Articles, Page 16 of 206

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21 Nov 11
Question

Thanksgiving Food Excess

Everybody has a somewhat different “house-rules” twist on Thanksgiving. Whether it’s food gluttony, football or both … what interesting add-on traditions are worthy of an OmniNerd thanksgiving?

16 Nov 11
Newspaper

Cracking Apple's Siri

Siri has been the talk of the iPhone 4s with it’s fancy responses to amusing questions. But, the app is entirely restricted to 4s owners which naturally irritates all the have-nots. Some French reverse engineers at Applidium has succeeded at figuring out how to talk to Apple’s Siri servers … without Siri. Their procedure was a matter of setting up a proxy to decrypt the SSL data sent between the phone and the server. Then they replayed the data to Apple while capturing the traffic in the middle whereupon they discovered the extensions to the HTTP header, the Speex codec for compressing the voice and the compressed plist data returned by the server to the device. Technically, with their discoveries, nothing is really preventing independent users from becoming Siri enabled other than a little programming know how.

16 Nov 11
Newspaper

Geek Breeding Creates Autistic Children

Earlier this year, it was discovered the fear mongering over vaccines as the cause for autism was a complete sham. Fraud or not, the increasing autism rate is still a reality requiring attention. Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen has a new proposal for the table that essentially the increasing acceptance of geek chic enables a broader scope of scientists and engineers to breed with one another without shame which is more likely to produce a child with autism. His words were not quite as tongue-in-cheek as mine, but the essence was that increasingly intelligent people with hints of autistic traits are pooling their genes resulting in a statistical increase in the likelihood of those genes coming to fruition as genuine autism. There are, of course, challenges to his theory, but other clinical psychologists dealing with child autism do support the notion, “I see deep geeks of all sorts. They don’t make great eye contact, all their clothing is from the Intel shop, they don’t have a lot of social understanding. I do think that when these geeks marry each other, that’s bad news for the offspring.”

15 Nov 11
Newspaper

Who Wants To Be An Astronaut?

Becoming an astronaut has always been a difficult process. (Having an affiliation to OmniNerd can certainly help as our alumni have been at the helm of the official NASA Space Shuttle simulator). With the space shuttle’s retirement, however, NASA is ushering in an entirely new era of requirements for it’s space program and hence it’s astronauts. According to a recent NASA press release, the next generation of astronauts can apply into the program through the standard government job-hunting site USAjobs.gov <— actual application link.

15 Nov 11
Newspaper

White House Responds to UFOs

Awhile back, the Obama administration began a program called We The People where the American public could petition the government for information electronically given enough signatures. Well, the UFO fans out there petitioned_ to find out if there were in fact known aliens or a historical cover-up. The petition gained the requisite number of signatures and received an official response:

The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race. In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye. However, that doesn’t mean the subject of life outside our planet isn’t being discussed or explored.

15 Nov 11
Newspaper

Super Slippery Coatings

Imagine a coating that makes surfaces so slippery that nothing can stick to it, not even water or oily film. Inspired by the Nepenthes carnivorous plant whose slippery surfaces cause insects to slip into its planty belly, scientists have mimicked the properties to create the Slippery Liquid Infused Porous Surface Of course, they tout all sorts of useful functions like surfaces that never need to be cleaned again or ketchup bottles that can expel all of the condiment. But we all know where this substance is really going to end up … pranksters will coat hallways with it and the sex industry will market all kinds of new products. Thanks science!

14 Nov 11
Page_white_text

Who Wants to Fight Cybersquatters for About $500?

Just the other day a friend of mine had a nice idea for a website, and like many descriptive names, the website was taken. It’s one of those fake looking websites with some ads links, and of course a page where you can submit an offer to buy the site for an excessive amount of money. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could use the legal system to deal with this?

This problem is quite prevalent. If you look into the domain name owner, you find out he owns about 1000 of these. These people provide no real service to the world, but merely try to anticipate a successful business and try to leech their own bit. Like with spam, a low hit percentage results in a profit. The domain name registration business itself even supports this peripheral industry. Note that Godaddy can help you buy scriptguru.com (link might be broken) for over $3k. Domaintools will help you buy scripthub.com (so despite their legal disclaimer, they do in fact list the domain for sale).

14 Nov 11
Question

What's Up In The NBA

Riddle me this, basketball fans … what’s going on in the NBA?

