Thursday, January 29, 2009

Finally Waking Up

Thomas Jefferson is one of my heroes. Not only was he a great writer, he was also an inventor, architect and statesman of the highest order. Additionally, he..."was a man of the Enlightenment and knew many intellectual leaders in Britain and France. He idealized the independent yeoman farmer as exemplar of republican virtues, distrusted cities and financiers, and favored states' rights and a strictly limited federal government. Jefferson supported the separation of church and state[2] and was the author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1779, 1786)."

Because he was so visionary in his thinking, he intuitively knew the dangers of a central bank and what it does to government and the people, a situation we know all to well today as we slide into the abyss of depression. No rant here but it's time for the Fed to go and replace it with a valid monetary system that can be controlled and sustained for the foreseeable future. To learn more about our financial system, type The Fed in the search panel and wait for the post titles to display. The information will amaze and dismay anyone who reads the content contained in the found articles.

Addendum: Thain & Company (along with Madoff and many others) shows why Jefferson was really onto something over 200 years ago.

Also, click here to read an article that indirectly channels Jefferson in demanding that the banks be nationalized before it's too late, something Obama's resisting thanks to his economic planners (the guys who got us into this mess in the first place) as we move further into a financial crisis that goes way beyond that of 1929.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Realism Plus

3D CG just keeps getting more amazing. The pix above is another example of why CG is changing how we view and model reality. Like The Perfect Woman, (BRT/Feb. 24, 2007) the software used to create the young girl seen above is off-the-shelf. The difference, as per TPW, is the talent that uses it. Click on the panel below to get the specs behind the art.

Idoru is alive and well.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Dark Ages

Even though the Bush regime lasted only 8 years (thank god), the connect between his administration and the 600 year reign of the god forsaken Dark Ages does apply, in indirect fashion, to tech...

"If the Obama campaign represented a sleek, new iPhone kind of future, the first day of the Obama administration looked more like the rotary-dial past.

Two years after launching the most technologically savvy presidential campaign in history, Obama officials ran smack into the constraints of the federal bureaucracy yesterday, encountering a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts.

What does that mean in 21st-century terms? No Facebook to communicate with supporters. No outside e-mail log-ins. No instant messaging. Hard adjustments for a staff that helped sweep Obama to power through, among other things, relentless online social networking.

"It is kind of like going from an Xbox to an Atari," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said of his new digs."

Or in other words, maybe the BA could have taken a lesson from Led Zepplin about Communication Breakdown as seen in this classic vid from the best metal band of all time.

The Next Big Thing

BRT is a big fan of Graphene. Type Graphene in the Search Panel and stand back to see the postings as this refined version of pencil lead will change all things digital in ways just beginning to be understood by people working with this unique material. The holdup to making graphene-based nanoelectronics is now gone thanks to cutting edge research done by scientists at RPI.

"Results show that when deposited on a surface treated with oxygen, graphene exhibits semiconductor properties. When deposited on a material treated with hydrogen, however, graphene exhibits metallic properties.

"Depending on the chemistry of the surface, we can control the nature of the graphene to be metallic or semiconductor," Nayak said. "Essentially, we are 'tuning' the electrical properties of material to suit our needs."

"The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible." - Arthur C. Clarke

EM Pulse Writ Large

The fierce intensity of nature is never far away, especially when one realizes just how powerful an entity our sun truly is.

"The strongest geomagnetic storm on record is the Carrington Event of August-September 1859, named after British astronomer Richard Carrington who witnessed the instigating solar flare with his unaided eye while he was projecting an image of the sun on a white screen. Geomagnetic activity triggered by the explosion electrified telegraph lines, shocking technicians and setting their telegraph papers on fire; Northern Lights spread as far south as Cuba and Hawaii; auroras over the Rocky Mountains were so bright, the glow woke campers who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning. Best estimates rank the Carrington Event as 50% or more stronger than the superstorm of May 1921.

"A contemporary repetition of the Carrington Event would cause … extensive social and economic disruptions," the report warns. Power outages would be accompanied by radio blackouts and satellite malfunctions; telecommunications, GPS navigation, banking and finance, and transportation would all be affected. Some problems would correct themselves with the fading of the storm: radio and GPS transmissions could come back online fairly quickly. Other problems would be lasting: a burnt-out multi-ton transformer, for instance, can take weeks or months to repair. The total economic impact in the first year alone could reach $2 trillion, some 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina or, to use a timelier example, a few TARPs."

According to NASA, a powerful flare can even knock out your crapper. Now that's something to think about, right? :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Parkinson's Law

"No scene from prehistory is quite so vivid as that of the mortal struggles of great beasts in the tar pits. The fiercer the struggle, the more entangling the tar, and no beast is so strong or so skillful but that he ultimately sinks. " - Mythical Man Month, Fredrick P. Brooks, Jr.

