Thursday, November 29, 2007

Indonesian "tree man"

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A man in indonesia has a very rare immune disorder, which causes HPV warts to grow completely unchecked, resulting in extensive growths that make his hands and feet resemble tree roots. Fortunately, it appears that a cure (or at least a treatment) may be possible.

One thing that struck me as interesting is that this is the sort of thing that myths may be based on. According to the article, these growths started forming after he injured himself many years ago. If this had happened a thousand years ago, the story about the man turned into a tree by the gods would be dismissed as pure fantasy by people today.

I wonder how many other crazy-sounding ancient stories, that we dismiss today, may also have a basis in reality.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

World's dumbest counterfeiter

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FOX News: Man Charged With Disorderly Conduct, Forgery After Trying to Deposit $1M Bill

Someone tried to open a bank account with a forged $1,000,000 bill. Somebody should've told him that the largest bills in circulation are $100 (so his "Series 2007" printing makes the bill even dumber.) But even if he was trying to forge a historic-but-still-legal large denomination, he should've done enough homework to realize that the US has never printed a $1,000,000 bill. (The largest ever produced was $100,000.)

Rat, on blogging

Today's Pearls Before Swine makes a wonderful observation about blogging. The key paragraph follows, for when the link expires (in about a month):

Rat says to Goat (who is blogging):
[Blogs] provide their frustrated creator with the delusional outlet of being a published author. Sort of like how the prison warden lets the psychotic inmate scribble 'poetry' on the cell wall so he doesn't beat his bunkmate with a toilet seat.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Steampunk keyboards

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Datamancer makes custom keyboards designed around a steampumk theme.

These keyboards are expensive. According to the FAQ, they are all custom-made and typically $800-1000, due to the cost of materials and the extreme amount of labor needed to manufacture them. But wow, do they look good!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Roy Spencer on global warming

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Roy Spencer (PhD in Meteorology) writes a very interesting essay pointing out the fact that current climate models are woefully deficient and that there is strong evidence to suggest that proponents of man-made global warming are incorrect.

His believes (and provides much supporting evidence) that the Earth's climate exhibits a negative feedback system. That is, the greenhouse effect constantly adjusts itself in a way that keeps temperatures in sync with the amount of heat received from the Sun. That winds, clouds, evaporation and precipitation react to temperature changes such that high temperatures weaken the greenhouse and lower temperatures strengthen it.

He points out that today's climate models do not take enough of these factors into account, so they incorrectly predict disasters.

Read the essay for all the details.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

... and this is why DRM is evil

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Major League Baseball switched suppliers for their videos. As a part of this, they shut down their DRM server, making all previously-purchased videos completely unplayable. That's right - if you spend hundreds of dollars on MLB videos, you can no longer play any of them, because the DRM server needed to authenticate your player no longer exists.

MLB will not be putting the server back, nor will they issue any refunds for the now-useless videos. They are, however, asking you to buy new videos using their new (and incompatible server.) And anybody who thinks they won't get screwed over a second time is just plain stupid.

Anti-DRM advocates (myself included) have pointed out that this is a distinct possibility whenever you buy DRM-protected content. Your rights to your purchases can't possibly outlive the supplier. And in the case of Major League Baseball, their outsourced IT department, it seems.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Wired's predictions for Apple

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Back in 1997, Wired Magazine ran the article "101 Ways to Save Apple", listing what their editors felt would be best for Apple, its shareholders and its customers. This past year, Wired points out that a few of the predictions almost exactly matched what Apple ended up doing, calling themselves "oddly prescient".

Well, five predictions out of 101 are hardly an indicator of prescience. With that in mind, let's investigate the rest of them. For those who don't want to read my 101 comments (this will be a long post), here's my summary of the 101 predictions:

Correct: 24
Incorrect: 38
Debatable: 25
Inconsequential: 10
I don't know: 2

Note: Correct/Incorrect simply refers to whether Apple actually followed the recommendation. It has nothing to do with how good or bad the suggestion might be. Also note that many of the "incorrect" recommendations are ones that were obviously intended as jokes.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

British army tests invisible tank

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According to the above article, the British military have an experimental tank that can become invisible.

Well, not really invisible, but close to it. It has cameras to capture images of the surrounding landscape, which are then projected onto the tank's surface. When you look at the tank, you see what's on the other side.

Of course, it's far from real invisibility. You have to be standing right where the system thinks you should be standing in order for the tank to be completely invisible. But it should, nevertheless, act as very good camouflage, especially when the background is relatively uniform.

Of related interest:

Memage: TV shows

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This one is making the rounds of the blogosphere....


  • Bold all of the following TV shows of which you've seen 3 or more episodes.
  • Italicize a show if you're positive you've seen every episode.
  • Asterisk if you have at least one full season on tape or DVD
  • If you want, add up to 3 additional shows (keep the list in alphabetical order).