Sophont
Monday, December 29, 2003
 
Patents: Weighing Yourself in the Car: "Mr. Kriger won a patent last month for a vehicle that can regularly weigh drivers, track pounds lost or gained, and warn them when they are overeating.

But watch out - the car can be brutally honest. Eat poorly or fail to exercise and the car will sound an alarm or display admonishments.

'I wanted to put in a warning and a message,' Mr. Kriger said of the alerts that the system's microcomputer can issue on its touch-screen display. ' 'You ate too much! Don't do it next time!' It will tell you in a friendly way, 'Oh, you're overweight! What happened?' '

......His invention is a microcomputer and display screen connected to a scale that weighs a vehicle's driver and front passenger seats. The patent suggests using the same automatic 'weight-responsive unit' that controls a car air bag system, but Mr. Kriger also designed it to operate with a driver's foot switch.

.....The microcomputer processes the weight of the empty seats, and weighs them again with the driver or passenger. 'It weighs you during a trip many times,' Mr. Kriger said. 'And it will check the times you become heavier.'

After the first day, the computer stores a history so it can analyze any weight changes. If it seems as if the driver has gained or lost a significant amount, the computer will ask for information about shoes and clothes in an effort to account for the weight of the attire. If heavy boots cannot be blamed, the computer will alert the dieter with a warning that he or she is eating too much."

 
[
[Tweaknews.net] - AEROCOOL LUBIC P3519 CUSTOMIZABLE COMPUTER CASE KIT REVIEW - Page 1: "For AeroCool's Lubic line of cases, the company chose the tagline; 'The World Of Imagination'. Presumably because one is only limited by what they can imagine. Their DYI (Do It Yourself) kits can create computer cases like none other on the market.

From their website:

'Anything is possible with 'LUBIC'!! You can create a 'Scorpion' case, an 'Elephant' case, a 'B-52 Bomber' case or anything you can imagine. You can also make non-computer products from the LUBIC' modules such as photo frames, display cabinets or tables.'

Today, I'll be reviewing the Lubic-P3519 (the blue model). I took the box to the office and worked on assembling it in the LAN room. I am certain you'll find this review somewhat amusing at times"

 
David Byrne Subverts PowerPoint
Slashdot : "Posted by timothy on 07:46 AM -- Sunday December 28 2003
from the office-cowboy dept.
NoData writes 'The AP is reporting that David Byrne, visionary musician and frontman for 80s New Wave art band 'Talking Heads,' has turned Powerpoint into a visual art medium in a (satiric) DVD/Book combo. Says Byrne in the article: 'The genius of it is that it was designed for any idiot to use.'' Shades of Edward Tufte ('PowerPoint Makes You Dumb'), as the article points out. The book is published by high-end German publisher Steidl."

 
Wired 12.01: PLAY: "11:59 pm Could you write, cast, shoot, score, and edit an entire movie in a day? The 24 teams that competed in New York City Midnight Moviemaking Madness on October 18 think they can. Digital video makes it feasible - barely - as well as affordable enough to open the contest to aspiring filmmakers with meager, sometimes nonexistent, budgets. The prize: $10,000 cash. Go.

12:10 am
At DV Dojo, a digital editing center in the Bowery, the judges announce the genre (mystery) and topic (unwanted gift), and the teams rush to taxis and subways. Damon Chang phones the details to his teammates in the Tuscan Nomads, who will shoot on location in their hometown of Austin, Texas. Tomorrow he hopes to have a final print beamed via satellite to the Empire State Building and a copy sent by FTP to Columbia University as a backup. He kicks back with a ham sandwich and an Orange Crush. "

 
So Long NYNMA
The New York New Media Association is no more, a victim of what is being described as a 'significant financial shortfall.'

After rocketing out of nowhere during the dot-com boom, one of the last remnants of Silicon Alley has passed quietly into history, officially selling off its assets to the Washington, D.C.-based Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) and shutting down its offices in the Big Apple.

Financial terms of the acquisition, which had been in the works since April, 2002, were not released.

The finality of NYNMA's demise was included in an e-mail to NYNMA members. 'Unfortunately, NYNMA now finds itself unable to continue to support you. Effective Friday, December 19, 2003, NYNMA has closed down its operation,' the association said.

SIAA plans to open a New York City office to operate some key NYMNA programs like the JobsNetWork, Executive Roundtable breakfast, Face2Face and the Venture/Private Equity Forum.

At the height of its operations in the late 1990s, membership of NYNMA ballooned to over 8,000, many of which were part of small start-up companies. When the tech bubble burst, the association struggled to scale back costs as membership dropped and corporate sponsors cut back on spending.

The association was best known for its Super CyberSuds technology networking and trade show.

 
Mobile phones safe in gas stations
Mobile phones safe in gas stations: Don't spark explosions?
By Tony Dennis: Friday 26 December 2003, 10:33

A BRITISH tongue-in-cheek technology TV programme, Brainiacs, has found no evidence that mobile phones can spark an explosion.

Gas stations [surely petrol stations Tone? Ed.] have long been displaying warning signs that handsets shouldn't be used while filling up a gas tank.

The reasoning behind these warnings appears to be videotape evidence of one gas station accident that had pointed to a customer using a handset at the time.

So, to test the theory, Sky One's Brainiacs team filled an old caravan with petrol and petrol fumes then placed six mobile phones inside it.

Calling all the handsets had no ill effects whatsoever.

By contrast, when the Brainiacs team then connected a man dressed in nylon clothes to a copper wire (the other end of which was inside the caravan), the static electricity discharge he generated was sufficient to cause the caravan to explode.

One wonders how the team will set about to prove that using mobile phones on aircraft has no ill effects either? "

 
Interesting Projects: "Bookmark this page right now if you're interested in building your own jet engine, a jet-powered gokart or just about anything else that makes lots of noise and power.

Unlike some websites that simply offer poor-quality copies of someone else's untested plans and designs without any instructions or even evidence that they work, 'Interesting Projects' presents real projects that really work. You'll not only get all the information you need to build these projects but you'll also see them in action through pictures and online video footage.

Most of these projects require only minimal skills and simple tools to complete. What's more, they're constructed from 'off the shelf' parts and materials. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to enjoy building your own 'Interesting Projects.

Coming Soon: Building a $5,000 Cruise Missile"

 
Review for Young Ones, The - Every Stoopid Episode
TVShowsOnDVD.com: "Yeah, shut up, Neil! We've got videos to talk about, haven't we, Mike?'
'The Young Ones' was a BBC show about 4 very different (and unlikable) college boys who shared a home: Mike 'The Cool Person', Vyvyan 'The Punker', Neil 'The Hippie', and Rick 'The Complete Bastard'. The basic premise was that these lads got into all kind of strange situations, and you never knew what would happen next. The producers got it classified as a 'variety show', in a clever move to get the series paid at a higher rate, simply by tossing in one live musical act per episode. The Young Ones lasted for two seasons (or 'series', in British terms): the first 6-episode run was in 1982, and the second set of six aired in 1984. The show found an enthusiastic USA audience (myself included) when, in 1986, MTV aired all twelve episodes with only moderate cuts for the American censors."

 
ABC13.com: Man allegedly calls 911 to demand police arrest his cat:
"Police reports show that Lloyd Gregory Coleman repeatedly called 911, insisting deputies come and arrest his fugitive feline.

The cat, he said, had outstanding warrants.

Dispatchers warned Coleman to quit abusing the 911 phone system, but he kept calling.

When police arrived, Coleman invited them to search his house for the cat. He also told them to look for roaches because he had a lot of them.

The cat never surfaced, but a prescription bottle of marijuana seeds did.

Coleman was arrested on complaints of abusing the 911 phone lines, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Police couldn't confirm if the cat was still at-large."

 
Eric.Weblog()
My new column on MSDN:
Ah, it's nice to see my new column online on the MSDN website.

Now that the content is finally 'live', I need to tell a story. It's embarrassing, but it will be much better if I tell this story myself, rather than having everybody hear it from Chris Sells:

I've never minded being called a 'nerd' or a 'geek'. These terms of distinction carry a certain positive connotation. In contrast, the word 'dork' is a term I prefer not to wear unless I truly deserve it.

Chris contacted me several months ago and asked me to write a column for his new Longhorn Developer Center on MSDN. I was flattered and I accepted. We talked about details of the column and it all seemed easy enough. He said each installment of the column needed to be 'of length 2K-4K'. No problem.

My first deadline was September 15th. I've never written professionally with real deadlines and editors, so I wrote my draft well in advance. It was a little tricky, since these columns needed to be quite a bit shorter than the stuff I write on my weblog. The weekend before the deadline, I spent a whole bunch of time tightening the prose to get it under the 4K limit. My final draft was 3,985 bytes -- plenty of room to spare.

I submitted my column to Chris and he seemed shocked. He couldn't understand why my draft was so much shorter than the minimum.

I stared at the screen for a moment, completely perplexed. And then I realized, when Chris said '2K-4K', the unit of measurement was words, not bytes. I thought it was a bit odd to measure written prose in bytes, but it never occurred to me that he meant anything else.

On that particular day, I have to admit, I was a dork.

 
MacSlash
Dell Selling eMacs To NYC Board Of Education:
posted by Cannonball on Saturday December 20, @10:26AM
from the hell-freezing-over-while-we-speak dept.

Anonymous Coward writes 'go to the New York City Board of Ed purchasing site: http://www.fastrackcatalog.com/catalog/Find.asp?co m=116 and search for 'emac.' Notice that the vendor is Dell, and not Apple. This is not a mistake, Dell is the only vendor allowed to sell computers to NYC schools.'"

