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Friday, April 29, 2005

The Loud Report: Headphone Science version of Aesop Rock's Bazooka Tooth
I was actually fretting about whether I'd find enough hip-hop for this job or would have to stick to rock 'n' roll - and here I've found a whole album's worth for you. Someone or someones calling themselves Headphone Science has remixed, in its entirety, last year's Bazooka Tooth album by New York MC Aesop Rock, and put his/her/its version out on the "virtual label" (I guess we should get used to seeing those) illmatik vibes_delete:thought. These aren't mashups - although one or two tracks sound like they could have come from Aphex Twin a few years back - but new, decidedly dark and sophisticated backing tracks. This version makes a moody, brainy record even moodier and brainier. I think it's an improvement. Check it out, before its probably-dubious legality vanishes it, for a taste of what it might sound like if Americans started making that "grime" thing all the kids are talking about.
:: posted by Mike Sugarbaker, 1:37 PM Comments (1)
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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Introducing Mindjack Film
I'm happy to announce that we've just launched Mindjack's new and expanded film and DVD section, cleverly titled Mindjack Film (you don't want to know how long it took us to settle on that name). There have been tons of side effects to the incredibly rapid growth of DVD, but probably the best one is that it's made everyone a film student. This site is for you. We're not going to try to cover every bit of movie news that's happening or review every DVD that comes out, but we do hope to share our passion for movies.

Since there's no way I could do this myself, I've called on a couple of great writers and peerless film geeks to join me in this seat-of-the-pants endeavor -- you'll see a few of their posts below already. Jeffrey M. Anderson is a freelance film critic who's work appears in the San Francisco Examiner and the Las Vegas Weekly, among other publications. He's also the man behind the long-running and always excellent Combustible Celluloid website. You may know our other regular contributor, Matt Hinrichs, better by his nom de blog, Scrubbles. And if you've read his site, you know he has a wide-ranging and eclectic taste in movies, and always has something to say about them.

We also still have room for a couple more contributors. If you're as comfortable talking about Roger Corman and George Romero as you are discussing Fellini and Godard then you're the type of person we're looking for. Send a few sample posts and a brief bit of information about yourself to: editor@mindjack.com and we'll go from there.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 10:33 PM Comments (3)
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Monday, April 25, 2005

Chinese Protestors Organize by Cell Phone
The New York Times has an interesting article about how Chinese protestors are using cell phones, email, and webpages to organize the demonstrations against Japan.

The protestors have been able to route around a recent Propoganda Department ban on media coverage of the protests, and continue to organize marches and online petitions. In response, the Chinese Government issued a ban on the use of text messages and emails to organize the protests. In Shanghai, the local police even went so far as to send a text message of their own, asking that people express their opinions through legal means.
:: posted by Brian Hamman, 10:48 PM Comments (2)
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Sunday, April 24, 2005

A Superlens for Nanoscale Optical Imaging
Using a thin film of silver as the lens and ultraviolet (UV) light, scientists at UC Berkeley have built a superlens able to record images with a resolution of 60 nanometers and suitable for integration in today's optical microscopes which have only a resolution of down to 400 nanometers.

Scanning electron and atomic force microscopes can capture detail down to a few nanometers, but they need minutes to take an image, while this new superlens can take snapshots in a fraction of a second. In the short term, this superlens will lead to new nanoscale biomedical imaging devices. But it also can lead to other advances in nanoengineering such as higher density electronic circuitry or faster fiber optic communications systems.

The researchers even think that this superlens could lead to more detailed views of other planets as well as of human movements checked through surveillance satellites. This overview contains other details, pictures and references.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 3:38 PM Comments (0)
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After PageRank, Here Comes LexRank
Today, if you want to know what's going on in the world, you can watch TV, read your newspaper or use Internet to browse news sites. But imagine a day when you just have to enter a few words on your computer, such as "Olympic Games," push a button, and be able to read an automatic -- and accurate -- summary of what appears in major sources about this specific subject.

This is the goal of a project which started at the University of Michigan and is explained by Technology Research News in "Summarizer ranks sentences." This new multi-document summarization technique, named LexRank, searches similarities among sentences and rates them via a concept of 'prestige score' analogous to the one used by Google's PageRank.

"In a sense, sentences vote for each other just by virtue of being similar to each other," said one of the researchers. This algorithm may also be applied to automatic translation and question answering in a year or two. Read more for other details and references.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 3:34 PM Comments (1)
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The New Beetles: Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld
Two entomologists at Cornell University who were in charge to name several new species of slime-mold beetles have decided to honor U.S. President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, according to this news release.

These beetles are living in different environments, and pretty far from the White House: the Agathidium bushi lives in Southern Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia, while the Agathidium rumsfeldi and the Agathidium cheneyi come from different regions of Mexico.

