michaelmalak writes: A group at the University of Colorado in Boulder has launched a crowdfunding campaign to build a 1000-node swarm of autonomous ping-pong balls, to use to teach robotics to a nearby K-12 school district.
michaelmalak writes: In a technique that reminds me of the just-in-time torpedo engineering of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, a company called Argon Design has "developed a high performance trading system" that puts an FPGA — and FPGA-based trading algorithms — right in the Ethernet switch. And it isn't just to cut down on switch/computer latency — they actually start assembling and sending out the start of an Ethernet packet simultaneously with receiving and decoding incoming price quotation Ethernet packets, and decide on the fly what to put in the outgoing buy/sell Ethernet packet. They call these techniques "inline parsing" and "pre-emption."
michaelmalak writes: The annual ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest finished up last week for 2013, but for the first time since its inception in the 1970's, no U.S. college placed in the top 10. Through 1989, a U.S. college won first place every year, but there has been no U.S. college in first place since 1997. The U.S. college that has won most frequently throughout the contest's history, Stanford, hasn't won since 1991. The 2013 top 10 consists entirely of colleges from Eastern Europe, East Asia, and India.
michaelmalak writes: "From a piece recently posted to dailypaul.com:
"About the mid-twentieth century, one of the greatest inventions in history made its appearance, and political and corporate leaders around the world were thrilled. Television [...] was wonderful; a quasi-hypnotic, ubiquitous device that allowed them to not only cultivate [read: socially engineer] the minds and values of their host populations, but also to encourage consumption, instill a largely self-sacrificing work ethic, and pacify them all at the same time.
Of course, nothing lasts forever. Progress always comes along and disrupts that delicate balance, this time in the form of the personal computer, NCSA, ARPA, our fine and friendly nerds in the San Francisco Bay Area, and of course, Al Gore. A new age was born: the information age. [...]
The last piece of the puzzle was the transformation of the internet from a horizontally integrated network into a vertically integrated top-down hub, where 'content providers' provide, and 'consumers' consume. [...]
Even the way we went about interfacing has changed. Pods and pads are now the devices of choice, optimized for foggers. Who needs a keyboard, a mouse, or, heaven forbid, a Wacom tablet?! If u cnt say whut u ned 2 say w 11 btns ur prolly a terrist LULZ.""
michaelmalak writes: "Those pixelated U.S. Army uniforms that we've been seeing since 2004? Turns out they don't work, and they and $5b are being scrapped. "'Essentially, the Army designed a universal uniform that universally failed in every environment,' an Army specialist who served in Iraq told The Daily. 'The only time I have ever seen it work well was in a gravel pit.'""
michaelmalak writes: "Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed software for a Cray XE6 to mine a dataset of one trillion particles. They "implemented an enhanced version of FastQuery, an indexing and querying tool. Using this technique, they indexed the trillion-particle, 32 TB dataset in about 10 minutes, and queried the massive dataset for particles of interest in approximately three seconds. This was the first time anybody has successfully queried a trillion-particle dataset this quickly.""
michaelmalak writes: "The entire Wikipedia page describing the PCI spec is protected from editing because of a DMCA takedown notice regarding the hyperlinks to "pirated" copies of the specification for this 18-year-old standard."
michaelmalak writes: "When I showed my 7-year-old daughter the opening to Laverne & Shirley, she got a kick out of it and said, "wow, does momma know about this?" I had to explain, "of course, everyone watched the same TV shows because there were only three channels". A CNN story notes a similar thought in There will never be another Oprah with "because her program premiered in pre-Internet and largely pre-cable times. So there wasn't a whole lot else to watch." Having personally railed the past two decades against the negative effects of television, especially groupthink, I am wondering whether we are giving something up, namely cultural idioms. What better way is there for one geek to communicate to another about the other's misguided sense of risk and payoff for a proposed course of action that with "I find your lack of faith disturbing"? Overall, the negative effects of television outweigh the positive, but where is the balance point? And, more importantly, is there some way in the post-television era to both gain the benefits of cultural idioms that in some way enhance our language while avoiding groupthink?"
michaelmalak writes: "As most ski buffs with an interest in intellectual property know, Warren Miller, who made ski films annually from 1950, sold his company, Warren Miller Entertainment, in the late 1980's, has not been involved at all in the films that bear his name for the past six years or so, and is not pleased with the most recent films. He's been getting involved in the ski film industry again, which he thought he could do since his non-compete expired in 1999. However, an arbitration panel decided based on trademark issues surrounding the name "Warren Miller" that Warren Miller is barred from the ski film industry for life."
michaelmalak writes: ""Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory have fabricated transparent thin films capable of absorbing light and generating electric charge over a relatively large area. The material, described in the journal Chemistry of Materials, could be used to develop transparent solar panels or even windows that absorb solar energy to generate electricity. The material consists of a semiconducting polymer doped with carbon-rich fullerenes.""
michaelmalak writes: "In perhaps his most informative article this millenium, Dvorak lays down the implications of a bill just passed by Congress (with Ron Paul in the House and Ted Kennedy in the Senate being the only dissenting votes) that will, if Bush signs it as expected, auction off the 2.3-GHz to 2.9-GHz WiFi spectrum by 2012. It is expected that private entities such as Comcast will buy it up to allow WiFi to continue, but with subscriber fees of course."
michaelmalak writes: "5-10 years ago when buying a house, the concern was whether or not it was close enough to the telphone company's central office for DSL. Now you have to check the fine print of the Homeowners Association. Residents in Southern Walk in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, are up in arms over being required to pay $149/month for triple-play (whether they want the service or not) from an exclusive provider, OpenBand, designated by the builder, Van Metre, who by covenant will hold onto a majority of the HOA board for the next 20 years. That's right — the residents are forbidden from purchasing a traditional analog landline from Verizon."
michaelmalak writes: "The land famous for its love of the automobile and construction of Interstates and other highways, with high-elevation tunnels, viaducts snaking through canyons, and water crossings of up to 20 miles is now outsourcing design and construction of its roads to Asia — not because it's cheaper, but because the U.S. has lost the expertise. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer regarding the newly opened span across the Tacoma Narrows, "the American steel industry had imploded, while steel-making — and the expertise needed to build suspension bridges — had moved to Asia" and "the detailed engineering and fieldwork and all the spinning and cable-wrapping equipment... were provided by... Japanese construction giants""
michaelmalak writes: "The Denver Post is running a story on the area's fleet of high-tech snowplows that sport GPS, downward-facing infrared sensors, and touchscreen computers linked to a central computer receiving up-to-the-minute weather forecasts and road conditon information from pucks embedded in the pavement. The idea is to deploy the right equipment and chemicals at the right time and in the right amount. This Blizzard of '06, though, overwhelmed the system. (An article earlier this week noted that Denver has one of the lowest snowplow-per-annual-inch-per-lane-mile ratios — I guess they just like to rely on the strong sun and low humidity to their work for them, which admittedly has been effective at 6 inches per day at melting the 2-3 feet of snow we got Wed-Fri). The technology seems like a cache — it makes for efficient use of resources under normal load, but offers no assistance when put under firehose conditions. Still, the technology is interesting, and not something I would have expected from lumbering snowplows. On the other hand, maybe low-tech is better — that earlier article said other cities like New York cope by being able to slap on blades to their garbage trucks."