March 4th, 2014
Coffee, now with added DRM for extra flavour:
The single coffee cup craze has been rolling now for several years in both the United States and Canada, with Keurig, Tassimo, and Nespresso all battling it out to lock down the market. […] Keurig has faced the "problem" in recent years of third-party pod refills that often retail for 5-25% less than what Keurig charges. As people look to cut costs, there has also been a growing market for reusable pods that generally run anywhere from five to fifteen dollars.
Keurig's solution to this problem? In a lawsuit (pdf) filed against Keurig by TreeHouse Foods, they claim Keurig has been busy striking exclusionary agreements with suppliers and distributors to lock competing products out of the market. What's more, TreeHouse points out that Keurig is now developing a new version of their coffee maker that will incorporate the java-bean equivalent of DRM — so that only Keurig's own coffee pods can be used in it […]
[Via The RISKS Digest, Volume 27, Issue 78 ]
March 2nd, 2014
Surely this is satire:
Break Up Riots From Within
Tiltor is a novel reward system used by businesses and law enforcement agencies around the world to undermine, diffuse, and disrupt rioting behavior.
A New Kind of Reward
Rewards are good for many types of problems.
But a reward to stop a riot? That doesn't even sound possible! How can you tell what they did? Who gets the reward? Do you have to check EVERYONE'S contribution??
Clearly a traditional reward isn't going to squash a riot. Thankfully, Tiltor has developed a new kind of reward system specifically designed for rioting conditions. [...]
[Via Extenuating Circumstances]
February 11th, 2014
VSE OK. Just go and read it: you won't be disappointed.
[Via Pop Loser]
February 7th, 2014
The 28 Poshest Things That Have Ever Happened.
Assuming that it's not a Photoshop job, they left the worst until last:
28. And this velvet-covered Porsche
Why would you do that to a poor, defenceless car? Why?!?
January 15th, 2014
The Time Travel Mart in Echo Park caters for travellers from all eras:
There's even an online store to cater for the needs of those of us not able to get to LA.
[Via fuck yeah, science fiction!]
January 4th, 2014
Paper Pong is a very strange, yet oddly appealing idea – a Choose Your Own Adventure-style implementation, on paper, of a very old video game. It almost seems like cheating to play a version of the book online…
As Sarah Werner observes in her musings on the alleged "death" of the "book":
I spent a lot of time as a kid playing Pong at home, so perhaps that's why I enjoy this book so much. But I love it, too, for its ridiculousness. It's a paper replication of a video game! Why would you do that? Why write lines of code to create a game of Pong that you then remediate in paper form? I don't know that there's a good reason to do that, other than you can. And, actually, that's a decent reason, one that drives more than a few novels.
December 14th, 2013
An amazing list of actual reasons for admission into the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum from the late 1800s.
"Masturbation for 30 years" and "Suppressed masturbation"? The ideal was to find a happy medium, presumably. Also, to try not to succumb to "Excitement as officer."
December 9th, 2013
I could have sworn that today's date wasn't April 1st, but Nicholas Carr seems determined to prove me wrong:
If there's one product category ripe for disruptive innovation, it's lingerie. So it comes as no real surprise that Microsoft researchers have developed a smart bra. The self-quantifying garment is designed, write the researchers, to "perform emotion detection in a mobile, wearable system" as a means of triggering "just-in-time interventions to support behavior modification for emotional eating." [...]
Just wait for the advertising campaign. Perhaps Microsoft will finally surpass this classic ad for Windows XP.
November 26th, 2013
Shantal Roddam (@Allieqtzm) was a typical example of one of her new followers. Shantal was a "Friendly beer fan" from Butte. She was following:
@ESPN, the world's leading sports brand;
@MarsPhoenix, a long-dead robot on Mars;
@ReutersScience, the news organization;
@KingJames, Lebron James, the NBA star;
@AlexisMadrigal, your faithful correspondent;
and Olivia, a high school student in San Diego.
By 8:25pm, Olivia could announce, "I have hit 3,000 everyone 3,000 porn stars."
Alexis Madrigal's article trying to answer the question Why Did 9,000 Porny Spambots Descend on This San Diego High Schooler? serves as both an introduction for non-techies to the world of Twitter spambots and a reminder of the extent to which the language and practices of social media would be unintelligible to an average reader from twenty years ago.
It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.
November 11th, 2013
This video of a Piper Super Cub landing on a windy mountain top is marvelous.
Even when you know what's about to happen, you're watching the film and thinking "OK, in a minute he's going to bank sharply and the runway will swing into the camera's field of vision and this'll be relatively straightforward." Then the pilot banks sharply and puts the aeroplane down on a rough piece of land clinging to the side of the mountain. One where he's going uphill!
After which he goes out, takes a few pictures, observes that it's really cold, and takes off with just as little fuss. Great stuff.
