iliketrash writes: Hubble photos, as amazing as they are, invariably include bright points such as stars which include sidelobes, as for example in this beautiful shot http://www.popsci.com/gorgeous.... Notice the "spurs" that emanate from some of the bright white spots which are coincidentally aligned perfectly with the frame of the picture. Surely these are not flaws of NASA's fine imaging system but are artifacts added to meet the expectations of the unsophisticated viewer to match the imperfect optics that many of us experience in our normal viewing.
iliketrash writes: A touch-screen voting machine in Chicago suburb Schaumburg has been found to repeatedly convert votes for several Republican candidates into votes for their Democrat counterparts. The problem has been blamed on a "calibration error of the touch-screen on the machine.” Of course, Chicago has long been notorious for voting hijinks, mostly of the Democrat flavor.
Do touch-screens need such a gross calibration, or for that matter, any calibration at all? If so, what are the chances that an uncalibrated screen would reliably convert all or several votes for one party into votes for the other party?
iliketrash writes: These articles announce the disappearance of tiny New Moore Island (aka South Talpatti) under the waters of the Bay of Bengal. An expert blames it on rising sea level due to global warming. Could be. But consider that the island is said to have once reached 2 meters above sea level. Sea levels are said (by the same expert) to have risen 5 mm/year since 2000 and 3 mm/year before that. That means that the island's elevation was mapped 650 years ago, in 1360, a tenuous claim at best. Also consider that volcanic activity and plate tectonics are constantly make new and higher mountains. Unless matter is being created out of nothing, the material making up new mountains has to come from somewhere, which means that the earth's crust has to be falling someplace, possibly many places.
This story appears to be appearing in various media as solid evidence of global warming. But isn't is possible that the Bay of Bengal is sinking? Or that the sea level is rising at the same time? It seems to me that uncritical analysis of data which "obviously" supports a foregone conclusion is the hallmark of groupthink.
iliketrash writes: From the PLplot development team is the announcement of their 10,000th commit:
PLplot is a cross-platform software package for creating scientific plots that has been in continuous development since its inception 17 years ago. On May 23, 2009 the PLplot developers quietly celebrated our ten thousandth commit since our initial software repository was populated back in May 1992.
This longevity puts PLplot in some select company amongst open-source software projects. We may even be unique within this group because all PLplot development has been done by volunteers in their spare time.
The enthusiasm for PLplot development continues; we have averaged more than 100 commits per month over the last year which is double our 17-year average, and we are looking forward to the celebration of our next ten thousand commits!
iliketrash writes: "I plan to be away from my home for a few weeks in the near future (address not included) and would like to provide a bit of in-home monitoring while I'm away. Presumably I will continue to continue to use it after I return. I would like to be able to perform monitoring from a remote web browser with no special features (Internet cafe or a laptop). I can dedicate an old laptop (OS X, FWIW) to the in-home task. Note that the laptop can run Apache (since Apple provides it with every computer). I would like one or two low-frame-rate cameras or, better, motion-activated cameras. Also, I have an aging air conditioning (cooling) system and given that the daily high temperatures in my area of the U.S. can easily reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit, I would like to be able to monitor indoor temperature. There is a secondary situation where I would like to be able to monitor a particular aspect of part of the AC unit which could be accomplished by a video camera if it responded to heat i.e. infrared. (I understand that IR response is common in some video cameras). I have a home WiFi net that could be useful for connecting to the local computer. Of course, I would like it to be cheap. Are there any inexpensive sensors of these types, preferably WiFi enabled, that can be read by a remote web browser?"