Sunday, November 30, 2008

The End of Wall Street? has an article by Michael Lewis about how he sees the current financial crisis as Wall Street's own incompetence coming back to kill it.

Lewis wrote the book Liar's Poker in the 1980s about his experiences at an investment bank. The book is considered by many to be the classic book about 1980s Wall Street.

I thought I was writing a period piece about the 1980s in America. Not for a moment did I suspect that the financial 1980s would last two full decades longer or that the difference in degree between Wall Street and ordinary life would swell into a difference in kind. I expected readers of the future to be outraged that back in 1986, the C.E.O. of Salomon Brothers, John Gutfreund, was paid $3.1 million; I expected them to gape in horror when I reported that one of our traders, Howie Rubin, had moved to Merrill Lynch, where he lost $250 million; I assumed they’d be shocked to learn that a Wall Street C.E.O. had only the vaguest idea of the risks his traders were running. What I didn’t expect was that any future reader would look on my experience and say, “How quaint.”

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The History of the Lego Minifig

Gizmodo has a pictorial history of the minifig (the little yellow men that come in Lego sets). I hadn't realised that Jar-Jar had made an appearance in Lego.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ice on Mars

Astronomy Picture of the Day has a photo of some ice that was found underneath the Phoenix Lander on Mars.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Modern Day Depression

The Boston Post has an article that tries to predict what a modern day depression would be like.

Beyond that, two of the basics of existence - food and clothing - are a lot cheaper today, thanks to industrial agriculture and overseas labor. The average middle-class man in the late 1920s, according to the writer and cultural critic Virginia Postrel, could afford just six outfits, and his wife nine - by comparison, the average woman today has seven pairs of jeans alone.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

First Picture of the Earth from the Moon

Astronomy Picture of the Day has a newly restored image from 1966. This is the first picture of the Earth taken from the moon and was taken by Lunar Orbitor 1.

As an aside, today is the 10 anniversary of the International Space Station.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Japanese Vending Machines

Dark Roasted Blend has a post with lots of pictures about vending machines in Japan. The flower vending machines would be particularly helpful after too many visits to the beer vending machines.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Visualising Sorting Algorithms

Another geeky one here.  This page is a visual representation of various sorting algorithms and how they affect the data being sorted on each pass.  On the page you can click on the images and watch as the rows are slowly reordered.  Handy for getting your head around the ways the various schemes work.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Trail of an asteroid

Astronomy Picture of the Day has a photo of the trail left behind in the sky by a meteor that fell to earth in daylight. The asteroid was the first to be detected in space before it entered the Earth's atmosphere.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

First Picture of Extra-solar Planet

Science News has an article with what is believed to be the first picture of a planet orbiting another star.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Logo Evolution

Best Ad has a post showing how various famous logos have evolved over time.  Some of them, like General Electric, have stayed remarkably similar while others, like Nokia, have changed completely.

Stretching a Cruise Ship

wtfurls has a post (with pictures) about a cruise ship being stretched like a limousine. They cut the ship in two, insert a pre-built middle section then weld the whole thing back together.

Bump Key Video

Lifehacker has a post with a video that demonstrates how easy it is to open a normal lock with a "bump key". I knew that this was possible but thought it took a bit more effort than it appears to in the video.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Perils of Translation

The BBC has an article that illustrates the risks of making a sign in a language you don't understand. Signmakers in Wales needed to translate a sign from English into Welsh so they emailed the English part of the sign to a translator then put the response on the sign. Unfortunately the response was an automatic out of office reply.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Flash Game: Chronotron

Another flash game for your amusement.  Chronotron isn't quite as much fun as Amazing Contraption was but the idea is brilliant.  It is basically a time travel based level game.  To complete each level you have to cooperate with an earlier version of yourself.  As I mentioned, the game isn't the greatest but it is worth trying for the way it makes you think about the levels.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Factoid: Leno has met all the Bonds

A minor claim to fame, Jay Leno has met all of the actors who have played James Bond. And according to the same article, he thinks they should be kinder to their cars.