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News for the ‘technology’ Category

Apple Loses another iPhone Prototype in a Bar (also: iPhone 5 release date)

iPhone 5 is scheduled for a potential october release! So save up your pocket money kids, and get ready to give those old 4′s to your mother, friends, or girlfriend.

For the second time in little over a year, an Apple employee has lost an advanced and unreleased iPhone model in a public place, CNET said today.

The most recent incident came after an Apple employee misplaced his iPhone in San Francisco’s Mission District in July. Apple security scoured for the device over the following days and determined that the phone had been taken from a Mexican restaurant.

Apple officials believe the iPhone may have been sold on Craigslist for as little as $200. It’s also highly probable that Apple are intentionally leaking their devices to stir up a storm, given their savvy marketing techniques and their adaptability of leading the way with technological revolutionary items!

While Apple has not announced any plans to release a new iPhone, there have been numerous unconfirmed reports that the company was planning an October launch date for the iPhone 5.

CNET reported that no details about the phone – such as its operating system and design – have been revealed in the latest blunder by an Apple employee.

In April 2010, the gadget blog Gizmodo paid $5000 in cash for a then-unreleased iPhone 4 that a 28-year-old Apple engineer had left in a German beer garden in Redwood City, California.

Two men were charged on misdemeanour theft charges for selling the iPhone 4 to the blog. They are scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday (tomorrow AEST).

The already secretive company reportedly took even more extreme measures to protect itself from information leaks after the 2010 incident, including transporting iPhones in locked and sealed containers to carriers such as AT&T for compatibility testing.

Apple and Craigslist declined to comment on the latest iPhone-gone-missing episode, and the San Francisco Police Department said Apple did not file a police report related to the matter, CNET reported.

Posted: September 2nd, 2011
Categories: consumer reviews, gadget, news, pop culture, technology
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Spam Scripts; Nouveau Poets of the Digital Era (Lookout @DalaiLama)

I noted with amusement casually looking at the bazillions of comments I get, a few hundred being from humans at best, and realized in an attempt to generate a near natural sounding load of wording that many batshit insane creepy artistes are out of a job.

I must say, I was mightily impressed. In fact, this is probably more moving than the Dalai Lama’s Twitter feed. More sensical too. The following prophetical rant came courtesy of one such spam script:

“V star 1100, wearisomely humble virgo was smirched. V star 1100, ceremonial mike will have sapped. V star 1100, mickie radiates within the beleita. V star 1100, freshwater necessity is the intramural aurek. V star 1100, diploid ses may hermetically clamour. Love shall distil. Culottes are the goers.

Gently ornithischian hastings is a breakfast. Altogether molal tronas may obscenely joggle per the yah pitcairner tad. Such audiometers extremly bifacially hoodwinks. Autonomous swearword is primly personalizing trendily withe outgrowth. Dynasties acervately psychoanalyses. Trisyllable had undescribably limned. Endocarditis shall although prolong under the soulful lillian.

Deontology was the muffler.

Afoot theressa may harm on the soaker. Incoherency was the treacherously senatorial unbeliever. Number — theoretically multipliable narthextremly southerly ransacks withindoors within the urbanely varangian wunderkind. Rotational topic was the unlimited jubilance. Preponderant dispersant is the blind nucivorous confirmation.”

Posted: June 16th, 2011
Categories: critical thought, epiclullz, oddities, pop culture, technology
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Silence is Golden; Should We Be Trying to Talk to Aliens?

Sounds daft from the title, but by now most of you know I phrase those to attract readers who are used to modern tabloidal headlines and could benefit the most from a pinch of critical thought.

Very recently Australia has begun the rollout of the largest sequential bank of radio telescopes in history, producing one behemoth structure per week. Also recently we have begun broadcasting, to planets in the goldilocks zone shortlisted as most probably capable of sustaining life.

The new radio telescope banks will form one badass giant radio telescope. This will undoubtedly be at some point used in the above grandiose endeavor of pestering the neighbors, like some chav council housing skank (iPad in it’s infinite fail thinks skank is REALLY an attempt to type ska keyboard … ) blasting Celine Dion waking the elderly residents nearby.

Stephen Hawkings, Arthur C. Clark, even the late Carl Sagan in his infinite wisdom held misgivings about sending out signals. It’s too early in the morning to research my usual citations or sources, but I do believe another equally brainy chap addressed that at any point in human history where a more advanced civilization encounters a lesser advanced it never worked out too well for the locals.

Even decades ago we made such mistakes. The Voyager program is carrying a gold plated copper record (like a vinyl record) that contains audio AND images and a means to access them through convoluted brainy calculations based on the rotational cycle of electrons in hydrogen atoms (I shit you not).

The collection of images includes many photographs and diagrams both in black and white and color. The first images are of scientific interest, showing mathematical and physical quantities, the solar system and its planets, DNA, and human anatomy and reproduction.

Care was taken to include not only pictures of humanity, but also some of animals, cattle, insects, plants and landscapes.

Other images show food, architecture, and humans in portraits as well as going about their day to day lives. Many pictures are annotated with one or more indications of scales of time, size, or mass. Some images contain indications of chemical composition.

All measures used on the pictures are defined in the first few images using physical references that are likely to be consistent anywhere in the universe.

In what may be the worlds most expensive attempt at a galactic message in a bottle we forget one thing.

Globally we feed over TWO HUNDRED TIMES what would feed the entire world to ecologically destructive animals bred for consumption by humans. This, to any advanced culture, would appear asinine, idiotic, and worse, primitive.

Do we REALLY want to be pestering the neighbors, not with Celine Dion, but proof we’re so massively under evolved that while one in three humans lives in squalor going hungry another one in three are not only inflicting horrid acts upon the creatures we share this world with but do so in what could be the most aggrandized snub to our own fellow creatures suffering?

Do we think our ET chums will rock up with a food basket and a nice bottle of ’89 Chardonnay? Or are they more likely to lob some nanite enriched astroidal planet killer our way with cellular destructive technology perfectly attuned to the human genome we so very kindly GAVE THEM extensive mapping of to help liberate all the other animals enslaved, used, and abused under our destructive reign, possibly even signed off by a galactic interpretation of our very own United Nations, for the greater good?

I leave the conclusions to you, dear reader.

Posted: June 16th, 2011
Categories: critical thought, hypotheticals, op ed, pop culture, rant, sci-fi, science, survival horror, technology
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Dissident ‘Shadow’ Internet and Cell Phone Networks

THE US Government is reportedly financing the development of “shadow” internet systems to enable dissidents abroad to get around government censors.

The New York Times said today the covert effort also includes attempts to create independent cellphone networks inside foreign countries.

The operation involves a fifth-floor shop on L Street in Washington, where a group of young entrepreneurs are fitting deceptively innocent-looking hardware into a prototype “internet in a suitcase”, the report said.

Financed with a $US2 million ($1.9 million) State Department grant, the suitcase could be secreted across a border and quickly set up to allow wireless communications over a wide area with a link to the global internet.

