in unconventional ways (look at their modern Mac mouse and trackpad designs). It's very possible in my opinion that the Home button will be replaced in the future, but it won't be taken off the bottom of the device. The physical nature of the button may go away. They may change over to a pseudo click button like their modern desktop mouse/trackpad designs. Or, I don't see why Apple couldn't move to a fully non-mechanical capacitance based button like the iPod 3G had from way back when. I loved that iPod. The Home button may change in physical form, but unless Apple's designers and management have lost their minds it won't disappear from the bottom of the iDevices completely.

Comment Re:In every train station? LOL (Score 4, Insightful) 890

A truly erroneous hard-left outlook, but stupidity is fitting given your account name. Jihadists are very clear about their intentions. It has almost nothing to do with forcing our economies on them. The primary driver of jihad is the desire to subjugate the entire world to the dictates of Islamic dictatorship. Radical Muslims view the non-Muslim controlled parts of the globe as the world they are at war with, and the war they are waging is to impose their religion on all non-Muslims. Other justifications for jihad are at best secondary motivators. And shame on you for whitewashing and apologizing for the unquestionably evil, outrageously heinous campaign of misery and death waged by radical Islam.

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