Former Disney Imagineer Thom Shillinger has posted tantalizing details of a never-built steampunk rollercoaster that he helped design for Disneyland Paris:
These sketches reflected a way to clad up the coaster to look like it was made by the natives. I also had a few variation on themes. I have a Jules Verne look with button tuffed pillows, as well as a Wright Brothers space frame seat look along with ones built from wreaked ship parts. FUN project that never was produced.
The good folks at Sugar Information want you to know the facts: Sugar is GOOD FOOD! After all, if sugar was bad for you, then all those kids who eat all that sugar would be getting obese! That'll never happen.
When I give talks to library groups, I always finish by reminding librarians that they're powerful advocates for fair use and privacy, because "you look like a total jerk when you criticize librarians."
Case in point: this Fox Chicago piece proposing that Illinois shut down its library system:
But keeping libraries running costs big money. In Chicago, the city pumps $120 million a year into them. In fact, a full 2.5 percent of our yearly property taxes go to fund them.
That's money that could go elsewhere - like for schools, the CTA, police or pensions
One of the nation's biggest and busiest libraries is the $144-million Harold Washington Library in the Loop. It boasts a staggering 5,000 visitors a day!.
I also always open my library talks with a joke: "You know, with library budgets on the chopping block and Wall Street thriving, there's only one answer: securitize bonds based on library fines!"
Once again, Fox comes through:
We know we spend a lot on them. But libraries do bring in some revenue: more than $2 million in fines is collected annually by Chicago public libraries.
Those Russky superspies they busted? Turns out they were total IT noobs, and their helpdesk was staffed by a grumpy bastard who just kept repeating, "Have you turned it off and on again?"
The spy ring had numerous technical problems, including file transfers that hung and wouldn't go through and difficulty replacing laptops when necessary. In one case, an agent was so frustrated by laptop issues that she unwittingly turned it over to an undercover FBI agent.
In another case, replacing a laptop took more than two months. A suspect bought an Asus Eee PC 1005HA-P netbook, flew with it to Rome, picked up a passport in another name, flew on to Moscow and returned with it -- a process that took from January this year to March. Presumably Moscow headquarters configured the device.
When the courier spy delivered it to another suspect, he described what to do if the laptop had problems. "...if this doesn't work we can meet again in six months," one suspect was overheard saying to another, "they don't understand what we go through over here."
Pironti says spies try to use off-the-shelf hardware and software so they don't have to rely on their spymasters for replacements, and with the possible exception of the steganography application, this ring could have done that.
One of the technical issues the ring faced was described by one suspect in a message to Moscow reporting on a meeting between two spies "A" and "M": "Meeting with M went as planned ... A passed to M laptop, two flash drives, and $9K in cash. From what M described, the problem with his equipment is due to his laptop "hanging"/"freezing" before completion of the normal program run."
Engadget reported this morning that Apple is hiring iPhone/iPad antenna engineers. Now Gizmodo has posted images from the first class action lawsuit against Apple and AT&T for general negligence and design defects, among other things. I just got the new iPhone4 last week after five years with a non-smart T-mobile handset; even though I'd heard of dropped calls and bad reception before, it's really something else to experience it first-hand. Calls really just drop! And it's ridiculous that I have to try not to hold the phone a certain way when I'm using it.
Here's an 8-bit, Nintendo-esque homage to the Twilight Saga movie, Eclipse, which opened today to relatively lousy reviews. I think this interactive YouTube game might be more entertaining than the film. Watch the video, and choose which action the character should take by clicking on the option you want. Then, a new video loads with the next step in the interactive narrative. It's pretty neat.
It's a commercial of sorts for a Victorian-themed ghost removal service known as League of STEAM (Supernatural and Troublesome Ectoplasmic Apparition Management). You gotta love the tinkly piano tribute to the 1984 film's theme. What fun.
The company asked the white hat, Jesper Andersen, to give it nine days to deal with the problem that it was publishing all users’ location data to the entire web despite its privacy-policy promise to users that “You can opt out of such broadcasts through your privacy settings.”
So when the nine days were up, the company told Andersen in a private e-mail Tuesday morning that it had fixed the “privacy leak” (the company’s own words) by modifying how an existing privacy setting worked, and that it had no solution yet for two other privacy holes that Andersen also reported, saying it was trying to figure out how to balance usability with privacy.
As for its blog, the only thing the company disclosed Tuesday was that it had closed a monster round of financing: $20 million in venture capital from some of the hottest investors in the country. Nor did the company contact users to tell them that it had found and sort-of fixed a hole in its service that violated the promises it had made to users.
