Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Link dump

hey guys (well ok guy)

here are a couple of links that I think people should read firstly: - transcript of 500million (I think) pager messages sent in the 24 hours surrounding 9/11 from the DC and NY areas

As a follow up to one of my earliest posts there is this report in the Guardian with the full report here.

Finally another follow up (of sorts) to this: there is a list here of "8 awesome cases of vigilantism".

The first I think was one of the most poignant things I have read in years and I'll say no more about it. I want to put up a blog posting as to my thoughts on it but at the moment im too tired and they're too conflicted so it'll happen another day - maybe.

The second was mainly for historic purposes and that it interests me.

The last is the one (surprise surprise ) that is most worrying. Aside from the standard "anonymous did it" fallacy (seriously guys the hint is in the name they're not organised they're anarchists even if they don't know it) it is a little worrying the pure psychological terror that the internet can aim at someone. Yes the people in this piece at least deserved something; but not the ire of 4chan.

Having watched the swell of a 4chan mob against someone its a sight to wonder at as well as flee from.

I wonder how many more people will find this out the bad way?

Monday, 23 November 2009

This is just cool

Howdy net!

This is going to be a very short post as I'm currently struggling to keep my eyes open (hooray for 12 hour day with 4 hours on public transport)

so I'll just leave you all with some awesome pictures

pretty pictures!


Seriously cool stuff - they should be slowly stepping up the power over the next few months.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

the FUD is coming! the FUD....

This is a quick post. I don't want it to be but currently I can't quite form up a good post about it (needs some work me thinks)

So until I get round to writing a post on it here's an interesting link.

Personally I think its FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) but it holds the promise of some interesting impending debates about the internet as well as some big problems if it does go through as written.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Step-hen free speaks!

This is more so that I can find it later but I recommend watching this:

What has the Particle Physics ever done for us?

Other than this? i.e. the internet.

While the LHC may not be about to give you a new version of the microwave a lot of the 'spin-off' tech is VERY useful (HTML, radiation imaging for medicine, modeling systems used in finance etc click here for more). More direct uses are common as well this is a report from CERN on a new experiment that's just starting up to look at how cosmic rays may affect cloud formation and climate change. There are also experiments being designed that will create x-ray lasers (XFEL, LCLS and one in japan who's name I forget)use linear electron accelerators, to create x-ray lasers that will allow us to probe matter at even deeper levels: being able to image the absorption of chemicals into a cell, for example.

Anyway that's it - just a micro-rant on "what have the particle physicists ever done for us?"

Saturday, 14 November 2009

It may be a religious view but that doesn't mean you can use it to investigate

This is a somewhat depressing story, I don't have the full details but going on what's in this report the guy was sacked for believing that pyschics should be used to investigate crime. Fine by me, believe what you want; but if you try and follow through on that then expect to get sacked, psychic evidence is not permissible in court and should not be used as a resource.

If the guy was sacked for merely stating his opinion that psychics should be used then he's being persecuted, he's an idiot for suggesting it but he's allowed to voice such an opinion. If he tried to use or pushed for psychics to be used then its another matter.

Ah well

What's more irritating is this, again it's a case of not know enough: either the police force were (hopefully) following up the tip to reassure the family and on the off chance that a real tip was being obscured as pschic, or they actually wasted time and money on a psychic tip off. That being said it should have been obvious after finding no petrol in the guy that the tip off was rubbish

ah well

Friday, 6 November 2009

The burning stupid

This really hurts my brain. To suggest that being secular is what has caused the reduction in the number of births and overall family size is stupid. To quote a parliamentary report I found:
"The number of births in the UK has declined throughout the
century [1901 to 2001], interrupted only by the two post-war ‘baby booms’ and
a secondary peak in the 1960s. " [1]
Unfortunately I can't find any information about relative percentages of secularism to any form of religion other than in 2001 when only 15.5% [2] identified themselves as having "no religion (inc Jedis)". Now this strikes me as not really a reasonable way of accounting for the massive drop in birth rates over the last century:
"Between 1901 and 1905 the general fertility rate in the UK was
about 110 live births per 1000 women aged 15-44. By 1971 this
had fallen to 91 and in 1997 to 597." [1]
Call me scientific but might it just be that the number of people surviving birth has increased: 140 infant deaths per 1,000 births in 1900 to 5.4 per 1,000 in 1997. With more people surviving birth you don't need as many children, life expectancy has also increased (75 for boys, 80 for girls in 1999 compared to 45 and 49 respectively in 1901). A longer life expectancy reduces the pressure to have children at a young age, or at all.

Anyway, moving on from the stupid argument my main interest is this: over the last year what happened? maybe I'm being more focused in my reading but the number of public figures (Tony Blair for example) basically slagging off those who take a humanist or secular world view has seemingly massively increased.

As a standard test: re-read what Lord Sacks said but substitute the word 'muslim', 'black' or 'gay' where he says "neo-Darwinists". Not sure a bastion of great "interfaith relations" is he now?

Gripe the second: WHAT THE HELL is a neo-darwinist with respect to religion? They have nothing to do with eachother unless you happen to be some knuckle-dragging idiot. If anyone out there seriously thinks that secularists or humanists work from any sort of Darwinian principle they are utterly mistaken. We just don't believe in God. Evolution is an utterly seperate argument and the continued muddling of the two is stupid.

Repeat after me: "Evolution, The Big-Bang, Cosmology, Chemistry, Geology have NOTHING to do with the fact that I don't believe in any deity". They may both come from the fact that I think about things and draw what I think to be rational conclusions but one does not cause the other. 


Thursday, 5 November 2009

mmmmm retinal projection...

This is insanely cool. Near real time translations subtitled and beamed onto your retina. Who doesn't want one? while I get the impression this will (initially) be like the voice recognition software of the late 90's (ie requires a fair bit of work for 50/50 results) it has several features that are very significant.

The actual translation system is the not too surprising amalgamation of voice recognition and translation software. While both these technologies have been around in vague forms for the last 10 or so years it has only been in the last 5 years that they have become truly viable. Voice recognition interfaces are pretty common now on dial in services (eg for national rail) and while they do get it wrong from time to time they are pretty good. The same goes for translation, most things can be translated by, for example, google translate; it may have some interesting turns of phrase but the fundamental message gets through and this is a free, web-based tool.

The most exciting feature of this though is the retinal projection, this is something that has been slowly emerging of the last year or so (either as micro screens or direct projection) and is one of the last technologies needed to achieve complete augmented reality. We nearly have complete internet data coverage (it may not be fast but there are fewer and fewer places where I can't get some sort of net) and with technologies like 4G, BT openWorld (all BT customers can jump onto free open net connections from BT) or the cloud all poised to become very common it shouldn't be too long before people are wondering how they coped without being able to access wikipedia while walking down a street.

Augmented reality is a while off yet (and still limited by battery life) but as more technologies start to use it (see the phone app layers) it is fast becoming reality. I would say that within the next 10 years at the latest people will have augmented reality headsets (most likely glasses) and that they will be common within 15 years. As a technology I suspect that it will be similar to voice recognition in that for the next year or so everyone will be claiming to use it with no actual utility. After that, and especially with things like the translator specs, it will start to re-emerge as general utility, to steal an idea from Charles Stross: wouldn't it be cool to have a map of the city your in over-laid on your vision and then be able to watch the progress of your bus towards you?

This is, I think, the most significant part of these glasses: not so much what they can do (which is very cool) but that they represent a protrusion of what so far as been a fun toy in labs into useful utility.