A USB hub to die for...

01/31/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Silly

Link: http://www.firebox.com/index.html?dir=firebox&action=product&pid=1713

Sometimes the geek in me cannot be restrained. This has to be one of the best USB hubs I've seen yet.


Scott Loses A Lot Of Bets

01/28/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Distractions, People

Someone did us the honour of posting the video of our dear coworker and sometime bet-loser doing his strangely-appropriate imitation of William Hung's "She Bangs".

Scott, you're a good sport :)


Musings On The Far-Right-Wing/Fundamentalist Connection

01/28/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Politics, Religion

A thought struck me when deep in good conversation with a friend of mine the other day that the seemingly strong association between right wing philosophy and fundamentalist Christianity is one of a particular match-up with philosophy.

This is partly conjecture on my part, but I'm willing to predict that there's a kernel of truth...

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As the spam turns...

01/25/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

We just got what appears to be our first denial of service attack today. Alas, we feel insulted: a mere 3700 hits in half an hour from distributed IPs.

More seriously, I have no idea why. This accomplished nothing. It's nowhere near enough to take out Nimblebrain. It wasn't sustained nor was did it involve enough simultaneous hits. I did get some spamverts sent via the blog mail system but that's about it.

The best I can think of is that some wannabe with a kiddie-script botnet decided to play with his new toy, but isn't all that clear on how it works.

Anyway, Ritchie's been IP banning so that should be it until the next round.


Sloan Digital Sky Survey Queries?

01/23/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Science

I had no idea that the data in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey was open to the public, but it is, and you can put your astronomy and database smarts together to help them find things, as well.

Because of the way their program has been put together, it's great at finding many kinds of objects, but sometimes does not recognize larger objects properly. So they are asking for help in finding HII regions, regions filled with ionized hydrogen.

There's a tutorial on how to put together database queries for the data, here's the SQL query tool, and the schema browser lets you look at the table structure, which has tables for ROSAT information, measured spectra, etc.

There's also a sky navigation tool that you can explore the sky with, and where you can input some of the coordinates from your queries to try a visual identification.

I'm impressed with the accessibility of the tools.

If my brain were less addled, I could certainly help them out in their HII quest :)


Amiga OS 4.0

01/23/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Announcements [A], Programming

It's being reviewed on Ars Technica, and it's out in a final release version.

I find that spectacularly odd. I owned an Amiga; it took me through university, got me onto the Internet before most folks did, including the world wide web, and let me work with graphics, doing cataract surgery animation for Gimbel Eye Center back in the day, putting together park path guides, and making drilling and gas animation. It took years upon years for an almost-equally-passable paint program to show up on PCs.

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Possum # 1 Versus Minister

01/23/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, People, Religion

There has been an interesting little saga going on over at Atheist in a Mini-van, regarding an incident where one of the bloggers' two young ones (Possum # 1) write a surprisingly eloquent essay in respond to a 'surprise essay' (much like a surprise quiz).

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01/22/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Distractions, Thoughts, Science

I just encountered this little gem of a quote in the book, The New Physics : For The 21st Century on page 185:

The word laser is an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, (Actually, most lasers are not operated as amplifiers with an input and output beam but as stand-alone oscillators; however, the acronym with "o" instead of "a" has less appeal!)

Fortunately for us, the cool, destructive applications involve amplification, or else we would be perhaps agog at the use of loser beams in the 22nd century.

They'd probably figure out a way around that, though, perhaps by switching the "L" of light with... "P" for photons?

POSER beams! Even better!


Proteins to Music

01/20/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Distractions, Thoughts, Science

Now this is an unusual site.

Not only is it chock-full of information about genetics, but they've picked a rather unusual means to present protein sequences to music.

Every three DNA 'letters' codes for a particular amino acid, so they have put together music such that each triplet of DNA letters plays as three notes while a foreground note plays a note, which is higher the more hydrophilic ("water-loving") the corresponding amino acid is.

To top it off, they also add some instrument changes, depending on whether the amino acids code for common structure in proteins, like the alpha helix, played by a flute (which so rarely sounds like a flute on sound cards).

They make small variations on the theme for some of the other "songs". Representing a bit of protein with spots that bind calcium, the parts that correspond to the calcium-binding will play vibraphone in the background.

There's a spot where they try to represent all the of the varieties of beta globin between species. It's impressive how very un-different human beta globin (part of hemoglobin in blood) is from tree shrews... and how little even those differences matter to their functionality in carrying oxygen around.


Behind Apple's pay-to-play pre-N driver

01/18/07 | by Adam | Categories: Macintosh

Link: http://mjtsai.com/blog/2007/01/16/buy-base-station-to-get-software-update/

Apple recently released their new version of the Airport base station with 802.11 pre-N support. There's nothing particularly special but what has got a lot of people annoyed is that Apple has also been including 802.11 pre-N hardware in their revised laptops released prior to the Airport. However, in order to activate the pre-N functionality, Apple is requiring a payment for the new driver.

Sounds really cheap on Apple's part, right?

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Billions Of Gaps!

01/17/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Religion, Science

Pat over at Red State Rabble just had to find something else someone said to make my blood boil!

The joke that we have been making for the past many years is that every time we discover a fossil that fills in a missing link, we've just created two missing links. At least, it just never seemed to matter how many we found, we were always challenged to explain a different gap.

I never expected such an asinine concept to blossom in book form, though admittedly, I am just going by the summary here on their site:

In the book Simmons shows that as modern science has progressed from the visible to the invisible (microscopic, submicroscopic, genetic, biochemical and genetic) the numbers of missing links have skyrocketed. Every "link" discovered brings many more questions (missing links) than answers.

To celebrate this manifestation of hallucination-made-print, I hereby present the following graphic, graphs according to creationists:

Creationist Graphs

I'm sure there are some that go this far with God of the gaps, but I'm not sure where they are.

'Inferences are harder to draw when you fill in more data points' seems to be the implication of so many of the missing link arguments I have ever heard. It's as if pictures sent via noisy faxes are somehow worse than pictures represented by constellations in the sky.


Liddle Stirs It Up

01/16/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, People, Religion, Science

I must admit, after seeing the sort of commentary and reaction she generated with her extremely well-spoken remarks about evolutionary theory, Elizabeth Liddle has earned herself a new fan. Well, there's actually a line-up of fans now; I might just be able to make out the front of the queue.

Essentially, she took the words of William Dembski, a pioneer of the scientifically vacuous 'Intelligent Design' movement, at face value, and used his operational definition of intelligence to show that the random mutation plus natural selection process is intelligent, according to that very definition.

It's a long read of the saga over at Panda's Thumb.

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"There're Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow...

01/15/07 | by Adam | Categories: Silly, YouTube

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pe4WA58rMu0&eurl=

I could be wrong, but I believe this is probably the first time "Star Trek" (as opposed to "Star Wars") has been referenced on the floor of the American House of Representatives.

It's a sort of milestone I suppose.

(Update 2007/01/25: My mistake; it wasn't the Senate; now corrected.)


International Breast Milk Project

01/14/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Distractions, Thoughts, Ethics, People

Perusing the surprisingly interesting Freakonomics blog (I reviewed his book here), I came across his entry on the International Breast Milk Project, started by Jill Youse, who was producing way more breast milk than her baby could ever drink. With the charity so far, they have sent two cases of breast milk to Durban in South Africa, which has been ravaged pretty nastily by AIDS and is probably set to suffer even more from it through AIDS denialism.

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