cheezitmike writes: Jaron Lanier helped to pioneer the field of Virtual Reality in the 1980's and was an influential part of the early days of the digital revolution. But later, he turned against the web culture that he helped to create. Smithsonian Magazine talked to Lanier to explore his thinking on how the Internet is leading our culture the wrong way: 'Lanier was one of the creators of our current digital reality and now he wants to subvert the “hive mind,” as the web world’s been called, before it engulfs us all, destroys political discourse, economic stability, the dignity of personhood and leads to “social catastrophe.”'
cheezitmike writes: In a two-part series, the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) examines two hot-button topics that create clashes in the classroom between science teachers and conservative-leaning students, parents, school boards, and state legislatures. Part 1 looks at the struggle of teachers to cover evolution in the face of religious push-back from students and legislatures. Part 2 deals with teaching climate change, and how teachers increasingly have to deal with political pressure from those who insist that there must be two sides to the discussion.
cheezitmike writes: Fermilab astrophysicist Jason Steffen, waiting for a flight to leave, noticed that airlines wasted a lot of time boarding passengers and figured there had to be a better way: "Steffen considered various methods, such as boarding people in blocks, at random, and in window seats first. He set up a model using an algorithm based on the Monte Carlo optimization method used in statistics and mathematics. He found that the most efficient boarding method is to board alternate rows at a time, beginning with the window seats on one side, then the other, minimizing aisle interference. The window seats are followed by alternate rows of middle seats, then aisle seats. He also found that boarding at random is faster that boarding by blocks."
cheezitmike writes: IBM has created two prototype computer chips which process data similar to the way humans digest information: "The challenge in training a computer to behave like a human brain is technological and physiological, testing the limits of computer and brain science. But researchers from IBM Corp. say they've made a key step toward combining the two worlds. The company announced Thursday that it has built two prototype chips that it says process data more like how humans digest information than the chips that now power PCs and supercomputers."
cheezitmike writes: From NPR, a story about how software patents and their licensing and litigation are harming the IT industry. NPR specifically shines the light on a company called Intellectual Ventures which owns 35,000 patents: "Technology companies pay Intellectual Ventures fees ranging "from tens of thousands to the millions and millions of dollars... to buy themselves insurance that protects them from being sued by any harmful, malevolent outsiders," Sacca says. There's an implication in IV's pitch, Sacca says: If you don't join us, who knows what'll happen?"
cheezitmike writes: While there has been lots of outcry about Netflix separating DVD service from streaming service, streaming media expert Eric Garland says they're just doing to the DVD what Apple did to the floppy disk. "I was reminded of so many precedents: Facebook revamping its user interface, the introduction of the first Blueberry iMac, the one with the conspicuously missing 3.5-inch floppy drive on the front. All of these were moments when there was a paradigm shift that led to an immediate public outcry. People made a lot of noise and had a lot of complaints. People were very upset about these shifts...until they weren't. In the news cycle, the outcry is significant and it is problematic, but it's also important to note how quickly these things are forgotten."
cheezitmike writes: A report released by the US Department of Health and Human Services inspector general found that the push to convert health care providers to electronic medical records overlooks computer and network security concerns. From the story: "To underscore the point, the second audit examined computer security at seven large hospitals in different states and found 151 security vulnerabilities, from ineffective wireless encryption to a taped-over door lock on a room used for data storage."
cheezitmike writes: A Washington Post story tells how former automotive engineer Paul Conlin just wanted to get broadband at his rural home in Fauquier County, Virginia, and ended up forming his own wireless ISP: "Paul Conlin, the proprietor of Blaze Broadband, is not a typical telecom executive. He drives a red pickup and climbs roofs. When customers call tech support, he is the one who answers. Conlin delivers broadband to Fauquier County homes bypassed by Comcast and Verizon, bouncing wireless signals from antennas on barns, silos, water towers and cellphone poles."
