Stealing Mona Lisa#

The shocking theft of the Mona Lisa, in August 1911, appeared to have been solved 28 months later, when the painting was recovered. In an excerpt from their new book, the authors suggest that the audacious heist concealed a perfect--and far more lucrative--crime.

Use your iPhone's volume controls as a shutter button#

Using Camera+ now feels just like a real camera. Your photos can be sharper because you can now hold your iPhone steadier with two hands instead of fumbling around for the shutter button on screen.

Just when I thought Camera+ couldn't get any better, they (attempt to) give me the one thing I want most (especially in light of the iPhone 4's perfect volume buttons). (I say "attempt to" because the update still hasn't been approved. Fingers are crossed.)

How a 1950s ballistic computer worked#

Here's a series of 1950s-vintage videos illustrating the workings of mechanical Navy ballistics computers — enormous arrays of switches and gears that are used to quickly and reliably do complex mathematics in response to changing wind, targets and other factors. It's a really good, easy-to-follow guide to the underlying logic in a computer, and it's excitingly mechanical.

Absolutely incredible.

Why our universe must have been born inside a black hole#

A small change to the theory of gravity implies that our universe inherited its arrow of time from the black hole in which it was born. "Accordingly, our own Universe may be the interior of a black hole existing in another universe."

Sleep well or don't wake at all

July 21, 2010

Since installing Mac OS X 10.6.4, more often than not my MacBook Pro refuses to wake from the sleep that's induced automatically once it's been disconnected from my 24" Apple LED Cinema Display. Little infuriates me more than when I have to power-cycle a machine to get it back. It's just not an option for me and my workflow.

After I experienced this twice in a row (it doesn't occur every time, which only makes it more annoying), I stopped everything and decided to figure out a way around it. An absurd way around it.

The following is the simplest method that works for my machine, and works every time. Whether it will work for your particular machine I can't say. Also, keep in mind that when my machine is plugged into the external display the lid always is closed.

  1. Wake the display. (I usually untether my machine from the external display in the morning, after the display has gone to sleep on its own because of my non-use.)
  2. Select "Sleep" from the  menu, and wait for the light on the front of the machine to start pulsing.
  3. Unplug a USB cable from the machine, but not the USB cable sprouting from the "omni"-cable connected to the external display. (In my case, I disconnect the USB cable tied to B&W's MM-1 speakers.) (Note that this will wake the machine from the sleep you just forced it into.)
  4. Unplug the USB cable connected to the external display.
  5. Unplug the Mini DisplayPort cable connected to the external display.
  6. Wait for the machine to sleep. (It will do this on its own because the lid is closed.)
  7. Wave a rubber chicken and count backwards from seven.

If I do all of that, my machine always is responsive when I open the lid.

I'm Remembering!#

Pop-culture nostalgery from the '80s & early '90s.

This is my new favorite site. I absolutely adore it, and you will too if you grew up in the '80s. (Via Russell Beattie.)

Everything you wanted to know about "Inception"#

I'll admit that I came out of the movie a little confused, but have since been able to piece everything together (I think), thanks in large part to this article.

Relatedly, I love this quip from David Sacks: "Inception is like an IQ test. How much you like it will depend on how well you think you did." So true.

Create an "AppleCare" user account#

Great tip. I'm ashamed to admit the idea never before crossed my mind. (In my defense, I've never needed to take a machine into Apple for servicing; after the first time you can bet I would have thought of this.)

Backyard Star Wars#

[We have] worked out many of the trickiest aspects of the photonic fence and have constructed prototypes that can indeed identify mosquitoes from many meters away, track the bugs in flight, and hit them with debilitating blasts of laser fire.

Brilliant. (Don't miss the incredibly apt illustration of a grill as the Death Star.)

GNU development under Mac OS X#

This is a small guide to setup a development environment in Mac OS X for doing GNU or other open-source software not specifically written for the Mac, but more for linux and other *nix's.

1-Bit Symphony#

Tristan Perich's 1-Bit Symphony is an electronic composition in five movements on a single microchip. Though housed in a CD jewel case, 1-Bit Symphony is not a recording in the traditional sense; it literally "performs" its music live when turned on. A complete electronic circuit--programmed by the artist and assembled by hand--plays the music through a headphone jack mounted into the case itself.