The Times said some projects involve technology being developed in the US while others pull together tools that have already been created by hackers from the so-called liberation technology movement.

The State Department is financing the creation of stealth wireless networks that would enable activists to communicate outside the reach of governments in countries like Iran, Syria and Libya.

The US Government has also spent at least $US50 million ($47.2 million) to create an independent mobile phone network in Afghanistan using towers on protected military bases inside the country, according to the newspaper.

It is intended to offset the Taliban’s ability to shut down the official Afghan services, the report said.

Posted: June 14th, 2011
Categories: gadget, hack, journalism, oddities, politix, pop culture, technology
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iTunes U, Education in the Digital Age

Most of you know I’m a bit on the nerdy side, my academic peen is huge and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t actively seek to learn a few new things. From the arts to sciences, from landscaping to mechanics, or aeronautics to gaming I proactively seek to hone my skills in every field that catches my interest.

That being said, I can also be a bit of a dolt and in this case was entirely slow of faculty. I discovered iTunes U, I entirely forgot Americans abbreviate university to U (outside the US the common abbreviation is ‘uni’) and expected the U to be oriented around the selfishness of Web 2.0 with everything being self centered, my, u, etc included.

I was surprised to find that it has a mass of lecturers from various uni’s around the globe! My days will no longer have lulls of boredom within them, it really has a mass of interesting lectures to download and listen to from all around the world.

I can’t help but be amazed that I can gain insight from uni lecturers from the middle east, or listen to student workgroups from Russia discussing and covering any number of topics.

So, if you have an iPhone or iPad, I highly recommend cashing in on this free cache of information and wealth of knowledge. This is what the Internet was designed and meant for, it is absolutely brilliant and humbling in a way to see the milestone if where it has, with the help of the sage like prophets of technology and the digital church of awesome, come full circle.

Get downloading and get educated. It’s cool to be smart now, when the dumb kids realized all us nerds are what makes the world go around and that they bask in the technology and science brought about by their victims of bullying and the shunned geeky types in the world.

Expand your mind and you will also expand your future and potential as a human being.

Real Life Functional AT-AT Walker

AUSTRALIA’S status as the world capital of Big Things is under attack.

In February, the citizens of Detroit successfully lobbied for a giant statue of RoboCop to keep its crims in line.

In the same week, news broke that a three-metre tall Arnold Schwarzenegger statue will stand guard outside the Governator’s former home in Thal, Austria.

Both of which kick Robertson’s giant poo-tato and Ballina’s prawn to the kerb when it comes to cool icons for your country.

And now you can add — possibly, unless George Lucas hears of it — a lifesize, fully-functioning replica of a Galactic Empire AT-AT walker to the countryside somewhere in Oklahoma, if Mike Koehler gets his way.

Note fully-functioning — not like that static tat at Disneyland’s Hollywood theme park.

The 16m tall (some nerds experts put them at 23m) All Terrain Armoured Transports featured most famously in the attack on the Rebel forces’ secret base on Hoth in Empire Strikes Back, where one tripped over a bit of rope and exploded.

Another one makes a cameo in Return of the Jedi after a smaller version — an AT-ST — gets smashed by monkeys with logs.

But they look fearsome enough and Mr Koehler has been given the green light by online fundraiser Kickstarter to begin collecting cash to realise his dream.

It’s called AT-AT for America and Mr Koehler’s welcoming any offers of help or donations.

We chatted to him about why his country needs it…

Why did you choose a symbol of the Empire’s destructive capabilities to represent the US?

The AT-AT is not so much a representation of the US as it is a monument to what geek culture and its know-how has done for people in the country and, as I am quickly learning, folks all over the world. The can-do and cooperative spirit that nerdy pop culture has inspired can’t be overlooked in the past 30, 40, 50 years.

I wanted to make something that was: A) Doable. Fast-than-light and force field technology made many options unrealistic. B) Big enough to be awe-inspiring. Many people have made R2 units and Back to the Future Deloreans. The AT-AT is 50-feet tall.

If it proves too difficult, do you have any smaller scale Star Wars projects in mind?

I guess we could do one of the smaller scout walkers, but that seems like copping out.

If it proves easy, would you consider building a Death Star?

The Death Star would involve too much red tape I’m afraid, unless I could get Richard Branson on board.

The original AT-ATs had some notable design flaws. How will you Ewok-proof it?

No Ewoks will be allowed around the build sites. Sharpened logs will also be strictly prohibited. We are working towards some strong anti-log technology.

Have you had any interest from Mythbusters et al?

No word yet from the Mythbusters, though I hope as we continue to build momentum that we will get a lot of help from some of our geek heroes. When I first thought of this, my ideal project managers were Adam and Jamie.

If Detroit can get a RoboCop statue, maybe you should pitch your AT-AT for a permanent public space…

Once we’re done, I would like for the AT-AT to find some place nice to be housed and admired as a monument. Since it will be fully operational, people will be able to ride it. It would be an art piece on par with the Statue of Liberty, but with the ability to mosey around the block.

Have you had any cease and desist orders from George Lucas yet?

We have not heard from Lucasfilm yet, though there is that expectation. All I can say is that we won’t be making any money off this project, we consider it a public work of art and we would gladly locate it where ever Mr Lucas would like us to. This is a testament to how many dreams his work and other work like his has inspired in people my age and younger.

Will you live in it once it’s finished?

No, I won’t live in it.

Can I?

You can’t live inside it, though you are welcome to string a hammock between its knees.

Is there ever a chance that such a monolithic, relentless corporate machine could ever be seen in Australia?

Given enough support and volunteers, the AT-AT, like Oprah, would be happy to visit Australia.

 

Related Coverage

Lasers & Blindness, a @news_com_au Tabloid Myth

Recently we’ve seen enough articles regarding OHNOES LAZORS blinding pilots. When this first came up and the Australian Pilots Association’s president went on record agreeing with this tabloidal myth I decided to ring him and have a chat, from one pilot to another. I asked him straight, how many pilots have been ‘blinded’ by these lasers, he claimed reports of one pilot in Adelaide (a very small capital city in South Australia which gets as much flight traffic a month as Sydney would in a day) and ‘of four others’, when I pressed him for names, dates or locations he suddenly got amnesia of the details. I set him at ease and said I will happily wait and give him a week or two to email me through the details when he remembers.

No email came of course, in chasing him up further on the issue it sounded more like the pilot who was ‘blinded’ by the ‘laser attack’ all over the news was simply seeking compensation and ironically none of these ‘blindings’ lead to the pilots never flying again except in the case of the pilot above who was at retirement age and used it as an excuse to retire; however his insurers doctors found his vision was perfectly fine, at which point it was claimed post traumatic stress disorder occured from fear for his life whilst blinded.

To cut a long story short, to date there is no empirical evidence of a single pilot being afflicted with blindness or having anything more than a minor annoyance from a laser pointer being aimed at their plane, however the media, police, and government are all super serious business, and at present in Australia (you guys really think I’m kidding when I talk about the fun police, don’t you) laser pointers are listed as PROHIBITED WEAPONS. I shit you not.