Anyway, executives from the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) have some concerns, and these names might not be approved by this organization. Read more for other details and references.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 3:32 PM Comments (0)
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What a week in the robotic world!
All the media wrote about the robots used as camel riders in Qatar, but other exotic machines were also announced, such as robo-matadors in Spain or the future Picasso, the ART Painter in Hartford, Connecticut.

In the medical area, robo-masseurs are helping U.S. golfers, tiny needle-driving robots are developed in Israel while future mobile 'trauma pods' studied in California are still 10 years away. Elsewhere, a robot that could think for itself and solve real-world problems was unveiled in Wales.

But my preferred robot this week is TerraMax, a self-navigating robotic truck built in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and which might participate in the second DARPA Grand Challenge in October 2005. This overview contains other references and includes a spectacular image of the TerraMax in action.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 3:28 PM Comments (0)
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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Adaptive Path's Whole New Internet
Rockstar Internet consulting firm/think tank Adaptive Path continues to turn out important, provocative essays that shake up the web developer world. Their latest, It's a Whole New Internet, by Janice Fraser, picks up where Jesse James Garrett's defining article on Ajax left off. Fraser says, "Something is happening right now, and the developer community has an electric gleam in its eye. Curious, inventive people are making cool stuff again. Thereís been a notable shift, and itís incredibly exciting."
[Via Mikel.org]
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 3:41 PM Comments (1)
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The Loud Report: Viva Voce, "Alive With Pleasure"
Viva Voce's work really underscores how far music production has come lately: they sound as sweetly, sweepingly epic as the Flaming Lips (and rock as intimately as the White Stripes), and they recorded their two or possibly three albums entirely at their home in Portland, Oregon, using equipment not much fancier than what you're using to read this. (Get back to work!) "Alive With Pleasure" vacillates pleasingly between the two extremes of their sound; or there's the very funny music video, which also makes low rent look high.

[In other news, Donald points out to me that The Arcade Fire's great track "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" is available for free, in its entirety, at Amazon (along with a bunch of other stuff). If you've only heard TAF's current radio single, you could be forgiven for thinking they were a bunch of trend-aping dullards. "Neighborhood #3" shows them off for the passionate and rangy band they really are.]
:: posted by Mike Sugarbaker, 10:00 AM Comments (2)
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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Rushkoff Interviewed
Kris Krug has a great interview with writer/professor/Mindjack advisory board member Douglas Rushkoff on his blog. Here's a snippet:
So you just finished up your most recent book, "Get Back in the Box". What's it about?
In the most surface sense, it's about how to innovate from the inside out rather than the outside in. It's aimed at business people and anyone engaged in an enterprise. Too many of them tend to think they need to get "outside the box" in order to make new strides, when in more cases than we might suspect, real innovation comes from developing a true core competency and then working out from there. No one seems to have faith in what it is theyíre doing, and they are scared to learn the codes underlying the processes they're using. As if everything will fall apart.

On a deeper level, the book is about renaissance, and the unique moment we're in as a society. A renaissance allows for a profound shift in perspective. While the original Renaissance invented the individual, as well as competition, this renaissance has really brought us new possibilities for collaborative action - networked collectivism and a society of authorship. We've been wrestling since the Renaissance - and some would say since high Greek culture - with the seeming contradiction between the agency of individuals and their power as a collective. I mean to show that we have new ways of contending with dimension that let us see how individuality is itself defined by connections to other people, and that agency is really a group activity.

Rushkoff's book, Get Back in the Box, will be released around the end of the year, you can pre-order it now at Amazon.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 2:37 PM Comments (1)
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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Build Your Panoramic Photographs with AutoStitch
I've recently discovered AutoStitch, an automatic 2D image stitcher, thanks to a reader of Fred Langa's newsletter (read his review). AutoStitch, developed at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, is truly amazing. This has been years since I was that impressed by a piece of software.

It works very simply: you select a collection of pictures and AutoStich analyses their contents and returns you one (or several) panoramic images. You can download AutoStitch for free from this page containing lots of graphics (780 KB). and try it yourself.

Once you play with it (no Linux/Mac version yet!), you'll be hooked. This overview includes a panoramic image of the Louvre Pyramid in Paris created by AutoStitch.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 12:59 PM Comments (1)
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New Cooling Devices For Military and Computer Uses
Engineers at Purdue University have replaced the conventional evaporators used in our refrigerators, which can be one meter long over a large area, by "micro-channel heat sinks" which are just over a square inch. According to this news release, their devices can be attached to household fridges, but also to electronic components in military lasers, microwave radar and weapons systems.

