The robots among us#

If robotics appears poised to ride the same rocket that carried computing from silly to serious in our lifetime, it seems prudent to wonder in advance how 'bots will change war, work, even sex in our children's lifetimes - the only real issue in that last regard being which generation becomes the early adopters, and whether robo-shrinks can help them deal with the emotional fallout.

Lazy programming#

Lazy programming "is a general concept of delaying the processing of a function or request until the results are needed."

A DNA-driven world#

Instead of evolution happening only due to random mutations that survived selective pressure, we can see how by adding chromosomes to or exchanged between species, that thousands of changes could happen in an instant. Now they can happen not just by random chance but by deliberate human design and selection. Human thought and design and specific selection is now replacing Darwinian evolution.

Fluid, a site-specific browser for Leopard#

Fluid is a site-specific browser for Leopard.

Using Fluid, you can create [site-specific browsers] to run each of your favorite webapps as a separate desktop application. Fluid gives any webapp a home on your Mac OS X desktop complete with Dock icon, standard menu bar, and logical separation from your other web browsing activity.

Are humans evolving faster?#

Researchers discovered genetic evidence that human evolution is speeding up – and has not halted or proceeded at a constant rate, as had been thought – indicating that humans on different continents are becoming increasingly different.

A journey to the center of your mind#

In a wide-ranging talk, Vilayanur Ramachandran explores how brain damage can reveal the connection between the internal structures of the brain and the corresponding functions of the mind. He talks about phantom limb pain, synesthesia (when people hear color or smell sounds), and the Capgras delusion, when brain-damaged people believe their closest friends and family have been replaced with imposters.

The year in ideas#

[The New York Times Magazine] looks back on the passing year through a special lens: ideas. Editors and writers trawl the oceans of ingenuity, hoping to snag in our nets the many curious, inspired, perplexing and sometimes outright illegal innovations of the past 12 months. Then we lay them out on the dock, flipping and flopping and gasping for air, and toss back all but those that are fresh enough for our particular cut of intellectual sushi. For better or worse, these are 70 of the ideas that helped make 2007 what it was. Enjoy.

Google Chart API#

The Google Chart API returns a PNG-format image in response to a URL. Several types of image can be generated: line, bar, and pie charts for example. For each image type you can specify attributes such as size, colors, and labels. You can include a Chart API image in a webpage by embedding a URL within an tag. When the webpage is displayed in a browser the Chart API renders the image within the page.

Pretty damn spiffy.

Canon PowerShot G9

December 05, 2007

First of all, thanks to everyone who e-mailed me regarding the initial post about point-and-shoots — your comments, suggestions, and questions were much appreciated.

About a week after I published the aforementioned post, I picked up the FinePix F50,1 and a week after that I bought the Canon PowerShot G9, which I'm here to tell you is awesome. I'm in love with this camera. Plain and simple.

It's built like a tank and comes packed with "pro" features, and this combination combats well the inescapable thought in the back of your mind (if you shoot mostly with a DSLR) that you're taking throwaway shots on some shoddy point-and-shoot; indeed, you feel like you're taking legitimate photographs on a DSLR-in-the-making (save the shutter lag). Canon gets it right in its ad copy when it says something to the effect of, "It doesn't know it's not a digital SLR," a phrase buttressed by the camera's many features and niceties, including:

  • RAW support
  • Full manual shooting mode (plus aperture-priority mode)
  • 12.1 megapixel sensor
  • Available wide-angle, telephoto and macro supplementary lenses
  • 3-inch screen (which just looks wonderful)
  • Flash hot shoe
  • Optical image stabilizer
  • Face detection
  • Brilliant build quality (had to mention this again)
  • Optical viewfinder (not always the easiest thing to find in a point-and-shoot these days)

If you can't afford a DSLR, simply don't want something that large, or just want a less cumbersome complement to the DSLR you already own, and you are OK with not having the smallest camera on the block, then the PowerShot G9 is probably a good choice (assuming you have at least a moderate understanding of how to operate a camera outside of "auto").

Overall, it's a great little camera that I'm happy to have with me when my DSLR just isn't practical.

Various reviews you may find helpful: Digital Photography Review, PhotographyBLOG, and LetsGoDigital.

  1. While I liked the F50, I quickly realized that I just couldn't live without RAW and an optical viewfinder, and the camera was almost too small.   

The Mac OS X Leopard Windows API myth#

Proponents of the Mac OS X Leopard Windows API Myth are so convinced that Apple desperately needs to wedge Microsoft Windows into Mac OS X that they’ll run with any hint that might suggest a plausible way for this to happen. The latest take on the subject is that Mac OS X Leopard loads PE files and requests Windows DLL files, which more than a few pundits have determined must be a new development because Tiger didn’t do this. Therefore, they’ve decided that the only sensical conclusion to jump to is that Apple is secretly implementing the Windows API so that Macs will be able to run Windows programs natively. They’re wrong, here’s why.

Google Mac Developer Playground#

Many developers at Google work on interesting open-source projects, some full time, some in their 20% time. This page is a collection of several such Mac-related projects.

Smart Archives v1.9.2

December 02, 2007

There are two main "fixes" in this release. The first has to do with trailing slashes in URIs. Up until this point I had been kind of forcing my aesthetic preference onto users of the plugin by manually chopping off their permalinks' trailing slashes (if they didn't do it on their own). However, this posed a problem for those that insisted on using a non-future-proof URI structure (e.g., "?p=129"), among other, fairly uncommon setups.

Also, it seems WP is now a bit smarter regarding the URI structures defined by users (at least that is what users of the plugin have told me). In light of these issues, I decided to remove altogether the code that nixes trailing slashes; if you want/need it going forward and you can't figure out a way to get WordPress to automatically build it into your permalinks, please e-mail me and I'll explain how to do it.

Another issue brought up by SA users was that some posts weren't always showing up in the order they were posted (within their respective months). Turns out, this was due to changes I made some time ago (for reasons I can't remember now), but it seems the changes are no longer needed with WP v2.3+.

Have at it.

Google Reader mobile removes an annoying step

December 02, 2007

At some point in the last few days Google fixed one of the most annoying things about Google Reader mobile, namely that it didn't automatically take you back to your list of feeds after you clicked "mark all as read," but instead just reloaded the page sans posts (if no unread items remained). That one extra step (i.e., having to load an effectively empty page) could make you want to pull your hair out, especially when without fast connectivity.

Also, the 20-item "mark all as read" issue has been remedied as well.

BMW uses Internet Protocol (IP) to network automotive controllers#

In order to guarantee the short response times required, we used features such as QoS and traffic shaping. Our experiments with prototypes demonstrated, that the real-time behavior far exceeded the requirements — even when we ran multimedia applications across the same network.

The secret to raising smart kids#

Our society worships talent, and many people assume that possessing superior intelligence or ability — along with confidence in that ability — is a recipe for success. In fact, however, more than 30 years of scientific investigation suggests that an overemphasis on intellect or talent leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unwilling to remedy their shortcomings.