This morning I saw another rubbish article from the same tabloid source which gave me the urge to cite this information on record, sadly whenever news.com.au publish their more controversial (see: tabloid, can I say it enough? :P) crap they never have a comments field open. Below is the header of the article in question which just highlights how idiotic the media are in handling this myth:-

THREE commercial passenger planes were targeted by a laser pointer in Sydney overnight.

Police say the three incidents happened within an hour and half of each other last night as the planes were approaching the airport in Mascot.

The pilot of the third flight was struck in the eye by the high-powered light.

Each of the planes landed safely.

Flight crews told police that the laser appeared to be coming from the Cronulla or Brighton areas.

High-powered laser pointers are prohibited weapons and can’t be possessed without a permit.

Posted: April 14th, 2011
Categories: critical thought, epiclullz, gadget, journalism, lifestyle, pop culture, rant, science, technology
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Quacks: Woo Peddlers and Alternative Medicine

Having suddenly, a few weeks after posting about a cure for the flu coming soon, been afflicted by nasopharyngitis I wanted to take a moment out to address my personal bitch of all the sub-human archetypes, the medical-moron.

There are people out there who believe vitamin C, echinacea, guarana, or even silver and gold powdered and mixed in water cure various ailments. These morons are usually identifiable by their lack of knowledge of the difference between nasopharyngitis, rhinovirus, or various strains of influenza, who’s actions are so drastic in variance that something that works for one would be highly improbable to work for others.

If alternative medicine worked, it would be medicine. The most common folly is the eastern noble mystic approach; the same bullshit that attracts those whack-job’s to quasi religious ‘martial arts’ that are more a cult than a martial art, people are suckers for things that seem ‘exotic’ and the Chinese government producing primary sources en masse to basically claim EVERYTHING in the world was invented by, completed by, or done first by noble ancient Chinese (and have an actual entire department within their government that goes through wiki articles to address these amazing finds) tends to jack up the gullability of middle class inbred white folk.

A health or medical practice is called “alternative” if it is based on untested, untraditional, or unscientific principles, methods, treatments, or knowledge. “Alternative” medicine is often based on metaphysical beliefs and is frequently anti-scientific.

Quackery used to be a pejorative term describing medical charlatanism, i.e., health practices or remedies that have no compelling scientific basis. As medical charlatanism became more popular and as using pejorative terms became politically incorrect except for the formerly oppressed classes, quackery evolved into holistic medicine and then into alternative medicine and complementary medicine and then into integrative medicine.

It is estimated that “alternative” medicine is a $15 billion a year business. In reality, not one iota of compelling scientific evidence has been produced that acupuncture, aromatherapy, biofeedback, chiropractic, herbal medicine, massage, naturopathy, reflexology, and yoga, among other therapies have any positive result on the human condition let alone an ill human.

The most popular “alternative” therapies are prayer, relaxation techniques, chiropractic, herbal medicine, and massage. Very few high caliber scientific studies are done by “alternative” practitioners (Bausell 2007). If they do studies at all, they rarely use control groups, study adequate-sized samples, or used methods that blind the researchers in appropriate ways. (When every study comes out positive, as acupuncture studies done in China have, one knows something is fishy.) Indeed, many disdain science in favor of metaphysics, faith, and magical thinking.

I can almost bet the contents of my ample wallet that everything you see in a pharmacy or drug store that isn’t on or behind the counter is probably quackery in action, Blackmores and several other ‘health’ companies peddle dirt and bark in pills as medicines and a plethora of every alphabeticized vitamin group you can imagine. Protip: taking vitamins has no effect, if you are low on a certain vitamin–which would take a lot of malnutrition or bad lifestyle habits–then vitamin suppliments MAY have some effect on that.

Quackery usually involves integrating metaphysics and such things as sympathetic magic with healing. Often, but not always, the major quality of quackery is fraud and the dispensing of useless or harmful treatments to vulnerable people who are dying. What quackery lacks in scientific study it sometimes makes up for by prescribing generous portions of caring—sometime sincere but often counterfeit—and overdoses of false hope.

What’s the harm in a little woo, I hear you ask? By being a member of a health fund or insurer who even so much as HUMORS alternative medicine you are facilitating several negative things.

1. these pushers of these treatments are benefiting from the suffering of others without actually having any result for the product or service rendered. Whether they’re just THAT ignorant of science that they believe their own lies (improbable, but for some perhaps) or just totally amoral bastards who are looking for a fast buck, their behaviour is abhorrent and unconscionable.

2. there are people out there, such as vaccine alarmists (the type who claim vaccinations have X or Y negative effects, ignoring the fact it’s 0.0001% as opposed to the 100% risk of exposure at some point in their kids life to the diseases they’re being vaccinated against) who REALLY BELIEVE in batshit insane conspiracy theories about ‘big pharma’ and other watchwords you’ll find they peddle. These people usually peddle their own alternatives, but their most common product is the exchange of ignorance, which spreads like a disease and has no known cure. Participating in this industry of cruelty just facilitates these psychologically disturbed individuals (who also believe all psychology and psychiatry is a crock, they know, because they read it on the internet).

3. through 1 and 2 you are assisting in the entire industry continuing to exist, which leads directly to 368,379 people killed, 306,096 injured and over $2,815,931,000 in economic damages for not thinking critically.

I could continue to list the impact, but I feel that the following site does so in a far more succinct manner: http://whatstheharm.net/alternativemedicine.html

Keep in mind, without you actively participating in illuminating the ignorant out there, they will continue and people will die as a result. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve called out a chemist / drug store with signs for acupuncture, a huge amount of vitamins and bullshit ‘cures’ on shelves, or alternative medicine sections and challenged them on why they’d participate in such unscientific rubbish while holding a degree in science, I’d be rich.

Call them out. Check with your insurer, if they cover alt. med. change insurers. Shun doctors who promote charletanism and inform the medical board that they’re suggesting unscientific and potentially harmful methods.

Make noise. Be heard. Don’t perpetuate the industry that kills more people each year than any other industry in existence aside from weapons of war and narcotics.

Most of all, tell that ignorant friend of yours who thinks gargling salt water will cure cancer, or lemon tea or any other herbal infusion will assist with any illness what so ever that if their awesome medical knowledge is that spot on perhaps they should be working in a hospital and not in a day care centre being fat and stupid.

Posted: April 6th, 2011
Categories: general, lifestyle, pop culture, technology
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Australian National Broadband Network (ITT: Vaporware)

It’s bad enough in our bipartisan political clime that the other major party are basement dwelling troglodyte technophobes whilst the others are bleeding heart nutjob sycophants who come up with awesome promises then slowly shift away from them, but this NBN has become outright fucking vaporware.