In fact, as future combat vehicles are expected to generate waste heat densities approaching 1,000 watts per square centimeter, new technologies like this one are necessary to dissipate these heat loads. And the same is true with the chips in your computers, even if the recent battle between AMD and Intel shows that chipmakers are increasingly paying attention to the heat generated by their microprocessors.

So who will be the first to benefit from this new cooling technology, the military, your fridge or your computer? Read more for other details and references.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 12:56 PM Comments (0)
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Monday, April 18, 2005

Adobe buying Macromedia for $3.4 billion
Reuters reports (via CNET) that Adobe is buying rival Macromedia for about $3.4 billion in stock. For anyone in the design field, this is something akin to Coke buying Pepsi. It also has to be one of the mergers with the biggest overlap in recent years. Adobe's brands will probably come out on the winning end in most cases, but we wouldn't bet on Dreamweaver or Flash going away anytime soon.

(Via Kris Krug)
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 11:26 AM Comments (1)
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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Can Environmentalists Change about Nuclear Energy?
In a very interesting article appearing in the May issue of Technology Review, "Environmental Heresies," Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog writes that the environmental movement should -- and maybe will -- reverse its opinion on several controversial subjects.

He says that environmentalists should be more opened and look at different eyes to issues such as population growth, urbanization, genetically engineered organisms, and nuclear power. Will Brand be heard -- or be anathematized by other environmentalists? Time will tell.

However, you should read his arguments, even if you're not part of a so-called 'green' movement. This overview is focused on nuclear energy.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 2:14 PM Comments (0)
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First Cloned Champion Horse Is Alive and Well
There are many articles in the press today about the cloning of a champion endurance horse named Pieraz. I want to give my "Best Title of the Month" award to News24, in South Africa, for "Castrated horse becomes dad."

This is true, Pieraz, as most endurance horses, those engaged in races of up to 50 kilometers, was castrated. But its clone, created by Italian and French scientists, and called Pieraz-Cryozootech-Stallion, will be different from the original horse.

It might not be able to race, but it will be put to stud to breed other horses within two years. Read more for other details, pictures and links.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 2:11 PM Comments (1)
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Light Used to Design Shape-Shifting Plastics
You certainly know that it's possible to alter the shape of plastics and polymers by heating them. But now, a team of American and German researchers have found a way to change plastics shape with light, according to this MIT news release. These special polymers can move to new shapes by being exposed to light of specific wavelengths. And they'll retain this stable new shape until they're illuminated with another source of light of a different wavelength.

This discovery has many potential applications, particularly for medical applications, such as expandable strings keeping blood vessels opened during surgery. Read more for other details and references.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 2:08 PM Comments (0)
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A Talking Robot that Sounds Like Humans
The Takanishi Laboratory, at Waseda University, Japan, is home for many robotic projects, including a flutist I wrote about a while ago.

Today, let's look at a talking robot, the Waseda Talker No. 4, or WT-4. This anthropomorphic talking robot was built to better understand how the human vocal mechanism creates speech. The WT-4 has 19 degrees of freedom (DOF) for lungs, vocal cords, tongue, lips, teeth, nasal cavity and soft palate. With its vocal cords, it can produce Japanese vowels that are similar to human ones.

The next version, the WT-5, will have even more sophisticated vocal cords. This overview contains other details and references and includes a picture of the WT-4 saying "A."
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 2:05 PM Comments (1)
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A 'Smart' Email Software Organizes Your Tasks
You probably receive dozens of emails every day about various aspects of your business or personal life. And because your email program doesn't understand the relationship between messages, except for the occasional thread, you have to manage your activities by looking through lists of emails.

But now, two computer scientists from University College Dublin (UCD) and IBM have developed the Active Email Manager (AEM) and have even filed patents for a 'smart' email program. Their prototype can make the difference between work-related tasks -- and assign them to a workflow -- and personal email.

This software could be integrated in commercial products from IBM within two years. Read this overview for other details and references.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 2:02 PM Comments (0)
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Friday, April 15, 2005

The Loud Report: 20 Minute Loop, "Miriam Hopkins"
[Henceforth, on Fridays, Daily Relay will bring you The Loud Report, which will in turn bring you a song that will make you happy. Feel free to suggest songs (as links, please, not files) to loudreport at gibberish dot com.]

