The Big Think

June 14, 2015

Glenn Reynolds: What if Pearl Harbor happened and nobody noticed?

Filed under: Computing — jasony @ 8:36 pm

Glenn Reynolds: What if Pearl Harbor happened and nobody noticed?:

“‘Hackers linked to China have gained access to the sensitive background information submitted by intelligence and military personnel for security clearances, U.S. officials said Friday, describing a cyberbreach of federal records dramatically worse than first acknowledged.’

And there are lessons in this debacle, if we are willing to learn them.

Aside from regular federal personnel records, which provide a royal route to blackmail, intimidation and identity theft for present and retired federal workers, the hackers also stole a trove of military and intelligence records that could be even more valuable. The forms stolen were Standard Form 86, in which employees in sensitive positions list their weaknesses: past arrests, bankruptcies, drug and alcohol problems, etc. The 120 plus pages of questions also include civil lawsuits, divorce information, Social Security numbers, and information on friends, roommates, spouses and relatives.

The result? About 14 million current and former federal employees are in a state of collective panic over the loss of their information.

Well this isn’t good.

September 19, 2014

Haters Beware

Filed under: Computing,Science,Space,Technology — jasony @ 9:17 am

NVIDIA’s new GPU proves moon landing truthers wrong:

“‘It turns out there is a lot of information about the astronomical bodies floating out there in space,’ he explains. ‘Starting with the sun. The sun itself is 128,500 lux — that’s lumens per square meter – but it turns out the moon is a crappy reflector of light.’ Daly discovered that the moon is only 12-percent reflective, and absorbs most of the sunlight hitting it. On the other hand, 12-percent of 128,500 lux is quite a lot. ‘It’s the equivalent to ten 100-watt lightbulbs per square meter of light bouncing off the moon.’ More than enough make Aldrin visible under the lander’s shadow.

While this exercise showed that the moon was reflective enough to highlight Aldrin, something was still wrong. Daly noticed that the astronaut’s side wasn’t lit the same in NVIDIA’s simulation as it was in NASA’s photograph, but he wasn’t sure why. ‘A couple of people really into the moon landing told me, ‘by the way, you should take into account Neil Armstrong and the light coming off of him.’ At first I was like, yeah, whatever — the sun is doing all the work — something the size of a guy in a space suit isn’t going to contribute much light.’ He quickly learned his assumption was wrong: the material on the outside of the astronaut’s suits is 85-percent reflective. ‘Sure enough, we put him in there, adjusted the reflectivity of his suit, put him in the position where the camera would be… and it contributed another 10% or so of light to the side of Buzz Aldrin.'”

Pretty neat pics at the link

August 14, 2014

Viv, Coming Soon to An Everything Near You

Filed under: Computing,Technology — jasony @ 3:15 pm

Siri’s Inventors Are Building a Radical New AI That Does Anything You Ask | Enterprise | WIRED:

“Viv is an open system that will let innumerable businesses and applications become part of its boundless brain. The technical barriers are minimal, requiring brief ‘training’ (in some cases, minutes) for Viv to understand the jargon of the specific topic. As Viv’s knowledge grows, so will its understanding; its creators have designed it based on three principles they call its ‘pillars’: It will be taught by the world, it will know more than it is taught, and it will learn something every day. As with other AI products, that teaching involves using sophisticated algorithms to interpret the language and behavior of people using the system—the more people use it, the smarter it gets. By knowing who its users are and which services they interact with, Viv can sift through that vast trove of data and find new ways to connect and manipulate the information.”

June 9, 2014

Turing, Complete

Filed under: Computing,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 2:41 pm

Eugene—the supercomputer, not 13-year-old—first to beat the Turing Test: “”

Pretty cool milestone, actually. I, for one, welcome our computer overlords.

February 5, 2014


Filed under: Computing,Humor and Fun,Technology — jasony @ 5:24 pm

Gates Spends Entire First Day Back in Office Trying to Install Windows 8.1:

“REDMOND, WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Bill Gates’s first day at work in the newly created role of technology adviser got off to a rocky start yesterday as the Microsoft founder struggled for hours to install the Windows 8.1 upgrade.

The installation hit a snag early on, sources said, when Mr. Gates repeatedly received an error message informing him that his PC ran into a problem that it could not handle and needed to restart.

After failing to install the upgrade by lunchtime, Mr. Gates summoned the new Microsoft C.E.O. Satya Nadella, who attempted to help him with the installation, but with no success.

While the two men worked behind closed doors, one source described the situation as ‘tense.’

‘Bill is usually a pretty calm guy, so it was weird to hear some of that language coming out of his mouth,’”

I’ll bet.

