Category archives: technology

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Voice recognition technology? In a phone? In Scotland?

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Siri, the virtual personal assistant that comes with the new iPhone 4S, is advertised to understand English as she is spoke in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Somebody forgot to tell Apple’s engineers that Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, so the poor electronic lass is mistaking “cheers” for “chairs”… ...

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Getting closer to nature

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

A flowering onion stem: a single umbel atop a tall, leafless scape.

At some point while researching a story, I came across information on companion planting. One of the suggestions from that page was that plants in the Allium family, including onions, are good to plant with fruit trees, because they deter pests. So when we had a couple of onion bulbs destined for the compost bin ...

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Lambda: the ultimate religion

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

The Puritans of the colonial era believed in Calvinist theology, which states that God chose who would be saved from eternal damnation, and if He didn’t choose you, nothing you did could change His mind about your fate. In order to join their churches, you had to convince the church elders that you were ...

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It beats Windows Solitaire

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

I’m too lazy to chase down the link in the wee hours of the morning, but I remember seeing a presentation by a team from Microsoft, arguing that user interface designers are too constrained by the desire to make everything easily accessible to a naive user. After all, they said, mastering a contemporary video ...

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Timeless wankery

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Sometimes, when technology marches on, it tramples popular culture under its jackboots. For example, I often wonder what people who grew up with e-mail and cellular phones make of Diva, a film in which half the cast chases the other half around looking for surreptitious tape recordings.

But sometimes, an artist recognizes a fundamental truth ...

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Infosec: the early years

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

As part of my wife’s heroic renovation of our basement, she provided each one of our children with a little cabinet to keep their Lego creations and similar valuables. She screwed a hasp onto each cabinet and gave each child a padlock with a four-letter combination, so that each could secure his valuables against ...

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It sucks to be a predator

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

And you’ve got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. —Spike

Consider the vampire as a creature bound by the Law of Conservation of Energy.

According to the MadSci Network (how can I not trust these guys?), there are about 700 [kilo]calories in a liter of human blood. A vampire ...

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Wanted: digital passports

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden, bemoaning how CNN requires you to sign away your digital soul in order to post a comment on its Web site, remarks:

In the United States, we don’t have many laws protecting our personal information. We need more than we have. The alternative, the one we’ll get by default if ...

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Cool new renewable-energy idea of the month

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a one-megawatt power plant!

via Hacker News

PSA: How to recognize that someone is drowning

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

The Instinctive Drowning Response… does not look like most people expect. There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death ...

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