20 Minute LoopFor seven years now, Marin County's 20 Minute Loop has been working to give "quirky alt-rock" a good name again. To this end they employ mordantly witty lyrics, a synthesizer that looks pre-Cambrian, and more boy-girl contrapuntal harmony than you can shake a stick at. "Miriam Hopkins" is probably the finest single track on their third LP Yawn + House = Explosion. It's been out a while and is hardly underlinked - hello, Pitchfork - but I, for one, could listen to it every day. (Bay Areans can hear them live tonight at 12 Galaxies in SF's Mission District.)
:: posted by Mike Sugarbaker, 4:40 PM Comments (1)
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The Blogger's Blogger Interview Series
Mindjack regular Melanie McBride has discreetly slipped into Charlie Rose mode and started a series of interviews called the Blogger's Blogger over on her blog, Chandrasutra. The series aims to serve as response to the frequent misrepresentation of bloggers in the mainstream media and try to find out more about who bloggers really are. To that end, she's talking to some bloggers you'll recognize and some you won't but will probably want to check out. People like James Luckett, Tony Walsh, Utopian Hell, and Natalie d'Arbeloff with lots more promised in the days ahead.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 3:25 PM Comments (1)
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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Google launches video upload program
We'd have to turn in our blogger badges if we didn't mention Google Video, the company's new video upload program. In addition to hosting your video for free, Google will even let you charge people for seeing it (although they'll take a small cut of the revenue). For a bit more perspective, JD Lasica, who recently launched the media sharing site Ourmedia, responds to questions about whether the two sites are in competition on his blog. He doesn't think so, but says that Google Video's FAQ looks "remarkably modeled" after Ourmedia's.
(disclosure: JD is an occasional contributor to Mindjack)
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6:51 PM Comments (0)
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Gore's Current tries to learn from Canada
Wired News writes about the connection between Al Gore's new Current television network and the CBC program ZeD, which it is at least partly inspired by. ZeD is largely made up of videos submitted by users on its website, although generally the focus is more on art and culture than news. Now executives from Current are travelling to Vancouver to meet with ZeD's creators for a bit of advice on how to build their network. But ZeD doesn't seem to be worried about Gore's network treading on their territory, "We're an experiment," said executive producer McLean Greaves, "A sort of petri dish for Canadian Broadcasting. People can copy us if they wish, but we're a moving target."
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6:11 PM Comments (0)
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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

LexisNexis lets loose over 300,000 personal IDs
Info clearinghouse LexisNexis has acknowledged that personal information on 310,000 people may have been stolen, CNN Money reports. That number is over ten times what the company first disclosed last month.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 2:51 PM Comments (0)
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Monday, April 11, 2005

Del.icio.us scores in.vest.ors
Del.icio.us creater Joshua Schachter announced last night that he's taken funding from a group of investors in order to improve and expand the site and be able to work on it full time. Union Square Ventures leads the group of investors, which also includes Amazon.com, Marc Andreessen, BV Capital, Esther Dyson, Seth Goldstein, Josh Koppelman, Howard Morgan, Tim O'Reilly, and Bob Young. Exact details of the deal weren't revealed, although Schachter did say that the investment group is only taking a minority stake in the company, leaving him in control. He also said that his first priority is to improve reliability and responsiveness, after which he'll begin rolling out new features.

[Via Joi Ito]
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6:46 PM Comments (0)
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Sunday, April 10, 2005

It's Time for a Conversation with your Computer
It took almost thirty years to get decent speech recognition programs on our computers. But if they're good enough to translate our words into characters, they can't engage in a conversation with us (I must say that some humans can't do either). But according to this article from Technology Research News, things are changing.

Computer scientists from Scotland and California have designed a multithreaded system which can anticipate what you're going to say and are also able to switch context when you jump from a topic to another. This approach, which could be used in a wide range of applications, is welcome. Unfortunately, these researchers have selected the name "Conversational Interface Architecture" for their system, which leads to the worrisome acronym CIA.

Anyway, the first commercial applications should be available within two years. Read more for other details and references.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 1:09 PM Comments (0)
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Going to Mars: The Human Challenges
Last year, the United States decided to send humans on Mars within thirty years. This sounds possible to me, but in this article, The Scientist warns that besides technical barriers, NASA will need to work to avoid biomedical risks to the human crews.

First, crew members will have to live together for almost three years in a small spacecraft, and this promiscuity can lead to possible conflicts or depressions. Bone and muscle losses are another serious issue for such a long mission. Finally, the crew will be exposed to cosmic radiation and will need to be protected from such damages as the destruction of their brain cells.

Fortunately, the author thinks that there are solutions to these three problems and offers us his vision. Read this summary if you don't have time to read the original article.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 1:06 PM Comments (0)
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The World's Fastest Nano-Optical Shutter
Physicists from several U.S. labs have clocked the transition of vanadium dioxide nanoparticles from a transparent to a reflective, mirror-like state, at less than 100 femtoseconds (a tenth of a trillionth of a second).

According to this Vanderbilt University report, this effect has a size limit: "it does not occur in particles that are smaller than about 20 atoms across (10 nanometers)." This opens the door -- if I can say so -- to windows that are transparent at low temperatures and block out sunlight when the temperature rises.