I was always a baseball fan back in the day, but the 1994 strike pretty much ended my interest in professional sports. I didn’t really pay much attention to the football fiasco just a year or two ago but am now inundated by news reports of the NBA player strike. I finally broke down and read the article from CNN about disbanding some kind of player’s union and this little block caught my attention:

09 Nov 11
Newspaper

Watch The Open Mics

Getting caught on an open mic seems to be a right of passage for many US Presidents. Some prior incidents include Bush’s four minute rant on Hezbollah and other world leaders, Reagan joking about bombing the Soviets and Clinton berating an aide. Recently, at the G20 summit, President Obama joined the club while talking privately with French President Sarkozy. The conversation between them turned to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu where Sarkozy commented to the effect, “I can’t look at him [Netanyahu] anymore, he’s a liar.” Obama in turn replied, “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!” The anecdotes were ignored by the press after they agreed to remain mum until the French publication Arret Sur Images decided to run with it.

09 Nov 11
Newspaper

Gravitionally Lensed Quasar

Quasars, actually quasi-stellar objects (QSO), are amongst the brightest space objects we know of. A quasar accretion disc is formed as the object circles a black hole and is slowly torn apart. According to the lead scientist in imaging one, “a quasar accretion disc has a typical size of a few light-days, or around 100 billion kilometres across, but they lie billions of light-years away. This means their apparent size when viewed from Earth is so small that we will probably never have a telescope powerful enough to see their structure directly.” NASA and ESA astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope in conjunction with gravitational lensing (see the embedded QuickTime object below for an example) to produce a highly detailed image of a quasar and its accretion disc in order to accurately measure it’s size, shape and temperature. Using this technique, the team was able to determine (and image) a distant, faint object only 4-11 light days across.

08 Nov 11
Newspaper

Android Devices Fail More

The battle between iPhones, Blackberries and Androids continues. Apparently, the Android platform has a higher failure rate and runs carriers nearly $2 billion in repair costs. Unlike the competition whose platform is tightly controlled by their respective manufacturers, the Android is deployed by more than 25 OEMs each attempting to win the market. This, of course, leads OEMs to skimp on the product in order to undercut competing Androids in price and first-to-market features which tends to result in shoddier quality control.

To further hammer nails into Android, the new Siri feature found in the iPhone 4S is being hailed as an Android killer. Some estimate the application puts Google at a two year disadvantage behind Apple. Of course, it hasn’t taken long for the open source community to fire back with Zypr which also provides conversation driven questions and answers.

08 Nov 11
Newspaper

Mathematics of Pancake Flipping

Most of us don’t give more thought to pancakes than how to wolf them down. But some French computer scientists [Laurent Bulteau, Guillaume Fertin and Irena Rusu] had nothing better to do than study them for some leisurely analysis on the sorting a permutation using prefix reversal algorithm. We can thank them for proving the problem isn’t just hard, it’s NP-Hard. In a nutshell, you’re supposed to sort a pancake stack into size order where your only operation is to insert a spatula and flip the entire upper pile over repeatedly. You can explode your brain with their mathematics reading the published paper.

07 Nov 11
Newspaper

IAEA Report on Iranian Nuclear Program

The IAEA is slated to release a relatively damning report on the state of Iran’s nuclear development. This report will be releasing far more detail than IAEA has previously unveiled which will more or less directly charges the Iranians are developing nuclear weapons in contradiction to the country’s claims. Evidence varies and remains to be seen, but hints have alluded to the report detailing nuclear modelling and computer studies Iranians have performed that have nothing to do with energy production. Prior reports have not been so direct at calling out Iran’s programs as having such a slant towards weaponization.

07 Nov 11
Question

Why Aren't Pots & Pans Dishwasher Safe?

This is just me being curious … why are various pots and pots not dishwasher safe? I’ve heard reasons given about Teflon coatings, special treatments, blah blah blah.

  • If a pot can handle boiling water at 220 degrees, why can’t it handle regular 140-160 hot water?
  • If the coatings can handle various food items and sauces stuck to it at high temperatures being mixed via physical contact of a spoon or spatula, why can’t it handle jets of water hitting it?
  • If cleaning solutions and a sponge or pad can be used to physically clean off residual particles in a sink, why can’t it handle the cleaning chemicals in a dishwasher?
06 Nov 11
Newspaper

China and Russia Openly Accused of Industrial Espionage

Last Thursday, Congress received their unclassified Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage report detailing activities from around the world (particularly in the cyber realm) and their impact on the US. The report directly insinuates the Chinese and Russians are the top offenders for building their economies on American research and technology, excerpted directly as “the nations of China and Russia, through their intelligence services and through their corporations, are attacking our research and development.” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman rejected the claims stating, “online attacks are notable for spanning national borders and being anonymous. Identifying the attackers without carrying out a comprehensive investigation and making inferences about the attackers is both unprofessional and irresponsible. I hope the international community can abandon prejudice and work hard with China to maintain online security.”

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