 
As the Apple Turns: Reruns: Episode for 12/22/2003: "Now, on to far more important matters: as faithful viewer Mikey pointed out in this MacSlash thread, what's all this about Dell selling eMacs to the New York City Department of Education? If you load up that organization's catalog page and search for 'emac,' you wind up with a list of eMacs with a vendor code of 'DEL043.' Click on DEL043 and you find that the vendor is 'APPLE C/O DELL MARKETING.' A scarier thing has never darkened this plane of existence.

Word has it that 'Dell is the only vendor allowed to sell computers to NYC schools' (presumably they won the bid on an exclusive contract), so even Macs have to be purchased through Dell, which effectively makes Dell an Apple reseller. This brings up two important points. First of all, after finding this out, we need about six showers to scrub the dirty off our skin. Secondly, here's a vital question, especially if New York isn't the only place with a setup like this: if a New York school buys an eMac and the sale goes through Dell, who gets credited with the sale as far as the market share numbers go? Because if it's Dell (and we assume it would be), then Dell would be gaining market share on paper for computers that are actually Macs going into the schools. Sneaky. Maybe Apple should start selling cheap-ass Wintels to schools just for the bragging rights.

Okay, so as far as excitement goes, it was no 10-K form, but it still creeps us out. Pardon us while we go exfoliate..."

 
MacInTouch Home Page: "[15:10 ET] 'Jay K.' pointed out a pretty strange situation - Dell selling Macs in the educational market:
['Jay K.'] Go to the New York City Board of Ed purchasing site and search for 'emac'
Notice that the vendor is Dell, and not Apple. This is not a mistake, Dell is the only vendor allowed to sell computers to NYC schools.

[Dave Sawyer] If I were a New York taxpayer, I'd be all over their purchasing division about this. Dell charges NYC on the order of 15% more for eMacs than if NYC bought them directly from Apple. For instance, the following configuration:
APPLE EMac, 1GHZ/384MB/80GB, SUPER DRIVE, AirPort Extreme, and OS X
runs $1,423.30 from Dell according to the NYC purchasing site, but the same system directly from Apple would only cost $1,252.00 and that includes AppleCare (which the Dell-provided system may not, in which case it's even more of a poor deal) and is only the single-quantity price, the same as any small school would pay - I'm sure that Apple would negotiate a quantity discount for the NYC school district.
And people wonder why the New York City school district is always in financial difficulty."

 
Tribbles!!!!
2003 All Breed BIS and RIS


 
NGS Beats Infringement Rap in New York: "In a stunning rejection of the Greenberg v. National Geographic decision, a federal District Court judge in New York has ruled that the Complete National Geographic CD doesn't violate the copyrights of several freelance photographers after all.

The photographers -- Douglas Faulkner, Fred Ward, David Hiser, Louis Psihoyos and others -- filed infringement claims alleging that NGS used their work on the CD without permission. The CD reproduces back issues of National Geographic page-by-page.
The infringement claims filed in New York were similar to those filed several years ago in a Miami federal court by photographer Jerry Greenberg. Greenberg recently won a $400,000 jury award for unauthorized use of his images on the National Geographic CD.

Greenberg won that award after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled in March, 2001 that the CD was not a revision, but a 'new product, in a new medium, for a new market' since it contained a search engine and other features the magazines do not have.

Copyright law allows publishers to issue revisions of published works without permission from contributors, but not new works. The distinction is at the heart of all the lawsuits.


The photographers who sued NGS in New York argued that the CD is a new work, not a revision, and noted that the 11th Circuit ruling on Greenberg already determined that.
"

 
Chandler Burr
The Emperor of Scent is a gem of a book - a suspense story about a man of super-human powers, justifiably arrogant, dangerously steeped in hubris, and a real-life hero. I tumbled into this story, immediately engrossed, and fell in love with Luca Turin, irreverent, witty, imaginative, determined, elitist without a trace of snobbery, and above all a creative genius. Chandler Burr is a magician himself. He strikes me as a man we should all be so lucky to have at a dinner party, weaving perfect asides (the story of Mrs. Rippard's strange smell disease and the molecular structure of Chanel 5 and L'Air du Temps) into this incredible cautionary tale for all who assume the scientific world exists in a sterile vacuum of indisputable test results.

 
Yidish songs
Listen to yiddish songs from the 50's that were broadcast on WEVD

 
from the NIH
MEDLINEplus: Silver Cars May Be Safest: Study: "'Our study has found an association between silver car color and reduced risk of car crash injury,' Sue Furness of the University of Auckland told Reuters Health.

'If there is a choice of vehicle color, choosing silver or white as opposed to brown, black or green may be a passive injury prevention strategy,' said Furness, who is the lead author of the report in the December 20/27 issue of the British Medical Journal.

Exactly why silver cars are less likely to be involved in injury-causing crashes is uncertain, Furness said. 'The only other study I identified which looked at car color found that white and light vehicles were associated with reduced risk of car crash injury.'"

 
The Antarctic Snow Cruiser:
" Early one October morning in 1939, an improbable vehicle lumbered out of Chicago on the first leg of a long and eventful trip to Boston. It looked like something from the mind of H. G. Wells, with its high, slanted turret and red and silver paint. It was so huge that the roads it traveled had to be closed to other traffic.

The Antarctic Snow Cruiser was the inspiration of Thomas C. Poulter, a physicist and explorer who had experienced the difficulties of polar travel firsthand during the second Byrd expedition in 1934. As second-in-command, Poulter had used snow tractors in his heroic rescue of Rear Adm. Richard E. Byrd from the advance base hut where he lay ill with carbon monoxide poisoning.
After covering hundreds of miles in the tractors under emergency conditions, Poulter knew how cramped and impractical they were for long hauls.

After that expedition Poulter joined the Research Foundation of Armour Institute of Technology, in Chicago. He convinced his new colleagues that what the country needed was the ultimate polar exploration vehicle, something to solve the problem of moving outposts in the interior of Antarctica. Other countries were claiming territory there; the United States needed to use its superior technology to seize the advantage. Who knew what mineral wealth might lie beneath the ice?

When the United States announced plans for a third Antarctic expedition in 1939, Poulter rushed to Washington and sold officials on the idea of the cruiser, which would be built at private expense and lent to the government. At that point Poulter had less than six months to complete a gigantic machine loaded with novel design features that would have to function in the harshest environment on earth."

 
NYPress - Feature - Dan Neel
Vol. 16, Iss. 51: "One Manhattan drug dealer told New York Press that the dollar value of old twenties in his hoarded "business account" nearly equals that of Michael Jackson’s bail. A truckload of dough comes to mind, but Pete’s cache of almost $3 million doesn’t even top off a duffle bag. Besides, it’s not the physical size of the money stash at issue; it’s the cost and inconvenience of having to reduce his count of old bills that irks Pete.

Unlike post office stamp machines that stick you with those pesky Pocahontas dollar coins when they dispense change, opportunities to dispense old twenties as change in a drug deal don’t occur frequently enough in the exact-change world of a pot purchase.

So Pete makes a concerted effort to spend only old twenties while laundering the balance at a rate of approximately $7500 a month (for the next 12 months, he projects) through a number of mostly retail, private businesses. Because the cash passes through the register, Pete and his associates get hit for income tax on the laundered money.

"Our stores will have a good year next year. It’ll definitely look like the economy is picking up."

Is there a way to discover how much profit the U.S. is realizing from the accelerated exposure of previously underground money to taxation? ......"

 
The whispering wheel: "E-traction, the company that developed the bus, boasts fuel savings of up to 60 per cent, with emissions down to only a fraction of the soot and carbon dioxide an ordinary bus would blow out of its tailpipe.

In addition, the test bus requires no adaptation, its drivers need no extra training and there'll be no discomfort for passengers. It will simply run on diesel, just like all the other buses, and it should be just as reliable. One thing however will be very different; the Apeldoorn bus hardly makes a sound, hence its nickname 'the whisperer'.
All this is made possible by an ‘in-wheel' electric engine, in fact nothing more than a normal electric engine turned inside out. "

 
Michael Crichton speech
NEW ON THE SEPP WEB: "I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.

Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with
consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results.
The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't
science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period. .............
........In 1993, the EPA announced that second-hand smoke was 'responsible for
approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths each year in nonsmoking adults,' and
that it ' impairs the respiratory health of hundreds of thousands of
people.' In a 1994 pamphlet the EPA said that the eleven studies it based
its decision on were not by themselves conclusive, and that they
collectively assigned second-hand smoke a risk factor of 1.19. (For
reference, a risk factor below 3.0 is too small for action by the EPA. or
for publication in the New England Journal of Medicine, for example.)
Furthermore, since there was no statistical association at the 95%
confidence limits, the EPA lowered the limit to 90%. They then classified
second-hand smoke as a Group-A Carcinogen.

This was openly fraudulent science, but it formed the basis for bans on
smoking in restaurants, offices, and airports. California banned public
smoking in 1995. Soon, no claim was too extreme. By 1998, the Christian
Science Monitor was saying that 'Second-hand smoke is the nation's
third-leading preventable cause of death.' The American Cancer Society
announced that 53,000 people died each year of second-hand smoke. The
evidence for this claim is nonexistent.