But other applications are possible, such as nanosensors which could measure the temperature at different locations within human cells, or "ultrafast" optical switches which could be used in communications and optical computing. Read this overview for more details, references and a surprising nanoscale image of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 1:02 PM Comments (0)
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Seagliders Break Endurance Records
Ocean-diving gliders have a large autonomy, mainly because they don't have propellers. And they are used to gather oceanographic data such as temperature or salinity at a fraction of the cost of research vessels. Several Seagliders built at the University of Washington (UW) just broke endurance records.

Two of these Seagliders, which are 1.8 m long and weigh 52 kg, were launched last September between California and Hawaii and reached the island of Kauai after 191 days in a trip of 1,860 miles. Both Seagliders did more than 500 dives down to 1,000 m during their trips. When a Seaglider reaches the surface, where it stays for only five minutes, it determines its position via GPS, uploads its data and downloads its new instructions via satellite.

Meanwhile, two other Seagliders are still somewhere in the Labrador Sea for more than 193 days now and have yet to be retrieved. Read this overview for more details, references and pictures.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 1:00 PM Comments (0)
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Physicists and Eye Doctors Design a 'Bionic Eye'
We're all getting older, and many of us will suffer from some alteration of our sense of vision. We might be one day affected by age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which causes blindness to 700,000 people in the Western world every year. But now, ophthalmologists and physicists at Stanford University have teamed up to design a 'bionic eye' .

This system works like some 'virtual reality' devices. A little video camera is mounted on transparent goggles allowing for simultaneous use of remaining natural vision. Images from the camera are processed by a microcomputer and projected on the retina.

The 'bionic eye' which also includes a solar-powered battery implanted in the iris, is currently tested with rats, but human testing could start within three years. Read this overview for more details, references and a diagram of this 'bionic eye' system.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 12:56 PM Comments (0)
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Saturday, April 09, 2005

Spammer sentenced to 9 years in prison
A spammer who sent out over 10 million emails a day has been sentenced to 9 years in prison in the first felony prosecution of its kind, The Globe and Mail reports. Prosecutors in the case said the man, Jeremy Jaynes, was among the top ten spammers in the world at the time of his arrest, grossing up to $750,000 a month. The sentance, however, has been postponed while the case is appealed. Jaynes remains held under a $1 million bond.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6:04 PM Comments (0)
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Friday, April 08, 2005

International Symposium on Online Journalism happening now
The 6th International Symposium on Online Journalism is now taking place at the University of Texas in Austin. Occasional Mindjack contributor JD Lasica is there taking part in a panel discussion and reporting on his blog. There's also a conference blog and a live webcast (although it's not cooperating with me right now, but maybe you'll have better luck with it).
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 7:29 PM Comments (0)
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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Lessig urges Macromedia to open up Flash
CNET News.com reports on Lawrence Lessig's talk to Flash developers at the Flashforward conference yesterday, in which he implored them, and Macromedia specifically, to be less restrictive with the platform. Lessig said that Flash would do well to follow HTML's example and allow its source code to be visible to everyone, effectively giving developers the ability to "steal" code from one another, which he suggested is one of the reasons HTML gained hold so quickly. But while he criticized Macromedia he praised Adobe for their Extensible Metadata Plaform, which lets developers embed Creative Commons licences in every format the company supports.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 9:26 PM Comments (0)
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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Online Viewing Tip: The Fifth Estate's Sticks and Stones
The CBC has put complete videos of some of the most popular documentaries from its Fifth Estate program online, including Sticks and Stones, which looks American media and its left vs. right tendencies. The documentary includes interviews with Al Franken, Ann Coulter, and Bernard Goldberg, among others, but not Bill O'Reilly, who refused to take part in it (the CBC also refused to have someone appear on O'Reilly's show).
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6:18 PM Comments (0)
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Congress reviewing Patriot Act
Hearings on the Patriot Act are now taking place in the House and Senate and will continue through May -- Wired News has a full report. Among the details revealed by Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez during his testimony is that, since Sept. 11, 2001, librarians have voluntarily handed over library records to law enforcement officials without requiring that they first seek a search warrant. Congress is specifically considering whether 16 so-called "sunset provisions" set to expire at the end of this year should be renewed.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 3:24 PM Comments (0)
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Gore launches Current TV network
Al Gore has unveiled his long talked about cable TV network, now called Current, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The network is aimed at younger viewers (18-34) and plans to use the Internet to a greater extent than other television networks, including airing short news features submitted online by viewers. Current will also provide video editing tools on its website. The network goes on the air August 1st, but it will only be available in 19 million homes in the US to start with. It doesn't look like it will actually be broadcast on the Internet.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 12:44 PM Comments (0)
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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Dancing With Data
Some students are luckier than others -- or have more fun. For example, this Stanford University report says that some of the students there may have some hard and physical work to do: dancing.

