Articles, Page 18 of 206

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14 Oct 11

Passing of Two Tech Legends

Two legends of the computing age have passed recently. Shortly after Apple’s Steve Jobs passed away, the legendary Dennis Ritchie has died as well. Ritchie created the C language, which essentially is at the core of everything today, and was the co-developer of the first UNIX operating system which in some permutation exists in nearly all operating systems today.

14 Oct 11

iOS 5 Problems

Anybody having issues with the upgrade to iOS 5 and the Apple iCloud?

Thus far, I’ve noticed most of my music files no longer play properly in the renamed Music app. The player just sits at 0:00 while indicating that it’s playing or it just skips through tracks before hanging like that. I’ve noticed it seems to have no problem with iTunes purchased, DRM-crippled music. In various Google searches, this problem has been reported by others in addition to various issues regarding cloud syncing causing duplications and other problems with contacts, the calendar, etc.

13 Oct 11

Iranian Plot to Assassinate Saudi Ambassador

So the USA, Saudi Arabia and Iran walk into a bar …

The latest international scuff between these countries involves the FBI’s discovery of an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington DC. At the center of it all is a 56 year old Iranian-American named Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri, a Quds Force member. Supposedly, Arbabsiar was to solicit a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the plot. He just happened to make contact with an informant to the DEA. The United States has begun engaging the international community for increased sanctions and political isolation with 100 diplomats invited to the State Department for a full briefing on the details along with briefings to the United Nations from the State Department, Justice Department and CIA. However, many pundits and experts are already declaring the whole situation laughably absurd as Iran denies the entire incident. Analysts can’t fathom Arbabsiar, a used car salesmen from Texas, as a probable agent nor do they believe Mexican drug cartels want to get involved with heat from the Global War on Terror.

12 Oct 11

Music Purchase Log: 2011 Q3

Music I purchased in the third quarter of 2011:

  • August Burns Red – Leveler
  • Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Howl
  • Centro-Matic – Candidate Waltz
  • City and Colour – Little Hell
  • Crime in Stereo – Selective Wreckage
  • Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys
  • Drive Like Jehu – Yank Crime
  • High on Fire – Death Is this Communion
  • Human Abstract, The – Digital Veil
12 Oct 11

Virus Infecting US Drone Fleet GCS

The unmanned Predator drones flying over Afghanistan have proven themselves to be formidable weapons and intelligence gathering platforms. Recently, it’s come to light that the UAV ground control stations (GCS) seem to be infected with a key logger. Some believe the virus made its way onto the GCSs via removable flash drives despite a DoD ban on the practice. Despite following removal instructions from the Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky, the key logging software keeps reappearing on the GCS. It hasn’t yet been traced to a point of origin and a damage assessment is allegedly underway. To add insult to injury, the 24th Air Force, responsible for network security, learned about the infection by reading the story on the Internet as opposed to internal reporting channels.

09 Oct 11

Software Bloat

Modern operating systems have really packed on the fat. Depending on your hardware, it’s pretty easy to see a fresh install of Windows consuming not just a lot of disk space but a good chunk of available RAM as well. Even Linux, which is notorious for running lean, has some hefty requirements if it’s not pared down. Microsoft is definitely thinking hard about the Windows fat bulge in a recent MSDN blog discussing how Windows 8 has a fundamental requirement to not exceed the needs of Windows 7 hardware, and preferably come in even lighter. Of course, while Windows 8 is aiming to just “not grow fatter”, enterprising Linux enthusiasts have managed yet another lean port where the OS can execute entirely in javascript.

07 Oct 11

Controversy Over Faster Than Light Neutrinos

Not too long ago, researchers at Cern were puzzled over measurements showing neutrinos traveling faster than light speed. In a nutshell, the team was measuring the time it took for neutrinos to traverse 732km from Cern to Gran Sasso through solid rock using OPERA. They were perplexed to find the neutrinos arriving 60 nanoseconds too early and repeated experimentation continued to produce the same result. Not being able to figure out the anomaly, the community at large was queried looking for fault with the experiment to which many physicists have already responded. The prevailing debate now rests with clock synchronization and whether relativity itself was affecting their ability to time the neutrinos properly.

06 Oct 11

Mind Reading with Video

Researchers at the University of California Berkeley are improving the science behind mind-reading. Much like reverse engineering an encryption algorithm using both the cipher and plaintext, their machine begins with a known library of images and attempts to map brain activity to them. Subjects were shown video from YouTube movie trailers (roughly 18 million seconds known to the machine) while an fMRI mapped their brain activity. Their algorithm then attempts to correlate those activities to particular shapes, colors and movements to recreate video of what a subject is thinking about. “You’re reconstructing a movie that they saw using other movies that they didn’t actually see,” says neuroscientist Jack Gallant, to which he caveats, “We’re trying to understand how the brain works … We’re not trying to build a brain-decoding device.” [Be sure to watch the embedded video]

04 Oct 11

Home Warranty Companies?

I’ve been a homeowner for nearly a year and have a question for all the other homeowners out there. If you use an appliance warranty company – who do you have and do you recommend them?

When we bought our house, the seller included a year of basic coverage with First American which has been … okay. I’ve got about a month to either renew with them, pick a new coverage company or go at it solo. I’m inclined to have coverage as several things have already gone wrong with the house and its definitely saved a ton of money thus far. I found a website that offered reviews on these companies and wasn’t impressed to find that nobody scores well. First American scored a dismal 1.5 stars but nobody really scored any better than 3 unless they had a mere handful of reviews (probably fake). Perhaps its just the nature of the business that customers only complain.

