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Sunday, June 29, 2008

More movies!

Yesterday we went to see The Bank Job.

Following in the vein of 'Lock Stock & two Smoking Barrels' this gritty, well filmed crime drama is based on a true-life bank robbery in London in 1971, in which the valuables were never recovered and a 'D' notice was issued preventing media from reporting the story, alledgedly to protect a member of the British royal family.

The storytelling here is the ultimate highlight of this film, it's not flashy or over the top in any way, but you leave the cinema feeling full and satisfied. I wish there were more movies like this.


Last week we went to see 'Get Smart', and it was surprisingly funnier (& much better in general) than I expected :)

I thought it would probably be a bit of a rehash of the tv show, but it was actually quite warm, human & well acted. Nice one!


This is the Image Fulgurator, half guerrilla-art stunt and half homemade-gadget awesomeness.

Berlin based artist Julius von Bismarck uses his oddly named camera-mod to project images onto street furniture where they appear in the photos of strangers, but remain invisible to their eyes.

It's simple. The device has a slave unit on top which is triggered when it sees a flash fire. This triggers his own flash, which fires through the back of the camera, through a film slide containing his slogan and then on and out through the lens at the front.

This works because a camera is pretty much a projector in reverse. And because the light-graffiti is fired at the exact same moment the unsuspecting victim takes a picture, it ends up in their photograph and paranoid mind ramblings result.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Internet set for domain name big bang

The internet looks set for one of the biggest shake-ups in its brief history if the web's regulator votes this week, as expected, to allow new domain names such as .love or .paris.

The vote by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which began its annual general meeting in Paris on Monday, would open up millions of new variations for web addresses.

"Apart from the .com, .net or .org, the 1.3 billion web users will be able from early next year to acquire generic addresses by lodging common words such as .love, .hate or .city or proper names," ICANN president Paul Twomey told French newspaper Les Echos.

With the stock of available web addresses under the current IPv4 protocol set to run out by 2011, ICANN has been under pressure to find a solution for burgeoning demand.

Under the proposed new regime, domain names will also be able to be lodged in languages such as Arabic or Mandarin Chinese.

"We have tested 15 languages with non-Latin alphabets so that they can work with web browsers from Mozilla, Microsoft and Apple," said Twomey.

Websites are now largely limited to domains that end in .com or .country, but the ICANN proposal would enable firms to buy new generic domains ending in whatever they want.

The popular online trading site eBay is one of the many companies that wants to have its own domain name.

Broad product groups such as .bank or .car are also likely contenders.

Cities could benefit too from this liberalisation, with the German capital hoping for .berlin or New York for .nyc.

Some cities or regions have been bending the rules already to get the domain they want. The city of Los Angeles has for example signed a deal with the South-east Asian nation of Laos to use its .la domain.

In theory, an infinite number of new domain names could be created, which would prove a boon for ICANN because it would receive payment for each one, but in reality advanced technical skills and a fat wallet would be needed to set up a new name.

Tens of thousands of dollars would be required, noted Loic Damilaville, head of the AFNIC association of French domain names.

ICANN's 32nd international public meeting this week gathers more than 1,500 delegates from dozens of countries, backing a new address system, IPv6, which would add billions of new internet addresses.

A non-profit organisation based in southern California, ICANN oversees the assignment of domain names and internet protocol addresses that help computers communicate.

.. from smh.com.au

Greenhouses new pig-thru-brain look headphones

What could be possibly said about these that they don't say themselves?
.. amazing. I think the pink ones would definitely be the way to go. Black is for the heavy-metal fans out there, white for the weirdo girl in your life.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Woke up early this morning..

Monday, June 16, 2008

~ My Weekend ~
condensed version

Kung fu Panda is awesome. So beautifully done. 8/10.

Hulk happy. Not too shabby. 7/10.

New Charles Stross novel.. awesome! Can't wait to get into this.

Wishlist item satisfied! I bought a wacom tablet about 5 years ago in Australia, and it's been absolutely rock solid reliable.

Unfortunately it's also going to stay locked in storage in Sydney for the
10 days, 3 months, 1 year, however long I stay in Malaysia, so I decided to bite the bullet and buy another.

Abuse me in the comments if you don't start seeing more of my art on here soon :)

Finally... a few laps in the pool. What a lovely weekend.
Hope you had a good one too :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Any idea what sort of butterfly (or moth?) this is? I've seen several of them in the last couple of weeks. This one took some convincing to get our of my apartment, but we got there in the end :)

good java

top: DIY jewellery by Peilin; bottom: Peilin's purse detail

The fantastique visions of Michael 'Pooch' Pucciarelli

QR code for this blog, generated at http://qrcode.kaywa.com/

Thinking inside the square

THE prospect of flashing a mobile phone at a movie poster to get screening times and buy tickets might seem fancifully futuristic to most.