The National Broadband Network is meant to bring Australia up to speed with the rest of the world. Our Trading Practices Act will shank you like a bitch in a jail house if you promise X and deliver an inferior Y but our ISP’s (Telstra, Optus, Iinet and the worst of the worst TPG (who still owe me a few fucking grand I might add)) sell us ‘ADSL 2+’ connections that run at 3 – 5 megabit (ADSL2+ is 24 megabit with a 4 megabit fall off to it’s operational perimeter of 7 kilometers) when you’re located a mere 3 kilometers from the DSLAMM.

That’s ADSL speeds being passed off as ADSL2+ and being charged at a premium rate too.

It’s even worse that the NBN won’t be out until 2030 at current estimates (IF the other party doesn’t get in and can it) but earlier this morning Patrick Flannigan has quit as NBN Co’s head of construction. An acting head of construction has been appointed, Dan Flemming, who was until now the company’s general manager of construction, design and planning.

“We are disappointed with his decision to resign as he was a valuable member of the leadership team,” a spokeswoman for NBN Co told the press, “We wish him all the best for the future.”

This comes after the Government business enterprise last week “indefinitely” suspended tendering for construction firms, saying the 14 quotes they were presented were inflated. According to the NBN Co website, Mr Flannigan was the founding managing director and chief executive of Service Stream, a major provider of infrastructure, construction and maintenance services to the telecommunications sector and broader utilities sectors.

I swear I should just move to a more technophillic nation.

Posted: April 5th, 2011
Categories: consumer reviews, general, gossip, journalism, news, rant, scams, science, technology, vox pop
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Animation Realism ‘too Creepy’

Computer animation has a problem. When it gets too realistic, it starts creeping people out.

Most recently, moviegoers complained about the near-realistic depiction of humans in Disney’s 3D flick Mars Needs Moms, which bombed at the box office despite costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

A theory called the “uncanny valley” says we tend to feel attracted to inanimate objects with human traits, the way a teddy bear or a rag doll seems cute.

Our affection grows as an object looks more human. But if it looks too human, we suddenly become repulsed.

Instead of seeing what’s similar, we notice the flaws — and the motionless eyes or awkward movements suddenly make us uncomfortable.

Mars may have plunged to the bottom of this valley of fear.

“People always comment on things feeling strangely dead around the eyes,” said Chuck Sheetz, an animation director of The Simpsons and a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“If it gets too literal, it starts to feel false or has a strange effect.”

Skin texture that is slightly off can especially leave people feeling unsettled, said Patrick Markey, a psychologist and director of Villanova University’s Interpersonal Research Laboratory.

The near-realistic animation style championed by producer Robert Zemeckis uses motion-capture technology, where actors are covered with dots and skin suits and have their performances captured on computer. The dots provide the frame, and the rest is filled in with computerised graphics.

Mars creates humans that are more realistic and detailed than Zemeckis’ earlier attempts in such movies as Beowulf and The Polar Express — which were also criticised for inviting this discomfort. The greater detail might have made things worse.

Doug McGoldrick, who took his two daughters to see the movie, said the faces of the main characters “were just wrong”.

Their foreheads were lifeless and plastic-looking, “like they used way too much botox or something”, said the 41-year-old photographer in Chicago, Illinois.

Marc Kelley, a 32-year-old pastor in Allegan, Michigan, who went with his two young children, said he found the renditions of characters “all annoying in their own way”.

Indeed, when the mother of the main character Milo mentioned the word “zombies” at the start of the movie, it conjured up a feeling that the characters were themselves undead.

Animation experts say the key to success is to be only authentic enough to tug at our heart strings.

The best example of this was Avatar, the 2009 blockbuster that made $US2.8 billion in theatres around the world.

The humanoid, but blue-bodied Na’vi were alien enough not to trigger our inner rejection mechanism.

“My own personal opinion is try to stay away from photo-real with a human,” said Greg Philyaw, the business development director at Giant Studios, which captured the performance of human actors for their digital re-creation in Avatar.

“Subconsciously you know what you’re looking at isn’t quite right.”

Disney, by its actions, has already voted against the super-real animation format.

Last March, it said it would shut down the Zemeckis-run company ImageMovers Digital, which made Mars, to cut costs.

Several months ago, Disney also nixed a plan to fund and distribute Zemeckis’ Yellow Submarine, a half-finished work he is now free to shop to other studios.

Disney declined to comment for this story, and Zemeckis declined interview requests through an agent.

Mars had an estimated $US150 million production budget, but has brought in just $US34 million globally since its March 11 opening.

To be fair, there were other problems besides being visually unnerving.

For one, it appeared to be marketed at young boys who are interested in science fiction but also are closely attached to their mothers. That’s a small group to begin with, and neglects dads and daughters.

Some young children also got scared about the plot involving mommy abduction.

Mars also came just a week after Paramount’s 2D animated movie Rango, starring Johnny Depp.

And instead of appealing to fans because of the increasingly popular 3D format, Mars may have annoyed theatregoers faced with higher 3D ticket prices.

“If a movie’s unappealing and you’re trying to charge a higher ticket price for it, it makes it even less appealing,” said Brandon Gray, president of tracking company Box Office Mojo.

Mr Gray noted that Mars had the lowest opening weekend for a wide-release 3D movie ever.

Maija Burnett, associate director of character animation at California Institute of the Arts, took a broader view, even though the school teaches about the pitfalls of the “uncanny valley” in class.

“There’s a continuing attempt to explore what the boundaries are within (computer generated) animation,” she said.

“Every film that uses this is one important step along the way.”

In the “uncanny valley” theory, the valley isn’t bottomless. As things grow more realistically human, our affection starts increasing again, climbing out of the valley on the other side.

In other words, increasingly sophisticated animation might stop creeping us out and start fooling us.

Posted: April 5th, 2011
Categories: consumer reviews, critical thought, movie reviews, movies, oddities, pop culture, science, technology, vox pop
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Sick of Influenza? A Cure is Almost Here!

A US anti-bioterrorism unit has awarded Melbourne’s Biota a $231 million contract to develop a cure for influenza.

Biota shares soared nearly 60 per cent on the news, pushing the price to $1.60 before the stock settled 35 per cent, or 37.5c, higher for the day at $1.42, the Herald Sun reported.

The deal is worth about $41 million more than the company’s entire value before yesterday’s spike.

The lucrative deal means Biota may not need to partner with a large pharmaceutical company to commercialise its anti-viral drug, Laninamavir (Lani), in the US.

Chief executive Peter Cook said the contract was a “seriously transformational event for the company”.

“We have taken this product much closer to marketability and towards realising the full value for our shareholders than we could in the past because it was necessary to licence out our drugs early,” Dr Cook said.

The deal came about because of the US government’s concerns over bio-terrorism, Dr Cook said.

Several clinical projects to combat bio-terrorist threats are being conducted.

Biota said it was scoping three facilities to see if they could meet stringent manufacturing specifications.

Lani, which is already prescribed in Japan under the brand name Inavir, is effective as a single dose compared with twice daily doses over five days for rival drugs Tamiflu and Relenza.

