Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Alexa in the National Post

My friend Alexa (of Cheap Eats Toronto / Ottawa fame) has been quoted in the National Post regarding this year's cancellation of the Kensington Market Festival of Lights.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Tracing Digital Photos

The New Scientist has an article about a new technique for determining what kind of camera has taken a particular digital photo.
While many people own the same camera models, Pollitt believes that this technique can still be used forensically. He says that because digital cameras have a shelf life of only 18 months, this can help to narrow down when and where it was sold.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

American Religious Beliefs

Harris Interactive has the results of a poll on American religious beliefs.
80% of adult Americans believe in God – unchanged since the last time we asked the question in 2005. Large majorities of the public believe in miracles (75%), heaven (73%), angels (71%), that Jesus is God or the Son of God (71%), the resurrection of Jesus (70%), the survival of the soul after death (68%), hell (62%), the Virgin birth (Jesus born of Mary (61%) and the devil (59%).

Recreation of "Oldest Computer"

Wired has an article (with a demonstration video) about a British scientist who has made a working reconstruction of the ancient Greek Antikythera mechanism.  The device, consisting of a complex series of rotating metal disks is several thousand years old and is believed to have been used for astronomical calculations.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Space Shuttles for sale (sort of)

Yahoo is reporting that NASA is trying to decide what to do with the Space Shuttles once they are retired. One could be yours for $43 million (shipping not included).

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Using Your Desktop Wallpaper

I've linked to some desktop wallpaper before (mainly on Smashing Magazine) but here is one designed not to look pretty but to be used. The idea is hat you put different files in the different areas of the wallpaper depending on what they are for or how urgent they are.

It's worth a look but since I run all my applications full screen I don't really see my wallpaper that often.

Using DNA Evidence to find Criminal's Relatives

The LA Times has an article about the police using DNA evidence to find criminals when the criminals aren't in the DNA database. They can now find people in the database who are relatives of the actual criminal. Normal police work follows from there.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Long Distance Keycutting

This article announces that researchers have successfully duplicated a key from a long range digital camera picture. In the example the picture was taken from 195 feet.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Warbirds over the Pacific

National Geographic has a nice photo of three American WWII aircraft flying in front of a sunset.

Lego in the Kitchen

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratory has a post about using Lego in your kitchen. Some of the containers don't look half bad (though as a Lego fan I may be biased).

Factoid: The Soviets weren't allowed to use the Panama Canal

The BBC has an article about a Soviet warship transiting the Panama Canal after a visit to Latin America. What caught my eye was this:
The 50-mile (80km) canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans was shut to the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Do It Yourself Compact Calendar

Another tool for do-it-yourself productivity folks, this website lets you create your own "compact calendar".

I think I've talked about the compact calendar before, these are an interesting way to view a whole year and do high level planning. Today's site lets you custom make your own. You can specify the start and end points as well as any holidays. Once you print it out you can scribble all over it to do your planning.

New Drug may cure Jet Lag

The LA Times reports on the discovery of a drug that might eliminate jet lag.
Some research has shown that administering melatonin can adjust sleep cycles in travelers and workers, but the results have been mixed.

Because melatonin can't be patented, drug companies have been interested in developing melatonin mimics, such as tasimelteon, which can be patented.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

DVD: The Illusionist

Set in 19th Century Vienna, The Illusionist is the story of a stage magician who returns to the city after years wandering the world.  The son of a woodworker, he was forced to leave after a teenage romance with a member of the local noble family.  On his return, under a stage name, he finds his former love is now all but betrothed to the Crown Prince.  Naturally things become complicated, especially when a Police Inspector with an interest in magic gets involved.

There are a few minor problems with the plot but overall I definitely enjoyed this movie and would recommend it.

Planets over Los Angeles

Astronomy Picture of the Day has a nice photo of Venus and Jupiter together with a crescent moon over the lights of Los Angeles.

For the next little while Venus and Jupiter will be close together in the sky and very bright. It has been cloudy in Ottawa for the past few days but this evening I manged to see the two planets and they were extremely bright. Worth looking for if you are out and about.

Followup: A later Astronomy Picture of the Day has a photo of the same three objects in an amusing configuration.