"Parkinson's law", first published in an article of 1955, states: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

Assigning more programmers to a project running late makes it later.

and last but not least...

"In many creative activities the medium of execution is intractable. Lumber splits; paints smear; electrical circuits ring. These physical limitations of the medium constrain the ideas that may be expressed, and they also create unexpected difficulties in the implementation. [page 15]"

Whenever I read quotes like these, Brooks' Mythical Man Month masterwork inevitably comes to mind as it was the first book I ever read regarding tech and how complex it truly is. I feel this complexity extends to virtually ever aspect of creativity man does, especially regarding communication and the commonality of definition as successful execution of both are prerequisites to projects requiring the involvement of more than one person. I have quoted MMM many times in BRT because the conclusions Brooks arrives at virtually applies to everything I do as designer and writer.

Click here to get a mathematical take on Parkinson's Law and consider the following passage as to why the US is currently so adrift.

"A look around the globe today, courtesy of data collected by the US Central Intelligence Agency, indicates that Parkinson might have been onto something. The highest executive bodies of most countries have between 13 and 20 members. "Cabinets are commonly constituted with memberships close to Parkinson's limit," says Thurner, "but not above it." And that is not all, says Klimek: the size of the executive is also inversely correlated to measures of life expectancy, adult literacy, economic purchasing power and political stability. "The more members there are, the more likely a country is to be less stable politically, and less developed," he says."

Makes one think doesn't it.

The Compleat Image

The best museum I have ever been to to see art is the Guggenheim. Organic, flowing and something to experience, this building, to me, is where art and architecture conspire to make something truly wonderful happen.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Finding Stuff

The research into finding images by color and similarity has been ongoing for years. MIT & IBM pioneered the tech and now Idee Labs has moved it onto the web. Tin Eye is an environment that lets one discover how many times a image appears on the web. Better yet, the browser plugin allows you to go where said image(s) are located and best of all, it's free.

Pixisimilar is Idee's server-based environment designed to find content in large image databases using the aforementioned similarity and color methods as the way to do it. This software is in beta as well but implications for this tech are truly profound, especially when semantics becomes part of the equation. Click on the image below to see the workflow to get content into the Idee system.

PS, they are also moving into the music space as well.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Index

A compilation of facts regarding the Bush administration.
Interesting to say the least.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Darwin Awards

The Darwin Awards salute the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who accidentally remove themselves from it...

Needless to say, the images seen below were sent to me by a very good friend with a wonderful sense of humor. Enjoy.

The 2008 Contractor Awards:

And the winner is...

Houston, we have a problem. :)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

It's a Start

"In the report, “The Digital Road to Recovery: A Stimulus Plan to Create Jobs, Boost Productivity and Revitalize America,” ITIF provides a detailed analysis and estimate of the short-term jobs impacts of spurring investment in three critical digital networks: broadband networks, the smart grid (making the electric distribution system intelligent) and health IT, and outlines policy steps to spur this investment."

This report makes sense, something that cannot be said of the monster bailout to parties unknown.

W - The Black Hole Man

A must read from Salon about W, the Master of Disaster.

Sad But True

There's a new website consisting of headlines delineating the death of traditional publishing, something that's inevitable due to the ever accelerating pace of tech. Like many who grew up analog, I too will miss the touch and feel of newspapers, books and magazines when reading up on what's happening on this crazy planet called earth. Radio will live on but for all the rest, the clock is ticking.

History of the Internet

History of the Internet from PICOL on Vimeo.
Pocol's take on design & Open Source rocks as well.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Tiny Assassin

"Based on extensive field studies, the work challenges six decades of salt marsh science. Ecologists have long thought that stressed soil – too much salt, not enough oxygen – was the main killer of this critical marine habitat.

But Brian Silliman, a Brown University research fellow and a University of Florida assistant professor, said drought-stressed soils pave the way for predatory periwinkles that spread fungal disease as they graze on cordgrass. “Snails can transform healthy marsh to mudflats in a matter of months,” said Silliman, lead author of the Science paper. “This finding represents a huge shift in the way we see salt marsh ecology. For years, scientists thought marsh die-off was simply a ‘bottom-up’ problem related solely to soil conditions. We found that the trouble also comes from the top down. Drought makes the marsh vulnerable, then the snails move in.”

"The findings, the authors argue, underscore the interplay of climate and consumers in the worldwide collapse of coastal systems. While an overabundance of snails may fuel southeastern salt marsh destruction, they point to other examples of habitat destruction that may be caused, in part, by a plethora of grazers: sea urchins wiping out California kelp beds, sea stars devastating Australian coral reefs, snow geese decimating marshes along the Arctic Sea, bark beetles killing off Arizona pine forests."

Search Me

Unlike Brando, who said to Rod Steiger in On the Waterfront,
"I couda been a contender"
, Search Me actually may become one to Google. Elegant visual interface that works is a new wrinkle in the search game, something whose time has come if you ask me.