The US Biomedical Advance Research and Development Authority (BARDA), with which Biota has the contract, said the drug would provide “real advantages to doctors and patients during an emergency and would be an important addition to our pandemic influenza arsenal”.

The funds will finance further clinical trials of the drug and be used to prepare a detailed application to meet the Food and Drug Administration’s standards.

It could take five years or more before the drug gets the US regulator’s nod.

The global market for anti-flu drugs was worth $US4.4 billion last year and Biota estimates it could be set to receive about $US1.5 billion from sales of Lani.

Barda, which is in the US Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, is not seeking ownership of the drug or exclusive rights.

Posted: April 2nd, 2011
Categories: journalism, lifestyle, news, science, technology
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Messenger Probe sends Back First Pictures of Mercury

Many of you may have seen my incessant tweeting updates of the final leg of this probe, but today NASA has released the first images sent back from it. Whilst the highest resolution version of it looks like they sent an iPhone (version ONE) into space six years ago–isn’t it odd how space cameras are always shit quality?–it’s still a pretty picture to say the least.

The associated press feed reads as follows: –

NASA has released the first picture taken of Mercury’s surface by the US space agency’s orbiting Messenger craft.

“Early this morning, at 5.20 am EDT (2020 AEDT) , Messenger captured this historic image of Mercury,” NASA said.

“This image is the first ever obtained from a spacecraft in orbit about the solar system’s innermost planet.”

The spacecraft snapped 363 images over the next six hours, and more were expected to be released later today in conjunction with an expert press conference to discuss the findings.

The upper part of the image shows an unusual, dark-rayed crater called Debussy, while the lower part reveals a portion of Mercury near its south pole that has never before been witnessed by spacecraft, NASA said.

NASA’s Messenger craft – which stands for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging – became the first vehicle to orbit Mercury on March 17.

Messenger was launched more than six years ago, traveling through the inner solar system and embarking on flybys of Earth, Venus and Mercury.

The first NASA craft to study Mercury since the Mariner mission more than three decades ago, Messenger has already been able to return a partial map of the planet’s crater-filled surface after just a handful of flybys.

This is one of the first images from the orbital craft Messenger, at the apex of it's six year journey to Mercury.

Posted: March 30th, 2011
Categories: general, journalism, news, science, technology
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Shut @iPhone Dictionary Ducking with Your Words? (Workaround for the Secret Blacklist!)

For quite some time I’ve been nerdraging about the epic fail of the iPhone dictionary, it’s so prolific it’s a ducking meme, there’s entire sites devoted to how shit it is. Apple seem to flat out disregard user complaints on the subject. Earlier versions of iOS would learn after three declined word suggestions, or by re-writing the red underlined word.

After iOS 4ish, I noticed a distinct lack of it’s ability or willingness to learn new words, be they profanity or otherwise. You’d have to re-write a word and decline auto-suggests dozens of times for it to learn something SIMPLE but profanity, nope. No go. It just WOULD NOT work.

After extensive research (see: my legs went numb so I got off the toilet) on the subject, I discovered many ‘work around’ suggestions, most were dated and for older versions. I messed around with several and found the one sure way to duck that iPhone shut right off once and for all, and found TWO very good ways, one a solid performer and the other an INSTANT WIN.

ADD the profanity as a CONTACT in your contacts section. It’s irritating and frustrating but it finally let’s you use naughty words. (Edit: After typing in a metric fucktonne of words, I only just tested adding multiple words to one entry. It works effectively. However, you WILL get strange looks when people see your contact list!)

HOWEVER! There are some words it will still not recognise. It appears as though there’s a black list tier level, black listed words when added as contacts and / or retyped a gazillion times are still b& from your iPhone.

I added every profanity and pseudo-profanity I could think of, it still red underlines ‘cunt’ but the rest are fine. On racial epithets however it will force change ‘nigger’ to ‘bigger’ yet is an equal opportunity racist, it auto-changes ‘kyke’ to Kyle and ‘kike’ to like, it also red-underlines ‘cracka’ even if stored as a contact. I actually had to hit the wiki article of racial epithets to find more creative varying ones to test and EVERY single racial slur in existence is double blacklisted even when added as a contact.

Apple are not so kind to people of non-straight persuasions, with ‘faggot’ or ‘poof’ working, ‘dyke’ and various others all work, however GAY does not work. The one NON-offensive thing gets changed to ‘gag’ half the time.

I decided to tinker with the inner workings of my iPhone to look into this a bit more, so I took a peek at in/private/var/mobile/Library/Keyboard, there’s a file called dynamic-text.dat which has most of the plain text words it has to give special attention to and tells the auto-correct to lay off being a dick with or even suggest or accept the spelling. To test the manual update I tried the notes application instead, and started trying to add random words (nonsensical ones) to see how long it took to learn. I found that it wouldn’t. After typing pages of shit, the last modified date of my dynamic-text.dat file was my earlier edit.

-rw------- 1 mobile mobile 1244 Mar 19 20:30 dynamic-text.dat

I gave it a shot in safari, this instantly updated the dynamic-text.dat file on one attempt without repetition. The words added also appeared IN the file itself in plain text.

-rw------- 1 mobile mobile 1359 Mar 19 21:34 dynamic-text.dat

Testing this again in notes showed the words taught through safari were universally added and accepted in all other forms of addition. This means not every iPhone program will learn words or add them to your special dictionary, the data processing program Notes is completely non-functional in that way, and as we saw above the Contacts section has limited success. Safari, however, is the answer. I’d honestly expect the learning algorithym to be far less shit than this, but it appears that this is the only way to force learn things.

Go figure. Either way, this is clear proof that Apple have some deep seated issues! Not to mention they love to cramp my style, not that I tout out hate words, but I’m an Australian, every second word out my mouth (or fingers in this case) is a profanity. 🙁

Posted: March 19th, 2011
Categories: consumer reviews, gadget, general, hack, oddities, reviews, technology
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IT Crack Monkey @KevinRuddPM’s Reality Check Bounced

As most of my international readers (and let’s face it, that’s like 800,000 per week of you, Australia only has two modems, and we have to share) are aware, our government here have been pushing an agenda to ‘censor’ the internet with a mandatory ‘clean feed’ for some time. There were protests many years ago to try and stop them but the overall response of the average punter back when they could have made a difference was “It’ll never happen.” so as much as it pains me to say it, we kind of do deserve what we get with that. But recent pure asshattery to come from our parliamentarians–who are so detached from reality they can’t even operate VCR’s, which is ironic as you can’t even buy them anymore–is something that explains why anti-virus companies were very pro-filter.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communication (They don’t represent us, just batshit vocal minorities, I assure you) have stated that all Australian’s should be forced to install anti-virus and firewall software on their computers before being allowed to connect to the internet under a ‘new plan’ to ‘fight cyber crime’. And if their computer did get infected, internet service providers could cut off their connection until the problem was resolved.

