Archive for the Tech Category

Android Relativity

Posted in Tech with tags , on November 24, 2009 by joeylabartunek

Seeing as how I rambled on for days with that musical report earlier, I’m gonna take it easy the rest of the night on the writing.  Instead, have a few random videos to pass the time.  First up, taking a cue from the infamous and maybe still missing android head of Phillip K. Dick, the at once very creepy and at the same time adorable Albert Einstein android head:

Thanks to William Gibson, via Twitter


Secret Plan of the Masters of the Internets is Leaked.

Posted in Politics & World, Tech with tags , on November 4, 2009 by joeylabartunek

I haven’t been as vocally active in my distaste about the direction the powers that be have designed for our future interactions with the internet, but then I haven’t really been active in general lately.  Seeing as how I’m attempting to rectify that, this is as good a place as any to start tossing in these bits that help detail the scary plans the government would love to enforce, if allowed.  From Boing Boing:

The internet chapter of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a secret copyright treaty whose text Obama’s administration refused to disclose due to “national security” concerns, has leaked. It’s bad. It says:

  • * That ISPs have to proactively police copyright on user-contributed material. This means that it will be impossible to run a service like Flickr or YouTube or Blogger, since hiring enough lawyers to ensure that the mountain of material uploaded every second isn’t infringing will exceed any hope of profitability.
  • * That ISPs have to cut off the Internet access of accused copyright infringers or face liability. This means that your entire family could be denied to the internet — and hence to civic participation, health information, education, communications, and their means of earning a living — if one member is accused of copyright infringement, without access to a trial or counsel.
  • * That the whole world must adopt US-style “notice-and-takedown” rules that require ISPs to remove any material that is accused — again, without evidence or trial — of infringing copyright. This has proved a disaster in the US and other countries, where it provides an easy means of censoring material, just by accusing it of infringing copyright
  • * Mandatory prohibitions on breaking DRM, even if doing so for a lawful purpose (e.g., to make a work available to disabled people; for archival preservation; because you own the copyrighted work that is locked up with DRM)

    The ACTA Internet Chapter: Putting the Pieces Together

The Craigslist Mire

Posted in Tech with tags , , on August 25, 2009 by joeylabartunek

Wanted: 1 fast ship to carry 2 passengers to Alderan, (MUST BE ABLE TO OUTRUN EMPIRE FRIGATES), an elderly man and a whiney young man, +plus 2 droids.  Looking for fast, cheap, captain willing to put in the extra time to get us to our desitination.  Theres not much pay, but its a growing outfit and there are plenty of advancement opportunities for an experienced pilot willing to make very little money on this run.

Wanted: 1 fast ship to carry 2 passengers to Alderan, (MUST BE ABLE TO OUTRUN EMPIRE FRIGATES), an elderly man and a young farmer, +plus 2 droids. Looking for fast, cheap, captain willing to put in the extra time to get us to our desitination. There's not much pay, but it's a growing outfit and there are plenty of advancement opportunities for an experienced pilot willing to make very little money on this run.

Wired has a great article about Craiglist, it’s creator Craig Newmark, and why it’s such a fucking primitively designed and operated website, yet garners more hits and listings than all of it’s competitors combined.  As someone who is forced to use Craigslist day in and day out, for everything from trying to find new jobs to trying to find a new home, I have a first-hand permanent headache from trying to use it for anything actually useful.  Poorly laid out, filled with housing scams, wierdos, con artists, village idiots, and people looking for handouts from starving industry workers already hurting to eat and live, Craigslist resembles a daily text adventure version of the Mos Eisley Cantina.  Using the site is like a daily handshake with Satan, hoping against hope that the master of evil throws some crumbs your way after assaulting (and insulting) you the entire way.

From the article:

Odd perhaps, but no odder than what you see at the most popular job-search site: another wasteland of hypertext links, one line after another, without recommendations or networking features or even protection against duplicate postings. Subject to a highly unpredictable filtering system that produces daily outrage among people whose help-wanted ads have been removed without explanation, this site not only beats its competitors—Monster, CareerBuilder, Yahoo’s HotJobs—but garners more traffic than all of them combined. Are our standards really so low?