January 24, 2014

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

Filed under: Business,Computing — jasony @ 1:28 pm

Mac, Then and Now.png

When I was in college I got a job as a photographer to save up the $2500 to buy the computer on the left. A few years ago I plunked down a little less than that to buy the one on the right. How very far we’ve come.

January 21, 2014

Click This

Filed under: Computing,Technology — jasony @ 10:34 am

Click this: All about mechanical keyboards and why you need one | PCWorld: “Keyboards are of two kinds: (1) the cheapo, no-name slabs that are bundled by the millions with PCs, and (2) the ones that are actually worth using—and in most cases, that’s a mechanical keyboard. Stalwart friend to gamers and power typists alike, the mechanical keyboard’s physical operation and durability make it the gold standard for computer use. It’s not the only option out there—good alternatives abound for wireless, ergonomic, and other purposes—but if nothing else, ditching that freebie is something everyone should do. Read on to learn more about why a mechanical keyboard should be in your future.”

Considering a replacement mechanical keyboard for when this old Mac white one gives up the ghost. It’s still going very strong but it’s diiiiirty, and I don’t want to take it apart to clean it lest I break something.

Erin’s new iMac has one of the thin profile keyboards and she likes it, but I’m stuck on this white clicky one. I can really move fast using it, and when you spend 10+ hours a day on a tool, getting one you really like, and that gets out of your way, is important. One of the reasons I still rock the Kensington Turbo Mouse Pro trackball. Love that thing. They’re out of production and replacements go for over $100 on ebay. Worth. It.

October 6, 2013

Google in Jeopardy

Filed under: Computing — jasony @ 8:42 pm

Google in Jeopardy: What If IBM’s Watson Dethroned the King of Search?:

“Remember Watson, IBM’s Jeopardy champion? A couple years ago, Watson beat the top two human champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter at a game where even interpreting the cue is complex with language nuances. (Not to mention finding answers at lightning speed on any subject matter.) Yet after the initial excitement, most people – except for a notable few – forgot about Watson. But we need to pay attention, and now. Because Watson heralds the emergence of ‘thinking machines’ capable of knowledge creation that will trump today’s knowledge retrieval machines. This could be the beginning of a serious challenge to Google, whose most ambitious initiatives — from wearables to cars to aging — are funded through its thriving advertising business.”

September 21, 2013


Filed under: Computing,Maker — jasony @ 8:07 am

Been doing a lot of Illustrator work lately and I’m really enjoying learning the program. It makes even artistically-challenged people like me able to make nice illustrations, and it’s almost required to use many of the machines at TechShop. To that end, here are

95 amazing Adobe Illustrator tutorials

September 14, 2013


Filed under: Computing — jasony @ 7:44 am


“If an Android device (phone or tablet) has ever logged on to a particular Wi-Fi network, then Google probably knows the Wi-Fi password. Considering how many Android devices there are, it is likely that Google can access most Wi-Fi passwords worldwide. And isn’t it now, at this point, negligence to allow Android devices access to any business wi-fi network?”

June 4, 2013

How to Choose the Best Mechanical Keyboard (and Why You’d Want To)

Filed under: Computing — jasony @ 12:40 pm

How to Choose the Best Mechanical Keyboard (and Why You’d Want To): “There’s really no substitute for that solid, clicking sensation under your fingers as you type, and the satisfying sound each key makes when you press it.”

I have an old Apple Extended keyboard and just keep repurposing it every time I get a new computer. It’s great!

May 26, 2013

Just Sayin’

Filed under: Computing,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 8:59 pm


May 14, 2013


Filed under: Computing — jasony @ 10:47 am

D-Wave quantum computer matches the tenth ranked supercomputer for speed: “How did the D-Wave computer do on the tests? On the largest problem sizes tested, the V5 chip found optimal solutions in less than half a second, while the best classical software solver required 30 minutes to find those same solutions. This makes the D-Wave computer over 3,600 times faster than the classical computer in these tests. This puts the effective speed of the D-Wave quantum computer on this class of problems at roughly the same as the tenth ranked supercomputer in the world as per the November 2012 Top500 list – the IBM/DARPS Trial Subset, with 63,360 64-bit cores that produce a maximum floating point performance of 1.5 petaFlops. The comparison shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but suggests that the 439 qubits of the D-Wave computer can solve such problems as quickly as do huge massively parallel supercomputers.”

May 12, 2013


Filed under: Computing,Technology — jasony @ 5:02 pm

Commercial quantum computer leaves PC in the dust – physics-math – 10 May 2013 – New Scientist: “McGeoch and her colleague Cong Wang of Simon Fraser University, in Burnaby, ran the problem on a D-Wave Two computer, which has 439 qubits formed from superconducting niobium loops. They also tried to solve the problem using three leading algorithms running on a high-end desktop computer. The D-Wave machine turned out to be around 3600 times faster than the best conventional algorithm.”