Those are two of the recommendations to come from a year-long multi-million inquiry into cyber crime. They spent all the money on K-Rudd’s crack and then did an all nighter the night the findings were due. Results of the inquiry, titled Hackers, Fraudsters and Botnets: Tackling the Problem of Cyber Crime, were released last night in a 260-page report, there is no mention whether it met copyspace clearance however and may have been plagerised from first year ethics students at UWA.

In her foreword, committee chair Belinda Neal said cyber crime had turned into a “sophisticated underground economy”, before taking a rasping breath from the pipe under the table. “In the past decade, cyber crime has grown from the nuisance of the cyber smart hacker into an organised transnational crime committed for vast profit and often with devastating consequences for its victims,” Ms Neal said. I postulate whether she is referring to the ‘russian mobsters’ who ‘hacked’ a dentists website and ‘uploaded child pornography’ to ‘make money’ as Senator Conman Conroy stated when asked why a dentists office was on the super secret government black list.

During its inquiry the committee heard a growing number of Australians were being targeted by cyber criminals and that increasing internet speeds were likely to make the situation worse. Something we don’t inherently need to worry about in Australia given that we still pay several hundred dollars per month for speeds not exceeding ADSL1 technology branded as ADSL2+ with a lot of fine print that anything over 56k dialup ‘in their terms’ is ADSL2+ (forget international standards here folks).

It also heard the problem was costing Australian businesses as much as $649 million a year. Including dentists with large kiddy porn collections replacing their virtual store front. The committee looked at several different examples of cyber crime, including hacking, phishing, malware and botnets. They intently carried out this research by leeching torrents, using Back Orifice on inter-office computers, and asking each other for their banking details from fraudulent hotmail accounts, such as imnotsenatorconroy@hotmail.com.

Among its final 34 recommendations were:

  • The creation of an around-the-clock cyber crime helpline. This, I agree with. I don’t pay for phone calls so I will ring them and chant “Cocks, cocks, cocks.” until the end of time.
  • Changes to the law to make unauthorised installation of software illegal. What the fuck, seriously.
  • Companies who release IT products with security vulnerabilities should be open to claims for compensation by consumers. This I agree with. Microsoft, give me moneys.
  • Another of its recommendations was to create a new “e-security code of practice” that would define the responsibilities of internet service providers and their customers. Cocks, cocks, cocks.
  • The code of practice would see companies like Telstra give their customers security advice when they signed up and inform them if their computer ever appeared to be compromised. More fine print we won’t read and will click yes to.

For their part, customers would have to install anti-virus and firewall software before their connection was activated and endeavour to keep the software up-to-date. It pisses me off enough as it is when they ask what kind of computer I’m using to access the net, when half the time I’m not even using a computer at all, nor any OS they’d have heard of. Find me anti-virus software for my xbox, or my iPhone hard-booted to run Lunix (yes, Lunix, no, it’s not a typo)  please K-Rudd.

If a customer’s computer was infected by malware, the service provider could introduce gradual restrictions and eventually cut off their internet connection entirely until the machine was “remediated”. This implies that the Government will not only be ‘filtering’ us, but also packet sniffing our shit in a clandestine way.

This entire thing just makes me want to pre-emptively ring that hotline, or maybe Senator Conroy’s office. In fact, brb, cocks, cocks, cocks time.

Posted: June 22nd, 2010
Categories: critical thought, epiclullz, journalism, op ed, piracy, politix, rant, scams, technology, vox pop
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Top Ten Disposals of Phones for Fun and Profit

Okay, so ‘fun’ is misleading, what I meant to say is ‘charity’. There are so many phones coming out that the waste of technological accessories being stuffed in drawers is peaking at record highs. I’m as much to blame as anyone else, as I always have the most current gadget, see: iPhone 4G ASAP pls. So what do you do with all those old cell phones lying around? Do you give it to charity, recycle it, or palm it off for cash? Some fantastic organisations provide battered women with a cell phone in times of need, or resell them on for charity fund raising, but it’s really up to you what you do with it, but here are ten good example sites that will help you get rid of that old tech. These are services I’ve stumbled across, and haven’t tried myself nor implicitly endorse.

1. Cellforcash.com is a website that allows the consumer to recycle cell phones for a cash reward. They also allow you to donate phones to people in need.

2. Pacebutler.com is a website that promises up to fifty dollars for donating a used cell phone.

3. Flipswap.com is a website that allows you to search for local stores where you can trade in your cell phone. This website also promises you cash for recycling your cell phone.

4.Freerecycling.com is another site that allows you to recycle your cell phone with them for free but that being said in Australia the government has tech recycling programs that trump this.

5. Phoneiscash.com is a website that guarantees a pay out for sending in your unwanted cell phones. They don’t pay high, but it’s money for nothing.

6. Collectivegood.com allows the consumer to donate their cell phones to charitable causes. All you have to do to qualify is fill out their questionaire and hit submit, which is a bit much of an ask for a donation site, and they also allowed people to donate to political agendas in the past so a bit iffy about this one (albeit they allowed you to donate to Obama or Mccain, so it wasn’t really one line approach.)

7. Cashmyphone.com is yet another website that allows the consumer to recycle their mobile phone for cash. They also have some dodgy affiliate program promising 10% of anyone who donates using your ‘affiliate code’.

8. Simplysellular.com is a website that allows the consumer to sell their used cell phone for cash.

9. The website wadt.org is a charitable organization that helps abused women and children get on their feet.

10. Cellphonesforsoldiers.comis a charitable organization that allows the consumer to donate their cell phones, which are sold and the profits are used to purchase calling cards for American soldiers. Kind of lame, but I know a lot of Americans read my blog and I know you guys are super into the whole YEY PAY-TREE-O-TIZM bullshit.

Posted: June 20th, 2010
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E3 Xbox: The Future, Plus The ALL NEW XBOX & Kinect

Just watching the live broadcast of the E3, telecast globally, and even comandeering the time square big TV. This will be a rambling review as it’s 4AM in Australia and I’m writing this as it happens. Some win announcements are Call of Duty: Black Ops with Xbox and Activision signing a contract that everything CoD will be Xbox first. The biggest downside is how ‘on rails’ it feels, all movement lacks kinetics of realism requisite for immersion. 10 years of Xbox, they definitely have some exciting things in store.

The new CoD will be out 11.09.10. Project Natal launched, being renamed Kinect (a play on kinetics and connect) with a world premier of new experiences promised. Kinect is a diminuitive set top addition that reads signatures of the attachments on the player.

This makes Nintendo seem as anachronistic as it’s lame mario franchises, which it always was as only tards bought them because they lacked any decent games and yes whilst it had some kinetic interaction the Nintendo Power Glove (for those old enough to remember if from the early 90′s) did exactly what Wii did and it flopped massively. Kinect seems to corner a multi-purpose application.

The stupidly named Metal Gear Solid Lightning Bolt Action Rising was launched by Konami with Kojima Productions where yaoi-to-be stars with oversized hair using their epic ninja skills can cut giant cyborgs ten times their size in half. I already want to scream at the head of anyone who’d buy something so stupid and lame.