So, too, the idea of aiming a handset at a business card to spare the hassle of manually entering the details.

But the technology that allows this to happen is on its way to Australia.

Known as QR (Quick Response) Codes, the square bar codes on flyers, newspapers or T-shirts provide a direct link to a web page.

When mobile phones with internet capability are swiped over the top, the user is taken directly to a related web page.

The technology was pioneered in Japan. Advertisers started placing the codes on billboards, magazines and shopfronts in 2000.

Since then, it has been embraced by almost every retail industry and adopted by consumers to encode personal details on business cards, where they can be scanned and read by software provided in almost every one of Japan's 100 million handsets.

Some people, like 25-year-old Yuta Horai, even emblazon personal QR Codes on their clothes.

"It's just a quick and easy way to link to a mobile internet site about anything - restaurants, movie times - on your mobile anywhere," says the Tokyo artist, who sometimes wears a T-shirt with a code that links to a website promoting his friend's band.

Special phone software is needed to read the codes. In some cases this can be downloaded from the internet, but Telstra says it is planning to release a range of QR Code-compatible phones "in the very near future".

"It makes the internet more directly accessible - you scan a code to get access to the content that you want when you want it," the executive director for consumers and channels, Tim Copper, said. The Herald will be Telstra's media partner in the the new phones.

Even Facebook has taken an interest in QR Codes, in a sign this two-dimensional technology, designed in 1994 by Denso-Wave to track parts in Japanese car manufacturing, has finally pricked the global consciousness.

The social networking site produces T-shirts and bags with personalised codes that new friends can scan to add the code-owner as a Facebook "friend".

In Japan, mobile phone users only have to position the code inside a square viewfinder on their screen to be taken directly to a corresponding website.

The process allows them to easily obtain restaurant locations, book taxis, find nutritional information, listen to music, enter competitions and sign up for giveaways.

Lawrence Cosh-Ishii, director of digital media for the online publication Japan Wireless Watch, said: "The iconic QR Code symbol has served as a trackable call to action for businesses engaging with potential customers."

Japan's McDonald's puts the codes on hamburger wrappers. Supermarkets put them on meat and egg packaging to provide information about the farms that produced them.

According to a survey, 73 per cent of consumers have used QR Codes. Among teenagers the figure rises to 90 per cent.

from smh
QR code entry on wikipedia
check out semapedia while you're at it

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Beatles may rile aliens

SCIENTISTS have warned that transmitting songs into deep space could put the Earth at risk of an alien attack.

They voiced fears that advertising humanity's place in the universe – as happened last week when NASA broadcast a Beatles song towards the North Star – could attract the attention of aliens who are less friendly than ET.

"Before sending out even symbolic messages, we need an open discussion about the potential risks," Dr Douglas Vakoch, of the SETI Institute told New Scientist magazine.
SETI – the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence – plans more broadcasts from its base in Mountain View, California. For the past 20 years, it has used radio telescopes to scan for alien radio messages.

Now, they say, we should be actively sending out friendly signals to the stars. "SETI's big mistake is that it's relying on ET to do all the heavy lifting," said Dr Richard Gott, an astrophysicist from Princeton University.

Barrie Jones, an astronomer with the Open University, said there was an "unofficial embargo" about alerting potentially unfriendly species. "The chances are slight, but the consequences would be huge – the end of life on Earth," he said.

"If they have the technology to cross interstellar space to reach us, they will be so much in advance of us humans that there is nothing we could do to resist them."

However, other astrophysicists point out that humanity has been advertising itself to neighbouring stars since the first commercial radio transmissions of the 1920s. By now, those early broadcasts will have travelled nearly 90 light years – some 540 trillion miles. And at least one physicist at SETI is confident that "first contact" will be more like Steven Spielberg's friendly encounter in ET and less like Ridley Scott's horrifying Alien.

Dr Seth Shostak said that if there are extraterrestrials listening out for us, they will have already had plenty of experience of Earth's culture. He is sanguine about the possibility of unfriendly attention, saying: "It's quite paranoid, given that the one thing we know about aliens – if they do exist – is that they are very, very far away.

"Military radar signals have already penetrated deep into space and early broadcasts of Star Trek and I Love Lucy are washing over one star system a day. "If they're listening, they already know we are here."

Humans could all be aliens

GENETIC material from outer space found in a meteorite in Australia may well have played a key role in the origin of life on earth, according to a study to be published on Sunday.

European and US scientists say they have proved for the first time two bits of genetic coding, called nucleobases, contained in the meteor fragment, are truly extraterrestrial.