cheezitmike writes: In this New York Times story, "While My Guitar Gently Beeps", music producer Giles Martin and Harmonix CEO Alex Rigopulos talk about the finer details of how the music, art, technology, and people all came together to create "The Beatles: Rock Band", due out next month. Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, Olivia Harrison, and Dhani Harrison all talk about the creation of the game and what it means to them, and game producers and experts discuss the phenomenon of music games and how people relate to them.
cheezitmike writes: Researchers at Oregon State University are testing a new type of wave-energy converter to generate electricity from ocean waves: "Even when the ocean seems calm, swells are moving water up and down sufficiently to generate electricity. [...] For decades the challenge has been to build a device that can withstand monster waves and gale-force winds, not to mention corrosive saltwater, seaweed, floating debris and curious marine mammals. [...] In the most recent prototypes, a thick coil of copper wire is inside the first component, which is anchored to the seafloor. The second component is a magnet attached to a float that moves up and down freely with the waves. As the magnet is heaved by the waves, its magnetic field moves along the stationary coil of copper wire. This motion induces a current in the wire--electricity."
cheezitmike writes: This week in Washington, DC, a group of Sci-Fi writers is helping the U.S. Department of Homeland Security envision the future at the 2009 Homeland Security Science & Technology Stakeholders Conference. The agency is hoping the interaction between writers and bureaucrats helps the government 'break old habits of thought' and 'help managers think more broadly about projects and their potential reactions and unintended consequences'. And, it's at minimal expense to taxpayers, since the writers are consulting pro bono.
cheezitmike writes: The Washington Post has a feature story about 4chan.org founder moot: "Over in the corner, a serious-looking 21-year-old wearing a gray hoodie and a mop of curly hair chats with friends about his two kittens and the night's dinner plans and how, after dinner, and after the after-party, he'll be going home to his mom's house in a nearby suburb. This is moot. His real name is Christopher Poole. He is responsible for the online lives of 5 million monthly 4chan visitors — the hackers, slackers and potty-mouthed geeks. They come to 4chan when they should be doing calc homework. Now — in debt, out of work, another example of the Internet's intangibility — Poole just needs to figure out how to make that matter."
cheezitmike writes: In today's world of roaming undead and random zombie attacks, you cannot be too prepared for the possibility that you will need to flee on foot with your children. That's why all you should read this guide to protecting children from zombie attack. From the article: "The market abounds with hundreds of child transport variations — from sleek, European buggys to integrated backpacks and off-road joggers. Selection of a transport type often becomes more about public perception and personal status than actual functionality. When it comes to holding up in a world filled with the living dead, many of these devices fall sadly short." Remember, even if you're not a parent now, you should be prepared aid children belonging to your neighbors, family members, or fellow survivors barricaded in your local safehouse in the event of a zombie crisis.
cheezitmike writes: According to a story in the Washington Post: 'Goodbye, electronic voting. Farewell, fancy touch screen. Maryland and Virginia are going old school after Tuesday's election. Maryland will scrap its $65 million electronic system and go back to paper ballots in time for the 2010 midterm elections. In Virginia, localities are moving to paper after the General Assembly voted last year to phase out electronic voting machines as they wear out. "The battle for the hearts and minds of voters on whether electronic systems are good or bad has been lost," Brace said. The academics and computer scientists who said they were unreliable "have won that battle."'
cheezitmike writes: From today's Washington Post, Craigslist is Suing eBay for stealing trade secrets: "Online classifieds leader Craigslist.com filed a countersuit on Tuesday against business rival eBay Inc, alleging eBay used its minority stake in Craigslist to steal its corporate trade secrets. [...] Craigslist's complaint alleges a plot by San Jose, California-based eBay to use its position as a minority shareholder and its position on the board to pressure Craigslist into a full-scale acquisition deal by eBay. Barring that, Craigslist argues eBay used its position to gather competitive information that led to the launch of eBay's rival classifieds business. It charges eBay code-named this its 'Craigslist killer' in internal strategy discussions. 'In the months leading up to the launch of its competing Kijiji site... eBay used its shareholder status to plant on Craigslist's board of directors the individual responsible for launching and/or operating Kijiji,' the latest suit alleges."