Phil Spencer of Microsoft Game Studio lauded the industry defining multiplayer and graphics prowess of their Xbox platform before unveiling Gears of War 3, the gameplay looks fun but it’s definitely nothing that would be a blockbuster, except amongst teenage boys perhaps. One dynamic I liked was the fact you can use cover, like in Mass Effect 1 and 2, unsure whether this was in previous versions, as I said before, not my cup of tea due to it being too unrealistic / scifi fantasy.

Peter Molyneux, the creative director of MS Games Studios Europe announced another Xbox 360 exclusive, Fable 3, set 50 years after Fable 2. Loaded with choice and consequence, with action packed game play in a more immersive realm. Set to release 26.10.10, set in Albion you get to play a super awesome character that goes from revolutionary to emperor of win as per .. well, the other two. It’s very on-rails, but the graphics are very pretty albeit stereotypical of a fantasy game.

Microsoft’s newest partner Crytek revealed a very awe inspiring trailer for the dickily named Codename Kingdoms, look it up on YouTube, looks seriously cool from the trailer alone but don’t hold me to any promise of quality there.

After 34,000,000 games sold and 2b online hours Halo Reach was announced by Bungie, on the heels of the Halo Reach beta, citing it as the most ambitious game they’ve ever created. The unveiled world premier was of gameplay as opposed to cinematography, which makes the September shipping game look very impressive to the point where I’d say I may even jump in on the Halo franchise finally. That being said if they advertised it’s storyline better as zombies in space I would have been all over that shit. The music, ambience, cinematics, and dynamics of movement make it seem like it may very well be a blockbuster.

Kinect was explained as having an impact on more than just gaming, waving at Kinect will let it recognise who you are and sign you in simply by waving at it. Waving at it again will bring up a controller free menu, where you can interact using just hand gestures. There are no apparent things attached to the player, like we seemed to think, it just views the player optically. That does however mean that lighting will be an issue. It also enables voice commands, in a very in depth manner by addressing the device and following it with a verbal command. It really does look like Microsoft are trying to launch a tech-savvy household entertainment centre as part of the functionality of Kinect. To my chagrin they played Bustin’ Jeiber as a demonstration of how effortless it is to listen to music verbally.

An unexpected announcement was that on Windows Phone 7 Kinect and your Xbox will sync with it, allowing you to integrate your stuff in a more streamlined fashion. Using VideoKinect you can even watch movies with friends in other states, or even countries, online at the same time. Amusingly they chose Avatar Last Aidbender, with a comment about the ‘game about that’ and ‘boosting’ gamer scores. Lollip0p and Velveteen, two sisters, demo’d this but aside from the obvious potential of the technology were boring as batshit and so rigid in delivery.

My brain shut down when the ESPN logo came up, there was some rabble about some games based on sports, blah boring. Okay, sports aside, the USC graphics quality is AMAZING, it looks like you’re watching a sports match not playing a video game. It’s also interesting watching them interact with it through Kinect.

Kudo Tsunoda, the creative director for Kinect (Gamertag: Kudo) addressed his promise that Kinect would revolutionise the way you have fun, lauding the ‘it just works’ natural interaction system using your body and your voice–something that is usually reserved more for Apple products–Kinect promises to unite people socially, bringing people together in the same room or around the world in a lot of new ways. He went on to point out some six odd Kinect release games.

Kinect is slated for release November 4th globally.

  • Kinectimals are a fun bunch of interactive pets you can play with with your hands, interacting with the animals like they were in your living room. On screen the pet interacted with the young girl in some novel ways, even when she hid from it it cutely animated pressing up against the screen peering around trying to find where it’s owner went. The young girl also issued verbal commands, telling it which toys to go and get, one amusing animation was a matrix like barrel roll over a jump rope. You can adopt 40 animals with over 30 unique activities.
  • Kinect Sports had some English bloke taunting a crowd of avatars in a stadium, the first game they played was a track and field match where they ran on the spot and jumped imaginary hurdles. I refuse to put in that much effort to play a game, if I wanted that I’d get a friggen Wii. Other sports include soccer, bowling, running, javlin, long jump, table tennis, boxing, beach volleyball, and more.
  • Kinect Joy Ride is a controllerless car racing game, the graphics and dynamics look as novice as a Wii game, and having to use an ‘imaginary’ wheel is just ridiculous, all interactions seem to be automatic aside from the wheel. It really looks like a Wii game, except instead of a dicky Nintendo character from the 1980′s you have dicky avatar characters in their stead.
  • Kinect Adventures is some retarded rollercoaster ride where you have to dodge, jump and generally interact with crap from a static platform, a rollercoaster and a water raft being two examples shown. It does however seamlessly add in a new player when someone stands beside the current player, again though it’s far more motion than a real gamer is going to invest in playing what is fundamentally such a sophmoric game that it’s almost designed for the mildly retarded.
  • YourShape: Fitness Evolved, exlusive for Kinect from Ubisoft, will sink Wii Fit, doing everything Wii fit does and then some, with full body monitoring of your exercising to the point of even being able to tell if you’re doing aerobics in time, or dipping a knee to 90 degrees in certain exercises. The advert for it is outstanding and very creative, and the demonstration of the game environment portrays you and your entire body shape and interactions. It also gives you a glimpse as to how you look to the Kinect module, a yellow and orange blob with vague definitions of your more intricate features. If can measure your appendages, estimate your height, and calibrate in a manner that it entire absorbs you and tailors fitness routines to your exact shape.
  • Dance Central, from Harmonix, comparable to DDR on crack with liberal dashings of MTV. The quality of interaction with the game is pretty smashing, and it’s a very revitalising take on DDR without having a lame mat, or worse, a Nintendo product in your house.
  • Star Wars OMFG Lucasarts and Microsoft gaming studios team up to release a Kinect only star wars game where you get to weild a light saber and do .. starwarsy things. The graphics are very primative compared to other SW franchise games, but it looks like it has a lot of promise. This game alone will sink the evil Wii, but unfortunately there was little more than a teaser of gameplay and a note that it’s due 2011.

Turn 10 cam on to chat about Forza, talking about a Ferrari (GASP, no Audi?) discussing the way that it’ll allow you to use Kinect, using an imaginary steering wheel, but also allowing you to angle your head to look around the cabin of your vehicle which is a very handy feature. Marrying Forza 3′s amazing graphics with intuitive gameplay interaction is going to allow Turn 10 to provide radical car experiences. Browsing car designs just got better, you can interact with any part of the car and get the details of anything from headlights to carbon ceramic breaks, or walk around the vehicle to examine different parts. I’m praying that Kinect also implements with car design, I’m very well known for releasing some stunningly designed cars in Forza 3 and my main excuse is a friggen huge screen and patience, with this kind of intuitive interaction I should be able to release even more amazing designs. The previewing of cars also illustrated an internal examination where you can look at and interact with any feature of the vehicle.