It all started -- it should be noted -- with Steve Swink and Scott Anderson's Shadow Physics, revealed at the Game Developers Conference's Experimental Gameplay Sessions in 2009, and still in production at their upstart studio Enemy Airship (as yet offline, but already with this amazing logo designed by Phil Fish). After that came Lost in Shadow, Hudson's own upcoming fantasy/storybook platforming take on shadow-play.
And now, spotted very briefly at E3 in Sony's PlayStation Network reel, but now shining in a stronger light on their PlayStation.Blog, is echochrome ii, an upcoming downloadable that'll use the PlayStation Move motion controls as a flashlight to modify the game's cast shadows to solve yet more puzzle/platforming levels.
Sony's take does, to be fair, appear to be a logical next step from their original optical-illusion puzzler echochrome, but it is a curious case of Hundredth Monkey game design, and will be interesting to see how each makes its own mark as they all come to market.
BP is not feeling the pain they are causing in the Gulf. BP is spending millions on PR. In order to put a bit of public pressure on them, we plan to buy 100 vuvuzelas and hire 100 vuvuzela players off Craigslist to play in front of BP's International Headquarters in London for an entire work day. Ideally, the players will keep coming back every day until they fix the gusher.
1 St James's Square
London, SW1Y 4PD
Budget: $2,000 = $1,000 for the vuvuzela protest ; $1,000 for the Gulf Disaster Fund
Budget is set at $2000 for now, which will be enough to buy 100 vuvuzelas at $6.50 a pop (plus shipping), and leave some left for hiring some people to manage the crowds. Hopefully (and likely) we can find people to play for free (plus they get a free vuvuzela). In which case, we'll use the remaining funds to buy more vuvuzelas and find even more players.
How do we get kids interested in science? How about more pictures like this in junior-high science textbooks. Just look at it. I'm having a hard time not making metal hands at my own computer screen.
The beast in question is called Leviathan melvillei, a name so awesome that it actually made me question whether this was a legitimate animal and not something made up as a joke. But Wired Science and Science News magazine tell that it was real. And spectacular.
The longest of Leviathan's teeth measure about 14 inches including the root, more than 40 percent longer than those of today's sperm whales. And, Lambert notes, the longest tooth of Sue, one of the largest Tyrannosaurus rex specimens yet found, measures only 10.6 inches from root to tip.
Modern sperm whales feed largely on invertebrates such as giant squid, but have been known to feed on fish and other creatures as well. The extremely robust, deeply-rooted structure of Leviathan's teeth strongly suggests that the creature fed on large, presumably struggling bony prey like sharks do.
But that doesn't mean the whale's diet was restricted in any way. "If you're big enough," Fitzgerald notes, "you can bloody well eat what you want."
In 1936, a Japanese magazine called Shonen Club published a series of illustrations imagining what the future of transportation might look like. Among them, this giant ship that can spit out smaller ships from an embedded dock.
When Canadian filmmaker Rob Spence was a kid, he would peer through the bionic eye of his Six Million Dollar Man action figure. After a shooting accident left him partially blind, he decided to create his own electronic eye. Now he calls himself Eyeborg.
Spence's bionic eye contains a battery-powered, wireless video camera. Not only can he record everything he sees just by looking around, but soon people will be able to log on to his video feed and view the world through his right eye.
Amongst the more interesting things discussed in the article--trust me, it's a great read--is the fact that most men basically need to spill their seed, drain the vein, etc, at minimum, every 72 hours. Pair that notion with studies that found women's bodies rejected sperm that had overstayed its welcome in the male testes (had not been flushed out) by 48 hours.
I suppose if you're going to take handouts from pharmaceutical reps—a practice that's been proven to influence decisions doctors make, even if they think it doesn't—you may as well get exactly what you want out of the deal.
Carmen Drahl, an editor at Chemical & Engineering News who blogs about the cool science that comes out of pharmaceutical chemistry, sent me this example of the industry's less-awesome side. She says:
Even though it's frowned upon these days for doctors to be getting free lunches from pharmaceutical company sales reps, that doesn't mean it doesn't still happen. And at least one medical practice is acting like a real diva about it- specifying everything from what time the food should be delivered to which local eateries are do's and don'ts. Journalist Ed Silverman's Pharmalot blog has posted a memo from a Baltimore practice that reads "like a rider for a concert tour", as one commenter put it.
