Category Archive: technology

Mar 22 2012

The Stuxnet worm: beginnings of the new warfare

Binary Code 2Stuxnet is almost certainly part of a new generation of state-created cyber-weapons. It is too sophisticated to be the work of hackers, too specific to a one type of industrial equipment to have been crafted by profit-seeking criminals. And it updates itself periodically.

Wired has a great article about how it was discovered and tracked by computer security investigators, and how it resembled other, supposed cyber-attacks:

To illustrate the destructive capability of Stuxnet, the researchers referenced an oft-cited 1982 CIA digital attack on the Siberian pipeline that resulted in an explosion a fifth the size of the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima.

Bruce Schneier has a good analysis of the purposes of Stuxnet:

Stuxnet doesn’t act like a criminal worm. It doesn’t spread indiscriminately. It doesn’t steal credit card information or account login credentials. It doesn’t herd infected computers into a botnet. It uses multiple zero-day vulnerabilities. A criminal group would be smarter to create different worm variants and use one in each. Stuxnet performs sabotage.


Mar 19 2012

Shoelace breaking and entering…

Mar 19 2012

Autonomous quadrotors perform music

Now the invasion of the quadrotors turns artsy. Bohemian buzzing bees.

Mar 18 2012

Apollo 12 lunar surface activity checklist: hot action on the Moon

The cuff checklists that were worn by the Apollo astronauts as they left the lunar module for “EVA” on the Moon’s surface contained a little, well, extra something.

Mar 18 2012

List of “hello world” programs in 200 programming languages

“Hello world” is the basic test program to teach the elemental syntax of a programming language. It’s like learning to say “hello, my name is …” in a foreign language.


Mar 10 2012

Skydiving from the edge of space

Daredevil Felix Baumgartner rode in a capsule pulled up by a helium balloon to 13.6 miles (21.8 km) above the Earth’s surface before balancing on the edge of the pod and launching himself off.

At around 120,000 feet, on the fringes of space, the air is so thin that a falling human body would travel fast enough to exceed the speed of sound. A skydiver, properly equipped with pressurised suit and a supply of oxygen to protect against the hostile elements, could feasibly jump from that height and, about 30 seconds later, punch through the sound barrier…

He is aiming to break the current world record of a 19.5-mile (13.3-km) plunge by jumping 23 miles (37 km) this summer.

Felix Baumgartner's Mission to the Edge of Space

Mar 07 2012

Siri’s big brother from Google

With today’s introduction of Apple’s iPad 3 or iPad HD or whatever the hell they end up calling it, I think we’ll be entering a pretty Siri-ous phase when it comes to mobile Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. Apple has a winner in Siri, its iOS digital assistant app, and knows it, so we’ll soon be seeing all-Siri, all the time in Apple products to come this year including, no doubt, Cupertino’s own big-screen TV.

But this is not to say that Google’s Android will be far behind. There are stories popping-up about Google doing its own Siri-like app. But I expect Google to go significantly beyond Siri capability and I base that belief on the fact that Google has been working in this area since at least 2008, when they hired one of the scientists who did the basic research behind this category-shaping product.

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Feb 15 2012

No Joy in YouTubeville

Some of YouTube’s more popular producers of original videos are quietly reporting their viewership numbers have suddenly dropped. The problem isn’t that viewer habits are changing. We’re still in love with cute kittens and people in pain. The problem is click fraud and online video producers are finally getting busted for it.

I was told last week that least some of the numbers generated by more than a few YouTube video makers who deliver hundreds of thousands of views on a regular basis come from banks of servers and zombie PCs pretending to surf. Such click fraud was a huge issue a few years ago for the Google search engine, but YouTube has separate management, remember, and maybe has different values, too.  Ever bigger numbers approaching a billion total views per day have been part of the YouTube mystique, so looking the other way may have been part of the YouTube M.O., not that advertisers will be cheered.

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Jan 01 2012

Why you switch things off before unplugging them

A nice example of a big spark.

Jan 01 2012

Mathematica and ringtones

WolframTones works by taking simple programs from Wolfram’s computational universe, and using music theory and Mathematica algorithms to render them as music. Each program in effect defines a virtual world, with its own special story–and WolframTones captures it as a musical composition.
It’s all original music–fresh from “mining” Wolfram’s computational universe. Sometimes it’s reminiscent of familiar musical styles; sometimes it’s like nothing ever heard before. It’s a taste of what it’s like to explore the computational universe–and a hint of what’s to come…

Jan 01 2012

How Everything Works Home Page

Stay current on How The World Works at this website.

Jan 01 2012

Multi-touch interaction research

Research in touch and gesture-based computing, released just before the iPhone and iPad rocked the world.

Jan 01 2012

Wayback Machine

If you don’t know about this, it’s rather cool. Apparently, Google’s archive of web pages is based on a technology called Alexa. One of its features is the ability to look at previous versions of the same page, known as the “wayback machine“. You can even put a link on your toolbar to instantly see an entire list of all of the older versions of the page you were viewing. Interesting. And it even has a toolbar utility; drag this to your toolbar: Wayback

Mar 03 2011

Spiders leads to safety recall of Mazdas

It’s unclear why this particular spider — the yellow sac spider — seems to prefer the model year 2009 and 2010 Mazda6…

Mazda's not sure why the yellow sac spider likes to make its home in the fuel system of the Mazda6, but it has a way to stop it.

via Spider webs prompt Mazda recall of 50,000 cars – Mar. 3, 2011

Nov 16 2010

Femto photography uses 1/trillionth sec. laser flashes to shoot around corners

…by emitting short pulses and analyzing multi-bounce reflection from the door, we can infer hidden geometry even if the intermediate bounces are not visible


via CORNAR: Looking Around Corners – Camera Culture Group, MIT Media Lab

Nov 14 2010

Cellphones and cancer

Apple, for example, doesn’t want iPhones to come closer than 5/8 of an inch; Research In Motion, BlackBerry’s manufacturer, is still more cautious: keep a distance of about an inch.

via Cellphones and Cancer – A Far-From-Settled Issue –

Sep 27 2010

Segway company owner dies driving segway off cliff

Oh, for God’s sake. Did he really? Yes, he really.

Aug 01 2010

Rape charges dropped after deleted messages recovered

In what may be the first time an iPhone’s elephantine memory has saved someone accused of a serious crime, deleted data retrieved by a leading surveillance expert appears to have led to the dropping of five rape charges against a Sydney man.

via Rape charges dropped after deleted messages recovered from iPhone.

Aug 01 2010

World’s largest skateboard on a suicidal mission

A helluva ride with no seatbelts. Beats my Porsche.

worlds largest skateboard

Jun 28 2010

Decorking in an emergency

Opening wine with a shoe…

and opening Champagne with a sword.

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