But if you really want to see a mess, go visit the nation’s greatest apartment-hunting site, the first likely choice of anybody searching for a rental or a roommate. On this site, contrary to every principle of usability and common sense, you can’t easily browse pictures of the apartments for rent. Customer support? Visit the help desk if you enjoy being insulted. How much market share does this housing site have? In many cities, a huge percentage. It isn’t worth trying to compare its traffic to competitors’, because at this scale there are no competitors.

Each of these sites, of course, is merely one of the many sections of craigslist, which dominates the market in facilitating face-to-face transactions, whether people are connecting to buy and sell, give something away, rent an apartment, or have some sex. With more than 47 million unique users every month in the US alone—nearly a fifth of the nation’s adult population—it is the most important community site going and yet the most underdeveloped. Think of any Web feature that has become popular in the past 10 years: Chances are craigslist has considered it and rejected it. If you try to build a third-party application designed to make craigslist work better, the management will almost certainly throw up technical roadblocks to shut you down.

Much, much more interesting information in the link above.

It’s Got Legs, It Knows How to Use Them

Posted in Tech with tags , , on May 25, 2009 by joeylabartunek
If I had ten of these, I would make a giant walking hut like Baba Yaga, and you would tremble in fear.

If I had ten of these, I would make a giant walking hut like Baba Yaga, and you would tremble in fear.

Interesting stuff about new walking robots being designed for use with the military over at Wired:

“Petman will balance itself and move freely; walking, crawling and doing a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents,” the company promises. “Petman will also simulate human physiology within the protective suit by controlling temperature, humidity and sweating when necessary, all to provide realistic test conditions. ”

One of the American military’s leading humanoid robots is Petman. Its job will be to testing chemical protection clothing for the U.S. Army. Petman is being built by Boston Dynamics, famous for its alarmingly lifelike BigDog robotic pack mule. Unlike earlier suit-testing robots, which needed external support, Petman will stand — and walk — on his own two feet.

Interesting stuff!

Yes, But Can I Use It To Gain An Army Of Minions?

Posted in Tech on April 29, 2009 by joeylabartunek

Strange article on Wired today about scientists using lasers to control human thought behavior.  Yes, I know they are talking all kinds of pretty words about healing the sick and all that.  But this has all the wrappings of a super villain weapon, if harnessed properly of course.  And I could harness it very well.  I mean seriously, could you imagine what you could do if you replaced the regular lasers at a massive or big show with mind control lasers?  Muahahah.  Er.  Uh….

Either way, it’s worth a quick read:

Flashes of light may one day be used to control the human brain, and that day just got a lot closer.

Using lasers, researchers at the MIT Media Lab were able to activate a specific set of neurons in a monkey’s brain. Though the technique has been used to control and explore neural circuits in fish, flies and rodents, this is the first time the much-hyped technology has ever been used in primates.

“It paves the way for new therapies that could target a number of psychiatric disorders,” said MIT neuroscientist Ed Boyden, who led the research with postdoctoral fellow Xue Han. “This is very exciting from a translational standpoint.”

The beauty of this optogenetic technique is its specificity. By using a combination of lasers and genetic engineering, scientists can control, to the millisecond, the firing of a specific class of neurons, allowing them to pinpoint problematic cells and circuits while leaving innocent bystanders alone, thus minimizing potential side effects.

Viruses are engineered to infect neurons with a special type of channel, originally discovered in algae, which is sensitive to blue light. Once a blue laser shines on the infected neurons, the channels snap open, ions rush into the cell, and the neuron fires.

Read more at the source link here.

Youtube Strikes Deals to Stream Full Length Films

Posted in Film, Tech on April 20, 2009 by joeylabartunek

I dont know how I didnt see this, but apparently youtube has struck a deal with several major studios to stream full flicks.  Check this bit from THR:

In a move intended to strike back at the encroaching Hulu, YouTube on Thursday announced a series of partnerships that will enable it to stream a range of full-length movies and television shows.

The pics and episodes, which will be streamed on a separate section on YouTube as free ad-supported content, encompass a host of library titles from studios including Sony and Lionsgate and television networks as well as a number of indie pics.

I find this to be fairly significant, it shows an attitude of progression from the majors and certainly a step in the right direction.  So what if the content will be older stuff, the sheer fact that it will be available is a big step.  Go to the link above and read the rest, this is big.