In 1998, a Federal judge held that the EPA had acted improperly, had
'committed to a conclusion before research had begun', and had 'disregarded
information and made findings on selective information.' The reaction of
Carol Browner, head of the EPA was: 'We stand by our science; there's wide
agreement. The American people certainly recognize that exposure to second
hand smoke brings a whole host of health problems.' Again, note how the
claim of consensus trumps science. In this case, it isn't even a consensus
of scientists that Browner evokes! It's the consensus of the American
people.

Meanwhile, ever-larger studies failed to confirm any association. A large,
seven-country WHO study in 1998 found no association. Nor have
well-controlled subsequent studies, to my knowledge. Yet we now read, for
example, that second-hand smoke is a cause of breast cancer. At this point
you can say pretty much anything you want about second-hand smoke."

 
NTSC Video
Whassit all mean anyway?: "Trying to wrap your head around something as outwardly simple as 'the difference between RGB and composite or S-video' shouldn't involve hours of research and dozens of diagrams and examples. It shouldn't involve research into human vision deficiencies, the history of TV, obscure photographic terminology or digital image technobabble either. And yet it does - all this and more.

So what exactly is RGB? Is it better than component video? How bad is composite video, anyway? Is S-video good enough? The answers to some of these questions are below. Some topics are glossed over a bit - like how we got here but you can find those answers on other pages (See contents on the right). I've already written several video format primers (like this one for GameGo Magazine) and you may recognize some of this content. Since those were written I've learned a lot more, and hope this new document will serve you better than the old ones"

 
Duct Sealant Longevity:
"Duct leakage accounts for much of the inefficiency of residential forced air heating and cooling systems--the leakage of hot or cold air through ducts that means a waste of your energy dollars. Most duct leakage could be prevented with proper duct sealing. But field examinations of ducts often find their seals failing over time. To provide lab data about which sealants and tapes last, and which are likely to fail, we are conducting ongoing accelerated testing at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Environmental Energy Technologies Division.

Our major conclusion so far is that you should use anything but duct tape to seal ducts. (We've defined duct tape as any fabric-based tape with rubber adhesive.) The testing we've done so far shows that under challenging but realistic conditions, duct tapes fail.

A report of of our research in Home Energy magazine provides more information on the longevity and failure rates of various duct sealing methods."

 
INTERNALMEMOS.COM - Internet's largest collection of corporate memos and internal communication: "The Customer Excellence & Loyalty/Outreach group has held ever-evolving responsibilities overtime; ranging from outbound calling to select customers to prevent churn, encouraging adoption of EarthLink services following acquisition, and other proactive Customer Service projects. Analysis of the results indicates that the return from these activities is insufficient to continue the investment. Impacted employees will have the option to apply for other EarthLink positions, or take severance. These organizational changes will take effect on December 13."

 
Press Release: "With the power of PaperClick for Cell Phones, information retrieval is truly wireless,' said Chas Fritz, NeoMedia's chairman. 'By taking a picture of a UPC or EAN bar code, you can display data on the screens of the Nokia 3650 or 3660 camera phones anywhere, anytime.

'Right now,' said Fritz, 'we've activated a few UPC and EAN product codes for demo purposes, making it possible to take a picture of the code on a product, such as a can or bottle of soda, and then go right to the targeted Web site.

As part of the demo, users will also be able to do comparison shopping with PaperClick for Cell Phones. For example, they could take a picture of the ISBN (for International Standard Book Numbers) code on virtually any book to link automatically via the Internet to a Web site displaying an image of the book and its price elsewhere.

 
pamie.com/blog: "Back to the Future
I was telling Dan the other day that while watching Mona Lisa Smile at one point I imagined that it was actually a time-travel movie, and current Julia Roberts went back in time to the 1950's and tried to teach women about feminism. You didn't have to change one word of the script, and it actually makes Julia Roberts' acting more believable.

Then Dan and I figured out how fantastic the script would have been if Julia Stiles was Julia Roberts' mom, and she found out that her mother skipped law school to have her, and she has to decide whether to give her mom financial freedom and let her be a trailblazing feminist, or to let her mom go through with the family, so that she can be born."

 
JP Brown's Serious LEGO
CubeSolver: "This robot solves the 3x3x3 Rubik's Cube®."

 
Paper Model
ISS model

 
You thought we were making it up?
ChessBase.com - Chess News - : "Chess Boxing World Championship

This is the real thing, no holds barred. Iepe the Joker vs. Luis the Lawyer, Germany versus Holland. The two WCBO-title candidates are supermotivated to sweep their opponent from the board and the ring. Iepe 'The Joker' (29) in everyday life is a well known artist in Berlin. His opponent Luis 'The Lawyer' (30) is a lawyer in Amsterdam. The two Chessboxers each weigh 75 kilogramm, have been doing hard work training for months, and can't await fighting for the title of World Champion at the Amsterdam pop-temple 'Paradiso'.

Iepe (1,80m) is coached by the two Germans Jan Schulz (chess) and Johnny Camara (boxing); Luis (1,85m) has support from the Netherlands by the Vice World Champion in Kickboxing Richard van Altena and chesstrainer Herre Trujillo.
The course of the world championship match
Iepe the Joker won in the 11th and last round of the match, which is a chess round (the match starts with four minutes of chess, followed by two minutes of boxing, then chess again, and boxing, etc; max 6 rounds chess, 5 rounds boxing). Luis the Lawyer ran out of time and his flag fell.
Why don't the games in Linares and Wijk start like this?
The match had two faces: Iepe was much better in boxing than Luis who seemed somewhat paralysed by the tension "

 
AnimWatch - MORE - feature - DEC 2003: "It's rare that little lumps of plasticene can make you feel lumps in your throat, but such is the common reaction to Mark Osborne's MORE. This simple animated film about creativity, passion, and the perils of selling out struck a chord with audiences. It was nominated for an Oscar in 1998, and won Honours at the Sundance Film Festival in 1999.

Yet acclaim was not Osborne's goal in creating the short. He set out to make a film about the forces that were pulling on him around the time of the birth of his daughter -- should he take that staff job, or try to remain a bit more independent? The film was his statement, his litmus test, and ultimately his Manifesto. It has resonated with audiences, who relate to the film on varying levels, for 5 years now."

 
Stradivarius' sound 'due to Sun'
BBC NEWS: "There is still considerable debate about why the violins made by Antonio Stradivari sound superior to modern-day violins.

Born in 1644, he established his workshop in Cremona, Italy, and remained there until his death in 1737.

During his lifetime, it is estimated he made 1,100 instruments - violins, guitars, violas, and cellos - of which about 600 survive today.

Stradivari is responsible for crafting the most celebrated violin in the world: 'The Messiah' in 1716. But what makes these instruments so prized?

The popular belief is that the Cremonese artisans of the late 17th to 18th Centuries had a 'secret ingredient' (or undocumented technique) that gave the instruments their famed sound.

Candidates include the use of a special varnish, chemical treatment of the wood, 'cooking' or drying the wood, wood seasoning, and the use of very old wood from historic structures.

But two US scientists think the answer can be found in the Sun.

Stradivari was born one year after the start of the so-called Maunder Minimum - a period between 1645 and 1715 when our star went through a decline in activity and output.

During this period, sunspots were rarely seen on the Sun, and the 11-year solar cycle that is so prominent today was closed down.

The Maunder Minimum coincides with what climatologists call the 'Little Ice Age', a period of very cold weather in western Europe.

Estimates of the cooling during this time range from 0.5 to 2 deg Celsius.

Evidence for the cold spell is found in tree-ring records from high-elevation forests in the Alps. There was a long period of reduced growth rates, and when trees grow slowly their wood is denser."

 
Amy's Answering Machine
Amy Borkowsky has been saving her answering machine messages for over a decade, and the just-released second volume of her self- produced CD, 'Amy's Answering Machine' will again strike a strong a chord with anyone who's ever had a mother.
Both collections of hilarious, actual messages from Amy's mom tap into a universal problem: mothers who, despite our adult accomplishments, still treat us like babies.

New and old fans alike will listen and laugh as Amy dips back into her collection for “Amy’s Answering Machine / Volume 2: More Messages from Mom.” Hear Amy’s Mom advise her on how to avoid getting gum disease from kissing . . . lecture her for having breakfast without toast. . . and inform Amy of everything from product recalls to how to keep from getting her hand caught in an elevator door.

Or enjoy the classic hilarity of Volume 1, as Amy’s overprotective mother advises her on the safest clothes to wear in case of a plane crash...warns her of an impending snowstorm...tries to fix her up with millionaire
bachelors from a talk show...reminds her to go to the bathroom before getting in line at the DMV...and more.

 
United Nuclear
Hydrogen Fuel Systems:
"Our Hydrogen conversion is an intermediate approach that simply converts your existing vehicle to burn Hydrogen or Gasoline. The Gasoline fuel system remains intact and is not modified. This allows you to switch between running on Gasoline or Hydrogen at any time. The engine itself is only slightly modified, the conversion makes substantial changes to the computer & electrical system, ignition and cooling systems. Since they never have to be removed, Hydrogen fuel storage (Hydride tanks) can be installed in virtually any available space within the vehicle..
The system consists of two parts, the Hydrogen fuel system in your vehicle, and a Hydrogen generating system that remains in your garage. The Hydrogen generator is either powered by solar panels on the roof of your house, a wind turbine set-up ( both of which makes your Hydrogen fuel at virtually no cost ) or with standard 110 volt AC power for rapid refueling. "

 
St. Helena Star : Living 5-2-02:
Where is that damned beet?” is what I was wondering. I had just pricked my right index finger while trying to scramble an egg inside its shell. And as Timothy Samuelson, the world’s eminent collector of Ronco and Popeil Brothers gadgets (and, less significantly in this context, a curator of architecture and design at the Chicago Historical Society) had explained only five minutes earlier, every good pitchman keeps a few beets around for emergencies. If you cut yourself, you can hide the blood by getting a little beet juice flowing.