But in exchange, they're working with sensors, cameras and computers to study how a dancer of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company is moving. This must be exhilarating, especially after finding -- and confirming -- that he acts as a 'biomechanical rebel.'

This overview contains more details and references. It also includes a picture showing how this Merce Cunningham company dancer was equipped with reflective markers for the cameras tracking his dance moves.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 2:16 PM Comments (0)
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Burn Grass, Get Green Biofuel
Do you want to use an economical and environmentally friendly biofuel? Just grow grass. Burning grass pellets will produce an energy-efficient biofuel, according to Jerry Cherney, a professor of agriculture at Cornell University. In this news release, "Grass as Fuel," he says "Burning grass pellets makes sense; after all, it takes 70 days to grow a crop of grass for pellets, but it takes 70 million years to make fossil fuels."

Unfortunately, there is anything like a grass political lobby in Washington, so he might not be heard. But with current oil prices, more and more people will be tempted to use cheaper -- and cleaner -- sources of energy. This overview contains many more details and references about this environmentally friendly biofuel made from grass.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 2:10 PM Comments (0)
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Carry Your Own Robotic Plane
According to this very brief note from New Scientist, US soldiers will soon be equipped with individual robotic aircrafts. The Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) is a project from DARPA and is developed by Honeywell which is testing it since January 2005.

The small plane, which will be carried in a backpack, is 13-inch high and weighs about 12 pounds. It is designed as a ducted fan air vehicle, and flies like a helicopter. Today, its propeller uses gasoline, but a heavy fuel version should be available in 2006. The MAV will be used for surveillance and recognition missions and will be available day and night because of its normal and thermal cameras transmitting images to a ground station.

This overview contains more details, references and pictures about this unmanned backpackable robotic plane.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 2:07 PM Comments (0)
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A 2,000 Tons Radar Is Going to Alaska
According to this short article from Reuters, the U.S. is building the Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX). The SBX is part of the Ballistic Missile Defense System, and will be used to track, discriminate and assess incoming target missiles.

The platform, which is about 240 feet wide and 390 feet long, will measure more than 280 feet from its keel to the top of the radar dome. After extensive tests in the Gulf of New Mexico, this 2,000 tons radar will start its 7-month trip to Alaska after a detour around Cape Horn.

And this radar will be manned by approximately 65 crew members. Read more for other details, references and pictures about the gigantic Sea-Based X-Band Radar.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 2:02 PM Comments (0)
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Robotic Nanotech Swarms on Mars... in 2034
NASA is testing a shape-shifting robot called "TETwalker" for tetrahedral walker, because it looks like a flexible pyramid. It has been tested in the lab and at the McMurdo station in Antarctica to test it under conditions more like those on Mars. Now, it is on the way to be -- really -- miniaturized by using micro- and nano-electro-mechanical systems. These robots will eventually join together to form "autonomous nanotechnology swarms" (ANTS).

When it's done, in about thirty years, these nanotech swarms will "alter their shape to flow over rocky terrain or to create useful structures like communications antennae and solar sails." So in 2034, nanotechnology will land on Mars. Read more for other details and references about the TETwalker and the ANTS project.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 1:58 PM Comments (0)
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The Rise of the Toilets
Two recent short articles from BBC News Online ("City toilets rise to the occasion") and the Register ("Rise of the man-eating cyberloo") are pointing at the installation of futuristic retractable urinals in the center of Aberdeen, Scotland.

The City Council considers that there are not enough public toilets, especially at night and that these 6 feet retractable toilets will prevent men to urinate in the streets. These Urilifts will be remotely controlled by city employees and can welcome three men simultaneously.

There is also a version for women, called Urilady, but apparently the City Council is not considering such an installation for the moment. This overview contains other details, references and pictures, including one from the Urilady, neglected by the press -- and the City Council.
:: posted by Roland Piquepaille, 1:56 PM Comments (0)
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Sunday, April 03, 2005

Announcement: Advertise Directly on Mindjack
Thanks to a nifty service from Ad Brite you can now buy text ads directly on Mindjack -- just click on the link in this post or any of the "Your Ad Here" links on the top of each page. This is the most cost-effective way of reaching Mindjack's incredibly smart and well-connected readership. It's not easy to impress them, but if you do you'll be reaching the people that are shaping digital culture. We also have other advertising options available, just drop us an email if you'd like more information.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Update: The statistics currently listed for Mindjack on Ad Brite are way off -- it seems to take a few days for everything to register properly. I can assure you the average cost per click is not $90.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 8:02 PM Comments (0)
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Friday, April 01, 2005