(Via .)

March 4, 2013


Filed under: Computing,Science — jasony @ 1:01 pm

Incredible algorithm reveals invisible motion in everyday video

January 21, 2013

Generally Speaking

Filed under: Business,Computing,Education,Science — jasony @ 6:02 pm

One thing that separates the great innovators from everyone else is that they seem to know a lot about a wide variety of topics. They are expert generalists. Their wide knowledge base supports their creativity.

As it turns out, there are two personality traits that are key for expert generalists: Openness to Experience and Need for Cognition.

Openness to Experience is one of the Big Five personality characteristics identified by psychologists. The Big Five are the characteristics that reflect the biggest differences between people in the way they act. Openness to Experience is the degree to which a person is willing to consider new ideas and opportunities. Some people enjoy the prospect of doing something new and thinking about new things. Other people prefer to stick with familiar ideas and activities.

As you might expect, high levels of Openness to Experience can sometimes be related to creativity. After all, being creative requires doing something that has not been done before. If you are not willing to do something new, then it’s hard to be creative.

Picasso, Kepler, and the Benefits of Being an Expert Generalist:

Related: and oldie but a goodie.

October 3, 2012

Flat Pack

Filed under: Computing,Maker — jasony @ 12:38 pm

I see some serious potential with this software. Like, serious potential. Wonder how much it’ll set me back?

Great Jumping Jehoshaphat. It’s free! I’ll be unavailable for a few…. weeks.

Couple this with a ShopBot and some fiberglass skills and… can you imagine the potential?

August 8, 2012

Just Do It

Filed under: Business,Computing,Education — jasony @ 1:34 pm

An Unexpected Ass Kicking | Blog Of Impossible Things: “I’ve always believed that nothing is withheld from us what we have conceived to do. Most people think the opposite – that all things are withheld from them which they have conceived to do and they end up doing nothing.’

‘Wait’, I said, pausing at his last sentence ’What was that quote again?’

‘Nothing is withheld from us what we have conceived to do.’

That’s good, who said that?

God did.


God said it and there were only two people who believed it, you know who?

Nope, who?

God and me, so I went out and did it.”

Read the whole thing. H/T Ross Richie for the link.

May 1, 2012

By and Large, One of the Best Casemods I’ve Ever Seen

Filed under: Computing — jasony @ 5:22 am

Russian Wall-E Case Mod | English Russia: “”

April 27, 2012


Filed under: Computing,Disclosure,Macintosh,Technology — jasony @ 12:13 pm

Living in Public: What Happens When You Throw Privacy Out the Window

Wherein a writer turns off all privacy filters online for 3 weeks and then analyzes what happens. The result? Well, the targeted ads are kind of nice when you’re shopping (they save you a Google search or two), but in the end, the writer goes back to the private life. Erin and I run Adblock Plus, Ghostery, and DNT+ on all our machines, and I take the extra step of only allowing Javascripts to execute on my laptop on an as-needed basis by using NoScript (extra security for banking, for instance). NoScript is a slightly less convenient way to surf in that it probably adds 30 seconds to my surfing every day, but I feel that the security and privacy is worth it. As for the others, they’re 100% transparent and actually speed up my surfing quite a big because they keep all those ads from even downloading… thus saving more bandwidth for what I actually requested in the first place.

I got into a (polite) disagreement on FB a few weeks ago about security and privacy versus the unspoken agreement that we all have to allow ourselves to be tracked as part of the social contract we make in exchange for a mostly free internet. I’m not convinced of this position at all— if you broadcast a tv or radio signal for free there’s nothing – no legal or moral argument– that prevents me from just listening to the content. That’s why God and Sony created a MUTE button after all. The person I was talking to about this didn’t see the connection but the fact that she does marketing for a living and thus depends on mailing lists and selective targeting to make their job more effective somewhat diminishes the argument in my mind.

Regardless, whenever I get on a completely unprotected (i.e. un adblocked, un-Do-Not-Tracked) machine I’m always appalled at all the flashy movement that’s taking place on the edges of the screen. Is this what everyone else puts up with every day? Seriously? It’s incredibly distracting and borderline anxiety-producing to have virtual sidewalk-hawkers constantly throwing stuff in your face trying to get you to punch the monkey or chase the mute button. Our surfing experience at home is fast, anonymous, quiet, and very non-distracting.

Do yourself a favor and give AdBlockPlus, Ghostery, and/or DoNotTrack+ a test drive for a week (and if you’re more technically minded, you can also try NoScript for blocking auto-running Javascript). You can install them all even, though I’d try them a few at a time just to make sure they play nice together (they do on all our machines). I’ve been running them all for well over a year (ABP goes back about five years) and seldom have any compatibility issues.

I think you’ll be amazed at how much better a “quiet” internet can be.

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