Monday, September 29, 2008

Safer Fertilizer

The New York Times has an article about a new process to make ammonium nitrate fertilizer unusable as an explosive.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Economics Experiments

Slate has an article about some economists who experimented on the payment schemes for fruit pickers and managed to increase their production.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hack: Put your keys on your moneyclip

Lifehacker has an interesting idea to keep your keys and moneyclip together. It won't work if you have too many keys or with modern car keys but still an interesting idea.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Things that are only sort of banned

Security guru Bruce Schneier has a post about something that had always bothered me but that I'd never been able to put my finger on.  Basically there are some things that you can't take on a plane but that don't get you in any trouble if you get caught trying to take them on a plane.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Eclipse from space

Futility Closet has a post with a picture of an eclipse seen from the Mir spacestation.  You can see a large black spot on the surface of the earth - not sure how wide it is.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Comic: Mister Bookseller

A very nice one shot comic.
via reddit

Flash Game: Fantastic Contraption

Fantastic Contraption is a fun little game where on each level you have to move an object from a starting point to a goal.  You do this by constructing a machine from various parts and then letting the machine do the actual moving.  

After you have completed a level you can see what machines other people built to solve the same problem.  Some of these are amazingly complex.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fibonacci Converter

Futility Closet has a short post about how you can use the Fibonacci sequence to convert miles to kilometers.
This works because the two units stand in the golden ratio (to within 0.5 percent).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Paper Kid's Trainsets

If you have little kids who always wanted a trainset (or if you are in the same category) then this webpage has links to PDF files that you can print to build your own paper trainsets.  The page is in Japanese but you should be able to figure it out.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Obit: David Caminer the first systems analyst

The New York Times has the obituary of David Caminer. Caminer worked at Lyons which was a British tea shop chain. After losing a leg in the Second World War he returned to Lyons and became the manager of their systems analysis office. It was there that he helped implement the world's first commercial computer system.
The finished LEO, which had less than 100,000th the power of a current PC, could calculate an employee’s pay in 1.5 seconds, a job that took an experienced clerk eight minutes. Its success led Lyons to set up a computer subsidiary that later developed two more generations of LEO, the last with transistors, rather than the noisy vacuum tubes used in the first two models.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Google Chrome Comic Book

For the introduction of the new Chrome browser from Google, they have created an online comic book that explains the browser's features.  The comic is by Scott McCloud of Understanding Comics fame.

According to this post on TechCrunch one of the physical comics, of which only a few were produced, is already on sale on eBay.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Monthly Smashing Wallpaper

Smashing Magazine have their monthly post of desktop wallpaper. I've gone with the shot of St Paul's Cathedral (mostly because that used to be the view out my window) but I do miss last month's levitating kung fu rabbit.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

TED Talk: The Oil Endgame

Another interesting presentation from the TED conference, this one is about strategies to deal with the increasing scarcity of oil. There are several interesting points about car design.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Vintage Signs

If you like old fashioned neon signs here is a great flickr set for you.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Factoid: Car Sales

Ford's venerable F150 pickup ended its 17-year-run as the best-selling vehicle in America last month, dethroned by the Honda Civic and three other Japanese sedans. General Motors is looking to unload Hummer, the epitome of gas-guzzling excess, after sales fell 60 percent in May. The number of Civics sold in one month exceed the number of Hummers GM expects to sell all year.
From this interesting Wired post about how high gas prices have killed the SUV.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Weaving with Index Cards

This isn't origami but it is something sort of useful that you can do with an index card. Craft magazine has a video that shows how you can make a loom out of two index cards. Obviously this only works if you want to weave something the width of an index card.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Evolution Observed in Lab

The New Scientist is reporting that evolution has been observed in bacteria in a laboratory. A scientist raised 44,000 generations of E. coli bacteria and eventually one batch evolved the ability to use a nutrient that normal E. coli can't.