Fictionsuit collaborative fiction website announced
Erstwhile Mindjack contributor Mike Sugarbaker has just announced his latest and biggest project to date, a collaborative fiction website called Fictionsuit. He describes Fictionsuit as a "Wikipedia for things that donít exist and havenít been dreamt of yet", which is enough to get us interested. Also of note is that all Fictionsuit projects will be under a Creative Commons license. Look for it to officially launch sometime this summer, but a closed beta version should be up and running by the end of May.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 2:01 PM Comments (0)
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Past Features:

feature: january 26, 2006
The Telephone Repair Handbook
by Mark Pesce & Angus Fraser
In a three-part feature, Mark Pesce and Angus Fraser propose a complete rethinking of a technology that everyone depends on: the telephone.

interview: may 30, 2005
Brooke Burgess: The Mindjack Interview
by Melanie McBride
Mindjack's Melanie McBride recently caught up with Broken Saints creator Brooke Burgess to talk about long form Flash and the way of this Broken Saints warrior.

feature: may 13, 2005
Piracy is Good? How Battlestar Galactica Killed Broadcast TV
by Mark Pesce
In the first part of a two-part article, Mark Pesce looks at how a re-visioned 70s camp classic changed television forever.

feature: may 21, 2005
Piracy is Good? Part Two: The New Laws of Television
by Mark Pesce
In the final part of a two-part article, Mark Pesce lays out some new rules for television, which he says are good for everyone — unless you're a broadcaster.

feature: february 01 , 2005
The Future of Money
by Paul Hartzog
Mindjack's Paul Hartzog examines the changing nature of money and what might be in store for the currency of tomorrow.

feature: november 05, 2004
Cities Without Borders: Digital Culture and Decentralization
by Paul Hartzog
Paul Hartzog rethinks sociologist Saskia Sassen's idea of the Global City and how it may or may not apply to digital culture.

feature: august 31, 2004
Banner Ads Invade Gamespace
by Tony Walsh
What do you get when you cross the world's most measurable medium with the world's most immersive medium? Video games peppered with Internet-style banner-ads. This new method of marketing allows measurable demographic data to be collected from the elusive online gaming community, targeting dynamically-downloaded advertisements at specific demographics. The promise of a new revenue stream is obviously attractive to advertisers and game publishers, but will the idea win over gamers?

feature: july 20, 2004
Multiplayer Gaming's Quiet Revolution
by Tony Walsh
Today's avatars in massively multiplayer environments like Second Life are giving their users the gift of expression and infusing games with something more, soul.

feature: june 25, 2004
Supernova 2004
by J.D. Lasica Reports
Blogging, collaborative work tools and the drawbacks of social software took center stage at this year's Supernova. The third annual tech-in-the-workspace conference — "Where the decentralized future comes together!" — drew more than 150 technology thought leaders, software startup CEOs and other heavy hitters (alas, fewer than 20 of them women) to the Westin Hotel in Santa Clara, Calif., on June 24-25.

feature: may 24, 2004
Will Digital Radio Be Napsterized?
by J.D. Lasica
The Recording Industry Association of America has discovered that digital radio broadcasts can be copied and redistributed over the Internet. The horror. And so the RIAA, the music business's trade and lobbying group, has asked the Federal Communications Commission to step in and impose an "audio broadcast flag" on certain forms of digital radio.

feature: may 17, 2004
Redefining Television
by Mark Pesce
In the earliest days of television, writers like George Orwell in 1984 and Ray Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451 projected television as the instrumentality of a totalitarian future - a monolithic entity dispensing propaganda. And, if any of you occasionally watch Fox News, you can see they weren't that far off the mark. But here's the thing: the monolithic days of television are numbered. Actually, they've already passed - though, as yet, very few people realize this.

feature: april 19, 2004
Linked Out: Blogging, Equality, and the Future
by Melanie McBride
With the mainstream media's interest in blogging at a fever pitch, Mindjack's Melanie McBride takes a critical look at the future of blogging and talks to some of the bloggers trying to shape it.

feature: april 12, 2004
"The killing fields"
Copyright Law and its Challengers
by J.D. Lasica
A profile of Jed Horovitz and his documentary Wilfull Infringement, about his struggles with Disney over copyright laws, and other individuals who have run into similar problems in their creative pursuits.

feature: march 11, 2004
Is Nothing Sacred?
Digital Music for a Digital Age

by Ian Dawe
"Is nothing sacred?" This was the rallying cry, some years back, concerning sampling. Pioneered by the fledgling hip-hop artists, with its roots in music concrete, sampling is the art of extracting snippets of music from other recordings and re-assembling them into a new piece, usually based around some kind of electronic beat. Theft, it was called. Another phrase applied to it was "art".

