Archives for posts with tag: technology

I often say that when used intelligently a bit of humour can help enormously with making some news more readable and digestible, especially for those of us who consume a lot of news. Of course it requires sensitivity – to avoid an air of flippancy when writing about very serious or upsetting subjects, for example – but sometimes it is appropriate (and can in fact help the reader to visualise the subject more accurately), even to quite unexpected subjects, like in this example from a Daily Galaxy article about the discovery of an Earth-like planet

…A collaboration between the COROT and HARPS systems has detected a rocky exoplanet five hundred light years away, a small stone ball less than twice the diameter and about five times the mass of Earth – giving it the same density as our place. Don’t imagine any aliens just yet though (or if you do, make them pretty heat resistant) – it orbits only 2.5 million kilometers from its star, sixteen times closer than even Mercury gets. The exoplanet’s “year” is thus shorter than our day – meaning that even if there is an asbestos-based civilization their economy is utterly devastated by birthdays…

Nice…

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It freaks me out a bit how the author of this article about a terrifying test-flight managed to describe such a surreal experience in such a matter-of-fact way. It’s amazing what people get used to if it’s their daily work…

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Having heard various things about the HAARP project, which has a home page and a wikipedia entry, I did a bit of digging myself. It seems to me that there are three distinct causes for concern, and for debate:

  1. is it really only being developed and used for the benevolent purposes (research & environmental/societal protection) that the authorities would like people to believe, as opposed to “weather-warfare”?
  2. might it have a dangerous capacity for malevolent use even if developed benevolently?
  3. even if used with purely benevolent intentions, can it potentially have dangerous side-effects (damaging/destroying the ionosphere’s capacity to protect us from cosmic rays)?

After much reading and cross-referencing I realised it is one of those rare subjects which is really quite split down the middle in terms of debate and facts. This is due to a deeply cynical and speculative post-Bush public clashing philosophically with a paranoid military who have surrounded certain aspects of this project with a veil of secrecy (cunningly cushioned by an apparently contrasting level of openness about the more innocent aspects of it). I won’t draw conclusions yet, I’ll wait and see. I only recommend following a trail of links about the subject though. The two links above are a good place to start. Regarding “debate”, the talk page for this entry on wikipedia makes for entertaining reading…

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It always amazes me how stories like this one (about a potential whistle-blower against Bush who died in mysterious circumstances in a plane-crash) seem to be so explosive, yet never seem to get any major exposure, but instead briefly visit approximately page 3 of a small paper and then disappear.

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Check out Earthrace, the so-called Coolest Boat In The World. It set a new world record to circumnavigate the globe on the 27th of June 2008 and broke the previous world record by 14 days.

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Highly recommended reading:

Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays of Richard M. Stallman

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There has been a sneaky and apparently quite successful attempt to scam people on Twitter who are too busy (or tired?) to read their URLs carefully. Read about how Twitter got attacked by phishers at the Twitter blog.

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The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Cisco. The FSF claim that Cisco has violated licenses of programs such as GCC, binutils, and the GNU C Library while distributing under the Linksys brand.

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The Xiph.Org Foundation has announced the release of Theora 1.0. Theora is a patent- and royalty-free video codec.

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