To be fair, as far as concert tour riders go, this ain't a J.Lo level of detail. But it is amusing/depressing to see a medical practice specify exactly what it takes to buy their loyalty, potentially at the expense of their patients. Especially when that loyalty can be bought, apparently, with lunch from Macaroni Grill.
The blog Star-Gazy Pie (it's namesake being this whimsically disturbing fish dish from Wales Cornwall) offers up some fun insight into the biology of the tuna—specifically, why that biology makes the tuna so much fun to eat. The piece also explains why certain species of tuna are endangered and how to make sure the tasty tuna you eat was raised in such a way as to ensure that our great-grandchildren will be able to enjoy it, too.
But yeah, have you ever wondered why tuna steaks look like this (top) and say, catfish fillets (bottom) look like this?
DING DING DING: Tuna have more red muscle than other fish in order to fuel their eternal swim (like sharks, tuna literally do not stop swimming). To burn the oxygen required by these hefty piscine muscles, tuna have myoglobin, a type of protein, in their muscles. Myoglobin actually forms the pigments that gives raw "red" meat its color, and is also responsible for making red meat that has been frozen turn brown.
Awesome! Along with that, I also learned that tuna are neither, strictly speaking, cold-blooded OR warm-blooded. Instead, tuna use a network of veins and arteries to trap body heat. They can't regulate their temperature as well as warm-blooded species, but they can stay significantly warmer than the ice cold waters they swim through. Cool stuff.
In his latest blog post, Google's Chief Legal Officer David Drummond reports that Chinese authorities aren't happy with the automatic redirection of Google.cn to Hong Kong. They are threatening not to renew Google's Internet Content Provider license, which is required to legally operate any kind of Internet business in China. In an attempt to thread the legal needle, Drummond says Google.cn will now lead to a landing page which - if you click anywhere on that page - takes the user to the uncensored Google.com.hk. This is Google's convoluted way of adjusting Google.cn so that it remains technically in compliance with Chinese law while still sending Chinese users to an uncensored site. Now they just have to click through an extra page to get to the results.
It's unclear whether this will be acceptable to the Chinese authorities. It really depends on how secure or insecure they're feeling these days. In the meantime, the new landing page is a signal to Chinese users that they may want to remember Google.com.hk just in case Google.cn ceases to work, or update their browser bookmark.
What will happen next? Any one of four scenarios is possible...
Mark will likely be talking about the new book, MAKE culture in general, and all things DIY. If you've recently gotten your hands dirty in any of our shops, any of your own shops, or have been thinking about it, or haven't been thinking about it, this is the perfect way to spend your evening.
Talk starts at 8PM.
Free for members, suggested donation of $10 for non-members.
Micki "Mickipedia" Krimmel's LA-based startup NeighborGoods.net launches nationwide throughout the USA today (before, the service was only available in Southern California). The big idea: borrow and lend stuff with your neighbors instead of buying things new. From Micki's launch announcement:
NeighborGoods.net offers a unique service by building upon the success of sites like Craiglist and Freecycle. Inspired by their ability to encourage re-use and keep waste out of landfills, NeighborGoods goes one step further to help people get more value out of stuff they actually want to keep. Members can safely borrow a lawnmower, lend a bicycle, or earn some extra money by renting a DVD collection. NeighborGoods is like Craigslist for borrowing. NeighborGoods provides all the tools to share safely and confidently including transparent user ratings and transaction histories, privacy controls, deposits, and automated calendars and reminders to ensure the safe return of loaned items.
Ball lightning is a rare atmospheric electrical phenomenon resulting in weird orbs of light that seem to float in the air for much longer than a regular lightning bolt. Scientists have very little data about it or insight into how it's caused, and some even question whether it exists at all. As previously mentioned on BB, a recent study by University of Innsbruck researchers suggests that as many as half of reported cases are actually hallucinations caused by regular lightning overloading the brain with magnetic fields. In their research, Joseph Peer and Alexander Kendl used a transcranial magnetic stimulator to blast the brain's visual cortex. From National Geographic:
Focusing magnetic fields on the visual cortex of the brain caused the subjects to see luminous discs and lines. When the focus was moved around within the visual cortex, the subjects reported seeing the lights move...
The researchers make a convincing argument that some ball lightning reports are spurred by hallucinations, said John Abrahamson, a chemist and ball lightning expert at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand who was not involved in the study.
But "I cannot believe that most of the images reported as ball lightning are due to this brain influence," Abrahamson said in an email.
For one thing, the colors of light seen by the subjects in the experiment were "white, gray, or in unsaturated colors." But ball lightning has been reported in a variety of colors, including orange, green, and blue, Abrahamson said.