Articles, Page 18 of 207

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08 Nov 11

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

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

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

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.”

05 Nov 11

Inserting Faux Objects Into Photos

This is downright cool. Some PhD students at the University of Illinois have created a system that allows for a computer to insert fake objects into standard photographs. This isn’t just some algorithm for layering and image insertion. Rather, the system allows for a 3D understanding of converging lines, light sources and objects. Once it has learned the environment, they can insert live, dynamic objects into the photo where it inherits light properties and can interact like pool balls on a table. (NOTE: Some browsers may not recognize the embedded Quicktime object in which case you’ll have to follow the link for the video demo)

04 Nov 11

Dump Your Bank Day

Sounds like the Occupy Wall Street folks have a new ploy that’s catching on via Facebook … inciting bank runs. In the wake of Bank of America announcing $5 ATM fees, a Facebook user riled up followers about “Bank Transfer Day” to dump your existing accounts with large financial institutions for local banks and credit unions. Officially, Friday the 5th is marked for action with other movements sponsored by and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. While the number of pledged accounts to vanish is small (in the grand scheme of things), one begins to wonder where the threshold is crossed between banks taking notice and actual distress. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that revised Basel rules allowed banks to dip well below the previous fixed 10% liquidity requirement.

03 Nov 11

Oakland Occupy Wall Street Clashes With Police

The Oakland, CA gathering of Occupy Wall Street protesters clashed with police before during a tear gassing incident. Now they’re clashing again after police attempted to move the protesters that gathered around the Port of Oakland effectively shutting it down where they aim to hurt business by impacting their supply lines. The effect has been twofold, both reinforcing to the protesters the link between business and government while at the same time hurting regular workers – part of the 99%. According to port officials, “continued missed shifts represent economic hardship for maritime workers, truckers and their families, as well as lost jobs and lost tax revenue for our region,” while harassed employees said, “I just want to go home … Why are they on top of my truck?” Meanwhile, occupiers state, “Our government is being bought by corporations. The middle class and lower class are being subjugated …. The port closure sends a message to the corporate world that we’re not going to sit by and take it anymore.”

01 Nov 11

Google Sidewiki Dies in Just Over Two Years

It was just over two years ago that Google launched Sidewiki – a browser sidebar allowing anyone to comment about any site. I liked the idea at the time and immediately made a Sidewiki entry … on the page explaining Sidewiki:

Sidewiki^2 – What the what?! A Sidewiki post about the page explaining Sidewiki … that’s … that’s … just craziness.

I moved on and made more important entries … like this one on OmniNerd:

OmniNerd = Awesome (if you’re a nerd) – If you’re a nerd like me, then this is the site for you. Write about the nerdy stuff you’re into – and then discuss it with other nerds. (Okay, okay. I’m an admin on this site. Sue me.)

31 Oct 11

Google's Autonomous Cars

Google’s autonomous cars are everywhere, having logged nearly 200K miles of driverless miles in all sorts of conditions. There’s a bunch of technology in there powering the system (embedded link has some cool video presentations):

  • a Velodyne 64-beam laser for creating detailed 3D maps of the environment
  • four radars to detect traffic
  • cameras to detect traffic lights
  • GPS
  • an inertial measurement unit & wheel encoder

There was a lot of learning to program into the cars based on modeling human habits and showing a bit of aggression to avoid the algorithms constantly yielding. Google’s next goal? Getting a threefold increase in safe miles by hitting a target of one million miles.

31 Oct 11

Seven Billion People

Two’s company … Three’s a crowd … Seven Billion!?! Analysts predict Earth’s human population will reach seven billion on 31 October 2011. According to the UN Population Fund, “With planning and the right investments in people now … our world of 7 billion can have thriving, sustainable cities, productive labor forces that can fuel economic growth, youth populations that contribute to the well-being of economies and societies, and a generation of older people who are healthy and actively engaged in the social and economic affairs of their communities.” It’s further predicted that more than ten billion people will roam the planet by the century’s end.

29 Oct 11

Methods for Managing and Sharing Photos?

I recently blogged about how I think using Aperture and Picasa is the best way to manage and share photos. I’m curious if anyone has any thoughts on photo software, workflow, etc. Do you have an approach that you think is notably good?

26 Oct 11

Yoga Eases Back Pain

Yoga … most guys picture women stretching into weird shapes while wearing tight pants and chanting OM. For those that haven’t found that reason enough to participate, researchers have confirmed that yoga was beneficial to relieving chronic back pain giving yet another excuse to lay around on a spongy mat. They did caveat that yoga wasn’t particularly any better than a stretching regimin, but was superior to other pain relief methods.

24 Oct 11

End of Gaddafi

NATO has been operating in Libya for seven months with Operation Unifed Protector scheduled to close down on 31 October. The recent rebel victory in toppling Muammar Gaddafi’s 42 year reign has resulted in mixed reactions internationally. While the Libyans and NATO have been celebrating the victory, the UN Human Rights Agency is seeking an investigation into what’s being called his murder. The blame does not seem to rest so much with the military action that happened to capture him, in which commanders admit to not even realizing he was part of the struck convoy. Rather, the investigation is centering around the fact that he died of torturous injuries apparently suffered at the hands of the rebels in violation of the Geneva Convention. A video has surfaced that seems to portray the Libyan rebels assaulting the prisoner to include what appears to be sodomizing him with a knife. [Note: Video on linked site is graphic]

24 Oct 11

Mind Blowing Sex

Transient Global Amnesia is defined as “a sudden, temporary episode of memory loss that can’t be attributed to a more common neurological condition, such as epilepsy or stroke.” It’s now giving men everywhere the excuse to forget her name in the morning simply by claiming the sex was mind blowing. Medical experts acknowledge that truly fantastic sex may actually induce the condition but still disagree as to the reason. Some hypothesize it’s just the right amount of blood flow transference for just the right amount of time to cause an amnesia effect from the encounter lasting upwards of 24 hours.

24 Oct 11


Last year, Stuxnet unveiled itself as one of the most sophisticated and targeted pieces of malware with its penchant for Iranian nuclear centrifuges. It was only a matter of time before variants came out, whether from the original authors or from criminals harvesting techniques. Symantec identified a variation using components of Stuxnet’s code and techniques running around Europe they’ve dubbed Duqu, based on a string of DQ characters found within. Duqu seems to be an information gathering tool allowing interactive remote access, keylogging and other data snarfing abilities while embedding itself as a driver using stolen certificates. This particular one differs from Stuxnet in that it seems to have no code specific to SCADA systems nor does it self-replicate.

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