feature: december 12, 2003
Reunderstanding Movies
by Donald Melanson

Social software is the latest "next big thing" to get technophiles excited and VCs interested. What exactly it is, few can describe. In some respects, it is nothing new at all, but rather a means of connecting and defining previously disparate elements. Mindjack editor Donald Melanson takes a look at one group that has taken this idea and run with it, before the idea ever had a name: film and DVD enthusiasts.

feature: october 29, 2003
12 Variables for Understanding Online Communities
by Andrea Baker and Bob Watson
This article is an attempt to discuss some of the qualities that define virtual communities. It is a work in process, an exploration. The twelve variables we've selected are most likely not all that exist, just the ones we find most important in our thinking right now. These variables struck us as important ways in which communities are differentiated despite the type of software chosen to carry a given community.

feature: october 29, 2003
Deconstructing Knowledge
by Nicholas Carroll
"I was puzzled the first time I read about "knowledge management." How can you manage knowledge -- much less shuffle it around an organization -- when knowledge is a construct in an individual mind? People in information science and neurobiology were of the same opinion: you can manage information, but not knowledge. Knowledge is something that lives between your ears. It has to be reduced to information to be organized, stored, and transmitted."

feature: september 18, 2003
The Myth of Fingerprints
by Ian Dawe
Mindjack's newest contributor, Ian Dawe, examines the history of identification technology, from passwords to fingerprints to DNA.

feature:
The Trouble with e-Voting
by Sarah Granger
e-Voting is one of those things Iíve been dreading for several years. Since it first became a technological possibility, the thought of all of the security risks involved has been swarming in my head like a hornetís nest. On the surface, it sounds like a beautifully democratic thing Ė each person anywhere in the world just needs to get him or herself to a computer in order to vote. But when one puts together the current legal ramifications and the technological flaws, itís actually rather scary.

gear:
Have iPod, Will Travel
by Raffi Krikorian
Raffi reviews the iTrip FM Transmitter for the iPod from Griffin Technology.

Reloaded: The SimMatrix
Bryan Alexander on The Matrix Reloaded
A sequel to The Matrix faces a series of challenges. It must satisfy, then exceed its audience’s appetite for imaginative fight scenes. It needs to work with the science fiction concept of split-level reality, going further without undoing the premise. Fidelity to an ambitiously defined alternate world isn’t crucial, yet – unlike the situation of the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings movies. However, a sequel is bound to plumb the first movie’s underworld of technological fear and cultural theory riffing. The Matrix: Reloaded attempts all of these, but diffuses, throwing itself into an open, unsettled finale

feature: may 26, 2003
Taste Tribes
by Joshua Ellis
Josh examines the online, interconnected groups of people that you turn to for advice on music, art, fashion, books, etc., and the broader implications of these taste tribes.

interview: may 05, 2003
Thinking Outside The MUD
Ludicorp CEO Stewart Butterfield on the Game Neverending
Mike Sugarbaker talks to Stewart Butterfield about his company's take on massively-multiplayer gaming.

feature: march 21, 2003
The State of Digital Rights Management
Bryan Alexander reports from the Berkely DRM Conference.
In February the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology held a conference to demonstrate and push the limits of DRM. For a sunny weekend in northern California, representatives of computer science, entertainment, media companies, Congress, the FTC, European copyright law, and the occasional cypherpunk, offered their versions of DRM, while holding each other's notions up to fierce scrutiny.

culture: march 21, 2003
Two Degrees of Separation
by Sarah Granger

In an entirely unscientific study, Sarah examines the uncanny social connections that sprout from the Silicon Valley populus.

books: march 10, 2003
More Machine Than Flesh
by J. Johnson
A review essay of Rodney Brooks' Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us.

feature: february 17, 2003
Spinning the Web
by Nicholas Carroll
"Online reputation management" is reminiscent of the political term "spin control." But the Internet is not traditional media, and opportunities for controlling one's reputation are quite different – in theory unlimited, but in practice limited by an almost inherent lack of focus, and the countervailing weight of mainstream media.

feature: november 04, 2002
Inside The Internet Archive
by Doug Roberts
Tucked away in one of the seediest neighborhoods of San Francisco is a roomful of over two hundred computers with a terabyte of data stored on every three.

interview: october 28, 2002
The Transmetropolitan Condition
An Interview with Warren Ellis

by Melanie McBride
There has never been a better time to read the work of comic book legend Warren Ellis. From the formulaic pornography of news coverage to the on-going ineptitude of our world "leaders", Ellis delivers an intelligent and savagely funny antidote to global idiocy. The creator of Transmetropolitan, Planetary and Global Frequency talks to Mindjack about his work, our times and the future.

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