Monday, January 16, 2017

NIH: Hard water is good for you

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Pallav Sengupta, 2013 Aug; 4

In the past five decades or so evidence has been accumulating about an environmental factor, which appears to be influencing mortality, in particular, cardiovascular mortality, and this is the hardness of the drinking water. ...

Hard water has no known adverse health effect, WHO says at its Geneva Conference. In addition, hard water, particularly very hard water, could provide an important supplementary contribution to total calcium and magnesium intake. ...

In most large-scale studies, an inverse relationship between the hardness of drinking-water and cardiovascular disease has been reported. ...

Important findings in this field were provided recently by Taiwanese scientists. In most of their studies, the authors indicated a negative statistical association of various types of cancer morbidity/mortality with the hardness of water and calcium. ...

For years, I've been (jokingly) telling people that I drink tap water because "calcium and iron are good for you". Apparently, there are studies that back this up.

Read the full article for all the details. The upshot of it is that although additional study is needed, it seems that hard water is either beneficial to health or has no impact, depending the health aspect in question.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Light Reading: AT&T, Ericsson & Qualcomm Get Ready to Test 5G Radio in 2017

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AT&T, Ericsson & Qualcomm Get Ready to Test 5G Radio in 2017
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor. 1/4/2017

AT&T, Ericsson, and Qualcomm say that they are getting ready to test the initial 3GPP 5G New Radio (NR) specification in the second half of 2017.

The trio are preparing to test high-band frequencies for next-generation 5G technology, which should deliver "multi-gigabit Internet service" over the air. For the average Jane or Joe Blow on the street, this would mean an HD film downloaded wirelessly to their phone. Mobile 5G services are expected to arrive around 2020. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), however, are trying to push out fixed 5G wireless before that, with friendly trials expected this year. (See 5G in US: Will Spectrum Be the Speed Bump?)

Although 5G consumer services are still several years away, I'm glad to read that the big players in the business are far enough along that they will be conducting trials later this year.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Nib: Jack Chick Goes to Heaven

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Jack Chick Goes to Heaven
by The Nib. Posted October 27th, 2016

The Christian cartoonist who tried to save us all from the fires of hell died Sunday. Here's our send off in the style of his famous comic tracts.

Although the news is from October, I just heard about it now. I would never wish death on someone, but I'm very glad Jack Chick will never write another of his hate-tracts. All throughout college, various Christian fundamentalists would distribute "Chick Tracts" across campus. These comics accuse everybody and everything of being in league with Satan. They attack Jews, Muslims, Catholics, pagans, video games, rock music, role-playing games, pop culture, politicians (of all parties) and even other evangelical Christian groups. Anyone not 100% into his insane paranoid theology is declared evil and must be harassed ('scuze me, "witnessed") into submission - all for his own good, of course.

As someone who was frequently harassed by missionaries, who were using these comics as "proof" of their moral obligation to be offensive, I'm glad he's gone. Hopefully the rest of his organization will also go away.

The send-off by The Nib is a good parody of these comics and is an appropriate memorial.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Nerdist: All of ROGUE ONE’s Many STAR WARS Easter Eggs

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All of ROGUE ONE’s Many STAR WARS Easter Eggs
Posted by Joan Ford on December 19, 2016

Warning: The following contains a few significant spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Despite being billed as a "standalone" Star Wars story Rogue One turned out to be anything but. The movie had so many connections to the originals, the prequels, and even the cartoons, that viewers might feel the need to crack open a Wookieepedia to fully understand everything that’s going on. Luckily we’ve done a lot of the homework for you, and have taken it upon ourselves to break down some of Rogue One's best Easter eggs right here.

A great summary of references to other Star Wars productions, but please don't read the whole article or watch its accompanying video until after you've seen the movie, since it is packed full of spoilers.

And for those of you unfamiliar with the reference, Wookiepedia is a real web site dedicated to archiving all that can be known about the Star Wars universe.

Monday, December 19, 2016

New York Times: The Great A.I. Awakening

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The Great A.I. Awakening
By Gideon Lewis-Kraus.

How Google used artificial intelligence to transform Google Translate, one of its more popular services — and how machine learning is poised to reinvent computing itself.

A great article about Google's recent AI research and how it is now driving their Translate service.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Washington Post: Mobsters ran a fake U.S. Embassy in Ghana for 10 years, flying the flag and issuing visas for $6,000

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Mobsters ran a fake U.S. Embassy in Ghana for 10 years, flying the flag and issuing visas for $6,000
By Katie Mettler December 5

For a decade, an American flag flew outside a battered pink building in Ghana’s capital city, welcoming out-of-town visitors who, once inside, found a photo of President Obama hanging on the wall. Signs confirmed to travelers — who had been bused in from the most remote parts of West Africa — that they had arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Accra.