04 Oct 11

Occupy Wall Street

Wall Street has seen a different kind of activity over the past two weeks. A social movement called Occupy Wall Street has been massing around the financial sector protesting the destruction of America through poor decision making activities by the free market. Protesters have been lurching around with white painted faces and suits mocking corporate zombie behavior. Inspired by Arab Spring’s ability to motivate the general public, Occupy Wall Street is aiming to get as many folks involved to show their distaste for how the finance industry has gotten away scot-free with its damage to America. Speaking for the group, Patrick Bruner states, “Our main concern is the way that democracy is hijacked through wealth inequality.” Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, producer of Capitalism: A Love Story, is no friend to the industry either and commented in an interview, “The rich are getting away with a huge crime. Nobody’s been arrested on Wall Street for the crash of 2008. They’re not paying their fair share of the taxes.” While the movement thus far has been relatively quiet, it has produced scuffles with the NYPD after an arrest of 700 protesters blocking the Brooklyn Bridge to include many reports of pepper spraying.

29 Sep 11

The Finer Things - Building Custom Cars

I’ve spent some time underneath BMWs, inside VWs and around some pretty cool custom cars. I’ve also hand built a fair share of custom parts for various cars myself. I’m not talking about frame-off restorations, but I’ve definitely put some time and effort into making my cars look better, go faster and last longer by adding parts I made, that I felt had more longevity than cheaply made (in China) parts.

Having rolled through a couple puddles of oil and charred off a few fingertips over the years, I have grown to appreciate a fabricator’s work and the amount of time it takes to not only fit parts to existing parts, but to install custom parts with limited resources. I’m not referencing those of you who filter eBay results by the cheapest price, loosen and tighten a few bolts to install a cold air intake. I’m acknowledging those who actually MAKE their own parts from scratch; from custom shift knobs (like those offered on to Burberry headliners, these things take serious time and effort to get them fitted correctly and installed properly. Yes, it’s much more time and cost efficient to simly buy something online, break out a phillips screwdriver and call it a day. But then again, that barely fits in the realm of ‘custom’ and more in the realm of ‘replacement’..not to mention lazy. :)

28 Sep 11

Iran to Troll US Coasts

In a translation posted to CNN, the Islamic Republic News Agency of Iran reports “The Navy of the Iranian Army will have a powerful presence near the United States borders.” Although no Iranian warships are anywhere near the American east coast, last February, two of their Navy vessels traversed the Suez Canal (which none had done since 1979). The action was announced by their Navy Commander, “the same way that the world arrogant power is present near our marine borders, we, with the help of our sailors who follow the concept of the supreme jurisprudence, shall also establish a powerful presence near the marine borders of the United States.”

27 Sep 11

Monkeys Recreate Shakespeare

There’s an old saying about a million monkeys hammering away at keyboards such that eventually, one of them will randomly produce the works of Shakespeare. Some people refer to it as the infinite monkey theorem and in the past various feasibility studies have looked into how valid it is. Well, the theory has been put to the test using Amazon EC2 distributed computing resources by Jesse Anderson.

“For this project, I used Hadoop, Amazon EC2, and Ubuntu Linux. Since I don’t have real monkeys, I have to create fake Amazonian Map Monkeys. The Map Monkeys create random data in ASCII between a and z. It uses Sean Luke’s Mersenne Twister to make sure I have fast, random, well behaved monkeys. Once the monkey’s output is mapped, it is passed to the reducer which runs the characters through a Bloom Field membership test. If the monkey output passes the membership test, the Shakespearean works are checked using a string comparison. If that passes, a genius monkey has written 9 characters of Shakespeare. The source material is all of Shakespeare’s works as taken from Project Gutenberg.”

25 Sep 11

NASA Space Exploration Roadmap

So what’s next for NASA with the retirement of the space shuttles? The recently released Global Exploration Roadmap outlines a path for manned exploration to Mars. Along the way, NASA will build the necessary technologies by testing manned exploration to an NEA (Near Earth Asteroid) or by returning to the moon. The roadmap is a continuation of the Global Exploration Strategy previously released in 2007 representing NASA’s continued recognition of international participation and growing commercial technology as critical components to success.

International coordination and cooperation expands the breadth of human space exploration beyond what any one nation may accomplish on its own and increases the probability of success of human and robotic space exploration initiatives. More importantly, it will enable the complex and challenging missions to the Moon, asteroids, and Mars. Achieving the vision of sustainable human space exploration, including human missions to Mars, requires political support and resources over an extended period of time.

21 Sep 11

Unfinished: Objectivism vs Christianity - Philosophical or Semantic Differences?

DISCLAIMER: I started writing this a long time ago and don’t anticipate ever finishing it. It’s possible I don’t even completely agree with myself anymore … but I might as well throw it out there for discussion, right?

I became very interested in Objectivism after reading The Fountainhead1 and Atlas Shrugged.2 After a few years of reflection, I still identify with the ideology set forth by the Russian novelist-philosopher, but I’ve begun to wonder if it is more semantics-based than philosophy-based. In other words, instead of creating her own philosophy, I think Rand might have just made a simple (yet important) point on perspective. The supposed conflict between objectivism and religion is as good an example as any.

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