Saturday, March 20, 2010

Supersonic Cars, 25 Years .com, Leprechauns And Lorry Shunting

Spring is finally here, with temperatures exceeding 10C for the first time in 4 months! It sure has been long winter.

Funny how the media grabs a topic and milks it. Not only Toyota and GM have had large scale recalls recently, but Honda are also doing it to 400K vehicles in the US says the BBC. Since the media keep reporting this, many would think this is some kind of new wave sweeping the auto industry, when in fact recalls are not unusual.

Richard Noble and hist crew are going at it again, with the sequel to Thrust SSC. The new supersonic car called Bloodhound will have expanding aluminium wheels to cope with the forces it will have to endure. The attempt to push the land speed record to 1000mph is set for the end of 2011 in South Africa.

The internet celebrated a milestone this week with the 25th anniversary of Symbolic's registration as the first commercial (.com) domain. The BBC explains the history here.

Peter Graves of Mission Impossible series fame passed away this week. RIP: mission accomplished!

More evidence about the online music sales business model, with the report that the amount from online royalties is growing faster than the decline from CDs and DVDs. Now when the publishers going to stop whining and embrace the new medium.

It seems that modern day scientists are a short sighted folk. Like GM crops that only seem to be tested against a single cause and effect, we now have a proposal to add iron to the worlds seas, so that their ability to absorb CO2 is increased. Unfortunately the BBC reports that more iron means that the algae produce more of a nerve toxin that affects marine life and birds.

TCO is the key cost factor for enterprises and Ars reports on a survey by the Enterprise Desktop Alliance that Macs are in the long run cheaper to maintain than Windows PCs.

The Playboy Channel got some early morning airplay in parts of North Carolina this week. The BBC tells of how the preview windows of a children's on demand station were showing hot babes instead.

The French have made a TV program based on the famous 1960s experiment, where members of the public take part in an experiment in which a man is given electric shocks when answering questions incorrectly, the BBC reports. Television is reaching new levels of sensationalism, so personally this stuff is unnecessary for me. But I wonder how long will it be before it we get copycat shows sold throughout the rest of the world?

It was St. Patricks Day this week and the BBC has an article on how officers in Nashville decided to celebrate by shooting a leprechaun. In this case it was a bank robber, who together with his getaway driver were deactivated following a shootout.

In yet another example of how much big brother power the web potentially has and how the weakest link in cyber security are the employees, Wired reports on how an ex-garage worker used a remote deactivation system to set off the horns on 100 vehicles. It was only that he left his IP address unprotected that authorities managed to trace him.

The Amsterdam Historical Museum are showing an exhibit from by Kienholz depicting the red light district in the 1980s. It is not as likely to shock the Dutch residents as much as those in London, where it has already been shown in the National Gallery.

The Polish Auschwitz trio that nicked the famous sign from the site have been sentenced to up to 2.5 years in jail say the BBC. A trial was deemed unnecessary since the perpetrators had already admitted to the theft.

Science reports on the creation of a 3D invisibility cloak of nanometer scale that hides a bump, by using fibre type structures and a laser to change the refractive index. When the object is viewed from any angle, the surface appears flat.

Finally a bizarre film from YouTube prompts officers from North Yorkshire to re-investigate a motorway shunting incident.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mad Toyota Hoaxes And Other Stories

The media reported two Toyota incidents this week. The first one involving James Sikes who claimed his 2008 Prius accelerated out of control turned out to be BS. His claims to the media have been dismissed on closer examination and he has a previous history of bankruptcy and insurance fraud. The second incident involved a housekeeper who hit a wall after an apparent sudden acceleration. In this case there were injuries, though it is too early to say if this was a driving error or a technical fault.

The BBC reports on a plan to introduce a natural enemy of the Japanese knotweed, a plant introduced to the UK in Victorian times that is very hardy and has been even known to disrupt building sites. I do worry about these tactics in the same way as I do about GM foods, in that a proven one-to-one relation between pest and plant does not mean that there will be other consequences, such as effects on native species.

More news on the Auschwitz sign theft. The Swedish suspect will be extradited to Poland to stand trial, according to the BBC.

The LHC will be a shutdown for a year at the end 2011 to repair errors in the design that prevent the machine from working at full power under safe conditions. The BBC reports that scientists admit that unique projects of this size are their own prototypes, so their is always risk of a design fault. For conspiracy theorists, a year after the end of 2011 means the 2012, so those of us worried about black holes and the end of the world have something more to worry about.

The 512-byte block size has had its day say the BBC. Disks have become so large that the number of blocks required for error detection reduces the effective amount left over for real use. 4K will be the new standard, but apparently Windows XP users will be out of luck because drivers will only 512 bytes, forcing disks to run in slower, compatibility mode.

OnLive is finally scheduled to go live in June this year. The BBC call it a console killer, and there conceptually it could be. I just hope they can guarantee the server power needed to run games like Crysis for thousands of user over the net and you'll probably need a decent multiple-Mbps connection too.

My Mental Radio has been playing two tracks persistently this week. Maybe I should make this a regular feature:

Long Long Way From Home - Foreigner
Lethal Weapon - Honeymoon Suite