The Xbox E3 closing speech came with a surprise, a NEW Xbox 360, sleaker, cooler looking, and shipping NOW, expect them to be in the stores by the end of the week. For those who’ve read through this rambling post (and I apologise, but it’s now five am and I’m shattered) I hope you enjoy this news and I look forward to gaming with you all in the future! Also, check out my YouTube channel for a peep at Halo Reach and the closing speech showing off the new Xbox at: http://www.youtube.com/user/bashpr0mpt

Posted: June 15th, 2010
Categories: consumer reviews, game reviews, games, lifestyle, pop culture, technology, xbox
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Global Cell Phone Scam, for Tech Geeks

Ever notice smart phones tend to lag before disconnection? Ever notice how much screwing around it takes to hang up on a caller if you’re using your hands free kit and have the phone in your pocket? It’s usually easier to let them hang up than scramble for your phone, home key, swipe, key in your pin, home key, tap the call, tap end call (in the case of iPhones) right? Well I got to wondering, just why do modern smart phones, even when you DO hang up, take so long to drop the connection? I figure it’s big money.

Let’s assume you don’t roll over into a new 30 second block, and merely pay per second, and let’s give it a really conservative estimate of 1 cent per second. The average time to drop carrier for my iPhone 3G’s and my iPhone 3GS is between 6-8 seconds. There are over 4.6 billion mobile phone subscriptions in the world. Let’s assume that all of these lag 6 seconds for efficacy of fact. That’s $240,000,000 in phone fees just from one design flaw coming out of every mobile phone owners pocket.

Let’s go one step further and assume that each phone makes one call per business day of the week, that’s $1.2 billion per week. I guess designing flaws in your technology is big business, because you know there’d be kick backs. Let’s not even count in the money makers of voice mail, or other scammy crap. $62.4 BILLION per annum, and remember these are conservative estimates.

Man Kills Gods; Creates Life in Lab

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him…”
Friedrich Nietzsche. The Gay Science (1882), s126.

Long have we theorised the above line by a madman bearing a labtern not to be talking about the literal God believed in by so many theists. Instead, we interpret, he is talking about what this god represented for European culture, the shared cultural belief in God which had once been its defining and uniting characteristic.

So to has man thrown off the yolk of theism, every element of the divine has been replicated at large through science, trickery, art, illusionism except one final element; the creation of life.

Until yesterday when flamboyant geneticist Craig Venter held true to the pledge he made nearly 15 years ago, unveiling his magnum opus. This landmark of scientific progress, published in the Journal of Science, stands on the shoulders of his race to decode the human genome in his own laboratory, egotistically his own DNA I might add.

The madman carrying this lantern has indeed created the first instance of purely synthetic life, opening the doors nanoscience falter at with the potential to create designer microbes for special jobs such as production of biofuels, pharmaceuticals, through to filtering contaminents from air and water.

“This is the first synthetic life that has been made, and we call it synthetic because the cell is totally derived from a synthetic chromasome, made with four bottles of chemcals on a synthesizer from information on a computer,” Dr Venter said.

Lauded as a tour de force by Prof. Mattick from the Australian Research Council, Dr. Venters work is as ground breaking as science gets these days, the applications for man made life are phenominal and limited only by our imagination. That being said, mans imagination can often be self destructive, so think of all the fantastic synthesized zombie viruses the US military will make with this!

The bacterium used decoded DNA from Mycoplasma mycoides imprinting the synthetic DNA and inserting it into living bacterium, in this case Mycoplasma capricolum, allowing the bacterium to flourish with both it’s own and the synthetic DNA within, then finally using an antibiotic designed to kill all but the synthetic DNA allowing only the synthesized organism to proliferate and produce protein strands from the original Mycoplasma mycoides creating, simply, artificial life.

Klatu barada neck-tie?

Xbox Natal set for October 2010 Release

A Microsoft employee may have inadvertently given away the biggest secret in gaming this year.

Project Natal is Microsoft’s attempt to revolutionise motion-control in video games.

An add-on for the XBox 360, it does away with handheld controllers altogether, relying solely on body motion and gestures caught on camera to control the on-screen action.

In a slow year for game fans – at least when it comes to hardware – Natal’s release couldn’t come soon enough.

And thanks to Microsoft marketing manager Syed Bilal Tarig, it may be coming sooner than expected.

In an interview with GamerTag radio, Tariq revealed Natal would get a worldwide release in October – a full two months before the end-of-year date that Microsoft had been peddling.

“I do have great news to share with everybody that Project Natal will be launched in Saudi Arabia at the same time it will be launched in the rest of the world, that is to be sometime in October,” he said.

“Definitely it is going to be October 2010, we will have it in Saudi Arabia for sure.”

He also confirmed that it would be unveiled at the E3 games expo in June, as rumoured.

Project Natal is one of a series of updates to the console that Microsoft claims will enable it to remain relevant for gamers until at least 2015.

It first appeared in public at last year’s E3 expo, where a basic unit showed it was capable of motion-tracking up to four players at once.

A notice sent out by Microsoft earlier this year suggests the exact date for the completed unit’s unveiling will be June 13, a day before the start of E3 2010.

Posted: May 13th, 2010
Categories: consumer reviews, game reviews, games, general, lifestyle, pop culture, reviews, technology, xbox
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Botnet Targets Servers for DDoS Use

Amusing article about a not so secret bnet management system and php sploit: –

Researchers at Imperva have discovered an ‘experimental’ botnet that uses around 300 hijacked web servers to launch high-bandwidth DDoS attacks.

The servers are all believed to be open to an unspecified security vulnerability that allows the attacker, who calls him or herself ‘Exeman’, to infect them with a tiny, 40-line PHP script. This includes a simple GUI from which the attacker can return at a later date to enter in the IP, port and duration numbers for the attack that is to be launched.

But why servers in the first place? Botnets are built from PCs and rarely involve servers.

According to Imperva’s CTO, Amachai Shulman, they have no antivirus software and offer high upload bandwidth, typically 10-50 times that of a consumer PC. Are there disadvantages to this? There are simply fewer of them, the attacker needs to find vulnerable machines using PHP, and they appear to need manual control, although Shulman did say that attacks could probably be automated using a separate script.

Imperva uncovered the attack by obtaining the server attack source code, which was simply run through Google, revealing a list of servers infected with it. The company was then able to watch as the attacker used a compromised server to launch a real denial-of-service attack on a Dutch ISP. The purpose is probably extortion-related.

The controller of the botent had used the Tor anonymity system to hide his or her incoming connections, which made it impossible to judge location. The servers themselves were lone servers at hosting companies, perhaps ones not carefully monitoring outgoing traffic patterns.

Would hosting companies or website owners know they were being hijacked by one of the Internet’s oddest botnets? Most likely, only if the authorities or third-party ISP comes calling with complaints of unwanted Internet traffic.

The botnet’s GUI hints that the hijack program, and perhaps the botnet itself, was probably created to be rented out to third-parties. A message in the simple interface reminds its users “Don’t DoS yourself nub.”

Posted: May 13th, 2010
Categories: hack, journalism, news, piracy, pop culture, scams, technology
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