My wound was not the only problem, though. Smashing a second egg on the Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler — a remarkable, if virtually useless, device that employs a small, rotating needle to puncture the shell and mix the high-cholesterol contents — I feared I had broken the machine. Okay, so it’s not exactly like snapping off one of the ears of Michelangelo’s David. But this was the first night of a new exhibition at Copia, and decommissioning one of the centerpieces seemed like bad form.

 
SOS:
Students for an Orwellian Society is a nationwide student group. Although SOS has always been a nationwide student group, there is evidence to suggest that it first appeared at Columbia University. The mission of SOS is to promote the vision of a society based upon the principles of Ingsoc, first articulated by George Orwell in his prophetic novel, 1984. SOS is active at Columbia, Oberlin, Penn State, NYU, UMass, Minuteman High School, FSC, CalTech, UVA, RIT, Murray, JHU, UC-Berkeley, MSCD, SUNY-Stony Brook, UC-Davis, Bellevue CC, Trinity Chrisitan Academy, and a number of other schools. However, while we of course have a complete list of schools available, we do not list them here until we are contacted with information of their existence.

As to be expected, SOS has been quite successful. Since the events of 11 September, we have been able to convince a number of figures in national and local politics to help forward our aims. How could they do otherwise?

Our successes can be shown to fit into the three major ideals of Ingsoc as expressed by Orwell.....

 
Randy Cassingham Interview
NPA Careers: Interviews: This week, Stephen Ibaraki, I.S.P., has an exclusive interview with Randy Cassingham, a world-renowned writer, author, journalist, publisher, humorist, Internet and technology expert.
With more than 200,000 subscribers in over 190 countries, Randy is author and publisher of the highly successful newsletters and websites, This is True (ThisIsTrue.com), the True Stella Awards (StellaAwards.com), Heroic Stories (HeroicStories.com), and The Spam Primer (SpamPrimer.com).

With a degree in journalism from California’s Humboldt State University, Randy has explored a number of careers including photographer, freelance writer (articles, fiction, and screenplays), editor, publisher, paramedic, search and rescue sheriff’s deputy, process engineer, business consultant, software engineer, and speaker.

As an international expert of the Dvorak Keyboard, Randy has served as a technical advisor to the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) keyboard standard committee. In addition, he worked for the prestigious NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for ten years starting with the Space Station Project, editing and publishing the satellite communications technical journal SATCOM Quarterly, working with the flight project mission operations office, publishing the Lab’s “strategic vision” for future information systems, working with JPL’s Intelligent Vehicle Highway System, and finishing as a software and process engineer for the JIT material acquisition project.

 
Welcome to Heavens-Above!: "Our aim is to provide you with all the information you need to observe satellites such as the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle, spectacular events such as the dazzlingly bright flares from Iridium satellites as well as a wealth of other spaceflight and astronomical information.

We not only provide the times of visibility, but also detailed star charts showing the satellite's track through the heavens. All our pages, including the graphics, are generated in real-time and customized for your location and time zone. Frequent visitors will notice we have changed the appearance of the site somewhat and added the option of user registration. This has been done to open the door to a host of new, customisable features which will be appearing over the coming months."

 
Acrobatic trees, gluttony pictures captured by artist Primeau...: Careful observations of trees maturing near obstacles lead me to a refreshing concept in sculpture. While growing, a tree can swallow most objects, thus warping the trunk in a stunning manner, harmlessly.



The diameter of a tree increases by successive additions of cells between the heart and the trunk of the tree. Thus the tree grows outwardly: it is this visible result of its growth that allows us to determine its age by counting the circles on a log. The tree, by extending its being around and beyond the obstacle, modifies its shape in an astonishing way, without presenting a threat to its own well-being.


 
More Peta insanity
BostonHerald.com - Local/ Regional News: Fur flies over flier: PETA targets : "Animal rights advocates will single out small children at performances of ``The Nutcracker'' in the next few weeks by handing out fliers saying ``Your Mommy Kills Animals'' to youngsters whose mothers are wearing fur.
``Children can't look up to a mom in a battered-raccoon hat or a crushed coyote collar,'' said Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. ``Maybe when they're confronted by their own children's hurt looks, fur-wearers' cold hearts will melt.''
The fliers include a color drawing of a woman plunging a large bloody knife into the belly of a terrified rabbit. The fliers urge kids to ``ask your mommy how many dead animals she killed to make her fur clothes.
``And the sooner she stops wearing fur, the sooner the animals will be safe. Until then, keep your doggie or kitty friends away from mommy - she's an animal killer.''
Brookline child psychologist Dr. Carolyn Newberger called the tactics ``terribly dangerous to children.''
``It's using children in the worst possible way,'' she said. ``If (the activists) want to legitimately work to protect animals from destruction for fashion, they have every right to. But to do so by targeting children and making them feel their mothers are murderers is absolutely unconscionable.''
Lisa Franzetta, a national coordinator for PETA, said the group will launch its ``fur-ocious'' protest at `Nutcracker' performances in as many as 20 cities across the United States.
Franzetta, who is based in California, said yesterday she did not yet know when the protests will begin in Boston, where ``The Nutcracker'' is playing at the Wang Center for the Performing Arts in the Theater District.
Franzetta acknowledged the anti-fur campaign might spark a backlash. ``It's definitely provocative, I will give you that,'' she said. "

 
Man with a Mars Mission:
The Making of Beagle 2: "On Christmas Day, if all goes as planned, the Beagle 2 -- a small, pocket-watch-shaped laboratory that is Europe's first planetary explorer - will bounce to a stop somewhere in a big crater on Mars, pop itself open and announce its arrival with a rockin' little refrain by British rock band Blur, as its cameras and spectrometers calibrate themselves to the vibrant colors of a painting by contemporary artist Damien Hirst, and as its mothership, Mars Express, positions itself into a polar orbit.

Dubbed the 'hippest ever venture to another planet,' the Beagle 2 has already captured the imagination of Europe, especially Britain, where it was conceived and born. Although too few Americans have even heard of the Beagle 2, this puppy has all the makings of a star among the likes of NASA's Sojourner, only with a colorful backstory that may well turn out to be among the most remarkable in space exploration history."

 
The Spaceship And The Zeppelin
jaynote: really intresting point of comparison I hadn't seen before: "the problems that eventually killed the large airship are almost exactly the same as the ones that currently bedevil our space launch vehicles -- especially the Shuttle. (All numbers are from Zeppelin: Rigid Airships 1893-1940 by Peter W. Brooks, the most complete and balanced treatment of this subject.)"

 
broadband - News - Update on the IE vulnerability
Some facts:
An update on the recently reported IE vulnerability that lets people create fake sites that look real and disguise their true address. You can see the bug in action using this hoax site: here (designed by us). If you are on IE, and visit the 'site', your Address bar will be wrong (say symantec.com). But your status bar, once in the page, may show something is bogus. If you don't believe it is not Symantec, click the privacy link at the bottom of the page.

You can also see a demo of faking a secure page with padlock and valid certificate (but not one from paypal): here.

Some facts about the vulnerability:
# Once at a fake site, only File..Properties will reveal a strange URL that does not agree with the Address bar.
# It appears that basically all windows MSIE versions are vulnerable.
# If you use MSIE 'enhancers' such as IRider, you may be protected from the problem.
# With java script enabled, it is trivial for the hoax site to modify the MSIE 'Status bar' to show whatever it wishes.
# Examples have been posted of mostly obscuring the tell-tale info in the IE status bar at the bottom, after you are on a hoax site, even with javascript (Active-Scripting) turned off. "

 
Yesterday's Office
Antique Office Equipment Collecting:
# The slide rule on a tube
# Monarch set the price
# Rema a remade Odhner
# Marchant calculators: From pinwheel to SCM
# Extensive museum exhibit in former England hospital
# The right 'stuff' displays computer history
# Darryl Rehr, the past editor of ETCetera and an antique office expert, on The History Channel
# Log this: the slide rule's an antique
# Typewriter Collectors Convention 2000
# Watching milk-measuring calibration sparks interest
# Antique Telephone Counted Among Office Fixtures
# South African's collection includes The Millionaire calculator, Thacher slide rule
# Beck Speedograph: What do you know about this duplicator?
# Telautograph Forerunner to Modern Fax
# The Photocopier: First Image from Moss, Sulfur and a Handkerchief Rubbing
# German Devotes Virtual Museum to Teleprinters
# Chicago Typewriter Owned by Shipbuilder
# Iowan Plots History of Computers
# Mimeoscope Shows early 20th-century Technology
# Early newsrooms: Light-years from dullsville
# Portrait of an Early '50s Newsroom"

 
About Us: "The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF) is a nonprofit operating foundation that documents and disseminates models of the most innovative practices in our nation's K-12 schools. We serve this mission through the creation of media -- from films, books, and newsletters, to CD-ROMs and DVDs. Our Web site contains all of our multimedia content published since 1997.
What is 'Edutopia'?