Previous studies had suggested the space rocks, which hit earth about 40 years ago, might have been contaminated upon impact.

Both of the molecules identified, uracil and xanthine, "are present in our DNA and RNA," said lead author Zita Martins, a researcher at Imperial College London.

RNA, or ribonucleic acid, is another key part of the genetic coding that makes up our bodies.

These molecules would also have been essential to the still-mysterious alchemy that somehow gave rise, about four billion years ago, to life itself.

"We know that meteorites very similar to the Murchison meteorite, which is the one we analysed, were delivering the building blocks of life to earth 3.8 to 4.5 billion years ago," Martins said.

Competing theories suggest nucleobases were synthesised closer to home, but Martins said the atmospheric conditions of early earth would have rendered that process difficult or impossible.

A team of European and US scientists showed the two types of molecules in the Australian meteorite contained a heavy form of carbon - carbon 13 - which could only have been formed in space.

"We believe early life may have adopted nucleobases from meteoric fragments for use in genetic coding, enabling them to pass on their successful features to subsequent generations," Martins said.

If so, this would have been the start of an evolutionary process leading over billions of years to all the flora and fauna - including human beings - in existence today.

The study, to be published in Earth Planetary Science Letters, also has implications for life on other planets.

"Because meteorites represent leftover materials from the formation of the solar system, the key components of life - including nucleobases - could be widespread in the cosmos," said co-author Mark Sephton, also at Imperial College London.

"As more and more of life's raw materials are discovered in objects from space, the possibility of life springing forth wherever the right chemistry is present becomes more likely," he said.

Uracil is an organic compound found in RNA, where it binds in a genetic base pair with another molecule, adenine.

Xanthine is not directly part of RNA or DNA, but participates in a series of chemical reactions inside the RNA of cells.

The two types of nucleobases and the ratio of light-to-heavy carbon molecules were identified through gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, technologies that were not available during earlier analyses of the now-famous meteorite.

Even so, said Martins, the process was extremely laborious and time-consuming, one reason it had not be carried out up to now by other scientists.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

new ring, stainless steel bought from Jaya Jusco for 20RM. Me rikey rikey.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Rambutan are officially uber delish

Geek Heaven
geek heaven: dual ubuntu laptops; personal on the left, work on the right.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

What the CIA Learned From 'Get Smart'

Maxwell Smart always "missed it by that much," but some of those dopey spy shows of the '60s were right on the money. "Many of the devices first seen in movies and on TV actually came about," says Robert Wallace, former head of the CIA's covert skunk works, the Office of Technical Services.

"Remember the Cone of Silence? We built shielded enclosures that did the same thing. And the pen communicator in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.? That evolved, 10 years later, into short-range agent communication." Wallace, who was basically the agency's real-life Q, reveals these gadgets and more in his new book, Spycraft, the first comprehensive look at the technical achievements of American espionage from the 1940s to the present.

"Here's the laboratory," Wallace used to tell new recruits. "The only thing that is going to limit what you can do is your imagination." It seems they took him at his word.

1940's: Cigarette gun

Lipping this pistol disguised as a cigarette, an agent could easily release the safety pin. Rotating the filter end counterclockwise armed the gun, and a push of the thumb caused it to fire a single .22-caliber bullet. It really worked.

1940's: Combustible notebook

An ordinary-looking bound notebook contained pages of Pyrofilm and came packaged with an incendiary pencil. To prevent notes from falling into the wrong hands, an agent could simply pull the eraser out of the pencil, causing the notebook to burst into flames.

1960's: Acoustic kitty

During an hour-long procedure, techs embedded a 3/4-inch transmitter in the skull of a live cat. An antenna made of very fine wire was woven into the cat's fur, and a microphone was placed in its ear canal. After setting the kitty free, agents could listen in on nearby conversations undetected. Cats being cats, however, the system proved unreliable.

1970's: Rat concealment device

When it comes to a "dead drop" — a hiding place where spies leave messages — nothing's better (or deader) than a dead rat. Who's going to look inside unless they have to? CIA techs gutted a rat carcass, inserted secret missives wrapped in foil, and then stitched the animal back together. To ward off scavengers, the rodent was often doused in Tabasco.

1975: T-100 subminiature camera watch

A working Seiko timepiece concealed the world's smallest point-and-shoot camera. The device held a 15-inch strip of auto-advancing film and could snap about 100 crisp shots. A quick twist of the watch face revealed a 4-millimeter-diameter lens. It was a successful and widely used spy tool in its day.

1976: Insectothopter

A remotely piloted aerial vehicle disguised as a dragonfly could carry cameras and audio sensors right into the lion's den. This mobile eavesdropping bug never got off the ground.

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