October 23rd, 2013
When I read last year about Australian billionaire Clive Palmer's plans to build a new Titanic, I somehow failed to note the biggest hostage to fortune of all:
The Titanic II will also sail the seas for real, with a spokesman for Palmer's Blue Star Line promising that "It will be the most safe cruise ship in the world when it launches." How can Palmer be sure? "Of course it will sink if you put a hole in it, but it's not going to be designed with a hole in," he's said. "It's going to be designed so it won't sink and it'll be designed as a modern ship with all the latest technology to ensure that that doesn't happen." Period costumes will also be provided to help set the mood for passengers.
The reason this story has resurfaced is that Palmer has announced plans to make a feature film to coincide with the ship's 2016 launch:
"In the third quarter of next year, we'll announce broader details about the new movie – a director, stars," he told the Sunshine Coast Daily. "It will be about Titanic II's first voyage. It will be a bit of a love story, so bring a hankie along. It's going to be bigger than the first Titanic from James Cameron. It's going to bring people together from China, Europe, the U.S. and Australia. It's going to bring about more peaceful co-operation and concentrate on what brings us together rather than what divides us."
How amazing would it be if the director could persuade Kate Winslet to star. At least this time she wouldn't have to spend weeks up to her neck in a giant water tank being shouted at by Jim Cameron.
October 16th, 2013
Headline of the Week/Month/Year candidate, courtesy of Popular Science:
Space-Born Jellyfish Hate Life On Earth.
October 7th, 2013
The order had come from the Dean of Dresden campus herself. In an effort to maximize classroom time (and justify expenditure budgets), lecture times would now be accurate to the second. IT would be responsible for the deployment of new, centrally synchronized clocks. [...]
Sometimes a high tech solution requires some distinctly low tech support.
September 17th, 2013
Notes from scholar and social critic W W Crotch, written in 1933 for the New Statesman, on his occasional encounters over the preceding decade or so with the new German chancellor. No huge surprises as regards what a misfit Hitler was before he ascended to the national stage, but I couldn't help but boggle at this tale of what might just be the most woefully inadequate headline of the 20th century:
One thing that struck me about Hitler was his extreme abstemiousness. He ate every night a dish of vegetables, and mineral water was his only drink. He never smoked. This reminds me of an amusing incident when Hitler became Chancellor. The German vegetarians have a central organ of their league, and this paper came out with flaming headlines:
FIRST GREAT VICTORY OF GERMAN VEGETARIANS. HITLER BECOMES CHANCELLOR.
September 4th, 2013
25 Celebrities When They Were Young.
Some of these you've probably seen before. Most of them (IMHO) would be perfectly recognisable even if the pictures weren't labelled. I'd say that Charlize Theron, Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood, Helen Mirren, Steve Jobs, Michael Stipe and Steven Tyler's lips fall into that category.
A few are US-only celebrities like Ryan Seacrest and Martha Stewart; I've heard of them and am vaguely aware of what they do, but I've never seen them on-screen and couldn't pick out of a line-up at any age.
Some, like Bruce Willis and Steve Carell, have pretty much the same face, albeit a lot younger, but very different hair styles. (Or at least a different facial hair style in Carell's case).
All pretty routine, you might think, and I probably wouldn't have posted this link. But then there's the one that Blew My Mind.
Unless you're already familiar with the picture, I defy you to guess who that is.
August 4th, 2013
Stiff Records' press release about the first week sales performance of Johnny Borrell's solo album is putting a brave face on things:
Stiff Records is proud to announce first week sales figures for its latest album – Johnny Borrell's 'Borrell 1' – of 594.
'Borrell 1' is the début solo LP from the former Razorlight vocalist and is the first new album on the highly prolific Stiff Records since 2007.
That last album was the multi million-selling two-volume set, '30 Years Of Stiff Records' (although admittedly that was a free cover-mount with 'The Independent on Sunday').
"First week sales of 594 makes 'Borrell 1' the 15,678th best selling album of the year to date," comments a Stiff spokesperson. "So far we've achieved 0.00015% sales of Adele's '21' – and 0.03% sales of this week's No. 1 album from Jahmene Douglas – so we feel like it's all to play for as we move into the all-important week two."
"We might even break the Top 100."
Or possibly taking the piss. Hard to tell.
[Via No Rock And Roll Fun]
July 24th, 2013
The word 'ironic' comes to mind:
The NSA is a "supercomputing powerhouse" with machines so powerful their speed is measured in thousands of trillions of operations per second. The agency turns its giant machine brains to the task of sifting through unimaginably large troves of data its surveillance programs capture.
But ask the NSA, as part of a freedom of information request, to do a seemingly simple search of its own employees' email? The agency says it doesn't have the technology.
"There's no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately," NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker told me last week.
The system is "a little antiquated and archaic," she added. [...]
How suspiciously convenient for them.
[Via Memex 1.1]
June 4th, 2013
My favourite part of the story on the BBC News web site about how the BBC Trust has upheld a complaint about the fact that the BBC home page's clock simply repeats the time shown on the user's computer and thus "is not consistent with BBC guidelines on accuracy" is the section at the foot of the page of the BBC News report on the decision, linking to the story as it's presented elsewhere:
Trust the Daily Mail to turn it up to 11. "Slammed"? Really?
[Via Martin Belam]