The word conjures up an ideal educational landscape, where students are motivated to learn and teachers are energized by the excitement of teaching. In these schools, parents and other professionals from the community -- architects, artists, physicians, and writers, among others -- contribute their expertise and resources. Technology is readily available and enables students, teachers, and administrators to seek knowledge and expertise beyond the school building. 'Edutopia' is a vision of powerful teaching and learning -- and the good news is that the vision is being realized today in our nation's best schools."

 
phew!
UMHS Press Release: Men do not cause yeast infections in women: Women may blame their husbands or boyfriends for headaches, tears and stress. But they can’t be blamed for those nasty recurrent yeast infections, contrary to popular belief.

A new study by University of Michigan Health System researchers finds that the presence of yeast in male sex partners do not make women more prone to recurrent yeast infections. Certain sexual activities, however, were linked to increased risk of recurrent yeast infections in women, according to the study.

“Many physicians, and many women, believe that women get recurrent yeast infections because their partner passes the yeast back to them during intercourse. This study refutes that belief,” says study author Barbara Reed, M.D., M.S.P.H., professor of Family Medicine at the U-M Medical School. “This study suggests the risk for recurrent infections is related to something else – perhaps the woman’s immune response to the yeast.”

 
InfoWorld: Sun researchers: Computers do bad math: December 17, 2003: By : Platforms:
"Mathematical errors are far more common in the computer industry than most people realize, said Greg Papadopoulos, Sun's executive vice president and chief technology officer. While his company is normally the first to accuse Microsoft Corp. of shoddy operating system design, bad math and not Windows is sometimes behind those unexplained PC crashes, he admits.

'There are a lot of errors that happen in machines that go undetected,' Papadopoulos said. 'Sometimes a machine just goes away and freezes. You always blame it on Microsoft. We do, too. It's convenient. It's convenient for Intel, too.'

'It's a dirty secret. Floating-point arithmetic is wrong,' said John Gustafson, a principal investigator with Sun, based in Santa Clara, California. 'It only takes two operations to see that computers make mistakes with fractions.'

The problem that Gustafson and Papadopoulos referred to stems from the fact that the binary mathematics employed by computers has a hard time accurately representing certain numbers. Fractions, for example, are particularly tough, because they often involve non-terminating numbers that are impossible to accurately express in binary format.

Dividing two by three on a calculator illustrates the problem. The fraction 2/3, when represented in a computer, is inevitably rounded up, making the last digit a seven.

In the case of the Gulf War incident, the Patriot battery's computer rounded a similar, non-terminating number in order to calculate time. But by shaving off a few digits during every calculation, the battery also shaved off a bit of time. After one hour, the Patriot's clock was off by .0034 seconds. On Feb 25, the computer had been in operation for 100 hours straight, and its clock was off by over one third of a second, enough to cause it to miss the incoming Scud."

 
powers phillips home page
Getting to Know Us:
Powers Phillips, P.C., is a small law firm located in downtown Denver, Colorado within convenient walking distance of over fifty bars and a couple of doughnut shops. Powers Phillips also maintains a small satellite office-in-exile on the cow-covered hillsides near Carbondale, Colorado, where it puts out to pasture some of its aging attorneys.

The firm is composed of lawyers from the two major strains of the legal profession, those who litigate and those who wouldn't be caught dead in a courtroom.

Litigation lawyers are the type who will lie, cheat and steal to win a case and who can't complete a sentence without the words 'I object' or 'I demand another extension on that filing deadline.' Many people believe that litigation lawyers are the reason all lawyers are held in such low esteem by the public. Powers Phillips, P.C. is pleased to report that only four of its lawyers, Trish Bangert, Tom McMahon, and Tamara Vincelette are litigation lawyers, and only one of them is a man.

Lawyers who won't be caught dead in a courtroom are often referred to in the vernacular as 'loophole lawyers,' underhanded wimps who use their command of legal gobbledygook to scam money from the unsuspecting, usually widows and orphans. Many people believe that such 'loophole lawyers' are the reason all lawyers are held in such low esteem by the public. Powers Phillips, P.C. is pleased to report that only four of its lawyers, Myra Lansky, Kathy Powers, Mary Phillips, and Jay Powers, are such 'loophole lawyers' and one of them, Jay Powers, hardly does anything at all anyway so he doesn't really count.

Powers Phillips is somewhat peculiar in that six of its lawyers are, to put it most politely, uppity women, who through various shenanigans and underhanded schemes control the firm. However, this has not resulted in undue hardship on the male lawyers who are generously allowed a five minute coffee break every other day (so long as they continue to ponder client matters and continue billing accordingly). "

 
30,000-year-old figurines found in German cave:
Alex Dominguez, Associated Press, Published December 18, 2003



Some of the oldest undisputed artworks ever found -- figurines carved from mammoth ivory about 30,000 years ago -- have been discovered in a cave in Germany, shedding light on early humans' religious beliefs and confirming they were surprisingly skilled artists.

The figurines depict a water bird, what appears to be a horse's head and a lion-man. The one-inch lion-man is similar to a nearly footlong figurine previously found in a nearby valley that had been cited as evidence of shamanism -- the belief that spirits can be influenced by priests known as shamans.

Birds, especially water birds, are known to be a favorite shamanistic symbol, which means that 'advocates of the shamanistic hypothesis are going to be very happy about these finds,' said study author Nicholas Conard.

The 2-inch bird is extremely lifelike, with a well-formed head and eyes and a neck stretching out as if in flight.

While early man is often seen as brutish, the findings add to evidence that 'the first modern humans in Europe were in fact astonishingly precocious artists,' University of Liverpool archaeologist Anthony Sinclair wrote in a commentary accompanying the paper. Both appear in today's issue of the journal Nature."

Friday, December 26, 2003
 
MacOPINION : Talk | Difference Engine
MacOPINION : Talk | Difference Engine: "You missed one thing...

Posted by James Robinson:

...understandably, because it's both political and alien to Apple historically: Apple is now targeting IT aggressively.

Apple is failing in the schools because there's this wave of enthusiasm for putting computers in schools, which means bringing in people used to large scale computer deployment and support, which means enterprise IT directors. Which means Dell. The fact that people are swayed by the silly argument that kids should learn the computers currently used in business doesn't help. There's a lot of back-room dealing involved here. For example, NYC schools purchasing new equipment over the next few years will find that their only option is Dell. Apple won't even be on the menu (unless something drastic changes).

I've seen Apple outbid Dell before, by a margin. It can happen. They just aren't given the chance. They know why now, and that's why they're wooing IT. If they can get the people whose decisons affect thousands, or tens of thousands, of seats, they can gain market share in leaps rather than fighting for every individual sale. Just like Windows did."

Monday, December 22, 2003
 
Teacher blinds student for not doing homework
HindustanTimes.com:
In a gruesome incident, a teacher allegedly blinded a nine-year-old student simply because he did not complete his homework. The incident took place at a government school in Rawatpura village in Madhya Pradesh.

According to a complaint lodged with the police on Tuesday by the victim's father, Ajay Yadav was cruelly beaten up by the teacher, Sukh Devi, on December 11 for not completing his homework.

The teacher was so furious that she poked her stick into Ajay’s right eye after beating him, the complaint said. The blow caused the pupil of Ajay’s eye to come out.

A scared Sukh Devi then called her husband, Patiram Sahu, also a teacher, for help. Patiram made an unsuccessful attempt to put the pupil back into the cavity, which further damaged the child’s eye, the complaint said.

The teacher couple then called Ajay's parents and asked them not to report the matter to the police. They promised to arrange for the student's treatment.

But when the accused did not provide any medical treatment to the child, the victim's father lodged a complaint."

 
Putin Laments Daughters' Internet Time:
Russian President Vladimir Putin apparently has the same problems as any parent with a family computer.

During a live Moscow question-and-answer session Thursday, Mr. Putin complained that his teenage daughters 'sit' on the Internet.

While allowing that the Internet is useful for educational and developmental purposes, he said he can see no purpose in 'hours-long chatter.'

The solution to his daughters' endless surfing? Mrs. Putin has taken control of the situation. She has installed a password on their computer.

 
Mario hits writer with 15M libel suit
New York Daily News: "Former Gov. Mario Cuomo is suing a best-selling author for libel, charging that his book makes it appear he corruptly influenced a federal judge.

The suit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court last week, seeks $15 million from Greg Palast, author of 'The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,' and his publisher, Plume, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.

The questionable passage was about a civil racketeering trial involving the Long Island Lighting Co. and its Shoreham nuclear power plant.

'I convinced the government to charge them with civil racketeering, and a jury said they should pay $4.8 billion,' writes Palast, a former investigator for a private firm. 'Then the governor of New York, a slick operator named Mario Cuomo, reached the chief federal judge in New York - and poof - the jury's verdict was thrown out.'"

 
Cats Try to Eat Incapacitated Owner
Yahoo! News: "LOS ANGELES - A group of hungry cats began to eat their 86-year-old owner after she suffered an apparent stroke and couldn't get up for nearly a week, officials said Thursday.

Mae Lowrie, who lives with seven cats, was discovered unconscious and riddled with bite marks Wednesday night at her Panorama City apartment, Fire Department and hospital officials said.

She was listed in fair condition at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, said hospital spokeswoman Lisa Kort.

'The cats were trying to survive in the conditions that they were in, faced with the outcome they had. They did what they had to do to survive,' animal control Officer Ernesto Poblano told KABC-TV. 'The cats were all emaciated, very, very emaciated.'

Lowrie may have suffered a stroke, said Jim Wells, spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The woman's apartment manager alerted authorities after neighbors realized they hadn't seen Lowrie in several days.

