Go take a look at Wolfram Alpha. It’s a “computational knowledge engine.” Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? It definitely has the potential to completely blow away any factual search engine that has come previously, of which the most prominent example may be Powerset. The brains behind this, Stephen Wolfram, is an acclaimed computer scientist that has had many incredible creations already, including the heavily used software package Mathematica, which adds jaw-dropping features in every release, and the stunning if controversial book A New Kind of Science, so he definitely has the background and the resources to create a good factual search engine. In fact, Wolfram has frequently posited, both in A New Kind of Science, and other sources, that he believes [more . . .]
“Hi! Do you want to update your computer? No? Well, that’s no problem! I’ll just remind you in 5 minutes! [. . .]Now do you want to update? No? Well I’m a considerate fellow! I’ll just remind you in 5 minutes! [. . .]How about now? No? Oh, I think I finally understand you clearly now! I’ll just remind you in 5 minutes! [. . .]It’s been 5 minutes! What about now? Hello? Anyone there? Well, I’ve waited patiently for a minute, and you stood me up, but I’ll still be nice to you and put all your programs and windows away and restart your computer for you!” Don’t let Windows Automatic Updater ever bother you again. Here are two [more . . .]
A clip from Minority Report? No. It’s real. g-speak overview 1828121108 from john underkoffler on Vimeo. Oblong is apparently the company that advised the production staff of Minority Report on the technology of the film, with much of their expertise derived from the founders’ research at the MIT Media Lab. Oblong promises to “fundamentally chnage the way people use machines at work, in the living room, in conference rooms, in vehicles.”
If you’re on your computer or online a few hours each day, and you go to a wide variety of web sites, or use lots of different programs, you have probably realized that using the mouse is a slow endeavor, and that keyboard shortcuts rock. Here are two that rock the hardest, in my opinion. 1. Launchy (http://www.launchy.net) Launchy is a text launcher that will revolutionize the way you use your computer. After installing, just press Alt-Space to pop up the launcher, and start typing the name of the program you want to launch, or even non-continuous letters of the program you would like to launch. Then, select from the list using the arrow keys the one that matches. Launchy [more . . .]
There is an interesting study out by the University of Washington’s Computer Science department revealing flaws in the detection of copyright infringers online. In the study, it was found that enforcement agencies sometimes used merely the fact that an IP address was seen in connection with a certain file online in implicating a user, without verification that the owner of the IP address did actually download anything, or that the owner of the IP is even a person. With IP spoofing tactics, they managed, hilariously, to get three printers in the CS department to receive DMCA takedown complaints from the MPAA. Is this result likely to get noticed in the next wave of countersuits against the RIAA and MPAA? Probably. [more . . .]
One of my new favorite blogs, Earth2Tech, has just posted on ClimateCounts’ release of the latest Climate Scorecard, scoring companies on their efforts at informing and taking action on climate change. Not sure exactly how accurate this is, as Dell is surprisingly low on the list, considering its now industry-standard recycling program and efforts at creating more eco-friendly laptops and servers. This is similar to the well-known “Guide to Greener Electronics” released by Greenpeace, which has a greater emphasis on the use and disposal of toxic materials and release of greenhouse gases in production.
Harnessing the millions of easily distractable minds worldwide, groundbreaking science is being done. Rosetta@Home, the software that is modeled after Stanford’s Folding@Home and designed for distributed calculation and prediction for 3D protein shapes on millions of computers worldwide, now has a new feature. As the Economist article describes, the new Rosetta@Home software contains a game in which users (players) can manipulate the 3D protein structure according to basic laws of chemistry and physics in order to minimize energy. This was created due to the fact that 3D protein alignments and folding are still hugely computationally intensive, and often, the best 3D structures are found by molecular biologists working by hand rather than a computer using a heuristic algorithm. Moreover, humans [more . . .]
1. Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS), a longtime pet of congress and “clean coal” advocates, is shown to be infeasible in a report by Greenpeace. Of course, you skeptics out there will immediately point out that a report by Greenpeace is not to be trusted. While Greenpeace does have a tendency to employ radical campaigning and rhetorical strategies that are often more sensational than factual, their reports are, fortunately, always backed by solid facts and prominent researchers in the field. This report shows CCS has several problems, ranging from prohibitively high costs, lack of suitable storage, and a significant increase in non-CO2 emissions resulting from the capture process. Read it. It’s interesting.2. It’s not often that Human Rights Watch has [more . . .]
Thie great article from Lifehacker details how to ease the transition into the newest distribution of Ubuntu, especially if you’re giving up Windows or Mac OSX for the first time, and are wondering how you can do all the stuff you used to. And of course, Ubuntu Hardy Heron is a Longterm Support Release (LTS), so you will be able to get online support for it for at least the next three years if you have the desktop version, and at least the next five years if you have the server version.
An interesting article in the NYT about genetic discrimination: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/business/23gene.html?_r=1&ref=health&oref=slogin Gattica, anyone?