Critical Section


Monday,  09/01/03  11:31 PM

International Space StationI kind of forgot about this, but the International Space Station is still up there, and still manned with one U.S. and one Russian Astronaut.  Since we're not flying shuttles right now, the Russians have been flying up supplies.  Amazing how this went from big news to no news.

Wired: Why Apple is so Tempting.  "Why doesn't some ambitious company with deep pockets and distribution muscle adopt Apple and hold it aloft as the trophy it really is?"  I sure hope someone doesn't buy Apple, despite the temptations; it is a great company the way it is, profitable, innovative, and fun!

Magink billboard"Digital ink" is getting real.  Magink billboards can hold their images for up to 12 years without power.  Wow.  And the mechanism sounds like something from science fiction, "Magink uses tiny helix structures, which don't actually contain any color.  Instead, the helixes, functioning like microscopic machines, can be controlled with electrical currents to make them longer or shorter, acting like tiny prisms, reflecting the bands of the spectrum needed to render the required colors.  When black is needed, the helix is instructed to change its pitch and lie down, allowing light to enter it and reflect the black backing of the display."  Great time to be alive, eh?  [ via Gizmodo ]

Panasonic camcorderCheck out this new camcorder from Panasonic.  Man, is that tiny!  (Perfect for putting in a backpack, and recording from a helmet-cam while mountain biking!)  [ via Gizmodo ]

New Scientist reports Origami Helps Cellphone Camera to Focus.  Great, now we'll have zoomed blurry pictures on everyone's blogs :)

Toyota self-parking PriusOh, and this is cool - Toyota has come out with a self-parking car!  This sounds like science fiction.  "Toyota's new hybrid gasoline-electric Prius sedan uses electrically operated power steering and sensors that help guide the car when reversing into parking spaces."  So if they can do that, they could certainly build a caravan feature, right?

This looks like a great book:  In the Blink of an Eye, by Dr. Andrew Parker.  The Age published an article which reviews the book.  The main idea seems to be that the evolution of the eye triggered the Cambrian explosion.  I've ordered it, stay tuned for my review...  [ via razib ]

Interestingly, the development of the eye is often cited by critics of evolution by natural selection; the argument being, essentially, "of what use is half an eye".  (Richard Dawkins answers this objection convincingly in Climbing Mount Improbable.)  So here we have another good answer - any light sensitivity at all would have been such a selective advantage in the early Cambrian period that it was immediately adopted!  (Literally "in the blink of an eye"; less than 400,000 generations.)

TidBITS notes:

"Virtual PC 6.1 for Mac will not work on Apple's new Power Mac G5.  Unlike the PowerPC G3 and G4 chips, the PowerPC G5 processor does not support a feature known as pseudo little-endian mode, which Virtual PC uses to emulate a Pentium processor. Microsoft is reportedly working on a fix, but it requires significant engineering work, and no time frame has been given."

Ha!  Back in a previous life I coded a simulator for the IBM Series/1, which was big-endian, to run on the DEC VAX, a little-endian machine.  Handling the cross-endian data representation was a major difficulty which we finally evolved an elegant solution to handle.  Ironically the simulator ended up running on the IBM PowerPC, which was also big-endian, but the simulator could have been compiled to run on anything.  Perhaps I should offer my services to Microsoft :)

P.S. Somehow a version I compiled for the Mac got out onto the 'net.  I love the description :)

Can you image the reaction someone from fifty years ago would have to reading my 'blog?  Every day there's all this amazing stuff, and it all feels like stuff from the future, but it is here now!  Heck, even someone from ten years ago would be amazed!  (Makes you wonder what a 'blog from ten years into the future would look like :)

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