Wells said Lowrie, who was believed to have been stricken about a week before she was found, was also dehydrated.

The cats, apparently without food for that time, also tried to eat Lowrie's small dog, said Jackie David, a spokeswoman for the city Animal Services Department. The terrier showed signs of hypothermic shock, severe dehydration, respiratory illness and was later euthanized, she said. One of the cats, a kitten, was found dead."

 
Why some companies are screwed
jaynote: this is an email exchange between me and a vendor. As jwz has been know to say, the reply was moderately head-explodey


From: Jay K.
Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2003 4:13 PM
To: JM
Subject: software wanted
Hi,
I'm working at C**** High School in NYC
I want to order 27 seats of BeTwin from Thinsoftinc.com
Since we are a public high school, I can't just order it online with a credit card, we must buy it from a NYBOE approved vendor.
an email contact is joanne.ong@thinsoftinc.com
the reseller application form is
http://www.thinsoftinc.com/reseller_intro.php
Thank You,
Jay Kusnetz


--- JM wrote:
> Hi Jay,
> > I spoke with my sales manager and since we do not
> have this software
> under state contract or fastrack he does not think
> it would be to our
> benefit to start a relationship with Thin Soft, Inc.
> Other than what we
> have under fastrack, we basically only sell
> Microsoft, Computer
> Associates and Citrix software. Please let me know
> if you have any
> questions or need anything else.
> > Thanks,
> > JM
> Account Support Representative
> C***
> "Celebrating 25 Years of Excellence"
> phone: (800)***-****
> > > > > -----Original Message-----


Hi,
as it turns out, another vendor did decide to carry
it, so we now have a source.

I'd like to thank your sales manger for the brilliant
example of a "catch-22" business anti-logic.

Obviously (or maybe not to your manager) if you don't
have a relationship with a manufacturer, you can't
carry their product. Using the fact that you don't
carry the product as a reason for not starting the
relationship that WOULD allow you to carry the product
is the kind of bureaucraticly genius thinking that has
inspired Kafka, Heller, and the movie "Brazil"

J****, you have my sympathies,
Jay



Friday, December 19, 2003
 
Science Blog - Aged roaches experience perils of stiff joints
Science Blog: "'Insects provide a useful model for aging studies because they're short-lived compared with mammals,' reports Ridgel.

Schaefer contributed to the paper with his look at the roach's escape behavior and how it changes during the aging process. He also reported in the paper that roaches had lacked the spontaneous response to flee from a predator in lab studies, but this escape behavior returned after the roach's head was removed, suggesting a deficiency in the brain. "

 
USB Menorah-
Project Home: "Everybody has heard about USB Christmas trees, but what about a USB menorah (or USB Imani Kinara for the Kwanzaa celebrators in the audience)? Motivated by the cheap ($8!) Delcom USB chipset, I decided to throw one together for myself. It's entirely programmable, so one could presumably write code to make it work for other holidays like Paryushan (Jain, 8 days, August) or Durga Puja/Navaratri (Hindu, 8 days, Sept ember), but I don't know if these holidays involve lighting candles or not.

It can correctly calculate the dates of Hannukah for at least the next few thousand years (or any historical date back to 2 B.C.E.). As well as 'lighting' the candles based on when the sunsets (I set the default geography for San Francisco/Berkeley, but you can enter any latitude/longitude and (assuming you don't live too close to the arctic circle) it will be correct to within a few minutes.

Furthermore, the shamas (candle you use to light the other candles) can blink out any morse-code message you want It will convert the words to morse code for you!"

 
Welcome to AJC!
Welcome to AJC!: "Bangalore, India --- Ashwin Harithsa hurtles down a narrow, dusty lane on a two-wheeler, swipes his security card at the entrance of i-Seva and settles down in a fluorescent-lit cubicle, a headset hugging his right ear.

At 7:30 every evening, Harithsa becomes 'Nathan,' a project manager working for U.S. financial giant Citibank in Bangalore, India's answer to Silicon Valley.

His callers don't realize they are talking to a man on the other side of the planet.

Few Americans calling '800' numbers --- whether to seek a Citibank loan, to make reservations on Delta Air Lines or even to ask about their food stamp benefits --- would know they are calling India, the country that claims the largest share of corporate America's back office processing tasks overseas."

Monday, December 15, 2003
 
Reason magazine -- July 1999:
Why Johnny Can't Fail
How the 'floating standard' has destroyed public education

I confess. I am a grade-inflating teacher guilty of 'social promotion.' I have given passing grades to students who failed all of their tests, to students who refused to read their assignments, to students who were absent as often as not, to students who were not even functionally literate. I have turned a blind eye to cheating and outright plagiarism and have given A's and B's to students whose performance was at best mediocre. Like others of my ilk, I have sent students to higher grades, to higher education, and to the workplace unprepared for the demands that would be made of them.

I am, in short, a servant of the force that thwarts nearly every effort to reform American education. I am a servant of the floating standard.

It does not matter what changes we make in curricula. The floating standard shields the status quo and guarantees the reign of mediocrity. If standards are set high but students lack the skills or motivation to meet them, the standards will inevitably drop. If many students in a given class take part-time jobs, homework will be reduced. If drugs sweep through a school, lower standards will compensate for the lack of mental clarity. Americans want quality education, but when lower grades and higher failure rates reach their own children's classes, they rebel and schools relent. Americans hate public education because standards are low but love their local schools because their children perform so well there."

 
Spam wars play out across Internet:
"The graying grandmother in a 'What Would Jesus Do?' T-shirt proudly recalls stretching two turkey carcasses into enough gumbo to feed 100 of the city's poor.

To keep from joining their ranks, she spams. Fox lays out $1,000 a month for the kind of high-speed Internet connection that businesses and some small Internet service providers use.

She harnesses that power all night using a couple of shopworn computers in her home, spitting out millions of junk e-mails for merchandise ranging from land in Belize to blessed coins."

 
sunspot.net - opinion: "FOUR YEARS ago, when modern townhouses replaced the demolished Lexington Terrace public housing high-rise project, the new mixed-income community sported a decidedly utopian twist: All tenants in 203 subsidized units were offered free computers, complete with Internet access and maintenance.

The experiment reflected President Bill Clinton's desire to close the 'digital divide' between technology haves and have-nots. Or, as his top housing official put it at the time, 'The information highway need not bypass distressed neighborhoods or poor people.'

This initiative got off to a rough start. It garnered national media attention, but many tenants resisted the required two-week training courses. Others had trouble with the computers. Nevertheless, close to 200 tenants ultimately took advantage of the free computers, which became part of their units, 'just like a refrigerator or stove.'

Regrettably, when the demonstration grant runs out Dec. 21, no one will be able to tell what the experiment achieved. Neither the Housing Authority of Baltimore City nor the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has conducted any review. Were the computers used for doing homework and writing job applications, or for playing video games? Did they contribute to their users' lives, particularly by boosting job prospects?

Perhaps the answer can be gauged from what happened after the experiment at the Terraces. No other Hope VI redevelopment project in Baltimore offered free computers to all subsidized residents. Instead, joining the information highway became a personal choice and payment responsibility - just like telephone and cable television.

That's how it should be. Taxpayers should not be saddled with the cost of subsidized housing tenants' communications service; no convincing case has been made that it is a necessity of life.

Baltimore housing officials say they intend to allow subsidized renters at the Terraces to keep the computers, which have been fully depreciated. Officials are also looking for ways to keep the Internet service going, including private funding.

That's a noble idea. But they should also figure out what the experiment achieved by studying computer usage among renters at the Terraces and a control group of tenants who don't have Internet access at home. That would offer insights into the 'digital divide' and its consequences."

 
A Different Kind of Shell Game: "A machine known as 'Lobster Zone' holds numerous delicious crustaceans and is a variation on the old 'skill cranes' popular in most arcades. For $2 per try, patrons can use a joystick to move a grasping claw above the desired lobster. If captured, the lobster is swung into position, dropped into a bucket and taken into the kitchen. Those lucky or skillful enough can get a lobster dinner for just a fraction of the menu price. "


 
WAIKATO TIMES - STORY : New Zealand's leading news and information website
WAIKATO TIMES - STORY: Nick Andreef's pigeons are faster than the internet, but no match for falcons.

In October Mr Andreef –- who runs Waitomo Adventures –- began commercial operation of what he reckons is a world first –- using homing pigeons to deliver digital photographs.

Mr Andreef's company runs tours through a network of caves spread across a 20km radius.

A spin-off from the trips is for customers to buy pictures of their adventures.

But by the time tourists were bussed back from their caving adventure to base office, they often did not have time to wait for photos to be downloaded and printed.

Mr Andreef said he rattled his brain to think of a way staff could work on the digital images before the tourists got back.

"We don't have phone lines and telephone exchanges of sufficient quality to transmit the data, so we came up with the pigeon concept."

Caving guides took the memory stick from their cameras and attached it to a velcro pack on the pigeon.

"It only takes the pigeons about six minutes for their journey," said Mr Andreef.

"They can transfer three gigs over 20km faster than the internet."

Some tourists were sceptical –- but the pigeons were 99 per cent reliable, Mr Andreef said. "They also work for peanuts."

The concept had just hit a snag however.

Nesting karearea (native falcons) have attacked and killed some of the pigeons mid-flight.

"A pigeon can fly at a cruising speed of 65km/h, 100km/h when pushed," said Mr Andreef. "But native falcons fly at up to 250km/h."

Once he discovered what was happening to his birds Mr Andreef grounded his 50-pigeon operation.