The "consular officers" working there were not Americans, but they spoke English and Dutch and issued official-looking visas and identification papers. They charged their customers $6,000.

Incredible. Both for the sheer audacity of Turkish mobsters to run a fake embassy, and for the fact that they were able to operate for 10 years without the US government finding out.

How many people actually came in to the US with these fake visas and passports? The article doesn't say, but one can assume that it was a high percentage because even the most incompetent immigration system would start to get a hint if they were rejecting hundreds of fake visas all coming from Ghana.

More disturbing is that this gang was apparently issuing legitimate, but fraudulently-obtained, US visas. Sounds like some people in the real US embassy were in on the scam.

Read the whole article from The Washington Post and the original article from Ghana Business News for more details.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Lest we forget what the election was really about

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I've referred to this speech in casual conversation many times in the past and most of my Leftie friends have insisted that no such thing was ever said. I assume they'll assume that this video is also a forgery, but for everybody else, here is Jim Moran, former Congresscritter from Northern Virginia, speaking in 2008. In this clip, he summarizes the American Left more succinctly than I've heard any pundit ever do:

Now, in the last seven years we have had the highest corporate profit ever in American history. Highest corporate profit. We've had the highest productivity. The American worker has produced more per person than at any time. But it hasn't been shared and that's the problem. Because we have been guided by a Republican administration who believes in the simplistic notion that people who have wealth are entitled to keep it, and they have an antipathy towards the means of redistributing wealth. And they may be able to sustain that for a while, but it doesn't work in the long run.

And that's ultimately what the entire divide in this country is about. The Left (all of the Democrat leadership, along with many Republicans, and an unknown percentage of ordinary Americans) believe that if you work and slave at a job for 50 years in order to make yourself wealthy, you have no right to keep it, but the government has a mandate to confiscate everything you've earned and give it to other people who (as determined by the government) deserve it more.

We may disagree about how much charity wealthy people and corporations give, and we may disagree about how much we think they should give and to whom they should give it, but that's nothing compared to the Left's belief that these people should not even be allowed to decide, or even to voice an opinion on the subject.

This is flat-out communism. Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao couldn't have said it any clearer. This is what Obama and Hillary are all about. This is what Bernie Sanders is about. This is what Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and all the rest of the DNC leadership is about.

Everything else you may hear is a distraction calculated to prevent you from thinking about this one simple fact: The Left doesn't believe you have a right to keep any of your property. Period.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

TouchBar NyanCat!

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Nyan Cat on Your TouchBar Is the Easiest Way to Justify Buying a New MacBook Pro
Andrew Liszewski 11/07/16 8:43am

Apple packed its latest event with countless examples of why the new TouchBar feature on its updated MacBook Pro will make your life inconceivably better. But the company should have just started and finished with this Nyan Cat animation that flies across the new touch-sensitive display strip.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

MOMA acquires original set of emoji

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Emojis are now being displayed in the Museum of Modern Art, this is how it all began in 1999
, by Milen Y

The first emoji was created in 1998 or 1999 by Japanese designer Shigetaka Kurita, who was at the time working on a mobile internet platform, called i-mode, at Japanese carrier NTT. Kurita was inspired by the way weather forecasts and street signs used simple, but universally recognizable, symbols to convey meaning, and decided to adopt this approach for his project. The first set of emoji was comprised of just 176 pictograms, each with resolution of 12 x 12 pixels, and was aimed to differentiate i-mode's messaging features from other such services.

A fascinating bit of history. Many different news outlets have written different stories about this event, each telling something else interesting about the history of emoji:


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

MacRumors: Microsoft Announces Surface Book i7, Desktop PC 'Surface Studio,' and Windows 10 Creators Update

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Microsoft Announces Surface Book i7, Desktop PC 'Surface Studio,' and Windows 10 Creators Update
Wednesday October 26, 2016 9:48 am PDT by Mitchel Broussard

At its media event today in New York City, Microsoft announced a new update coming to Windows 10 devices that's focused on creativity and productivity tools, as well as two major new pieces of hardware: the Surface Book i7 and Surface Studio. The Surface Book is the second generation of last year's original model, while the Surface Studio is the company's all new, all-in-one desktop PC that's aimed at the high-end, enterprise market with a starting price of $2,999.

Nice systems. (And unlike Samsung's latest offerings, these are distinct Microsoft designs and are not knock-offs of what other companies are shipping.)

I especially like their large Surface Studio. The idea of being able to quickly fold a desktop-style workstation into a flat drafting-board-like surface for pen-based interaction is great. I've seen concepts like this, but I think this is the first time the concept will ship in an commercial product. And I love the concept of the Surface Dial - hopefully we'll see some great apps that can take advantage of this device.