He expected the falcons' nesting season to finish within the next few weeks.

 
Takeo Igarashi: "SmoothTeddy is a simple 3D sketch-based modeling and painting software. You can make rotund 3D models such as teddy bears quickly, and paint them in an integrated environment. The resulting 3D models has hierarhical joint structure, so you can use them for animation projects like Alice. (SmoothTeddy is a successor to Teddy and Chameleon)

* Download SmoothTeddy (smoothteddy.zip 1.5MB, including manual) requires Java2 and Windows OS "

 
Rocket Man Blog: Back To The Future
Rocket Man Blog: Back To The Future: "a version of the OSP has been proposed before. Specifically over 45 years ago under a program called the X-20A Dyna-Soar (Dynamic Soarer)."

...If Dyna-Soar and the Space Launching System had been completed, the United States would have had by 1965 a modern modular launch vehicle launching a reusable manned spaceplane -- something it now hopes to accomplish with the Delta IV / OSP by 2010. The nation could have been spared the false premise of the shuttle program and had a space station ferry in being by the beginning of the 1970's. It might even have been flying well into the 21st Century, while the Gemini, Apollo, and Shuttle were consigned to the trash heaps of history.

Look at the following pictures and see for yourself just how similar these two proposals separated by over 45 years actually are.





 
Students Conduct Successful Static Fire Test of a New Rocket Engine in Preparation for P: "Following the recent launch of their 1000 lbf thrust ablative annular aerospike engine onboard Prospector-2 two months earlier, the CALVEIN team accomplished yet another milestone with the successful second flight of a liquid-propellant aerospike engine on Sunday, Dec. 7. This flight applied lessons-learned from the previous one to fully demonstrate the performance of the liquid propellant, ablative aerospike engine.....
.....The aerospike engine suffered none of the sub-optimal performance observed during the first flight (Sept. 21) thanks to a small modification made to the outer ring prior to laying up the ablative material. The aerospike engine demonstrated a clean burn-to-propellant-depletion and both the payload deployment and single-parachute recovery systems appeared to have functioned nominally.

Due to the wind and small launch rail inclination (4 deg. from vertical), the vehicle weather-vaned upon leaving the 57-ft launch rail before then entering a straight, stable trajectory in the direction towards the Koehn dry lake bed reaching an altitude greater than 4000 ft. The P4 then returned to the ground under full parachute, with all systems still functional."

Sunday, December 14, 2003
 
BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Adventurer stranded in Antarctica: "Australian Jon Johanson was forced to land his RV-4 plane at a US base when it ran short of fuel.

But both the Americans and a nearby New Zealand base refuse to give him the fuel, saying they do not want to encourage tourism in the Antarctic.

Mr Johanson flew over the South Pole after travelling 5,880 km in just over 24 hours from New Zealand.

The US actually don't run a gas station in Antarctica... and nor does New Zealand
Lou Sanson, Antarctica New Zealand CEO
The adventurer had planned to continue to Argentina, but strong headwinds ate into his fuel reserves.

This forced Mr Johanson to land on Tuesday at the US McMurdo base, just a few kilometres from New Zealand's Scott base, to ask for more fuel.

But both bases refused to provide him with the required 400 litres (104 gallons) to return to New Zealand."

 
jaynote: This works, well worth trying
ScienceDaily News Release: Carnegie Mellon Researcher Develops Intelligent Technology That Automatically Enhances Underexposed Photographs:
PITTSBURGH -- Carnegie Mellon University robotics researcher Vladimir Brajovic has developed a tool that automatically improves the appearance of darkened or underexposed photographs by digitally adding light to dark areas.

The Shadow Illuminator, funded through a $350,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, was developed originally to help robots see better. Using principles based on the physics of how optical images are formed, Shadow Illuminator imitates the vision processes that take place in the human eye. It examines the content of a photograph, estimates the illumination conditions and then brightens shadows. It also enhances details within the shadow.

'Shadow Illuminator is intelligent and works consistently for all pictures,' said Brajovic, director of the Computational Sensor Laboratory in Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. 'It provides the same results quickly and eliminates the hassle of manually adjusting photographs.'

According to Brajovic, traditional image-enhancement tools manipulate the color and intensity of the pixels of an image regardless of its content, relying on human judgment to determine what parts of an image need adjustment. Applying this process to each image can become tedious and time consuming.

'While there are other programs that enable users to manually produce similar results, you have to figure out what works for each individual picture,' Brajovic said.

The Shadow Illuminator, which has a patent pending on its technology, is being commercialized by Intrigue Technologies, Inc., a company formed by Brajovic that specializes in software and hardware for electronic imaging under difficult lighting conditions.

Shadow Illuminator can be accessed at www.shadowilluminator.org. Visitors to this free site can upload pictures and apply Shadow Illuminator to achieve brighter, clearer results. For visitors who sign up for a free account, the site also creates a personalized album to hold their uploaded photos."

 
The sounds of silence in Bernal Heights / Tavern owner ends live music after ASCAP suits
The sounds of silence in Bernal Heights / Tavern owner ends live music after ASCAP suits: "The stage at Skip's has been silent since Oct. 1, when owner Bill Courtright pulled the plug after deciding that offering live music wasn't worth the legal trouble it was attracting.

Twice in less than a year, Courtright was sued for copyright infringement by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, which collects royalty payments for copyright holders and represents them in legal disputes.

'I wasn't going to wait for a third lawsuit,' said Courtright, who has owned Skip's since 1990.

As record companies conduct a much-publicized effort to crack down on Internet music downloads, Courtright's bitter legal dispute shows how small- club owners, simply by providing a venue to local musicians, can run afoul of the guardians of copyrighted music."

 
Ananova - Woman 'hasn't slept for eight years': "Doctors in Romania say they are baffled after examining a woman who claims she has not slept a wink for eight years.

Maria Stelica, 58, started going to see doctors at her home in Budeasa after developing insomnia when her mother died eight years ago.

She said: 'At first I couldn't sleep even though I tried because I was frightened I would dream about my mother, but after a while I did not need it anymore, and not even sleeping pills can put me to sleep now.'

Doctors, who have run clinical tests, confirmed her story appeared genuine but could offer no medical explanation for her condition."

jaynote: shades of "Beggers in Spain"

 
Internet worms and critical infrastructure | CNET News.com
Internet worms and critical infrastructure | CNET News.com: "Did MSBlast cause the Aug. 14 blackout? The official analysis says 'no,' but I'm not so sure. A November interim report a panel of government and industry officials issued concluded that the blackout was caused by a series of failures with the chain of events starting at FirstEnergy, a power company in Ohio. A series of human and computer failures then turned a small problem into a major one. And because critical alarm systems failed, workers at FirstEnergy did not stop the cascade, because they did not know what was happening.

This is where I think MSBlast, also known as Blaster, may have been involved.

The report gives a specific timeline for the failures. At 2:14 p.m. EDT, the 'alarm and logging software' at FirstEnergy's control room failed. This alarm software 'provided audible and visual indications when a significant piece of equipment changed from an acceptable to problematic condition.' Of course, no one knew that it failed.

Six minutes later, 'several' remote control consoles failed. At 2:41 p.m., the primary server computer that hosted the alarm function failed. Its functions were passed to a backup computer, which failed at 2:54 p.m.

Doesn't this sound like a computer worm wending its way through FirstEnergy's operational computers?

The report had the following: 'For over an hour no one in FE's control room grasped that their computer systems were not operating properly, even though FE's Information Technology support staff knew of the problems and was working to solve them.'

Doesn't this sound like IT working to clean a worm out of its network?"

 
(insert jewish mother joke here)
Electric currents to control game players' posture: study. 09/12/2003. ABC News Online: "Japanese telecom giant NTT has succeeded in controlling human posture by applying weak electric currents and is aiming to use the technology to develop realistic simulation games, an official said on Monday.

Researchers have found they can control how human beings position themselves by sticking tiny electrode patches behind the ears, said Minako Sawaki, a planning division official for Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp's Science and Core Technology Laboratory Group.

The electrodes are connected to a remote control device enabling a weak electric current to be administered to affect the part of the inner ear that controls the sense of balance.

Researchers found they could change the posture of people by manipulating the electric current, which is at an extremely low level, Minako Sawaki said.

NTT hopes to use the technology to develop more realistic games for driving and flight simulation, making players' bodies lean as they corner or pull gravity inducing turns at the controls."

 
California law will ban recording devices from cinemas:
"LOS ANGELES (AP) - Sneaking a camcorder into a movie theater will soon be a crime in California under a new law designed to protect both copyrights and the livelihoods of thousands of movie industry workers.

'This industry is the economic engine that moves this city,' Police Chief William Bratton said at a City Hall press conference Thursday.

The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, allows moviegoers to make a citizen's arrest if they see someone in a theater with a recording device. Signs will also be posted at all Los Angeles County theaters notifying patrons of the new law.

The effort is aimed mainly at camcorders, which account for 92 percent of all illegal copies of films that appear for sale over the Internet and are sold on street corners, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. The MPAA is seeking to enact similar laws in other states and is backing an effort to make the illegal taping of a film a federal felony.

The law, which was signed by former Gov. Gray Davis, was written to also include future technologies and could be enforced against people recording all or parts of a film with a tape recorder, handheld computer or even a cell phone.

City and county law enforcement officers say they will respond to calls from theaters to assist in making the citizen's arrest if resources permit. People convicted under the law could be subject to a maximum one year in jail and a fine of $2,500."

 
How the String Cheese Incident -- five barefoot, mandolin- plucking improvisers from Boulder -- is taking on the most hated corporation in music
MotherJones.com | Commentary:

What do you call a company that has preserved its near monopoly for more than a decade despite numerous antitrust lawsuits, that charges exorbitant fees to its captive customers, whose CEO is said to revel in the fact that he 'crushed' one of America's most beloved rock and roll bands when it dared to take the company on, that (for these reasons and more) is near the top of most Americans' list of companies they love to hate? Well, some people call it Ticketbastard, but Ticketmaster doesn't mind, so long as people keep calling -- and logging on and walking up to its outlets, which they did enough times last year to buy 95 million tickets, worth $4 billion, on behalf of its parent, Barry Diller's InterActiveCorp.

They call, of course, because they have no other choice. Ticketmaster has made hay during the recent consolidation of the entertainment industry, scooping up the exclusive right to deal tickets for nearly 90 percent of the nation's arenas and amphitheaters, and more than 70 percent of the clubs and theaters. And in the unlikely event that an artist is performing at a non-Ticketmaster venue, the company also has exclusive contracts with the country's top promoters -- Clear Channel, AEG, and House of Blues, among them -- which together sell about 30 million tickets a year."

 
School Bullies Often Seen As 'Cool': "By Amy Norton 12-8-3

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Victims of bullying feel more depressed, anxious and socially isolated than their classmates, while the bullies are often seen as 'cool,' according to a study released Monday.

The findings, say experts, underscore the need to address bullying by changing its social acceptance.

In the study, researchers analyzed peer reports of who bullies and who is victimized, self-reports of psychological distress and peer and teacher reports of 'adjustment' problems. The study included 11 middle schools in the Los Angeles area with large minority populations.

They found that nearly one-quarter of the 1985 students were involved in bullying in some way. Seven percent were perpetrators, based on what they, their classmates and their teachers said. Nine percent were victims of bullying, and six percent were both perpetrators and victims.

On surveys of psychological distress, victims showed the highest levels of depression, social anxiety and loneliness of all students. Kids deemed bullies, on the other hand, were 'psychologically stronger' than their classmates, including those not involved in bullying at all. Bullies also enjoyed the highest social status in school."

 
Transterrestrial Musings:
"Six Weeks More War, Or Is It Over?

When they pulled Saddam out of his hole, did he see his shadow?
Posted by Rand Simberg at"

Friday, December 12, 2003
 
2blowhards.com: Sons of the Midwest: "December 17 will mark the one-hundredth anniversary of the first flight of the Wright Brothers. As a Midwesterner, I think I can justifiably point out this feat as probably the high point of Midwestern American civilization.......... I took a trip to Dayton a few years ago and decided to check out where the Wright home stood. It was actually a pretty depressing trip; today the lot sits in a grim inner-city neighborhood. As I drove around slowly looking for the exact address (there is, astonishingly, no marker or sign) I was constantly accosted by men on street corners trying to sell me drugs. When I got out to survey the now-empty lot where the Wright house stood (Henry Ford bought it and moved it to Dearborn), I noticed that the house immediately to its left, no doubt standing in the brothers’ day, had a hand-lettered cardboard sign in the window:
We don’t sell crack. Please don’t knock."

Thursday, December 11, 2003
 
Judge orders SCO to show Linux infringement
CNET News.com:
"SCO and IBM have each filed several motions to try to compel the other side to release information. In a motion Wednesday, IBM criticized SCO for delivering source code to IBM that had been printed on 1 million sheets of paper.

'Knowing full well that IBM would need its source code in electronic form so that proper analyses--such as those SCO itself claims to have performed--could be conducted, SCO instead produced the source code on one million sheets of paper,' IBM said in the motion. 'The only reason for SCO's production of code on paper was, we believe, to stall the progress of these proceedings while giving the (false) impression of being forthcoming in its discovery responses.'

In response to IBM's complaint, Stowell said, 'If a company wants code, it's the other party's decision to provide that any way they feel like providing that.'"

jaynote: Cool!!! This means that SCO won't mind if IBM supplies source code tattoo'd on the backs of rabid weasels

Tuesday, December 09, 2003
 
Oops....
[Islam] Challenging the Qur: In a note of encouragement to his fellow hijackers, September 11 ringleader Muhammad Atta cheered their impending “marriage in Paradise” to the 72 wide-eyed virgins the Qur’an promises to the departed faithful. Palestinian newspapers have been known to describe the death of a suicide bomber as a “wedding to the black-eyed in eternal Paradise.” But if a German expert on Middle Eastern languages is correct, these hopes of sexual reward in the afterlife are based on a terrible misunderstanding.

Arguing that today's version of the Qur’an has been mistranscribed from the original text, scholar Christoph Luxenberg says that what are described as “houris” with “swelling breasts” refer to nothing more than “white raisins” and “juicy fruits.”

.........Luxenberg’s chief hypothesis is that the original language of the Qur’an was not Arabic but something closer to Aramaic. He says the copy of the Qur’an used today is a mistranscription of the original text from Muhammad’s time, which according to Islamic tradition was destroyed by the third caliph, Osman, in the seventh century. But Arabic did not turn up as a written language until 150 years after Muhammad’s death, and most learned Arabs at that time spoke a version of Aramaic. Rereading the Paradise passage in Aramaic, the mysterious houris turn into raisins and fruit—much more common components of the Paradise myth.

 
Art
Welcome to Morbid Tendencies

Rudolpho the Mutant Reindeer
Festively dressed in holiday attire, this puppy could light up a freeway if those noses start to glow. Long floppy legs mean proper monitor- or shelf-sitting attitude.


Guten Morgen Kinderkatze (a.k.a. Wall Cat, a.k.a. Heng Heng)
Skin, metal, silk, and glass over closed-cell foam. Dentures from nobody you know.
The soft velvet flocking went really well with the sutured skin, I thought. I had to crack the lower jaw to get it to fit into a cat-sized mouth....


Beautifully preserved little beasties living suspended in jars. Each is sealed with black wax (partly beeswax, mmmmm) and embossed with an eye of Horus traced with gold powder...what’s not to like? The liquid they are suspended in is called Carosafe and is a non-smelly version of formaldehyde without all the toxic properties. Please refrain from cracking one open and taking a swig, however. If you have some sort of problem with putting innocent little creatures into jars forever, feel free to email me your oh-so-original and righteous wee rants, and I’ll tell you where I got them. So there.

Bats are now back in stock, thank god, so order away....



Bat: $42 includes delivery anywhere in the US. Very delicate webbed wings and darling crumpled faces. You would punch a nun to get them! You’d suck the blood out of a wounded puppy! (apologies to J)

Mouse: $22 includes delivery anywhere in the US. Most are tinted blush, naturally. Why ask why? Little perfect eyes and teeth and ears, and tiny clawed feet. So cute! So dead!


 
Nostalgia For Medieval Explorers Won't Make Us Space Explorers
Spacedaily.com: "Talk to 'Space Cadets' long enough and they will inevitably start using historical analogies to 'successful' sea exploration programs in order to promote their particular vision for future space exploration. But it is the historical failures that shed more light on the state of space efforts today."

 
Contest for High School Students
The Vinny Awards: "Named after Leonardo da Vinci, the VinnyTM is an award for the best one-minute videos explaining how Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics can help solve common global problems.

The VinnyTM Awards is a contest to produce a one minute video that explains how Science, Technology, Engineering and/or Mathematics (STEM) is being used or can be used to help solve a global problem. Exam ples of such problems include pollution or food distribution. Teams of students work with a teacher and a mentor to research a global problem and ways that STEM is or can be used to help solve the problem. You might want to pick a problem that has an im pact on your community or is of concern to you and people you know. The team then brainstorms about how to explain the problem and solution to 4th graders with a video, and then produces the video. The team submits the video and other materials. Sometime in the Spring of 2004, CNU will announce the winners and award prizes.

Teams must be composed of students from who are all within the same grade range (Elementary, Middle, or High School). For example, a middle school team would have students from grades 6-8 only. The videos can be produced in either English or Span ish. This means there are six categories, each with a prize.
"

 
Motorist Registers During Traffic Stop
AP Wire | 12/05/2003:
NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. - In less time than it took a North Brunswick patrolman to write a ticket for an unregistered vehicle, the driver got his car registered online Thursday.

When officer Jason Zier pulled over a 1992 Mazda 626 on Thursday afternoon, the vehicle's registration had expired. By the time he'd finished writing up Sean Leach for the infraction, the car was legal again.

That's because the 36-year-old Jersey City man had a cell phone, a friend with a computer who he could reach and the foresight to use the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission's online registration service.

Leach's ingenuity did not save him from getting a ticket, but it did keep him from having his car towed - and getting socked with the towing bill.

Zier pulled Leach over on Route 130 after noticing the sticker on his license plate was expired, the Home News Tribune reported for Friday. When Leach told Zier he had not gotten around to renewing his registration, the officer mentioned that drivers can register online, North Brunswick Police Department spokesman Capt. Donald Conry said.

Leach took the renewal form the commission had sent him from his visor, which contained the access code he needed to renew. While Zier issued the summons and ordered the tow, Leach called a friend who took his credit card number and other information and renewed the registration for him, Conry said.

When Zier came back with the ticket, Leach told him the car was now registered. The computer inside Zier's patrol car confirmed it.

'It's immediate,' Conry said.

Zier canceled the tow truck - no longer needed since it was to tow an unregistered car off the road.


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